Archive for the ‘Becoming a Piano Technician’ Category

Tuning Unisons – Isolate and Improve Technique

This is an answer I wrote to Max on pianoworld.com in response to his posting a video of his tuning and asking for feedback.

You can see the video at Max’s Tuning

Here is my response with step by step instructions how to improve unisons:

 

Max, you are posting for an objective truth from professional technicians. I will tell you what I think.

The unisons are very bad. Someone who tunes as much as you do and cares enough to reach out and look for ways to improve should not be tuning unisons at that low a level.

Here is a simple thing you can do to prove this to yourself how bad they are, and also help you tune treble unisons better.

Isolate and Improve Unison Technique

Isolate and Improve. (We improve tunings, we don’t make them perfect. The higher your sensitivity to unacceptable unisons followed by subsequent improvement, the better your unisons will be.)

1. Play a few unisons, say within an octave, one after the other. Identify one that sounds the worst.
– Use the comparison technique of comparing the trichord unison with the sound of a single string.
1. Identify a unison that may need to be improved.
2. Mute off two of the three strings.
3. Play the note. You are now listening to a single string.
4. Remove the mute.
5. Play the note now, which will be the three strings together.
6. Compare that sound to the sound of the three strings together.
7. If they sound exactly like the single string, then the trichord is as good as you can get it.
8. If you hear that the trichord unison has more shimmering or colour in it than the single string unison, it means the trichord unison is not as good as you can make it.

2. Take that one unison that you have identified could be improved, and mute the left string and play the note. You are now listening to the right two strings only.

3. Take that one unison and mute the right string and play the note. You are now listening to the left two strings only.

4. Which pair sound better?
– If the right two sound better, that means the left string could be improved. Remute the right string and retune the left two unisons by retuning the left most string. Remember, make them sound better, not perfect, just better. Remove the mute and listen for the improvement in the trichord unison.

– If the left two sound better, that means the right string could be improved. Remute the left string and retune the right two unisons by retuning the right most string. Remember, make them sound better, not perfect, just better. Remove the mute and listen for the improvement in the trichord unison.

– If both sound bad, or the same but not like a single string, then there is two possibilities:

1. The centre string could be improved. (i.e. the left and right are close to each other)
– Mute the right or the left string and retune the other right or left string until the sound improves.
Again, don’t look for perfection.
– Remove the mute and listen for the improvement in the trichord unison.

2. Both unison pairs are bad. I.e. no two strings are very close to each other at all.
– Mute one side and retune the other pair.
Mute the other side and retune the other pair.
I.e. retune the trichord unison from scratch.

In this way, you improve the unisons and continue to improve your internal concept of what a good unison sounds like by producing better and better unisons to hear right in front of you. If you do not improve your internal concept of what a good unison sounds like, you will be doomed to continue to produce those inferior unisons for the rest of your life. Obviously you do not want to do that or you wouldn’t be posting on PW.

Check out my new video on how to use Audacity to help you hear and measure beats. Awesome!

Go to

Using Audacity to Hear Beats

and see how amazing this program is when used in this specific way. You will easily be able to SEE, HEAR, COMPARE, and MEASURE beats!

What Skills are Needed to Learn How to Tune Pianos Aurally

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately since I have to present my knowledge of this subject in a succinct a way as possible in my 20 hour crash courses.

I have boiled it down to three skills; Beat Speed Sensitivity, Pitch Precision, and Stability. 

Beat Speed Sensitivity

The speeds of the M3 in the temperament octave F3F4 go from F3A3 to C#4F4. So, the smallest beat speed difference one should be able to set is that between C4E4 and C#4F4. C4E4 beats about 10.5bps while C#4F4 beats about 11bps. So, it would appear that an aural tuner should be able to hear a beat speed difference between 10.5 and 11bps. This is quite small, and possibly not possible for most tuners, but with focused practice and creative resources, one can improve their sensitivity quite a lot, and that would only serve to improve the tunings, as the tuner would be able to “fish out” more intervals that were not following the gradually increasing pattern.

Pitch Precision

Precision is the ability to reproduce consistent results. Pitch precision is the ability to make consistently small changes in pitch when making the final adjustments that will put the frequency at the optimum position.

