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#630268 - 11/07/08 01:56 AM Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
I've been working on a presentation called "Demystifying the Tuning Exam". One of the goals is to inspire technicians to tackle the exam. The piano technicians guild has over 4000 members but only around half of those are RPTs. I think the main barrier to becoming an RPT is the tuning exam - especially the aural tuning requirement.

My question to you all is this: What are the main reasons that folks don't take the exam? What would it take to inspire you to work towards it as a goal?
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#630269 - 11/07/08 07:26 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
David Jenson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1947
Loc: Maine
Loss of privacy, time involved, and fear of failure would be right up there near the top.

Also, if the examiner happens to be a business competitor, things could get very uncomfortable!
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#630270 - 11/07/08 07:52 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Thomson Lawrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 283
Loc: Grimsby ON Canada
Ryan, Thanks for posting this. It is a subject that is of great interest to me lately. I took over organizing chapter meetings for the Toronto chapter this fall after the chapter had fallen into a dormant period.

When I look at the membership it seems obvious to me that the reason this had happened is the chapter has twice as many associates as RPTs. If the chapter is ever going to become a vital going concern again, this has to be adressed.

What I am thinking is that instead of always having our regular evening meetings, we should be having afternoon tuning tutoring sessions with groups of 5 or 6. Most piano dealers wouldn't mind having us if they end up with a tuned piano at the end of the afternoon.

I think it's the fear of failure that keeps people from taking the test. I'm sure that 90% of associates would take the test if they were confident that they could pass it. I'm hoping that by holding some regular tuning tutoring groups in our chapter that we can change the RPT/ associate ratio here.
_________________________
Piano Technician
www.pianotech.ca
Piano tuners make the world a better place, one string at a time.

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#630271 - 11/07/08 08:35 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hi Thompson,

In our chapter, we hold Saturday events where Associates especially or, anyone for that matter can attend. It's a full day of teaching, hands on. All aspects of the exam are covered. Re-bushing, re-pinning, string tying, hammer repairs, regulation etc. RPT's take turns helping for nothing. It helps our Associates to eventually pass the exam. One took the test last Sat, one the Sat before. Both passed probably thanks to this. They still have to take the tuning test yet however.

I'm always hearing this.. "I don't need it. I can tune better or as well as any RPT." Yet, when I hear their tuning or see their work in many instances, this isn't true at all or even close to it. They think they can hear it because it sounds great to them. What isn't realized is that their ear hasn't been properly trained in many cases. That's the problem, just like the DYIER's here, my piano came out great! Ya, right... But, to a trained ear, it "ain't as great as they think it is."

So, that's one reason why they don't take it.

Another is, that it is not required to tune.

Another is and I hear this often, and I believe this can be a major part of it too, we've read it here, far to many RPT's have this snobbish type attitude that they are better than anyone else that is a non RPT. That turns them off. Being stuck up because one is an RPT is wrong too.

And yes, it is a fear of failure that prevents them from taking the tests. They don't want to make an *** out of themselves. Well? I don't either but, when I don't know something or can't resolve a problem, I don't give up. I call in the troops for help! We then solve it together.

Doctor's, lawyers and insurance agents too fail tests but, they don't give up taking them until they do pass.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#630272 - 11/07/08 08:36 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
I think fear of failure is the big reason. Many people have the perception that they have more to lose if they fail than they can gain if they pass.
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#630273 - 11/07/08 08:49 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
RPD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/07/05
Posts: 961
Loc: Kalamazoo Michigan
Fear? Not sure I agree...I'm a non member, but we take the (excellent) Journal.

It seems a little like the "company line" so to speak, to label all non-members or associates who don't take the test as "afraid". One might ask, in reply, where is the upside in taking tests that aren't required by the state, the public, or customers?? (one could make a good argument that the "fear" could be in people who look to others and credentials to prop their own self-confidence...just saying ;-)

The PTG needs (IMHO, that is) to transition to mostly a peer-support organization, rather than a testing-certification organization. (The emphasis in PTG seems almost purely focused on the "us and them" aspect of raising up Associates to RPT status...)

My reason? Simple. I've been tuning/rebuilding since the late 70's (seriously since 1986) and I've been asked exactly twice about my "credentials" as pertainig to the PTG.

