Archive for the ‘News’ Category

My Experience at the Denver PTG Annual Convention and Technical Institute

  

I’m in the airport waiting to go home after spending five days at the national PTG convention and I thought I would post some of my experiences. 

First, I taught two classes, one on stability and one on tuning. I have never taught at the national level before. I was terrified. My lips were so dry before my first class that no matter how much I drank, nothing helped. I made a joke of it at the beginning of class, so that helped me relax a bit. 

I met a lot of people at my booth and found out that there are a lot more technicians who teach piano tuning than I thought.

But the most impact the experience had on me was just being in a place with some many people interested in piano technology. People were able to strike up conversations easily, having the same interests. 

Here were some of the most memorable moments for me:

– Meeting my roommate, Jack Houweling. Check out his woodworking youtube channel: Jack’s Woodworking

– Singing along with Larry Crabb and the barbershop singers. 

– Dale Probst’s touching Golden Hammer acceptance speech. 

– Meeting Robert Scott of Tunelab, a real down to earth, kind man. And obviously very smart. 

– Having lunch with Randy Potter at Wendy’s and hearing his stories about hunting with his uncle. 

– By some strange stroke of luck, sitting at the Golden Hammer recipients table with greats Leroy Edwards, Rick Baldassin, and Wally Brooks, although I was too shy to actually talk to them. 

– Meeting Paco Morales. I was invited to teach in Ecuador with him but it didn’t work out. His passion for piano technology was infectious, even though we didn’t talk pianos much. We talked about Salsa music and Puerto Rico. 

– Losing my luggage with half the items I needed for my classes and my booth. 

– Finding my luggage. 

– Seeing all the rabbits outside. I’ve never seen that many in the city and they were not afraid.

I highly recommend attending a regional or national conference (not just for the rabbits. I can’t guarantee there will be any in Norfolk). 

For me, it was like grad school and I learned a lot. 

I Had a Awesome Time in Denver

After I got my luggage from Air Canada, everything went smoothly. 

I had 51 people in my stability class. The room was packed. They had to get extra chairs. Just shows how import this subject is. 

I also had a large crowd for my temperament class. And about half of them were experienced tuners of 10 – 15 years or more. 

Both classes were well received with the majority of marks 5/5 in all areas. I was really proud of that. 

I have been invited to give my stability class at another chapter and Steinway was interested in my Band Pass Filter for teaching their technicians.  I also met a lot of people who wanted to learn more about piano tuning.

All in all, a good week. 

I am looking forward to more PTG conventions and some piano teacher conventions as well. 

Good News

My luggage has been found. I will have all the equipment I need for my class tomorrow. 

However, in the process of preparing to do the class without the items lost, I had a few difficulties. 

I am using a box with a hole in it and putting a foam noodle in the hole to model the tuning pin. 

I lost the noodle so I had to get another. The new one is too small so I had to rip out the cardboard cylinder and insert a smaller cylinder for the smaller pin. This was quite difficult as I am used to repinning with larger pins!

Also, I am modelling the string’s effect by attaching elastic cord to the box. 

I lost the cord, so I tried elastics. Seems elastics do not hold their elasticity very well. Plus they kept breaking. However, they are much easier to splice than real strings. 

Due to them loosing elasticity, I decided to go stronger. I could only find bungee cords. Seems they were too strong and the table I was using to tie one end to, collapsed.   

 
About 33 1/2 hours of anguish finally come to an end. 

Let’s just hope nothing’s damaged! :-0

Air Canada did say they would give me $50. 🙂

Update from Denver

  

When I decided I would give two classes at the national PTG convention, I thought it would be relatively straight forward. I mean, I’ve been giving classes on piano tuning since 2005 and I’m fairly confident about the material. 

Little did I know that with an event this size, there are so many things that can go wrong. 

And go wrong they have. 

The airline has lost one of my boxes. In that box is a little bit of everything. The band pass filter, the stability boxes, my tuning hammer, just to name a few. 

Other than that, the trip so far is amazing. Denver Tech Center is a beautiful spot, with modern buildings juxtaposed against beautiful parks with fountains and bronze statues of kids playing. 

The organizers of the event have been welcoming and helpful; the antendees, extremely talented. 

I’m looking forward to my classes and to talking a lot about piano tuning. 

Montreal Comiccon

  
 

Only nine days until I leave for Denver and the national Piano Technicians Guild annual convention and I’ve spent the last three days at Montreal Comiccon with my four children. 
I try to keep a balance between work and family, but having the conference so close and not being prepared, as well as having a seminar to prepare for in a week, has made it hard to make the time, but I forced myself. 

Turns out I got a lot of great ideas being at the Comiccon. I plan to have a lot of freebies for people. That seemed to be a crowd pleaser here. 

If you are at the conference, be sure to stop by my booth and introduce yourself.

  

Tuning a Birdcage Action using Double String Unison, DSU. 

A Birdcage Action, sometimes called an Over Damper Action, is found on some older European pianos of the early 1900’s and late 1800’s. 

