Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Kids Quit Piano Lessons

Ever wonder why kids stop playing the piano? (This is only my perspective on viewing hundreds of situations during daily piano servicing over many years).

As a piano technician, I am always astonished at the condition of pianos that children are asked to play. Amazingly, some of these kids are absolutely top notch and are somehow able to compensate for the lack of playability of their pianos.

Here are just a couple of examples of the pianos I have encountered recently.

Case #1: An institution has a piano that is used regularly. I was called in by a fellow technician to work on the piano because it was not functioning properly.

Believe it or not, I could not get any of the notes to play - AT ALL!! Wondering what the time line would be to get the piano in working order, I asked how often the piano was used (assuming it was not played at all). I was told that it was in use ALL THE TIME!

How is this possible? How can kids be asked to play pianos that simply do not work? How can they stay inspired if they are asked to play something that has no sound? I know - it was a completely unbelievable experience for me as well.

Case #2: A customer brought the family piano from Asia. I was called in to work on it after a teacher gave me the referral. I was told that the children were keenly interested in playing but some of the notes (every time I hear those few words, alarm bells go off) were not sounding quite right.

The piano was a complete disaster! Tuning pins horribly loose, action parts wobbly. There was simply no way the piano could be played. It needed to be completely rebuilt!

My opinion is that kids are astonishing at hearing good quality sound. After all they listen to sound tracks on the computer much of the time. Their hearing becomes so highly developed, they are actually able (in my experience) to hear quite well when the piano is going out of tune.

Kids advise their parents that "the piano sounds funny" and that they should get the piano tuned. Most of the parents hear the complaints, but either put off the tuning because of budgetary reasons or because they ignore the requests of their children.

Kids start to lose interest and stop playing the piano entirely. It is a very sad situation. After all, the parents have paid good money to get an instrument so their kids would have an interest in playing but are usually neglectful in paying a small amount extra to get regular piano servicing every year.

It is a lose, lose situation. The kids quit piano and the parents don't understand why. Then the parents have to find some other interest for their child.


www.paulbrown.org

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Piano Tuner Accreditation

When I decided to become a piano tuner, I contacted the technician who had been servicing our family piano for many years. To test my inspiration, the technician advised me to read two technical piano books first to see if I really wanted to study the profession. The first book is called "Piano Tuning and Allied Arts" (http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Tuning-Allied-William-Braid/dp/9996267636) by William Braid White. The second book is "Piano Servicing Tuning and Rebuilding" (http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Servicing-Tuning-Rebuilding-Second/dp/1879511029/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_bl) by Arthur A. Reblitz.

After reading these books, I found that my interest in piano technology only increased. I was then advised to take a correspondence piano technology course. The course I chose was the Niles Bryant correspondence course in Sacramento California and to my knowledge is no longer available.

Upon completing the correspondence course, I trained with several technicians in one location for a few years. The training was very intense and I had to work for 5 - 7 days a week. The training included tuning, regulating, repairs and complete rebuilding.

One day, while out in the field, my trainer told me that I was going to do the tuning for this job, completely by ear. When I was finished, he checked my work and told me that in his opinion I was ready to take the Piano Technicians Guild tuning exam.

I signed up for the tuning exam and passed it in Tacoma Washington on my first try (minimum of 80% to pass in 8 sections). Deciding that was not good enough, I took the exam an additional 4 times to see how good I could get. After all in this field, being just good is not good enough. My customers expect the best job possible at all times.

After passing the tuning exam, I took the Piano Technicians Guild technical exam in Vancouver. I also passed this exam on my first try and soon afterward I received confirmation from the PTG Home Office that I had been reclassified to Registered Piano Technician status.

I have continued to upgrade my skills by attending numerous Regional Conferences and PTG Conventions.

http://www.paulbrown.org