piano tuning course

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jordan2
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piano tuning course

Post by jordan2 » 08 Apr 2011, 23:20

No intention to be a professional tuner at all. Being a concert pianist, I am very interested to know if there is any part-time or short training course on piano tunings/repair? Better be in Scotland. I think it is vitally important for serious pianists to have a wee bit of tuning experience and basic sense of repairs etc.

Again, this is just my recent thoughts. I am also keen to know if there is any private lessons that could be offered.

Any tuner near Glasgow or Edinburgh, please feel to pm me.

Many thanks.

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Feg » 09 Apr 2011, 00:25

The only piano tuning/repair course in Scotland closed in June 2000 - I was one of the last students to get my qualification there. As far as I'm aware, the only training facility left in the UK is at Newark College.

It takes far more than a short course to gain any practical knowledge of tuning and repairs - college courses are usually three years and apprenticeships were longer.

However, as I am based in Edinburgh, you can PM me with questions if that will help.

Fiona

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Colin Nicholson » 09 Apr 2011, 01:02

A basic tuning of unisons & good lever technique is possibly all that is needed really for top notch pianists. You will find that after playing heavily for a few hours.... to tune a whole piano is quite extensive & needs major training & I doubt if anyone would share their wisdom - but I might be wrong. I have been playing some Chopin today - the A flat Polonaise, and the A flats get a 'pounding'!! - and I later put just 2 notes back in tune.... but only one string from each tri-chord & bi-chord was slightly out.... so its also knowing which string to tune.

I would forget about repairs.... if you are playing on a good piano, it won't need any, unless you break a hammer! There are so many different specialised tools for even the simplest of tasks - and they are quite expensive. Presuming that this is a grand piano - I would leave any repairs to the experts.... but yes, nothing wrong in carrying a tuning lever & wedge around with you - that is quite common.... as even any good violinist will always tune their own instrument.... but never repair one!
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Feg » 09 Apr 2011, 09:11

Colin Nicholson wrote:A basic tuning of unisons & good lever technique is possibly all that is needed really for top notch pianists.
.........so its also knowing which string to tune.

I would forget about repairs.... if you are playing on a good piano, it won't need any, unless you break a hammer!
I'm all for pianists having any sort of understanding of what a piano tuner 'does' :)

Basic tuning of unisons is about all that could be taught on a short course, Colin, if such a thing exsisted. After all, the shortest tuning course I know about takes three years at college then the rest of your working life :lol:

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Colin Nicholson » 09 Apr 2011, 15:20

I don't think any piano tuning college will do quick crash courses in tuning - and don't know any in Scotland - ask Vernon. Mine was a 2 year course at Leeds (Old Technology College) - and even though tuning was only 2 days a week, also another 2 days were repairing/ regulation work, and one full day alternating between metalwork, woodwork, health and safety. We also built our own guillotines for eg. leathers, and a small 'gallion' style guillotine for things like damper felt. In metal/woodwork, we made various tools & jigs. I also had to pay "up-front". I then stayed on another year to do restoration/ piano construction & a little on history. When I finished college...... that was just the start!!! I reckon I have probably spent well in excess of £3K on tools, equipment etc.

I also visited Dan in Feb, one of our forum members to just put him right about a few tuning issues - Hi Dan!! Dan also teaches piano, and shows an interest in tuning - though not sure after just 1 X 2 hour lesson, he will grasp all the requirements. He says me may be doing the Newark course in September.

If Jordan2 wants a basic tuning kit (lever, muting strip, wedges) - just PM me for more details.... but may be best to contact a local tuner and ask if they give casual tuition? I also have a reasonable music score showing the basics of tuning, beats per sec., but seriously, I would leave tempering the 'scale' to an expert.... and just have a lever handy for unisons.

Have you contacted anyone Jordan2???

Just one piece of friendly advice.... no matter how good a pianist you are, if your piano is a good quality one, it must be tuned 'scientifically' - and not necessarily 'musically' - though it helps to check chords/ arpeggios/ dominant 7ths resolving to tonic and a multitude of checks using double octaves, and several scales.
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 09 Apr 2011, 17:09

The artur reblitz book and a tuning fork is a good place to start for learning unisons isn't it? :)
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Colin Nicholson » 09 Apr 2011, 18:03

The Reblitz is quite 'steep' and more for the pro I think - but a good book.
This is the book I started with many moons ago.... below...

"The Family Piano Doctor" by Don Wicks.... an excellent book, and very 'user-friendly' - and no fancy jargon.

Chapter 4 covers tuning.
Subjects are: Pitch, Frequencies, Equal Temperament, Tempered Intervals, Tuning lever technique (positioning, control, easing tension); listening for beats, setting pin & string, tuning unisons/ octaves; laying a scale, muting, ear training, counting seconds, major 3rd trap.... and lots more. Also fully illustrated & included Grand Piano subjects.