This skill comes from the knowledge of what is happening to the tensions in the different lengths of the string, how the tuning pin is deforming under the applied force of the hammer, and using a method that allows the technician to hear whenever the pitch changes by the smallest amount. (For me, Double String Unison is the best method ever for that.)

Stability

Being able to place the pitch and have it stay there is critical for a good tuning. Unstable strings produce out of tune unisons which are the most annoying and obvious characteristics of a poor tuning.

There are hammer techniques that create superior stability, but methods such as open unison tuning can hedge your bets that the frequency will stay put. No matter the hammer technique, any application without solid comprehension of why it works, is bound to fail sooner or later. It is the understanding of the relationship between forces, friction, and deformation, that allows the technician to change things up when stability is elusive, by knowing what is happening and choosing another technique that will deal with the unstable elements.

I have many ideas on how to teach these skills. Some I have already developed, and some are still in formation. 

Subscribe to my website and be informed when new free articles and videos are uploaded that may deal with these topics.

Stay Tuned!

Mark

Check Out My New Video Lesson.

It is a series of recordings of one unison of a piano. Listen and watch as each unison has a different tone and Soundbeam allows you to see each of the partials as well as hear the tone change.

Click Here for the recordings. Enjoy. Mark

Hearing Loss in Piano Tuners

From http://marshallchasinassociates.ca/faq.htm

“I am a piano tuner. Can piano tuning lead to hearing loss and should I be wearing ear protection?
Indeed many piano tuners do suffer from hearing loss. Recall that it is not only the intensity of the sound that causes hearing loss, but also the duration. A piano tuner can spend many hours each day with various pianos and like most musically inclined people, tend to also visit night clubs and other loud venues. The total exposure can add up quickly.”

Many piano tuners use hard blows to settle the strings so they will stay stable and not drift when the pianist plays hard. It is this loud playing, or “test blows” as they are sometimes called, that can cause hearing damage for the piano tuner.

As well as damage to the ear, this loud playing can also cause joint pain in the hand, wrist, arm, neck, or shoulder. As well, they may place excessive strain on the piano’s action.

To protect hearing, a tuner may choose to use ear plugs. However, for me, I find ear plugs to be uncomfortable, and they change the tone of the piano.

But tuning with excessive test blows is not necessary. There are other ways to tune the piano with a minimum of test blows.

A “soft blow” technique is one which combines a more theoretical understanding of how friction, force, and elastic deformation in the tuning pin/string system, are affected by the force of the tuning hammer on the tuning pin.

Also, the tuner can use a “lean test”, where they massage the pin in the direction of the string, thereby testing if it is ready to go flat at the first hard blow, without having to use a hard blow at all.

Hard blows can still be used occasionally with the soft blow technique, but because they are not the only way the tuner creates stability, they are not used as much, and the tuner’s hearing is protected, without the use of ear plugs.

Warning, do not think you are not damaging your ears because you “think” you are not using hard blows that much. Any hard blows can be damaging. Have your hearing tested now, as a base line, in order to gauge hearing loss, if any, in the future.

Soft blow tuning technique also has the following benefits:
– Less joint pain
– Less ear fatigue
– Less wear on the piano
– More endurance. (It can be easier to tune for longer periods of time because the ear and the hands are not being overly strained.)

Be also warned that it is not easy to develop the sensation of how the pin and tensions respond to certain hammer forces, especially if the tuner does not have a strong grasp of the forces at play.

I have been using soft blow tuning technique since I started tuning. My stability has not always been 100% and it has taken me a while to develop a system that is relatively easy to explain and use, but the biggest benefit to me from using this technique, is my hearing.

Below are two audiograms. One taken in the early years of my tuning career, and the second one: eight years later. I was relieved to find out that my hearing had stayed virtually the same since that time of tuning full-time, without any hearing protection at all, but always being careful not use an excess of test blows.

If you are interested in more information on the Soft Blow tuning technique, please leave a comment below or use my contact page.

In the audiograms below, you can see a slight dip at about 6000Hz in my right ear, but it has not increased appreciably, if at all, in eight years. The slight decrease in my left, the audiologist said was typical with age. I do remember I had just tuned a piano that morning and could hear some ringing in my ears as I took the test.

