Home study correspondence courses?

Posted by: Dustin Spray

Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 01:46 AM

Hello,

I am considering doing a home correspondence course for piano tuning. The PTG has 3 home study courses listed on their website. They were the "Ameican School of Piano Tuning", "Randy Potter Course", and the "Butler School of Piano Technology"

I work full time so going to a full time school is not possible. There are very few tuners in my area and I called one to see about shadowing him and he promply said NO and hung up.

I have bought the Reblitz book some time ago, and this does indeed intrest me.

Any feedback good or bad on these 3 home courses would be greatly appreciated. I have heard good reviews about the Randy Potter course. The American School course looks very outdated and if filled with letters of students that "Got Rich Quick" and how they are a A+ member of the Better Buisness Bureau, ect...... You get the hind. The Butler school advertises more of a approach that you buy your own tools, supplies, ect to save you money.....

Again, Im just looking to get started and I realize this course is not going to make me a expert piano technician by any stretch and that true craftmanship takes years of practice and hundreds if not thousands of tunings. It is for self enrichment and self education to work on my own piano and possibly my friends and church.

Thank you kindly,

-Dustin
Posted by: Upright

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 03:36 AM

I wanted to take the Randy Potter Course because of the good reviews here. Unfortunately I never got any answer to my emails. I already have the tools and only wanted the course without tools. I also had contact to other people who are taking the course and they have the problem, that they send in their tuning practice videos and don't get answers as well.

In the meantime I got the videos only from Ebay and they are really good. The videos refer to the written course and I am sure this is just as good.

So, the course material looks to be very good. But the chance to get answers or a certificate in the end is very little.
Posted by: Dustin Spray

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 04:15 AM

I have heard Randy is terrible to get ahold of, takes along time to reply to emails and takes months to review tuning excercises on students on tapes that were send in, That is discouraging to say the least......
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 04:52 AM

I have a suggestion. Join the PTG as an associate, even if there isn't an active chapter near you. Buy the back articles on DVD from the PTG website for $50 and read at your leisure. You will then have access to more information than you'll know what to do with... 30 years worth for only twice the cost of the Reblitz book. There are excellent articles that can teach you the basics of tuning and repair. Money and time permitting, also consider attending the convention in Chicago this July. Chances are you'll learn more doing this than you will from a home study course!

Randy Potter tuition: $1795

~or~

My suggestion, including convention attendance: $1449ish
Posted by: bellspiano

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 11:58 AM

Great suggestions from beethoven986. It was important for me to get a sense of the profession as well as a sense of the piano mechanics. I remember someone, at my first local PTG meeting, pointing out a woman across the room and saying, "She used to be a [whatever profession] and now she works on pianos. Doesn't she look happy?" and she did. It's not all about the piano action, it's also about the people who help me learn every day.
Posted by: Dustin Spray

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 02:04 PM

Thank you. I will look into joining the PTG as a associate member. I was unaware of the info on the website that you told me about. I did see there conference was held in Chicago this year, I will look into attending.
Posted by: Monaco

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 03:33 PM

I did the Potter Course. Unfortunately.
I found it to be poorly organized, full of typos and not anywheres near worth what I paid for it.
Check with your local chapter of the PTG. Mine has loads of materials available for you to check out for FREE!!!! $1800 wasted! UGHHH!!!!
If I had it to do over again, I would simply join the PTG. Continue to try to find an apprenticeship. Mine has been great. Just because one guy said no, don't give up.
Good luck.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 04:37 PM

This fairly important statement has so far not received comment:
Originally Posted By: Dustin Spray
.... It is for self enrichment and self education to work on my own piano and possibly my friends and church...

Piano technology is a fascinating field of study for a certain type of people. Most experienced techs will tell you that they are constantly expanding their knowledge, probably every week. That in itself is a reward, for me at least.
However, it is not realistic to learn to tune pianos in order to tune your own piano, and those of a few friends and a church. Learning to tune properly involves long and intensive practice, ideally under the guidance of a teacher or mentor.

It takes many, many practice tunings to be in a position to tune a piano. Numbers range from from a hundred to several hundred pianos. And then, to keep your chops up, you have to tune regularly. Tuning a few pianos a year is not going to do it. I notice that even after 30 years in the biz, when I don't tune for a few weeks (holiday etc) it takes me a while to get back into shape where I can "crank out" a good tuning in a reasonable time. Without my experience I would have slipped back to first base.