Available on Amazon (but not illustrated).

Here we are......
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Feg » 09 Apr 2011, 20:04

Colin Nicholson wrote:I don't think any piano tuning college will do quick crash courses in tuning - and don't know any in Scotland - ask Vernon.
Why ask Veron? I'm a Scottish piano tuner too :D and I've already replied to that question!
Feg wrote:The only piano tuning/repair course in Scotland closed in June 2000 - I was one of the last students to get my qualification there. As far as I'm aware, the only training facility left in the UK is at Newark College.

Colin Nicholson wrote:Just one piece of friendly advice.... no matter how good a pianist you are, if your piano is a good quality one, it must be tuned 'scientifically' - and not necessarily 'musically' - though it helps to check chords/ arpeggios/ dominant 7ths resolving to tonic and a multitude of checks using double octaves, and several scales.
I've got to disagree with that last statement, Colin. There should be no difference between the two! That's why we use EQ and not any of the miriad of ancient temperaments which are available to us as tuners - certainly they were taught as part of my HND. Also why should it matter what quality the instrument is? All pianos should be tuned by the same principles regardless with the sole aim of producing the best sounding instrument possible.
Fiona

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by rgreig » 09 Apr 2011, 20:12

Slightly at a tangent, this got me thinking about mechanical devices that could tune a piano, or even how a piano could have some kind of modified pin block so that a combination of electronics and mechanics could tune the instrument "automatically".

The idea of a device that listens to the strings, calculates the frequency and then powers movement of the pins is from what I gather quite well researched (no surprise really since it is the "obvious" solution). This link is to a patent for such a device filed in the late 90s by a gentleman called Don Gilmore.

It turns out that the amount of torque needed, plus other challenges with metal pins in planks of wood mean that these devices have not so far proved feasible. However searching for Don Gilmore shows that he has worked for many years on the problem and came up with what seems to me an innovative solution that uses electric current to heat and thus flatten strings.

I cannot find out whether the system actually made it into production. It appears that Mr Gilmore struck a deal with Story and Clark to build the system into one of their pianos in 2003 but that they failed to deliver. After some number of years, the inventor cancelled the contract and started building a prototype that from posts on a US-based piano forum was quite advanced in 2008. I couldn't find out what happened after that (from Google at any rate!).

For those interested, this New Scientist article discussed the concept, and this forum thread discussed the prototype in some detail with contributions from Mr Gilmore himself. He reveals that he had interest from some other piano manufacturers, most notably Steinway.

As a piano owner I can certainly see the attraction in such a device but equally I can see that it may cause problems for us too because it would (despite Mr Gilmore's assertion otherwise) surely decimate the income of piano technicians (in the UK I would imagine most people want standard tunings rather than voicings and repairs?) making the profession less viable and in turn reducing the number of people able to service and maintain pianos.

Robert

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by vernon » 09 Apr 2011, 21:50

Feg.
What's wrong about asking Veron(sic)?
We know Auld Reekie rules and that the Weegies are" the people" but the Capital of the Highlands is far it is at>
At present I am training a pupil in piano tuning, one to one, as I have done to many in the past.
( For the benefit of our non-scotch speaking contributors, the above reads;"We know Edinburgh( pronounced Embra)rules and that Glaswegians are the best, Inverness is greatest.
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by vernon » 09 Apr 2011, 22:00

Incidentally, apart from doing an intensive course in tuning painos, we also specialise in the tuning of portuguese sponia,spanish poinas,greek niapos and the famous chinese soipan
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Feg » 09 Apr 2011, 22:13

vernon wrote:Feg.
What's wrong about asking Veron(sic)?
We know Auld Reekie rules and that the Weegies are" the people" but the Capital of the Highlands is far it is at>
At present I am training a pupil in piano tuning, one to one, as I have done to many in the past.
( For the benefit of our non-scotch speaking contributors, the above reads;"We know Edinburgh( pronounced Embra)rules and that Glaswegians are the best, Inverness is greatest.
No offense intended, Vernon :)
I was just more than a bit miffed that my repy to the original post had been totally disregarded when I had provided information that the OP had requested.

Fiona xx

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by vernon » 09 Apr 2011, 22:58

A' Fhiona a 'graidh
no offence taken I can assure you
x
v
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Colin Nicholson » 11 Apr 2011, 10:34

Fiona
I've been away most of this weekend, and just noticed your reply to my comments. Of course a piano must be tuned musically and synonymously with theory, but I was aiming my 'pitch' of the reply to an absolute beginner of a potential tuner, not you, nor any other experienced tuner. Jordan2 would need to learn the basics of tuning science first, then the musical side involved later.. as I explained with the use of chords etc.