I tune about 800-1000 pianos a year, working a 70 hour work week, and I can't keep up with the pace of incoming work when I factor in rebuilding players and grands. There are three of us in this business, all working full time in two shops in Southwest Michigan (where we are, supposedly, in a recession/depression)

The RPT credential is basically a non issue in the industry (excepting credential-oriented places like colleges, probably...but I tune at two colleges without issue also)

Of course, achieving the standard of work and ethical excellence the PTG insists on IS useful, and for this reason I feel the PTG is a great organization. Its not that I'm judging here...and anyway, who am I to have an opinion??....

But, sometimes I think that an organization needs to self-examine and change mission. If PTG was to embark on a new journey as mainly an EDUCATIONAL organization, and dropped the "Associate-student-not yet certified" label, I think it would help membership.

WAY too much emphasis is placed on the Associates "moving up" to RPT. To such an extent that the editors of the Journal even allowed an associate who FAILED her tuning exam to self-evicerate herself in the magazine, in front of the whole industry, in a recent issue. When I read that I actually said out loud "you've got to be kidding me!" That a student tuner may write such an inspiring letter is fine, but that the PTG would actually publish it is questionable...it read to me as PTG self-congratulating itself for having such high standards (but on the back of a member who failed)

In any case my prescription is this, humbly offered: PTG should move to a members organization...drop the emphasis on testing unless somebody wishes to teach or lecture under the auspices of PTG, and offer (I've said this before) a "Professional Member" certification for anybody who wishes to benefit from being around industry professionals. PTG would probably swell with new members, I feel certain. By dropping the emphasis on (legally un-required) credentials, PTG would save money, reach more industry people, and grow exponentially.

It would be a new way to reach out.

But, I imagine that those who toiled for their RPT certifications would disagree...possibly appropriately... and thus, PTG is probably going to remain a very excellent, well intended, but somewhat obscure organization.

RPD
_________________________
MPT(Master Piano Technicians of America)
Member AMICA (Automated Musical Instruments Collector's Association)
(Subscriber PTG Journal)
Piano-Tuner-Rebuilder/Musician www.actionpianoservice.com

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#630274 - 11/07/08 09:44 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Many techs don't bother becoming RPT's because they have already shelled thousands of dollars for schooling that have their own tests. Some of these tests exceed by their curriculum requirements and test standards even the PTG standards (either in time allowances or +/- cents deviation...others fall far short. Although some of the organizations and schools lack credibility and perhaps pass students for less than honorable reasons, students do get feedback from watching their fellow classmate results of RPT exams. Eg. If I took a F/T course of say 2 years and passed with 98%...5 of my fellow students with less than 80% take the PTG exam without even studying their Pace Courses and all of them easily pass..it is logical to assume no need for the extra test unless the motivation is for the extra credentials or reasons of personal satisfaction.
One exception to this would be the passage of time. Tuners can slowly deviate or evolve as years go by and the results of their tunings could go to the wayside without them knowing it. If customer satisfaction drops or valid criticism from competitive tuners verifies this...the RPT tests could put them back on track.
Another reason fo avaodance is cost. On the PTG.org site, under the FAQ menu item 13 it states...

"Currently the written exam fee is free; the tuning and technical exams are $90 each. After January 1, 2009, the technical and tuning exams will cost $180 each. Exams scheduled before January 1, 2009 and completed by March 1, 2009 will be accepted at the lower rate."

This is a single posted increase of 100%. I don't know about others here but in a business sense, any company that makes a 100% increase in the cost of something had better put an explanation as to why... lest their customers jump to the conclusion of "gouging" or something shady going on. What do you think a customer of yours would say if you jacked your tuning price from $100 to $200 with nothing more than a smile on your face as an explanation. A non-profit organization should have even more incentive for obvious reasons. It may be that the fee was $90 for the last 30 years and an increase is needed or possibly something else, but the PTG ought should endorse their own guidelines of conducting business in a straight forward manner and validate this huge increase on their site.
I hope my explanation doesn't come off as being malicious since it was meant to be straight shooting. The Associates and RPT's I've met over the years don't seem to be snobbish or pushy; most of them see the value of an ongoing education and camaraderie amongst like minded people.
I am thankful for Thompson and others for recently putting life back into the Toronto Chapter and thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and look forward to joining as an Associate for the upcoming year. Actual useful activity is perhaps the best motivator.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#630275 - 11/07/08 11:13 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Very good thread, and a very interesting subject.
I have been tuning either part time or full time since 1983, but only joined the PTG in early 2008. Time to renew my members by the way, and to be honest, I'm trying right now to decide if it's really worth it. I most likely will, because I enjoy the Journal, and I have learned some things, and better ways to do things I have been doing a long time.

