What’s Happening?

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my subscribers and way to go Bluejays!

I’m posting on my site tonight, realizing that I haven’t posted here in a while. The reason why, is that I have been posting on other public forums. The nature of my posts on those other forums has been to share my piano tuning and repair methods with other piano technicians.

I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and while I receive positive feedback from many, I also raise the ire of many as well, to the point of being called a “piano butcher”, a charlatan, and deluding people, when all I am doing is relaying to other people the way I am doing something. The results, from my perspective as a Registered Piano Technician, and piano playing musician, are acceptable at least, and often impressive. But for some reason, my posts bring out the haters.

I’ve known for a while now why I post on those other forums. You see, about a year ago, I took an online test to see if I was a narcissist. While the average was 19/30, I scored 5/30.

I am insecure. Often, I have been posting on other technician forums because I am looking for validation of my methods.

For this I am ashamed. Ashamed because I have ignored the positive and glowing feedback of my students and my customers. Ashamed because I am looking to strangers who are my competitors, to find confidence.

And ashamed because I have not had the confidence in my own results. How can I expect others to have confidence in my own methods, when I don’t?

So, today I pledge to never go looking for validation from strangers again, many who are insecure in their own abilities.

I came to the realization today, while reading some posts on aural piano tuning methods vs ETD methods, that I will never find widespread acceptance of my methods. The reason being, is that my Beat Speed Window method is too empirical. Too many aural tuners tell of tuning by feel, with no consideration for empirical feedback, like those obtained by using beat speed windows.

When so many tuners are now using, and some revering, the results of machines, machines that use math to tell us what the best tuning is, math that uses approximations and error data as input, you would think that using a scientific and empirical aural method would be welcomed.

This has not been my experience. For the last week I have contemplated posting a few times about my empirical beat speed window method, but after receiving little or no interest from previous posts, and fielding a bombardment of criticisms which, by their own wording, show that some tuners have too easily chosen to leap at an understanding of the method that makes it look weak or even foolish, instead of assuming that they themselves may have a misunderstanding of the method which they obviously do, I have quickly abandoned the idea.

So, the challenge remains. How do I spread the word about a new aural piano tuning method that produces highly accurate and precise results, using a technique that only a few ingenious technicians have ever used, but that I have been able to package within a set of procedures that make it user friendly enough to teach to beginners?

Beat Speed Windows with Double String Unisons produces
– Consistent and accurate stretch that produces the most number of pure intervals,
– A method of valuable and high resolution feedback that fast tracks the tuner’s understanding and ability to produce clean unisons and superior stability
– An accurate and precise temperament right from the first setting of a temperament note, producing pitches that are the final pitches needed for each note.
– A method that catches drifted notes before they are needed as references to tune other notes.
– A method that asks the tuner to tune specific beat speeds within windows, instead of guessing what they should be.
– A way to perform one pass pitch raises that require the tuner to keep creating accurate pitches instead of guessing at over pulling,
– A way to speed up tunings incredibly, without having quality suffer.

There is no way I can explain all these things in one post. In fact, even after people take my basic tuning course, which now is taught using this new method exclusively, there are elements and understanding that are missed.

So, the question remains; how do I spread knowledge about an aural piano tuning method that I know is superior to current methods, can produce precise results, as precise or better than any modern ETD, and I know this because no tuner, programmer or not, is aware, or if they are aware, is convinced of the superior criteria I place on beatless octaves and pure interval stretch.

The only answer I can come up with, based on my recent years of developing this method, enjoying its beautiful results, and sharing with other technicians is…slowly.

Please comment and keep in touch.

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14 Responses to “What’s Happening?”

  1. Cobrun Sells says:

    I’ve been wondering where you were. Since I last spoke with you I’ve tuned all of the local public school pianos (with exceptions) because the previous tuner passed away. I’ve obtained 2 Baldwin Hamilton verticals that I will assess and restore (maybe even install a WNG action in one of them, work with Hans Velo to restring, and figure out how to refinish). Anyway, I say the best way to spread your ideas is teaching. The four reasons why I studied with you were that your course was advertised on PTG.org, you course was quick, inexpensive, and you replied to my very initial email before Minnesota School of Piano Tuning did (in fact, to this day, they’ve still never replied to me…bad business on their part). I can’t say that I follow your method exactly the way you do, but I still use many aspects of your ways that you taught me.