Piano tuners or anyone tuning pianos should not use this article as evidence that hearing protection is not needed when tuning pianos. But if you want to reduce the strain on your ears, joints, and the piano, you can by using less hard blows, which can be effected with the Soft Blow tuning method.

Mark Cerisano. Audiogram 2004
Hearing Test Mark Cerisano 2004

Mark Cerisano. Audiogram 2012
Hearing Test Mark Cerisano 2012

How to Hear Beats When Tuning

hand

I was just reading over some posts on pianoworld.com by students who were looking for ways to make tuning the temperament easier.

Basically, the problem was that, although most techs use a healthy dose of thirds/sixths and fourths/fifths to tune a temperament, beginners like to use fourths/fifths because it is easier for them to hear when the intervals do not sound right, while the thirds/sixths beating is too difficult.

Many techs however, advocate the use of thirds/sixths for the purpose of producing more accuracy in tuning.

It is true, however, that they are harder to hear for many students.

With that in mind, I would like to share some tricks I used when starting out, that helped me to more easily hear the beats of thirds/sixths, sometimes called Rapid Beating Intervals, or RBI’s.

1. Know Where the Coincidental Partial Is.
That is where the beating will occur. By knowing where the beating should be, you can begin to train your ear to focus at that frequency. I believe, and there have been studies that prove, that the brain of a piano tuner is different. I believe it is constant focusing of the ear that causes the brain to change. But it takes time and focus. Know where the beating is occurring, i.e. at the coincidental partial, and focus on it.

2. Ghosting
Sometimes this works, and when it does, it is awesome. Most of the time, it doesn’t work as well as we would like.
Slowly press down the interval notes, thereby lifting the dampers, and allowing the interval strings to be excited by the ghost note.
Attack the note that corresponds to the coincidental partial, with a loud ff staccato.
If the coincidental partials of each interval note are close to the frequency of the note you played staccato, then each partial should ring, and if the partial frequencies are not the same as each other, then beats will be heard.

This sometimes works well when accompanied by playing the interval mf.

Play the interval. Let it be heard, and then strike the coincidental partial loud and short. Sometimes, it is just enough to bring out the beating when strict ghosting doesn’t.

3. Focus the Ear.
Play the coincidental partial many times, mp. Let it sustain. Let your ear listen to that unique and special frequency. Burn it into your head. Then play the interval moderately soft, without playing the coincidental partial, trying hard to keep hearing that frequency of the coincidental partial you had burnt into your ear.

4. Filter Unwanted Frequencies.
This is why hearing beats is so hard. When an interval is played, there are too many unwanted frequencies that interfere with the hearing of the beats.

Understanding the harmonic spectrum can help. Whenever a note is played, frequencies, or partials, of the harmonic spectrum are created. The tone of a note is determined by the relative intensities (volumes) of each of those partials.

Using shapes, we can filter out some of these partials.

When talking, the larynx, or voice box, produces a relatively consistent partial spectrum. But by changing the shape of our mouth cavity, we can filter more or less higher and lower partials, and create the wide variety of timbre, or tonal quality, associated with the speaking voice.

Similarly, the ear canal can do the same thing. Obviously we can’t change its shape, but we can change its shape in the room, or orientation relative to the piano.

Simply turning your head a few degrees one way or the other, can filter out just enough unwanted partials from reaching your inner ear, that the beating of the coincidental partial is more easily heard.

Also, with tones that contain the harmonic series, there can be nodes, or points/lines of less vibration of specific partials, within the room. Try to shift your head sideways, as well as tilting, to find the “sweet spot” where hearing the beats is easiest.

5. Know What the Beat Sounds Like.
The beat is not produced by the piano, per se. It seems to be a phenomenon like condition created by the interaction of two strings of the piano, and as such, the tone of the beat is not like most musical tones. It has a ghost-like quality, or pureness, that does not seem to come from the piano itself, but more often, from [i]behind[/i] the piano. So sometimes focusing your listening at a point behind the piano helps. Listen for that pure, pulsating tone.