  
They got their name because the wires that actuate the dampers are in front of the hammers, and they resemble a birdcage. 

While some manufacturers may have produced quality work, in general the design of the birdcage action was inefficient and the sound of the strings would continue on after the key was released. 

The biggest problem with these pianos is how to tune them. 

Some people remove the action, insert mute strips, replace the action, tune, remove the action, remove one strip that frees up one string per note, replace the action, tune the bichords and double string unisons that were created by removing the one strip, remove the action, remove the final mute strip, replace the action, and tune the remaining trichords. Not an easy or quick task. 

Some use Papp’s mutes. They look like long thin plastic pliers. There is one inserted into the action in the photo above and below. With these you can insert the mute between two strings of a trichord, creating a single string, tune it, remove the mute, insert between the tuning note and the next note, thereby muting only the third string of the trichord and freeing up the second string to be tuned, tune it, remove the mute and tune the third string of the trichord.

The hard part with this method is trying to stick the Papp’s mute into the tiny space between the two strings of the same note. 

I have found that the fastest method to tune birdcage actions is to use Double String Unison, DSU. 

DSU is a technique some advanced tuners use and that I have systemized using my Bisecting Beat Speed Windows temperament sequence and NSL analysis for superior stability. 

The tuner inserts the mute between two notes so only one string of a note is muted. The space between the strings of adjacent notes is usually much larger than the space between strings of the same note, and therefore easier and faster to insert. 

  
This creates a DSU where two strings of a trichord are free to vibrate. (No mute is needed to tune bichords using DSU)

Then the tuner cleans up the DSU, makes a judgement on the pitch using rapid beating intervals like M3 and M6, changes one string of the DSU in the direction they want to move the whole pitch of the DSU, if it needs to be changed, moves the other string to clean up the DSU, and continues to recheck and move until the pitch of the DSU is acceptable. 

Once perfected, DSU is a very fast technique for producing  accurate equal temperament with pure and beatless unisons that have superior stability, and it has the bonus benefit of being an easy way to tune birdcage actions. 

I will be producing a book and video course on the DSU technique soon. Contact me if you wish to receive the 50% prepurchase discount.  

Piano Tuning and Repair Courses – Summer 2015

Here are the courses I am offering this summer. They are all in-person courses with hands-on supervised training.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
Basic Piano Tuning (21 hours)
August 4/5/6, 2015
8am – 4pm
$797
Tools $297

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA
Basic Piano Tuning (20 hours)
August 10-14, 2015
8am – 12pm
$797
Tools $297

Basic Piano Repair (20 hours)
August 17-20, 2015
8am – 1pm
$797
Tools $1297

Advanced Piano Tuning (20 hours)
August 24-28, 2015
8am – 12pm
$797

Basic Grand Piano Regulation (8 hours)
August 15 or 22, 2015 (To Be Confirmed)
8am – 5pm
$297

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Basic Piano Tuning (20 hours)
This will be 20 hours of supervised instruction and practice. You will learn the basics of how to use the tools and what to listen for. This course will catapult you into tuning pianos for real. Using these techniques, and with practice, you should be able to improve your tuning to a minimum level that you could begin to charge money for your tunings.

Basic Piano Repair (20 hours)
You will learn all the basic repairs and adjustments (regulation) that you would find when tuning pianos in the field. This course is a fun, hands-on look at how the piano works and how we can perform some common repairs.

Basic Grand Regulation
We will spend a day working on a grand piano. We will take the action out, learn how it works, and then learn the basic steps needed to regulate the grand action so it works well.

Note: Although the quality of instruction you receive will be very high, your success in these courses will depend on your own musical and mechanical aptitude, as well as the amount of time you spend actually performing the skills learned.

August 2015 Courses in Piano Tuning and Repair

I have finalized the dates, times, and content for my summer courses this year. Please click the links below for more information.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada. August 3 – 6, 2015.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada. August 10 – 28, 2015.

Feel free to contact me for more information.

Mark

New Octave Survey

Please click the link below and take my NEW octave quiz.

You will hear actual piano notes and be asked to tune three different A3A4 octaves.

A3A4 is the first octave tuned in many octave sequences and therefore must be tuned to sound good with itself, with no other intervals to compare.

Each A3 can be tuned within 0.5 cents and allows for a much more sophisticated test than the previous octave test I published.

Once again, your answers will greatly help me to define a more systematic procedure for aural tuning, one that will help beginners and professionals tune more accurately from the beginning, and for that I thank you very much.

Mark

Here is the link to the new octave test: New Three Octaves Survey

Double String Unison Technique at Piano Tuning Seminar

piano tuning seminar

If you haven’t bought your tickets yet for my All-Day Piano Tuning Seminar, don’t miss the deadline for the discount. The deadline for the reduced ticket price is coming up soon, May 31st.

Besides getting to hear two national level classes, you’ll also get a class on the treble temperament, and one on using the Double String Unison technique.

I’ve written an article explaining Double String Unison so you will know better what a powerful technique this is. It is an advanced technique but talented beginners can start using it as well.

Click Here for the article.

Hope to see you soon!

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