But regarding why Associates do not take the tests. I personally dont think fear of failure is a big part of it. There are very strict rules examiners must adhere to regarding the personal nature of these tests. If one does fail, the only people who know are the examiner and the examinee. Even with regard to the test results themselves, these scores are seen by very very few people: the examiner, the examinee, and the few people who handle these at the home office. So virtually no one knows whether the examinee scored high or low, unless the examinee volunteers the information.

One big thing that does bother me about the Guild is the "us and them" mentality that seems to be a profound attitude of so many in the PTG.
Personally, I think my chapter, the Charlotte Chapter of the PTG is one of the absolute best. This statement is based on my conversations with other members, and based on other things I have read.

But even here, I have felt the presence of this attitude. To me, as an Associate member, this is a big negative. But I also think that putting everyone on the same footing as far as membership goes is not a good idea. The Guild has established a basic level of skill that is required to be achieved in order to the awarded the designation of RPT. Doing away with testing, would in effect destroy the whole basis for the PTG. I suppose some would like the idea of joining simply for the fellowship. But I doubt that many would join, just to talk shop with other technicians.

So to end a rather lengthy post, why am I still an Associate? I have to say, the biggest reason, is that though I have been doing piano work for a long time, I have been using my first year in the Guild, as a time of preparation for testing. I think everyone wants to test with the highest level score as possible. I personally think I could pass if I took the tests tomorrow. But would I score in the low 80's, or in the 90's? There is a Guild way of doing things, and the way we learned from the school we attended or from our mentor. I have learned there are better ways, than the way I learned initially or the way I have learned along the way to where I am now.

Also, a secondary reason for my current status is, these tests will become very expensive come January 1. From $90 to $180 for each of the tests. In the past 25 years, I have only been asked one time about my membership in the Guild.
I still got the job. So I doubt that being an RPT will add much to my business activity.

So why am I even bothering with the expense of joining, and the time it takes to attend the meetings? The PTG is the best training institution available to piano technician, without a doubt!! Why bother with testing? One reason, and one reason only. To prove to myself, and to no one else, that I know what I am doing. Many of my customers tell me they love my work, but most of them dont know the difference between a lousy tuning and a truly good one.

I would be interested to hear from other Associate members on this one.
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#630276 - 11/07/08 11:42 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
OK, Thanks for all the great responses!

Here's what we have so far:

1. Loss of privacy
2. Time involved
3. Concern about not passing
4. Concern about unfair treatment
5. Passing not required to be successful technician
6. RPT Elitism
7. Cost prohibitive

1. Loss of Privacy: The exams are confidential. It is forbidden to discuss examinee's scores outside of the exam.

2. Time involved: This could mean either time to prepare, time to take the exam, or both. It usually takes a team of examiners 3 1/2 to 4 hours to conduct an exam start to finish.

3. Concern about not passing: This needs its own thread!

4. Concern about unfair treatment: This was indeed a problem in the Old system. Prior to the standardized tuning exam the test was much more subjective. Some complained of unfair treatment others were given a pass without really proving themselves. Although I believe this was by far the exception it was a problem and led to reform. The modern exam is about as objective as possible.

5. Passing not required to be successful: This is true. However doing high-quality work is not a pre-requisite for success either. I know schlock artists who make a good living, and some very skilled techs who struggle along. And of course we all know there are RPT's out there who behave unethically. That beings said, I do believe passing the exam can help build a new technicians confidence and professionalism.

One of the best things about being involved with the tuning exams is the moment when you tell someone they have passed! The look on their face is priceless! They just glow! It is a look of utter relief, pride, and joy. To be there at that moment in someone's career makes the hours of volunteer labor worth it.

6. RPT elitism: This really varies from chapter to chapter. Puget Sound Chapter (between Seattle and Portland) is an amazingly supportive and friendly group. I've heard of other chapters giving new-comers the cold shoulder. Every chapter has its own personality. I really do believe that the elitist attitude is by far the exception not the rule.

7: Cost prohibitive: I agree that PTG could make it more clear WHY they doubled the cost of the tuning exam. My understanding is that the extra funds generated are going into a program to have a traveling exam center that can go to parts of the country where getting to an exam center is difficult. It will also help subsidize the administering of exams at regional conferences where they are not always offered because the can be money losers.