  2. Kathleen from Toronto says:

    Thank you for this post. It was quite inspiring and passionate. I was “off-put” by previous approaches to your sharing/communication but I still read (did not comment). This last post was very human. For me, this has great meaning and your comments are greatly heard. I have not focused on piano tuning for a while because of my previous feelings.
    I am now considering re-visiting it and retaking the basic tuning course (and repair) if you come to Toronto again to teach next summer. In the meantime I will review what I learned. Thank you very much for your post.

  3. alan mccain says:

    Keep doing what you are doing; it is obviously new and better..
    After 20-30 years in a trade it is hard to change.

  4. Steve Martin says:

    Gday Mark

    I totally relate to feelings of insecurity in the job. I also think that most if not every tuner feels the same, perhaps some more than others. I concur with the message above, you just teach if you’re able to. That’s the best way to get your understanding across to others.
    I’m not easily offended but I know others are. Here’s the thing – if you tell others that your way is best & that theirs is not as good for long enough you’re going to get a whole lot of people off side. That’s what it sounds like has happened here. Or at least that’s what I picked up from reading something else you wrote.
    I’m not trying to be offensive Mark, as I’m certain you are a very fine tuner. Opinions vary so much regarding the ‘how to’s’ of tuning that it can easily boggle the mind. At least my mind. I was just listening to one of your youtube vids where a guy said he uses Bremmers temperament to tune with!?
    I like your revelation about never trying to impress another tuner again. Very humble!!

  5. hubert verhagen says:

    Hello Mark .
    My name is Hubert Verhagen.Now that I am retired I have been able to follow my musical passion.
    I have been following your tuning tutorials for the past 8 months or so.
    I admire your aural tuning method.

    At the moment I am postponing tuning pianos that I have been asked to work on because of not enough confidence. I am concentrating on piano repairs and re-voicing.

    I want to develop my skills so that I can tune and hear that supreme sound.
    Years ago I belonged to several close harmony singing groups and with the harmonies the Heavens would open to me.
    I feel the same about tuning pianos.

    • Hi Hubert,

      Piano tuning is a popular pastime for many retirees. Many of the people who take my courses are retired from some other profession and are taking the opportunity of more free time to pursue piano tuning.

      Is there anything I can help you with in order to help you get that “supreme sound” quicker? Let me know.


  6. renato says:

    I’m just a classical pianist that met few months ago this intriguing and challenging realm of piano tuning.Here in italy no one helps you in achieving faster any result, sort of natural selection i guess….therefore i rely somehow upon piano forum on web, and i can claim that without the sharing of your competence and the pedagogical path you have started i still would asking myself many basic questions.Your tests too helped me to gain confindence in what i’m striving for.As far as i’m concerned, keep going on.

  7. Jørgen Dal says:

    Hi Mark
    I’m an opera singer in Denmark who also tunes Hammerklavier for our opera ccompany.
    This has taken me to be very interested in piano tuning
    But still far better on theory than practical expierience – I’m afraid.
    Please tell me/us how to get aquainted with this very interesting tuning method.
    Also I would like to know how big your coming book will be.
    I have watched your you tube videos and admire both your findings and your excellent way to communicate them.
    All the best and please keep on making us wiser by sharing your much appreciated insights.

    • Hi Jørgen,

      The upcoming book, Piano Tuning Theory, will be about 200 pages. It describes a lot of theory about piano tuning, but does not tell you directly how to tune a piano. For that I have other books written, or planned.

      Basic Piano Tuning, – You can purchase it HERE – is a method that describes a good method for beginners. It describes a lot of the common ways that people are taught.

      I am planniong to write a book describing the current method I use to tune pianos. It is demanding, but once mastered, produces nice tunings that are fast.

      I also give live online courses. I sometimes give free classes so people can see how it works. Sign up HERE for the free classes and to be updated on when the online courses will be.

      All the best,

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