Like many piano technicians, I entered the field of
Piano Technology as a "Plan B" Career
ike many kids, I was fascinated by the skills of the piano tuner that came to work on my mother's two pianos. My fascination for how things work, and how to fix them when they don't, fueled my interest in many different skills. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to attend Junior High and High school at a time when industrial arts classes were still offered. And I took advantage of them all: wood shop, electric shop, metal shop, print shop, auto shop, photo shop, etc. I also played clarinet in the school orchestra, though I don't remember that we ever actually had a performance. I also played bass in a garage band called The Steam Powered Suspenders; that is, until we became known as New Cheese.
For most of my life I have pursued endeavors that require skilled listening. From broadcasting, to music recording, to disc mastering, (vinyl and CD), and now finally to piano technology, my ears have been the primary tools of my success. But technology being what it is, I have also developed some very sophisticated computer skills. I believe that my varied and successful experiences in the technologies of audio, computers and computer programming and graphics demonstrate my excellent analytical and problem solving abilities, particularly when it comes to creative and artistic decision making. Skills perfectly suited to the task of piano service and technology.
By 1980 I had over 15 years of success in both broadcasting and music recording. Then, in about 1982, a couple of years after becoming an "independent" recording engineer, I realized that instead of the successful entrepreneur that I had hoped to become, I was actually just unemployed. Self-promotion was just not something I could appreciate yet.
It was then that I decided to pursue my childhood fantasy of becoming a piano tuner. I contacted the president of the Los Angeles chapter of The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG), for some information and subsequently signed up for tuning lessons. I quickly realized that my ears were so trained to listening in a studio environment that I was having extreme difficulty in isolating the different partials of the test intervals used in tuning. Unfortunately, the instruction I was receiving at the time was inadequate to get me past that obstacle. So, frustrated and disappointed, I gave up and moved on to other things.
Fast forward about 20 years. I have now completed another 10 years in radio broadcasting, (KCRW), another five years in CD mastering, (A&M Records), and I'm in my fourth year as a member of the Web Design team at the corporate offices of House of Blues, in Hollywood. I'm face-to-face with The Peter Principle. I'm the oldest person on the entire floor, and feeling quite out of touch with my goals.
One day, while cleaning out a closet, I came across my old tools from my piano tuning studies of long ago. I immediately decided to give piano tuning another go. I did the research and signed up at The Randy Potter School of Piano Technology, completing the course in 18 months. At the end of 2002, long before I completed the Potter course, I joined the Los Angeles Chapter of PTG. In May 2005, having completed both the Potter course and passing the PTG written exam, I left House of Blues to pursue a full-time career in piano technology. I firmly believe that this is the best career move I have ever made.
Since becoming a member of PTG I have passed all three rigorous PTG exams, acquiring the status of Registered Piano Technician in August 2007. In that same year, I also had the opportunity to attend and graduate from Yamaha's highly acclaimed "Little Red Schoolhouse" piano service program, and Yamaha's Disklavier service program. Then, in 2013 I attended and graduated from Yamaha's Performance Piano Service seminar.
Very shortly after joining the Los Angles Chapter of PTG, I was recruited to use my web design skills to design and build a website for the LA chapter. (Note: In 2016 this site was taken down as it was decided that it had fulfilled its original purpose.) In 2006 I was voted in as Secretary of the chapter, a position that I still hold. As a result, I continue to be responsible for writing the chapter newsletter.
I regularly attend PTG chapter meetings and both regional and national PTG conferences and conventions, all of which exist as continuing education opportunities. As I continue on this path, I look forward not only to continuing the learning experience but also to receiving the joys of customer satisfaction from jobs well done, (not to mention driving around a lot), that is the field of piano technology.
Tuning and playing piano are actually unrelated skills. In 2009 I decided I finally needed to learn how to PLAY the piano, too, and started taking lessons. It's not easy, but because I see others play beautifully, I know it's possible. I practice diligently, and am gradually making progress.