Consider that it takes 3 technicians approximately 4 hours to run an exam. That's 12 work hours. These are guys who could be making $70-90 an hour if they were out working on pianos. 12 hours times $70 is $840. In my mind the exams used to be dirt cheap. Now at $180 it is a little more reasonable. In our state the BAR exam runs $460. The CPA exam costs over $600. I believe these tests are far easier to administer than the Tuning Exam.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#630277 - 11/07/08 11:58 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Good thread Ryan,

David,

“Also, if the examiner happens to be a business competitor, things could get very uncomfortable!”

This should never be allowed to happen… it is a complete conflict of interest.

Thomson Lawrie,

“When I look at the membership it seems obvious to me that the reason this had happened is the chapter has twice as many associates as RPTs.”

You mentioned previously in the Master Technicians thread that there should be a time limit on the Associate status. I completely agree with this and suggest a 2 to 5 yr. time limit. This will weed out the folks who are serious about learning the trade and separate them from the groupies who use the Associate designation as a status symbol…….

RPD,

Makes some very strong points about changing the structure of the organization to a peer supported one, an educational one and the fellowship status would be a good start.

Emmery,

Makes a good point about independent education, and how you can go a lot farther into musical instrument construction, than the PTG ever has to this point.

Ron,

You and I have discussed this in direct email I hope you don’t mind my comments even though I am not an Associate. You have a clear picture of this membership in your mind and you make some very valid points.

Your score would not be important. Apparently pass or fail is the only requirement, not by how much. That is as you state a personal satisfaction kind of thing.

My own point:

As an Associate, I am required to pay dues to an organization and do not have a voice. I would not be permitted to vote on certain issues. Is this correct? If I am correct on this point this is elitist in the extreme and a very outdated way of thinking.

Example: I am a member of a credit union here in Vancouver. They work the same as a bank I guess, the membership is 50 bucks and once a year I get to vote for a new board of directors. 3 million members and I still have a voice………see what I mean?
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#630278 - 11/07/08 12:17 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
I guess that's why the RPTs seem to have the snobby attitude. They have proved to themselves that they are as good as they thought. Modesty is a vastly over rated virtue. My customers didn't know the difference between a good tuning and a bad one until they heard mine.
My reason for not taking the test is my mom had a stroke and taking care of two lives for a while doesn't leave enough time for one.

This is a very constructive thread. It questions the direction of the PTG. Essentially the PTG is an educational and marketing organization. It is the liason between the manufacturor and the technician. Corperations do not like to deal with things on an individual basis. By having everybody in one group, they only have to do it once.

Educationally, the RPT is the undergraduate degree the PTG offers. CTE is the graduate degree. It would be nice to have a rebuilders degree.

I agree that the PTG should have a more marketable goal but shouldn't we require that the piano technician be a state licensed person too? I have seen pianos come into the shop that have had $$20,000 and more of work. Looks beautiful. It all getting torn out. The board was bad. Wrong hammers hung on a heavily leaded action. The owner has no recourse. I get tired of following up behind some hack that has claimed to have done all sorts of stuff and when I FIX the problem and have to do all that stuff again, they think I'm ripping them off. After all they paid the other tech to do that stuff.

So? Educational institution with accreditation or state law?
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#630279 - 11/07/08 01:05 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Dan, I belong to a private gun club that allows voting only to charter members. A one time fee of $75.00 is all thats paid for this status... everybody pays the same yearly dues outside of this, and this is how I believe many organizations do this. Relating these rights to competency is irrelevant since said rights are more to do with politics/voting and such not how we weild a tuning hammer.
I don't think long term Associates would all be "groupies" or status seekers. Like it was stated here before, the PTG is one of the best sources for info, lectures ect.. Some people just want to stay on top of things or have extra resources at their finger tips and maybe even brush elbows with other techs. There are cheaper alternatives to putting letters beside your name than the PTG and 99% of customers wouldn't know the difference. The value of things often is based on demand and frankly, I too have not seen any demand for RPT status from customers so I am left with the more personal motivations. Is it worth $360 worth of testing fees beyond what I paid in the past for my schooling...good question? In a way I feel the Guild is knocking the schools down a notch for its own self validation yet opens the door for being knocked down a notch by the better schools. I had always thought that many of the PTG joiners came from self taught, personally mentored or online/correspondence book course backgrounds and were looking for verification that they were in deed on track with their efforts.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#630280 - 11/07/08 01:27 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Yes Emmery that is fair comment, I guess folks have to remember that this is a private club. If you want to be a member you have to play by their rules.

I wasn’t trying to label all of the Associates with anything detrimental, but at what point should you move on to the final destination? I mean if you want to compare this to a University Degree, well you can’t stay in Masters Class forever……… at the end of the term you have to hand in your graduate studies and your exam papers, don’t you?

