Piano Technician, or Piano Tuner?
Why do I call myself a “piano technician” sometimes, not just “piano tuner”? Very simple: when the piano is not functioning as expected, you’d call someone for repair. This person, while knowing how to tune, also perform other tasks as part of complete piano service. Therefore, “piano technician” is a more proper term.
Aside from Tuning: Maintenance
Depending on the climate, piano technicians recommend that home piano owners have their instrument tuned 1-4 times a year. In this way, the changes that temperature and humidity have on a piano would be very manageable. Of course, it is up to the owner to decide how often they would like to hire a piano technician. All I can say is that, the changes will accumulate; therefore it will take a piano technician longer to maintain a piano if it has not been worked on for years, resulting a higher cost. Moreover, if there are problems, they might grow from smaller to bigger problems throughout a long time. Then if the piano were fortunate enough not to suffer from permanent damage, the repair fee would be more expensive as well.
Tuning is not a Race
Duration of each service depends on the piano and the needs of its owner. Normally it takes 1-2 hours. Sometimes it takes less time; if it takes longer, it doesn’t mean that the piano technician is not skillful enough. It’s not a race anyway. The piano technician could shorten his or her tuning time by using appropriate tuning app; it doesn’t mean the technician cannot tune aurally. I usually tune by ear, but may use an electronic tuning device to tune faster in noisy environment if necessary. Otherwise, I’d rather take my time to do a better tuning, so to maintain proper my blood pressure (even though I am still very young).
Troubleshoot like an Investigator
Aside from working with modern pianos, I have worked closely with historical keyboards such as harpsichords and Viennese fortepiano. I especially enjoy the soothing sound of fortepiano, and its history is very interesting to me as a musician. However, it is an even narrower field, and not many technicians are left to maintain them. I have traveled to various places in Europe and the United States to visit and learn the craft from established technicians. I also served 2 times as keyboard technician for Academy for Fortepiano Performance in upstate New York.