6. Use a Band Pass Filter. This is an electronic device that you can use to filter out all frequencies except a narrow band around the frequency you are trying to hear. It has the benefit of showing you exactly what the beat sounds like. It shows you exactly what a seasoned aural piano tuner hears. 

You can create a simple Band Pass Filter by cupping your hand around your ear. Point your fingers behind you. Keep your finger tips touching your head and slowly move your palm farther and closer to your head. You can create a band pass filter with a range of about one octave.  The electronic filter I am designing has a range from about F3 to F#7, 4 octaves! (Contact me if you would like to purchase one.)

One analogy that I use to describe the path to hearing beats easier is a theatre curtain analogy.

The beats are like objects behind a theatre curtain, and we are sitting in the audience, trying to see what’s behind the curtain.

When we start trying to see those objects, the curtain is quite opaque, and while there are moments of translucence, most of the time we are just staring at velvet.

As a tuner practices trying to hear beats, the curtain begins to get thinner, and the moments of translucence last longer.

After years of experience, the curtain is virtually transparent.

By using some of the techniques I describe above, you may be able to achieve transparency sooner, rather than later.

Good luck.

When Should I Start Charging for my Piano Tunings?

How to make money tuning pianos

This question is thanks to Breanne who asked,

“With the 20 hour basic course, is that sufficient to start tuning locally? Or is the 3 different tuning classes for a total of 60 hours required for a certificate? [In other words, when is one] able to commence being an independent contractor and seek their own clients?
Thanks for your help,
Breanne”

Of course, an excellent question for anyone thinking of making some money tuning pianos.

First, the 20 hour course you refer to is the basic course I offer. I used to say “it is basically everything I learned in my first two years of learning to tune pianos”, but recently I have changed my focus. Now I am teaching all the best stuff I learned in my first two years, ignoring the stuff that I later had to unlearn, and replacing it with advanced techniques that I feel beginners are capable of learning. My philosophy is, if you want to learn how to tune a piano, you might as well learn the best way first, even if it may be a little more challenging, rather than learn a quick method that produces mediocre results, and then have to unlearn it, in order to learn a better technique in order to get better tunings.

Having said that, you will receive a certificate after each course you take from me. You can put it on your wall, share it with others, whatever you like. However, in piano tuning, the real credentials you have, are your tunings. A dealer or residential customer may give you a chance based on some evidence of training (although most of your referrals will be word of mouth) but it will be up to you, not the certificate, to get you a chance to tune the piano a second time.

Now, let’s talk about the main question, when to start making money.

First, we have to identify two schools of thought here. The answer lies somewhere between “never” and “tomorrow”.

The “Never School”, (I’m being facetious here), believes that one should never go out into the real world and begin charging for their services until they have an exceptional and impressive level of skill. At first glance, these naysayers may seem to be protecting their turf, but in reality, they have a point. If one begins to tune at a low level of ability, they may spread their name as a mediocre tuner and all high level pianists, concert halls, etc, will get that impression and think twice about calling you up for a tuning service. The downside of this approach is that one must spend tens of thousands of dollars and years in training before they get a chance to work in the field.

The “Tomorrow School”, (again facetious), says “go out as soon as possible and learn on the job. This way, you can begin making money sooner to fund your training.” Of course, the danger is that your reputation will be ruined, and you will have to work hard to undo that image.

The truth, of course, lies somewhere between “never” and “tomorrow”. But with a little thought, one can present themselves in an accurate light so they do not over represent themselves, ruining their reputation, but instead, provide exceptional service and leave customers passing on your name to others, no matter what skill level you are at..

There are three things to think about when deciding if it’s time for you to start charging:

Your Skill.
You need to have a clear idea of how good a tuner you are if you are going to represent yourself as being able to do a specific job to the level required. One truth that holds true is that “You are never as good as you think you are.” I think back on the level of tunings I used to do and my assessment of my own skill level, and I am almost embarrassed. Perhaps I will feel the same way in twenty years about my own assessment of my skill level today. Hopefully that divide between self-impression and self-actual skill level gets smaller as we grow.