Again the “fellowship” designation, associated with an educational body would garner an increase in membership as PRD states.

Further to RPD’s point about changing to an educational status, if the PTG organization was successful in this change of designation they could possibly then get federal funding for a standardized apprentice program nation-wide. Considering the line-ups at the training schools now, I am wondering why this avenue has not been studied in more depth.

Some interesting comments from folks here about 5-6 yrs. ago………….same topic virtually….

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/3/180.html

and from 2006 on Re-certification………….

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/3/2097.html#000005
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#630281 - 11/07/08 03:00 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:

So why am I even bothering with the expense of joining, and the time it takes to attend the meetings? The PTG is the best training institution available to piano technician, without a doubt!! Why bother with testing? One reason, and one reason only. To prove to myself, and to no one else, that I know what I am doing. Many of my customers tell me they love my work, but most of them dont know the difference between a lousy tuning and a truly good one.
[/QB]
Super response! Very well said. I've never met anyone sorry that they passed the tuning exam!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#630282 - 11/07/08 07:29 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Interesting thread indeed. Here's some more of what I think.

First, I'm not so sure that I would like to see any state or government becoming involved with it. We all know what happens when they do something. They muck it all up and charge all sorts of taxes, license fee's and whatever else they can conjure up on top of what we already pay them and the guild.

However, if it were required that everyone pass a standardized test, I'd venture a guess that at least 50% of all tuners out there full and part time included, would fail it. That would eliminate a lot of competition and some lousy workmanship for sure.

For what it's worth. Most, if not all of those that work in tech support for the major piano manufacturer's are RPT's. At least, they are here. It is after all, the only designated standard, accepted and accredited testing that there is in the USA and it is not an easy test to pass. If you think it is, try it once. :-)

As for being asked if we are RPT's or not? The PTG doesn't make enough money to do that sort of advertising to make the public aware of it nor do the rest of us.

When I enter my doctor's office, I don't ask if he's licensed. I know that he has to be. But, more importantly, I expect that he is also competent. That's what's more important to me. Are you competent? Do you really think so? Then prove it. :-) The rest of us RPT's did and so did the doctors. Now, I know that sounds sarcastic but, it's not meant to be. Think about it... Are you willing to prove it? We were.

As for the schools here... We've all seen workmanship from various so called schools throughout the country. While obviously, some schools are better than others, some are very questionable.

A standard for one school is different from another. The PTG standard is the same for all.

No name, no school, no RPT "status Symbol," no testing of any kind, is any guarantee that the person from that point forward will be conscientious in what they do. Just because we have a name or a piece of paper is meaningless unless the person has plans to continue doing quality workmanship.

We are all competitor's with each other in our same cities. That has no bearing whatsoever when giving our exams. We want them to become the best that they can become so when we give the exams, we are not biased in any way.

One thing I'd like to emphasize, it was mentioned above as well, is that every person on the examining committee, tuning and technical included are all RPT's. We each give one hell of a lot of free time helping others to try and learn, to try and pass the tests and tons of time giving the tests on the day of the exams. We can easily figure one full day gone prepping, setting everything up for them before they even arrive, giving the tests and then putting it all away again once they leave. Not one of us gets paid a dime for anything that we do. Not that I'm looking for credit. I'm not. Only making the point for those that might wonder if we get paid, that we are doing it out of the goodness of helping.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#630283 - 11/07/08 09:31 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Jerry, if no one is payed for testing...why the 100% hike in testing fees this coming year? Last time I looked paper hasn't hit highs on the stock index and "time" is well...time...just keeps ticking at the same rate.
I will add another reason some techs balk at the exam. They feel its stuck in the old world school of thought with the aural testing. I remember in the late 70's I wasn't allowed to use a calculator in math or physics because the mentality was that the grassroots needed to be known and demonstrated. A year later in college, if I didn't have my scientific calculator with me I wouldn't bother showing up for class...I would have been lost. Now I learned an aural temperament and used it for close to 20 years before venturing down the road with an ETD. I still use what I know aurally along with the ETD produced temperament for speed and given the same time frame, produce a better temperament or utilizing the speed advantage, a better deal for the customer. Many other aural tuners like myself use ETD's this way. If the temperament and midrange part of the test is still marked against a commitee's recorded tuning, why is an ETD not allowed? If the argument is that it can be used to pass the test without tuning knowledge...then it must be admitted aural tuning is not better than an ETD, based on PTG test deviations (+/- cents). If the argument is used that an ETD could fail and leave a tech stranded then we would still be trying to fly to the moon and be using an abacus and slide rule in schools. (A backup ETD would be all thats required.)
If the PTG truly wants to qualify the best techs out there why tie their hands with restraints that don't mean squat the moment they leave and fire up their ETD's? Besides the totally unrealistic amount of time allowed for an aural temperament part of the test could be reduced if an ETD is allowed and the testee could spend their time in aural editing/refinement, just like they and the many of the rest of us do in the real world of tuning.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#630284 - 11/07/08 11:05 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I don't know the last time they had a price increase really but, I think it's been something like maybe 15 or 20 years?? I'm guessing, maybe someone else knows?? They just happened to have chosen this year to raise the rates. Bad timing!