[Quote]"That's why we use EQ"...... who is WE? and does Jordan2 understand this term and what you mean by that?.... of course not.

We know (amongst ourselves) that all pianos differ in their quality of the tuning, and I am a believer that "the tuning is only as good as the piano" - in some aspects. Some pianos are very difficult to tune accurately if strings have false beats/ poor bridge contact/ weak down-bearing.... etc etc.... but this kind of language is for US - surely not for a beginner, so I have kept it simple.... simples!. I think personally it matters a great deal about the quality of the instrument... yes, the theoretical approach to tuning is the same, but the final outcome will of course depend on the quality of the strings/ hammers etc.

I referred to Vernon simply because you 'sort of' asked about "short courses that just cover unisons?" and if these courses existed or not - I don't know, so I referred to Vernon being the next best thing (words to that effect) - nothing to do with your credability as being a tuner.... Vernon & I had been having this discussion not so long ago - about the whereabouts for info on lever techniques/ teaching beginners (which incidentally, I have the book referring to this!) - nothing personal Fiona, and I didn't intend to knock you off your perch in terms of you being outcasted. I am sure that you are a good person.

My comments are merely my opinion & experiences, and aimed/worded in such a way for a novice in this case. Ta

Colin :D :D :D
Last edited by Colin Nicholson on 11 Apr 2011, 20:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Johnkie » 11 Apr 2011, 12:44

In reply to Jordan2's question about part time or short courses in piano tuning and repairs ... I wouldn't dream of encouraging anyone to undertake anything other than a recognised and accredited course, before giving access to a decent piano. He says that he is a concert pianist, so one should assume that he has the use of top of the range instruments ....and should NEVER be allowed to fiddle with things ...even the odd unison. It take immense skill, proper training and years of experience to be able to tune to the highest standards expected by concert pianists, and people that " just want to pop in the odd unison" without having the expertise should not be encouraged in any way. They simply don't know or understand the principle of "Setting the pin", or have the special "feel" to be able to arrive at a stable tuning. By all means practice on some old heaps if absolutely hell bent on giving it a try .... but otherwise leave it to the people who have sweated blood to learn the skill, or at least under supervision of skilled tutelage.

As to the ill feeling that appears to be present - We should all be a little more prepared to recognise that, as with some E-mails and letters, sometimes the written word can be taken several ways and picked up in a negative manner, when it was not the sender's intention ....
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by NewAge » 11 Apr 2011, 17:37

rgreig wrote:Slightly at a tangent, this got me thinking about mechanical devices that could tune a piano, or even how a piano could have some kind of modified pin block so that a combination of electronics and mechanics could tune the instrument "automatically".

The idea of a device that listens to the strings, calculates the frequency and then powers movement of the pins is from what I gather quite well researched (no surprise really since it is the "obvious" solution). This link is to a patent for such a device filed in the late 90s by a gentleman called Don Gilmore.

It turns out that the amount of torque needed, plus other challenges with metal pins in planks of wood mean that these devices have not so far proved feasible. However searching for Don Gilmore shows that he has worked for many years on the problem and came up with what seems to me an innovative solution that uses electric current to heat and thus flatten strings.

I cannot find out whether the system actually made it into production. It appears that Mr Gilmore struck a deal with Story and Clark to build the system into one of their pianos in 2003 but that they failed to deliver. After some number of years, the inventor cancelled the contract and started building a prototype that from posts on a US-based piano forum was quite advanced in 2008. I couldn't find out what happened after that (from Google at any rate!).

For those interested, this New Scientist article discussed the concept, and this forum thread discussed the prototype in some detail with contributions from Mr Gilmore himself. He reveals that he had interest from some other piano manufacturers, most notably Steinway.

As a piano owner I can certainly see the attraction in such a device but equally I can see that it may cause problems for us too because it would (despite Mr Gilmore's assertion otherwise) surely decimate the income of piano technicians (in the UK I would imagine most people want standard tunings rather than voicings and repairs?) making the profession less viable and in turn reducing the number of people able to service and maintain pianos. Robert
Over the last few years I have followed the forum thread you referred to, and found the subject of a self-tuning piano very interesting indeed. The inventor of the system last posted an update in Sep 2009, so assuming work has continued it could by now be well advanced. http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthre ... ost1210363
Whether it will ever make it into production is of course, anybody's guess.

I'm sure that a great many professional tuners are no doubt unimpressed by the development of a self-tuning piano, some apparently stating that it's an absolutely appalling idea. Added to that is the absence of professional comments here as a result of your post.
However there's no stopping progress. Which then raises the question, 'Would one never, ever see a digital piano in the home of a tuner/technician?' :?
I was playing the piano in a zoo, when the elephant burst into tears. I said, "Don't you recognize the tune?" He replied, "No, I recognize the ivories!"