I am not saying don't do it. I am saying that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye or than you can possible imagine at this point. I think that in light of this, perhaps a smaller initial investment than a full blown course with it's up-front cost might be the way for you to go, to get a whiff of what is involved. That said, I know of a number of techs who started with the Potter course and it has helped them get into the profession.
Posted by: RestorerPhil

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 08:37 PM

Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I have a suggestion. Join the PTG as an associate, even if there isn't an active chapter near you. Buy the back articles on DVD from the PTG website for $50 and read at your leisure.


Wow! Thanks for that tidbit of information. I have often wished that I could buy a huge stash of back issues of the PTG Journal for the sake of my own study and to use in the training of shop techs. This makes it easier and makes it searchable! (or so I would suppose)
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 09:07 PM

Actually you can Phil! You can buy a DVD CD from the PTG. I don't know how many years worth of journals are on it, something like 20 or 30 years worth I think. The website is filled with wonderful material if one joins the PTG.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 10:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Actually you can Phil! You can buy a DVD CD from the PTG. I don't know how many years worth of journals are on it, something like 20 or 30 years worth I think. The website is filled with wonderful material if one joins the PTG.


It includes pretty much everything. 1979-2010, all on one DVD. I have all the PDF files saved on my laptop and refer to them frequently. You can browse the index by article, issue, or author and you can also use the Ctrl + F command to do a type search of these indexes. You find what you want, click on it, and the issue opens up to the correct article. All issues are searchable by Ctrl + F, as well. At $50 (member price), it's a no-brainer, as it contains all the PACE articles, etc. One would have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of books to acquire this much material!
Posted by: BenP

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 10:34 PM

Dustin, make sure you read Jurgen's post. He is absolutely right. I originally got interested in working on pianos in much the same way that you are. I quickly realized that it was "all or nothing." Particularly with tuning. Anyone with a mechanical brain can do some basic repairs on a piano, but learning to tune accurately (even with an ETD) is not really something you do just for fun, or just for your own piano.

And we don't say that to discourage you. In my case, I decided to go all the way and committed a lot of time to it. Maybe you should too!
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/09/13 10:36 PM

Hey, thanks Beethoven!!! smile
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/10/13 03:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Hey, thanks Beethoven!!! smile
smile
Posted by: Dustin Spray

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 02/10/13 04:08 AM

I will check out the PTG. I filled out the info form online and they are suppose to send me a info packet in the mail. How much are the dues, fees, ect? And do you know where the nearset chapter is from Ottawa, IL? It wouldnt let me view the "chapters". Maybe its because I dont have access to certain areas of their forum due to my non-membership. Do you feel there is enough info and structure for a novice? I guess I was assuming alot of the info was geared more for advanced techs and people that have been in the buisness for quite sometime. It did appear that the conferences held seminars for novices.

Thanks guys, you are indeed very professional and helpful.

-Dustin
Posted by: JonBall

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/05/14 08:21 AM

I bought the Randy Potter course, and unfortunately, all of my questions and emails go unanswered...even ones that say I'm going to be at the PTG/NEECSO conference in April and would like to meet you. I don't question his knowledge and contributions to the field, but other than his course materials, you're on your own.

I'm an associate member of the PTG and attend quarterly meetings as I'm able - I also work full-time at the moment so I can't always get to each meeting. But I've purchased a couple of good-quality tuning hammers, the PACE books and PTG study guides, some other highly-recommended books, and even bought a Sanderson Accu-Tuner IV recently to help me learn to tune and pass the RPT exams.

At any rate, I'm wanting to get into this work full-time within the next 6-12 months, so I'm now looking into the Butler course. I've read on other threads that the two courses compliment each other, so this might not be a bad thing - and Mr. Butler apparently gives you his time and attention.

Just my experience. Hope you find what you need.
Posted by: bkw58

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/05/14 09:37 AM

Perhaps someone from the Randy Potter organization should address these concerns. (Future recommendations in the balance.)
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/05/14 04:55 PM

I also took the Potter course a number of years ago. My Dad taught me a lot but he was not geographically near at the time I wanted additional instruction.

It was pretty difficult to slog through a lot of his verbosity. He would blather on and on until I had to go back to remind myself what in the world he was talking about.

He's also pretty darned impressed with himself. I also never received any replies to my EMails and I gave up sending recordings.

However, I did learn some things that my Dad hadn't taught me and I think it was kind of worth my time - I guess.

The PTG route seems like a better way to go to me.

Good luck.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/06/14 07:13 PM

My own learning path was varied and included:

A degree in mechanical engineering.
Three years music at university.
Five years professional playing experience on cruise ships.
Eight years teaching in public school.
Volunteering at a rebuilding shop.
PTG Conferences.
A week long rebuilding course.
Reblitz.
Complete disassembly of an upright and rebuilding.
Being mentored.
Going to PTG meetings.
Organizing PTG associate meetings.
Joining and organizing meetings for Canadian Association of Piano Technicians.
Teaching others to tune.