I do like you do Emmery, use the ETD and my ears too. But, you see the reason why. Today, I just shut the thing off and tuned all by ear. That was kinda fun for a change! We really do have to have good aural skills to make sure that our tuning devices are doing their job in being accurate. Without that, we'd be doing crummier tunings for sure. How often don't we have to change something or, find that the ETD was listening to something different than it should have and we had to change that? Without great aural skills too, people couldn't do that. That's why they still require it so, they train their ears to hear what they should hear.

The aural tuning that 3 tuners do, is then recorded onto the ETD to compare your tuning when you take your exam.

It's been a year since I helped give a tuning exam but, if I remember correctly, you can use and ETD in the exam but, you need to tune, I think it is something like 24 notes by ear?

Gene knows that answer better than I do. Oh Gene???

I think if they only allowed machines to pass a tuning exam, a lot less people would have good ears to hear if the piano is actually in tune or not. I also think, having better hearing in that regard, makes one a better voicer as well.

I think a person should be able to set a decent temperament in a couple of minutes or so.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#630285 - 11/07/08 11:18 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Dale Fox Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1052
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
I don't know why the $90 dollar increase. I haven't been apprised of that change though I do give the exam. I am not the money person though and can't say as I was at the last few meetings where it may have been discussed.

That being said, I will raise the point that it takes a GREAT deal of my and two other peoples time and energy to give the exam. We all lose money anytime we schedule an exam. The guild policy is to redirect a very small portion of the exam fee to offset expenses of the examiners. I never ask the exam board to be reimbursed as it is such a small amount as to be laughable. Perhaps the guild is charging more so that they can have a more organized approach to giving exams as well as reimbursing the examiners. This might help getting more people to volunteer their time and energy.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#630286 - 11/07/08 11:33 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
The reason given for the price increase was two fold: To fund a program to bring exams to areas of the country that don't have access to an exam center and to subsidize exam costs at regional conventions. Tuning exams at regional conferences often are done at a loss due to the costs of getting a piano into the hotel room and the hotel expenses. The idea is that we will be making the exam more accessible for people.

Like I mentioned before, the PTG exam is very cheap compared to tests for many other professions, and it is a bargain when you consider it takes approximately 12 man hours (3 examiners times 4 hours)to run one exam.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#630287 - 11/07/08 11:40 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Thomson Lawrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 283
Loc: Grimsby ON Canada
Dan, you have me confused with someone else. I didn't say that there should be a time limit on associate membership. I just think the level of commitment to chapter activity is higher among RPTs.

Whether someone chooses to be a guild member or to become an RPT is their own choice. Right now I am actually an associate member because I resigned about 12 years ago and rejoined a last year. (I still have RPT status with the Canadian Association Of Piano Technicians) I will take the test because I want to. I was tested 28 years ago and if I can't pass the test now that would be really useful information.

The way I see it, I decided to become a piano technician a long time ago. I intended to make it my full time career and that is what I have done. It may be egotistical, but if that was what I was going to do for a living, I wanted to be among the best that in my trade. It seemed obvious to me that I should belong to a professional association for piano technicians. If you read books on business one of the first things they tell you is to network. That's what the PTG is.

Being a full time piano technician is a bit of a strange profession. We work on our own at least 90% of the time. Some techs don't talk to anyone in their profession for months at a time. I find that I set higher standards for myself when I am active in the guild. I am less likely to be on auto pilot when I get to talk to other technicians about what interests and excites them. I once met a piano tuner that told me that 90% of the public don't know what a tuned piano is supposed to sound like. It was the first time I met him. Before that I only knew him by is awful reputation.

