The music and performing arts industry has a myriad variety of jobs – technical and non-technical – and a piano tuner or technician is one such role, best suited for people with an ear for music and competent piano playing skills! As a piano tuner or technician, you can find jobs in different kinds of workplaces such as music schools and colleges, concert halls, recording studios, etc. If this is a job which seems interesting to you, then read on to learn how to become a piano tuner.
The Piano Technicians’ Guild (PTG) is a non-profit professional association of piano tuners or technicians and is the only organization which sets rules and regulations for piano technicians, in addition to granting certification to professional piano tuners who successfully complete a very detailed and rigorous training program in order to be certified as Registered Piano Technicians (RPT). An RPT is responsible for the overall tuning, maintenance and repairs of any kind of a piano.
A piano tuner or technician is responsible for tuning, maintaining and repairing pianos and adjusting pianos of all types, in order to improve the quality of touch and sound. Piano technicians can diagnose and repair any mechanical malfunctions and reset or tune the piano to its most optimal setting for clarity of sound and ease of playing.
- Good range of hearing and the ability to distinguish between subtle musical nuances;
- Flexibility and dexterity in finger-work is essential; as is overall physical fitness;
- Some amount of technical training may be required in order to use sensitive electronic devices and technology which are used in fine-tuning an instrument;
- Acoustic design, woodwork for making cabinets and piano designing skills are required by piano technicians who are also rebuilders or refinishers.
There are several ways in which you can attain training in piano tuning, these are listed below:
- Academic courses at residential schools or colleges;
- Self-study or distance-learning programs or online courses;
- Apprenticing with an expert piano tuner.
Basic training is for a period ranging from 6 months to two years; advanced training and practical experience is required for an additional 2-5 years.
The subjects covered in a comprehensive piano tuning training course will include: (a)tuning – theory, practice and terminology; (b) piano parts – respective functions, assembling and disassembling various parts, repair and maintenance techniques; (c) regulating tone and touch; and (d) piano history, design and general business practices.
Advanced training subjects will cover tuning for special events such as concerts, rebuilding and refinishing pianos, diagnostics&repair for complex problems and manually fine-tuning a piano without the aid of electronic equipment.
To be designated as Registered Piano Technicians, piano tuners are required to successfully complete three examinations conducted by the PTG – one written examination on basic and advanced subjects listed above, and two separate practical tests on ‘tuning’ and ‘regulation’. Further in-depth information on the certification course and other resources to work as a piano tuner/technician can be found at the PTG web site, ptg.org.