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Johnkie » 11 Apr 2011, 18:06

Ok ... here goes! The idea of a "self tuning" piano is already on the market .... it's called an electronic piano ! As for inventing anything that would enable a real piano to either tune itself or to be able to add a device as an attachment that would do the job ........ it'll never happen. The art of fine tuning could never be undertaken by a robot, and anything that might be able to do even a half decent job would be too costly and time consuming to make a viable proposition. Any machine would after all, need to be calibrated and set up for each individual instrument , making it a totally worthless exercise.
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Re: paino tuning course

Post by rgreig » 11 Apr 2011, 21:01

Johnkie,

I'm interested in a couple of your comments. Your comment about tuning never being able to be undertaken by a robot is one that was (in essence) brought up on one of the threads I read discussing Don Gilmore's invention. I am genuinely interested in understanding why. If a machine had the ability to adjust the oscillation of strings to a certain frequency that was the predetermined value for a particular note - for example, ensuring that A was 440Hz - would that not be sufficient?

In any case, the current invention as I understand it does not rely on a machine "knowing" when the piano is in tune. It relies on a machine being able to record how a piano has been tuned and being able to recreate that - exactly your point about calibration. So the piano must be tuned by a tuner and then the system periodically adjusts it so that the original tuning is maintained. After a period of time (when heating the strings can longer reduce the frequency sufficiently) it would need re-tuning manually. The other interesting point is that the sensors are not acoustic but visual - they "look" at the oscillations of each string.

Robert

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Re: paino tuning course

Post by Johnkie » 11 Apr 2011, 22:33

rgreig :

Robots with anything like the skill of a human hand could I dare say in theory, possibly be built to enable adjustment a piano's wrest pin to attain a pre-determined frequency, but it would still lack the "feel" of being able to set the pin so that every last bit of twist has been taken out, and take into account that every change in a single string's tension has a knock on effect on the other remaining strings, thus ensuring that the tuning remains firm and stable. However, every piano is unique with its own slight variations of where these wrest pins are positioned. this would mean that a robot would have to automatically re-program itself to firstly find it's exact position, and secondly at what degree in order to attach the tuning tool. Robots are designed to do exactly the same thing ... with perfection .... time and time again - Every string on a piano is different in so many ways .... different lengths, different positions, different torque on every wrest pin, different angle of attack etc etc. A robot just could not at present, be built to take all these things into consideration, and even if it were possible the cost would be astronomical !

In relation to your second point - If a tuner had first tuned the piano and then this particular piece of technology was used to monitor every single string and be able to make slight adjustments to counteract any slight variations ... how expensive and complicated would that be ? Every single string would require its own heating element, and individual monitoring .... that's every string .... not merely every note ..... so we are talking about 240 (ish) strings!! On top of all this you would have to overcome the problem of unisons, octaves, and harmonics interferring with the monitoring equipment.

It would simply not be either possible or practical to produce or install any such invention - the piano manufacturers themselves, couldn't even bear the cost (if it were possible and readily available) .... so the idea of an individual pianist being able to afford such a piece of equipment, and for it to be any use, is nothing more than pie in the sky !!

If you think about it - Every other non-electronic musical instrument needs tuning - and some (like a drum for example) only have one note to worry about. Yes indeed there are aids to tuning, aids that do no more than indicate whether the need is to increase or decrease pitch ... but the mechanics have to be done by hand - if it were possible to have a cheap and acurate robot to do this work, would it not make perfect sense to start on something requiring just minimal adjustment?

It's a pointless thought that a contraption could ever replace the trained and skill hand of the humble piano tuner - It's already been done to a greater degree ........ and we call it an electronic piano, but a real piano will always need the human touch.

A very interesting topic though :wink:
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Re: piano tuning course

Post by RichardSLewis » 04 Sep 2011, 23:20

Hi,

Interested in your request for a piano tuning course.

I tune pianos in the Edinburgh area and could give you
some basic lessons, for 2 or 3 months if this is of interest.

My suggestion would have been 2 hours per week for about
12 weeks and it would be preferrable to have an overstrung
upright at your disposal to start on.

The theory is simple, the practice is extensive mainly due to
the imperfections in piano design, fair wear and tear of
instruments.

Please reply if I can be of further help.

Best regards,

Richard Lewis
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Tel: 0845 009 5884
Mob: 07904 397754

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Re: piano tuning course

Post by vernon » 05 Sep 2011, 20:03

veron speaking.
My experience is that to begin with half an hour is the most tolerance a student can take.That's what I do.
Two hours would send them barmy.
This complicates teaching so one needs to have other jobs to do between 1/2 stints.
As an experienced tuner knows,if you get a dreadful joanna full of false notes etc and it takes too long,your ear tires. One needs the drive between jobs to recover.
Doing schols one works on auto-pilot of course.
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