Your Customer’s Expectations.
Of course, knowing what your customer expects will help you decide, coupled with your knowledge of your own skill, whether or not you are able to do the job. Here, knowing your customer is of extreme importance. This means Communication. When a new customer calls me, I am just as much interviewing them, as they are interviewing me. It is always possible that I may suggest they call someone else if I feel I cannot meet or exceed their expectations.

Your Price
While some technicians and experts suggest you should not charge a low fee, ever, because you will have a hard time keeping customers as you raise your prices, and people will make assumptions about your ability, it is only ethical to charge a fee that represents your current skill level. Your clientele will change as you get better and you begin to charge more. That’s ok. And in this way, you can get the on the job training that will help you get better.

Putting It All Together

In an ideal world, you would have a certain skill level and that skill level would be represented by your price. Customers would know what level you are at, by your price, and would hire you to do the job at that level, which you would be capable of doing because your skill level would match the price you are charging. You would perform the job at that level and the customer would be happy and would recommend you to their friends.

Your Price matches Your Skill
Your Customer’s Expectations are determined by Your Price
Your Customer’s Expectations are met by Your Skill

Another way to write this is:

Price = Skill
Customer’s Expectations = Price
Customer’s Expectations = Skill

In reality, of course, assumptions are made that are more or less accurate. In order to have a better chance of performing work that meets your customer’s satisfaction, one should err on the side of caution.

For example, it would be prudent to choose a price that allows you to exceed your customer’s expectation of your skill

Expressed as inequalities:

Price < Skill
I.e. you underrepresent your skills by charging a lower price. This sets up a chance for you to over-deliver.

Customer’s Expectations = Price
The customer still makes an assumption about your skill based on the price you charge.

But, because Price < Skill:

Customer’s Expectations < Skill
And you are able to over-deliver.

The chart below shows the relationship between these three elements.

When should I start charging for my piano tunings

For any skill level, there is a range of prices that provides the opportunity for you to over deliver. One tricky part is making sure the customer realizes that your price represents your skill level, and not that they are somehow getting a great deal and as such, expect more than the price would suggest.

Notice however, that the lower your skill level, the greater the chance of over representing yourself. That is a real danger.

However, if you wait until your skill level is high, this results in a much lower chance of over representing yourself because you will exceed your customer’s expectations most of the time.

So, armed with these new perspectives, I hope you feel more confident to not only be able to decide if you are ready to begin charging for your tunings, but also, how to go about it, if you decide to do it.

Good luck and I hope whatever you decide, your reputation continues to grow and you build a strong and profitable customer base.

Aural Tuning or Electronic Tuning? Which is Better?

handAccutuner

What a way to start a controversy among tuners. Ask this question at a piano tuner’s convention and step back and watch the fireworks.

The reason that this is a heated topic is because both sides have strong opinions, and both sides are right. Both aural and electronic tuners have the potential to produce perfect tunings.

An aural tuner will use their ears to listen to the beats produced by intervals at the piano, and tune those intervals so that they have the desired relationship of beat speeds between intervals.
(Click Here to watch my video lesson on Beats.)

While a good electronic tuner will also use their ears, they also use an electronic tuning device, sometimes called an ETD, to help them decide where a note should be tuned.

Aural tuners constantly listen to each interval on the piano many times and are always trying to find the right compromise between intervals so the piano as a whole sounds the best it can sound.

One reason for this compromise is due to inharmonicity. Inharmonicity describes the fact that higher partials or overtones in a string are sharper than ideal. This means higher notes must be tuned sharper than the mathematical ideal, and lower notes must be tuned flatter than the mathematical ideal, if the octaves are going to sound good. The result is what tuners call a “stretched” octave, and also results in a piano that has the treble notes sharp from ideal, and the bass notes flat from ideal. And this amount of “stretch” is different for different pianos!

This is why a guitar tuner will cost $35, and an ETD will start at $400!

An ETD will “approximate” the stretch curve by first listening to four to six notes on the piano. (Some listen “on the fly” to each note but then are changing the stretch curve for notes that have already been tuned. If the tuner has the discipline to go over the piano many times, these ETD’s can produce a much more precise tuning than the rest.)

The result is that the ETD is always “approximating” the actual stretch curve that is best for the piano in question.

