Archive for the ‘Piano tuning’ Category

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.

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Piano tuner

Image via Wikipedia

Piano tuners are interesting people. mechanically nerdy, but interesting. You should follow at least one piano tuner on your Twitter account.  Preferably it would be someone in your community.

The whole idea behind using social media is to broaden your exposure to diverse people.  SEO isn’t really doing that though is it? You get recommendations on who to follow, which webpages to visit,  which ads to click on, and all of this just narrows your exposure to diversity. If you stick to the recommendations, you aren’t following the world, you are just following people who are like you, or who like the things that you like.  That is BORING. You have to be pro-active to build diversity on your Twitter account, and in real life.

Piano tuners talk about harmonics, and wippens, and capstans and temperaments. We discuss the effects of inharmonicity and how to stretch a tuning. Google “Pitch raise” and see how many hits you get. It’s amazing, and you aren’t in the loop brother. You are missing out!

We also write about exotic instruments, harpsichords, clavinets, woodworking,  jigs and tools, and pretty much anything related to music. You may know a lot about music, but piano tuners know more people who know a lot about music. We visit musicians every day. We walk into concert halls of all sizes. We talk to conductors, directors, administrators, teachers, parents and children.  We live in a network of people who need things fixed.

Did you know there are 8,000 different brands of pianos being played in the U.S.  Oh yeah! Piano tuners repair those instruments. We tune and repair pianos made by Broadwood, Erard, Laffargue, Scheidmayer and Son, and thousands of others.

Ok, your turn.  Name five brands of pianos…..

1. Steinway….

Gooood. Four more to go…..

2. Yamaha

Ooooo. You are on a roll now….

3. ???

Maybe you can name five. Can you name ten?

You don’t have to know this stuff. You don’t have to know anything.  But Twitter gives you easy access to information that just might prove interesting or helpful at the right moment.

Ok, maybe not.

You won’t know for sure unless you try.

Give it a shot.

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