Don't expect one course will give you all you need to know. Every one of the listed activities and experiences were critical to my learning path. Without even one of them, I wouldn't be the same technician that I am today; I would be missing some skills. It truly is a life long journey.

As a matter of fact, I remember having a distinct feeling of sadness when I started, that I wouldn't be able to live long enough to learn everything.

Good luck with your studies.
Posted by: kimw

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 04:30 PM

Hi Dustin,

I was you two years ago. After doing a lot of research both online and talking with local tuners that I have known for years, I went with the American School of Piano Tuning. I did look at Randy Potter's course as well, but I didn't get a good feel for it and the American School course seemed to fit well with my timeline and learning style. I liked the way the course is laid out. They have been very responsive to my needs and questions. I always get a live person on the phone as well as a quick response to my emails.

I have supplemented my learning with the Reblitz text and with another book recommended by one of my mentors. "On Pitch" by Rick Baldassin. This has been an excellent text that has helped me to resolve some of my tuning results that I have not been happy with.

There is no better teacher than actually doing the job. Once you have the basics down, you have to practice, practice, and practice some more. I learn something new with each piano I tune.

Best of luck.
Kim
Posted by: Olek

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 06:07 PM

Practice, and practice with guidance if possible, allow to get to the level where you can have some benefits of training, specific curses, etc.

I have seen missing totally the benefit of high-level trainings because they where not yet at the précédent level of knowledge.
Then one make no relation with what is shown, technical gestures, and his own practice, an it is just a loss of time.

It really se to work level by level in that that trade. At some point your personal experiences begin to be coherent and useful to discover more by yourself.
But exchanges with peers stay indispensable to evolve whatever your knowledge is.
Posted by: R_B

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 08:58 PM

Thanks B8Hoven986,
Hmmm, from a cursory reading of the PTG web site it would SEEM that anyone can join for $150.
Then, as a member buy the 22 years of journal on DVD for $50.
Add a few bux for shipping - LOTS of good stuff for just over $200 including all the benefits of membership.
Probably a LOT more than I could digest for quite a while, though I would fill in with books and other reading.

Given that information of this type isn't time sensitive, WOW - a deal.
MAYBE get the later issues later, MUCH LATER - if I ever catch up from 1979 laugh
Posted by: JonBall

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 10:06 PM

Hi, R_B. I just wanted to point out that the $150 you mentioned is the application fee (a one-time fee when you first apply for membership in the PTG). The actual membership dues are $298/year, which is comprised of $273 for an Associate's membership and then $25 which would be your local chapter dues.

The first year is a little expensive: $150 + $298 = $448, but after that, it's just the $298. Remember, though, that included in that $298, you get a 1 year subscription to the PT Journal, and you'll have access to the PTG store, discussion groups, a directory of all the members,and other online things. You can also download the PT Journal in PDF format which makes it very easy to do a search on anything in the magazine.

You would also be able to attend your local chapter meetings which often has interesting demonstrations or presentations and gives you a chance to mingle with technicians in your area. So there are potential benefits on a local level, as well.

It might seem a little on the high side, but I like to keep in mind that the money goes toward supporting all the PTG members in a variety of ways. So to me, I'm really putting the money toward helping myself and others.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 10:06 PM

You must get personal instruction. That is a given. Without it, you will go down the "Oh this stuff is so simple. I know exactly what I am doing" and then you will start posting Youtube videos showing the world how easy it is to tune pianos. (There's tons out there already.)

If you continue to learn, you will eventually delete all those videos out of embarrassment.

You can not learn how to tune pianos from a book or magazine.

Comments, techs?
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 10:09 PM

Originally Posted By: kimw

There is no better teacher than actually doing the job. Once you have the basics down, you have to practice, practice, and practice some more. I learn something new with each piano I tune.


Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent.

Get professional personalized instruction from a professional as soon as possible. This will save you years of frustration.

Can anyone else vouch for this?
Posted by: R_B

Re: Home study correspondence courses? - 04/07/14 10:57 PM

Thanks Jon,
I was about to go to bed and recalled the part about the $150 being a non-refundable application fee that is NOT applied to the dues.
So I was just about to ask what the actual dues are laugh

Still not THAT bad though.
At this point it is an "interest", I have no intention (yet) to practice.
If I take it further I would find someone to study under, and/or get a scrap piano to dissect.

I've certainly blown more than $500 on less worthwhile interests laugh
Boston, Mass would be my local chapter, their web site seems to indicate that they are quite active. They meet about halfway between where I live and "Boston" - the city itself.
A couple of members are within a few miles of me, in adjacent towns.