Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Tuning Snob

If a piano is not in tune, surely it is out of tune! Simply put, it is one or the other!

Imagine if we piano tuners would turn up to work, flick some kind of switch, tinker about for an hour or so, play the 'Tuner's Waltz', have a cup of tea, get paid, smile and... on to the next job!

But alas, a tuner's life is not so black and white, not so easy. Whatever the piano may be: Steinway, Schimmel, Schiedmayer - just a few of those beginning with S - but Bluthner, Bechstein etc. and all the rest. All these good pianos, need regular tuning and maintenance to keep them sounding good.

Videos posted online, recordings heard on the radio, programs on the TV, all demonstrate the vast spectrum of ideas about in-tune-ness. The concept of 'in tune' can range from the boringly bland to the ridiculous clang of a poorly tuned street piano. Some people seem able to tolerate the most terrible twangs and jarring noises, oblivious to the blatant affront to musicality, while being quite serious in their playing.  

Perhaps being a piano tuner, one is unable to appreciate the honest effort of sincere musicians wanting to express their musical abilities. I find it surprising however that there is not a more widespread appreciation of the concept of being 'in tune'. 

we tuners are not among the most accommodating of people, often disagreeing about ways of doing things. For some, their own ideas and practices are the right ones - anything different, is simply wrong!

There is no point in being snooty about other ways of getting the job done - it is good that the profession is still alive and well! The truth is we can all improve. I'd be embarrassed to be met with some of my earliest tuning efforts. Thankfully, after so many years, nobody is going to complain now. We can only deal with the pianos we tune today with our very best efforts. Building experience one piano at a time. 

Tuner's Journal