I think it's important that we maintain the mindset of professionalism. Ultimately you get out of the guild what you put into it. I've been a piano tech in the guild and out of it, for me, it's a lot more interesting if I'm connected and the PTG is a great way to do that.
_________________________
Piano Technician
www.pianotech.ca
Piano tuners make the world a better place, one string at a time.

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#630288 - 11/08/08 12:51 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Although there may be some truth to the 90% number, Thomson, and I've heard it mentioned often in this forum also by techs, it seems to be slippery path for any proffessional to conduct their business embracing these numbers. Perhaps this is the main reason for the tuners bad rep you mention. You really never know who the 10% are (first tuning )and a perfectionist with a good reputation wouldn't take the risk of lowering the bar over all. I know of a tuner thats been around for ages and even passed part of his business to his son years ago (who I went to grade school with) and regularly see both their shoddy work come up...broken bridle straps masking taped back on, misaligned reglued hammer shanks ect. How they have stayed in business for over 40 years is beyond me, perhaps a catchy business name or slick marketing is all I can think of.
It would be nice if the Guild would split their annual conventions into two...like an east coast/west coast thing, I'm sure the overall turnout would be greater.
I do believe a chapter in San Francisco area offers a program that reimburses up to 50% of exam costs to applicants based on an honor system where they claim financial limitations. A universal program amongst all chapters may bring in some more people that are starting out.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#630289 - 11/08/08 08:58 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4182
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Thomson,

You are correct, my apologies for the mistake, I remembered it incorrectly, here is the entry from the Master Technicians thread by Bob….

Bob

1000 Post Club Member
Member # 86

Member Rated:
posted April 03, 2008 06:31 PM
________________________________________
I wonder if there should be a time limit for Associates, for example, pass the written during year one, technical during year two, and tuning year three, or be considered an inactive member and lose membership? Is it right to let members exist as associates forever? I suppose it's money in the bank.....

--------------------
A "Quality" day beats a "Quantity" day...
Registered Piano Technician serving Orlando and Suburbswww.aperfectpiano.com
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#630290 - 11/08/08 10:33 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2328
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
If Associates would be required to move along in the testing on a prescribed time basis, the Guild would most likely need to create a new category of membership. The Guild describes Associates as students that "..may be studying piano technology and working toward RPT status, or may be piano retailers, rebuilders, refinishers or other specialists."
The latter people may not be interested in devoting the time, studies and money in something they feel is not relevant to their day to day business. These people also have valuable input into the lesser covered aspects of the profession such as market trends, business contacts and specific practices of their respective fields. Although they probably account for a small portion of the Associates' numbers, I think they are a valuable asset to other members outside of the additional membership fees collected.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#630291 - 11/08/08 11:04 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
I personally would not be adverse to having a time limit established for Associates. This "catch all" catagory to me presents problems for those people who have been in the business a long time.

Regardless of how long one has been doing piano work, I think many people will find upon joining the Guild, there are things they must learn or modify in order to pass the exams with a high score.

My case in point. I went to a school, where the instructor was an RPT. He was an excellent, excellent tuner, who gave us a good basis for learning to tune. Though he had been an RPT for many years, and attended many conventions and seminars, he was very weak when it came to teaching tuning theory, and I have since found, there was better ways of doing repairs than the techniques he taught us.

When we work out in the work-a-day world, without exposure to other technicians or the PTG, we continue to learn by trial and error. Through this method we tend of settle into a pattern, and think "hey I'm The Big Fish" in my little (or maybe in some cases) big pond. That may or may not be reality.

Only when we are willing to risk our self esteem,
and in many cases years of hard work to learn what we think we know, only by taking these tests can we truly know. When all is said and done, these tests only validate the basic skills needed to tune and repair. Even the scores themselves do not reflect the degree of skill of anything other than the basic stuff. I think that is why so many people are adverse to joining and taking the tests. On second thought, maybe it is the fear factor.
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#630292 - 11/08/08 11:31 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
The testing time limit idea is a good one. I believe there is a limit based on 4 years and/or whether the tests you have passed are still current at the time you take the others...correct me if I'm wrong here.

In order to do well on these and other tests where the examinee feels like there is much on the line, one must be able to do these operations in their sleep. Nerves will come into play to such a degree that if you have to rely on "thinking" to do these things rather than being able to do them by instinct, you will probably run into trouble.
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#630293 - 11/08/08 11:43 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Piano World Offline


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5528
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
I have to agree with Emmery, maybe an additional category is warranted.

Although I did quite a bit of tuning (admittedly with an EDT) when I owned a music store, I never intended to become a full time tuner-technician.

