I am responding to this blog at Dallas School of Music which asks the question “What is a Music Educator?”
I cannot imagine how many different kinds of music educators are out there working to help people discover music, but I am guessing that most people would not immediately consider a piano tuner as a music educator.
What’s in A Name?
In business, the name we embrace is largely market driven. It is important to communicate to people, and part of that communication depends on their perceptions. I am a family musical education consultant, but that name does not communicate that I am a piano tuner. People are most familiar with the name “piano tuner” so that is what I use most often. However, even the name “piano tuner” is not always understood to mean that I am also a piano technician, a piano restorer, a woodworker, a synthesizer technician, a bench repairer or a piano appraiser. I provide a lot of services based on my experience. I am also a music educator but most people would not regard me that way.
A Link in the Network
I provide an important link in the network of music educators. I am accessible. I am often asked to recommend a teacher, a piano dealer, a brand of piano, and many other piano related products. Second to a piano teacher, I have more contact with the members of each family – more than manufacturers, retailers and every other teacher who is not teaching students in that particular household.
What is Your Family Music Curriculum?
I field questions from my clients. New piano buyers ask me if they bought a good piano. They want me to validate that they made a good buying decision. They ask me what they should do when their children lose interest in piano lessons. We talk about the difference between a State mandated core curriculum and a family designed core curriculum. That is, I explain that just because the State does not require piano lessons as part of the required curriculum, there is no reason why a family cannot add lessons to their family core curriculum.
If I add all of these subjects together, I feel pretty certain that I fall into a unique category as a music educator. There are a lot of people who do some of what I do, but no other person in the music educator network does everything that a piano tuner does.
What I Teach
I teach kids about their instrument. I open the magic box and show them how it works. We look at the foot pedals, the piano wires, I encourage them to touch the hammers, to move them and watch how the hammer strikes the piano wire. I teach them about room acoustics and how a tuning fork vibrates on a hard surface (like a wall) and not on a soft surface (like a carpet). It might surprise you to learn how many piano students have never seen a tuning fork. For older students, I demonstrate what a harmonic sounds like, and show how different harmonics can cause an unstruck wire to vibrate sympathetically.
Yes, There Will be A Pop-Quiz
I ask them to play their song, the one they are working on. Usually, even the shy children will not hesitate when I ask them to play. I am an audience. I ask for pop-quiz recitals. If there is a young child in the family who is not yet taking lessons, I might teach him or her how to play chopsticks, to the wonder and amazement of the parent. In that light, I create new students.
Setting the Example
I try to set a good example. I want my clients and their children to have a positive experience with their piano tuner. The network of music educators depends on everyone in that network being a good role model. I know that music teachers do this. Band directors do it. School teachers do it. I expect it from other parents when they interact with my child, and I embrace the obligation of good parenting each and every time I interact with the children of my clients.
A Proud Member of the Network of Music Educators
I enjoy many teachable moments with children. Although I do not teach them how to play the piano, I still think it would be okay to think of myself as a music educator. I enjoy my job very much. Every visit to a home is very endearing. I know I am an important link in the music education process and that gives me a deep sense of personal satisfaction. I think the name “Family Music Consultant” is a better name for what I do, but few people would understand what that means. Instead, I just stick with the name “piano tuner”, a 300 year old profession that affords me the opportunity to be of service to people who are enjoying the wonderful journey of musical education.