So, to answer to the question in the title, we need to understand that aural tuners are at different levels of ability, and ETD’s give approximations of the ideal stretch curve.

See the diagram below to understand how aural and ETD tuners can achieve varying levels of precision.

In this diagram, the precision of the aural and ETD tuner is shown by circles. The ideal tuning is the bull’s eye. It should be noted that the ETD has a more consistent precision, while there is some variability to the aural tuner’s precision, depending on ambient noise, mood, etc.

The ETD’s accuracy, or centre of precision, is shown “off centre”, to illustrate its approximation characteristics.

The left target shows the precision of a beginning or intermediate tuner. The ETD circle is much smaller and the relationship of the circles illustrates that the ETD is more likely to produce a tuning that is better than that of the aural tuner.

The right target shows the precision of an expert aural tuner. The circle is much smaller than that of the ETD and the result is that the expert aural tuner’s accuracy is more likely to be better than that of the ETD.

It should be noted that with this model, there is always the possibility that the beginning or intermediate tuner will have a higher precision than the ETD on a case by case basis, and the ETD could have a higher precision than the expert aural tuner, on a case by case basis, it is just not as likely.

When looking at this question using this target model, the answer to the above question is not so easy to conclude. There are tendencies toward one, given certain circumstances that deal mainly with the precision of the particular aural tuner in question.

In the end, the tuner has to tune many pianos if they are to have a successful business, so they have to be happy with the choice they make; aural or ETD. Also, it has to fit with their own personality and aptitude, and they and their customers have to be satisfied with the result.

Can You Learn to Tune Pianos Online?

The internet has changed the way we think.

“Right now there is a revolution going on, and the revolution has already wiped out travel agents…hammered away at newspapers…you can go down the list. All these industries have changed.”
Seth Godin, interviewed by Michael Hyatt

All these industries have changed, including education. I don’t think anyone would say that that has not happened. Just look at all the websites that offer online courses.

In fact, many universities are now offering free online courses that are identical to the courses and lectures being held in the schools and paid for by students.
See A complete list of Massive Open Online Courses (free online courses) offered by the best universities and entities.

At first, I was sceptical that teaching piano tuning online would work. How could I demonstrate effectively? Would the internet distort the frequencies? Would the students be able to hear the beats effectively?

Then I was contacted by one of my students who had, in the past, travelled from Australia to take some of my courses. He was interested in more, but the cost and timing wasn’t working out.

Because of my interest in “the Revolution” Seth Godin speaks about, I asked him if he wanted to try a course over Skype. (We ended up using Google Hangout for better quality, but Skype now is its own verb and more people know what that means, so I often describe the course as a Skype course.)

The result was fantastic; way more exciting and effective than I ever thought it would be.

“I learned much more than I thought I would.” – Roger from Australia.

And the questions I had, were answered.

How could I demonstrate effectively?
It turns out some things are easier to demonstrate online. I can take my camera and point exactly at the spot in the piano where I want the student to look.

Would the internet distort the frequencies?
Turns out, it does. What we did was start Tunelab, an Electronic Tuning Device (ETD) software, on each of our computers, then play and measure a string on each person’s piano. Then compare measurements. In our experiment, the internet caused a consistent drop of seven cents both ways. The only part of piano tuning where that would be a problem, is if we were trying to set A440 to exactly 440Hz and measure it in order to give a mark, similar to the PTG exam.

(Edit – Robert Scott of Tunelab has informed me that frequency cannot change. It is like creating something from nothing. If the frequency did indeed change 7 cents down, it would have to rise 7 cents later so that no vibrations were lost or created from nothing.)

Would the students be able to hear the beats effectively?
This actually turned out to be the most surprising result of all. You see, when learning to tune pianos, there are certain skills that one needs to master.

1) Theory
2) Stability
3) Hearing beats

The theory is easy to learn if it is well taught, especially if it is taught to a student who is a musician already.

The stability can be a little more challenging, but with the techniques I have developed, we are able to dramatically reduce the variables that can cause confusion, and we are able to discuss the theory of friction and elastic deformation. This helps people visualize how the pin and string are behaving and that helps them choose superior hammer techniques for superior stability.