At the time (over 20 years ago) I was an associate member. Why? Because even though I didn't intend to make it my full time career, I still enjoyed learning, and meeting people who could teach me something.

These days I rarely do any tuning, just don't have the time. But I planned on joining again.
Why?
Because I want to support the PTG

I believe the networking and training the PTG makes available is invaluable.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the West Palm Beach chapter, held at Toby Hamilton's shop (great shop by the way).

Toby is a 3rd generation tuner-tech and his family is highly regarded in the area.
Toby tunes, repairs, and rebuilds, and has a fully equipped shop.

Yet... he still was excited about having the experienced technician's from his chapter in his shop, because he knows he can and will learn from them.

Sorry, got off on a tangent here (as I usually do).

My Opinions (and they are strictly my opinions, so take it for what it's worth)...

~ The PTG is an important source of information and networking for aspiring and experienced tuner-techs.
~ The RPT path helps new tuner-techs focus on developing the skills they need, and provides them with a way to test their progress
~ The general public needs to be better educated about what the PTG (and RPT) is and what it means to them.

Regarding adding a category:

I don't know how the PTG feels about it, but the suggestions elsewhere in this thread about creating a new category may make sense.

Setting up the Associate membership as a path to the RPT (with the proper guidance and steps clearly communicated to the Associate), and setting time limits may make sense.

A new category (Supporting Member?) might make sense for people like me who wish to support the PTG, but who do not intend to become full time tuner-techs.
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#630294 - 11/08/08 02:09 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
I think all PTG members, including Associates should have a valid written test. We have several Associate members in our chapter that passed the written years ago, and their tests are now invalid. They don't seem to be interested in taking it again as the first step to RPT. They should be required to retest, IMHO. A new member should be given 12 months to pass the written. The written is easy to pass. Just read Reblitz's book. I'd like to see some type of re-certification program for ALL members and that might start with all PTG members passing the written test every five years.

I'd like to see tuning re-certification as well, maybe every 5-10 years on that.

I'd like to see required continuing education.

These changes would make the RPT worth more and I think the value of RPT is important. Associates are not testing up in part because they don't see the value in RPT.

Tuning examiners and Technical examiners should be allowed to advertise their additional skills to the public. That increases the value of the title. Caut (when is is implemented) should also be a title advertised to the public.

There are changes coming - Acoustic Piano sales have been shrinking in the USA - Digital sales are increasing - The PTG is starting to partner with the Music teachers and promote RPT. We need partnerships with the Piano makers, Piano stores, and Universities. We promote them, and they promote the RPT. When these partnerships are strong, an RPT will be more in demand and there will be more of an incentive to test up.

Back in the 1980's, stores liked to use RPT's, some even advertised that. There was value to the stores. We need that back again.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#630295 - 11/08/08 05:40 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:

A new category (Supporting Member?) might make sense for people like me who wish to support the PTG, but who do not intend to become full time tuner-techs. [/QB]
This actually has come up every year for many years at the annual council meeting. There are many people in PTG who would like an additional category or catagories: distinguishing students from allied professionals is one example. Every year it gets voted down. I think there is a real resistance to making things any more complicated or cofusing than they already are.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#630296 - 11/08/08 07:37 PM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Dale Fox Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1052
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Actually, I believe it is more of a legal issue and you're correct in that it comes up at council EVERY year. I've tried to forget all the arguments over this item. It will never go away.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#630297 - 11/09/08 11:10 AM Re: Resistance to the PTG Tuning Exam
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Well, there must be a compromise that creates the harmony we are looking for. The store owner I work with said, he wishes piano techs had to be state licensed. Then he doesn't have to guess about every bloke that walks in the door and says he is a tooner. When you say 50% of the guys out there couldn't pass a tuning test, even with an ETD, I think that's awful.

If you look at Simpson Strong Tie, they pointed out the hazards of present day buildings and created a situation that required engineering to be done on residential. Since they already had all the engineering and field testing, the state used them as the standard.
The state is not going to administer any tests, they will contract it to the recognized authority at the time. The PTG will get the job of determining what that entails. I think that would work well because then the PTG won't have to beg people to take the test and real tests can be devised and charged for.
There is no way the move to legislate could be stopped. The public would support it with very little advertising. Get the backing of the Music Teachers Union and it wouldn't even cost much. Just the minimum campaign contributions in the right coffers. Pick states like California that it will go through easily and fill up the PTGs coffers to make it US wide.

That's how it's done, right?

I'm against doing it too.

\:o
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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