The beats. Ah, the beats. You see, tuning a piano by ear involves making many compensations for the physical limitations of the piano as an instrument, and demands us to tune the piano “out of tune”. (See Lesson on Equal Temperament)

When one tunes an interval out-of-tune, beats are created and sound like pulsations of the volume. The problem is, the beats occur in high frequencies and some students experience difficulty hearing these beats because they are high (the beats, that is) and quiet and conflict with the actual pitches of the interval being tuned. We have to “learn” to filter out the lower interval frequencies, and focus on the higher beating frequencies.

Easier said than done, because this kind of “learning” cannot be fast tracked (even though I have developed some techniques that make it easier); the ear has to be trained; it has to continually try to hear those beats, until the physiology of the “ear” and brain change and the beats are more audible to the student.

However, I discovered a wonderful byproduct of teaching piano tuning online using computers and speakers poor at replicating the audio portion of the course, (which is basically most computer speakers.)

Aspire-S5-HP Compuiter Speaker Frequency Response
Image source:
http://www.digitalversus.com/laptop/acer-aspire-s5-p12524/test.html
edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT, B.Sc.(Mech.Eng.)

In the diagram above, the frequencies of the actual notes being played in the temperament octave, are not reproduced very well. The frequencies of the pitches where the beats are occurring, are reproduced much better, and therefore the beats easier to hear over the internet. It is in this area where we have to focus our hearing when comparing beats for the purpose of improving temperament. The internet and computer setup makes this easy.

CONTACT ME NOW if you are interested in learning more about piano tuning online.

Different Piano Tuning Pedagogy

You would think that with all the different types of people out there, that there would be a wide variety of teaching methods from which an aspiring piano tuner could choose from. Here is a break down of your choices:

1) Learn from a Mentor.
Pros:
Real life on-the-job experience.
Hands-on instruction.
Can be inexpensive, maybe even earn a small wage.

Cons:
It is very difficult to find a technician who is willing to teach you.
Most that are interested, do not have teaching experience or skills.
Many just want to get some free labor.
They will also be hesitant to teach you how to be their competition.
They may prefer to teach you how to do the mundane tasks so they don’t have to, but leave the real meaty stuff out, like the actual tuning!
They have their style which may not fit yours.

If you can find a mentor who is a good teacher, is generous with their time, and will teach you all they know just so you can start your own business being their competition, you have found a very special human being.

2) Correspondence Courses.

Pros:
You can read and take lessons at your own pace.

Cons:
It can be very lonely when you run into trouble.
The quality of tools and lessons varies widely, from adequate to down right sloppy.
There is no substitute for hands-on instruction from an expert piano tuner who is also skilled at teaching.

3) Formal School.
Pros:
The promise of comprehensive instruction.
Forced learning (Con?)

Cons:
Expensive in money and time.
You have to commit to a year or more to take all the courses.
Most of the time is spent practicing, and you get to pay them for you to do it!
Most technicians eventually find their niche; not all technicians are interested in rebuilding, historical temperaments, harpsichords, etc, but you have to pay to learn how to do it all, even if you are not interested. (As a technician, there is no rule that says you have to know how to do every repair or  tune historical temperaments. A technician who refers work to others because they recognize their limitations, is rare and respected by their customers and other technicians.)

4) Short courses.

Pros:
Inexpensive.
Do at your own pace; pick and choose what you want to learn, what you are interested in.
Because instructors go through their course material many times per year, as they teach each group of students, they get to see what works and what doesn’t work. They refine the course material so it is as effective as possible, as opposed to a correspondence course that doesn’t get the same kind of live direct and indirect feedback, or a formal school that has to wait a full year to modify course material.
You get to “try out the waters” so to speak, see if piano technology is something that you would like, without spending too much money. (Short courses are the least expensive and best value for your money if the instructor has a good reputation.

Cons:
You have to research the instructor’s reputation to make sure they have a high record of success.

Mark Cerisano has been teaching piano tuning and repair in a crash course format since 2007. His courses are now geared especially for musicians who want to learn how to tune pianos.
Mark’s Piano Tuning and Repair Courses

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