If you have a natural curiosity for how things work, then you’ve probably spent more than a few moments’ thought on not just the general maintenance of your piano, but also piano tuning. Unlike a string instrument, where a few pegs allow you to tune your instrument, piano tuning requires a professional.
If you’re passionate about music and want a career that allows you to work with different instruments, becoming a piano technician may be the perfect fit for you. This job requires intricate knowledge of how pianos work, as well as strong technical skills. It’s also important to be patient and have good customer service skills, since you’ll often be dealing with clients who need their pianos fixed or tuned.
So, if you’re interested in pursuing this career path, read on for more information on the skills and demands of the job.
What is a Piano Technician Called?
A piano technician is a specialist who is trained to tune, repair, and service pianos. Here are a few more things you should know:
- Piano technicians are often called upon to tune pianos for concerts, recitals, and other events. They may also be responsible for repairing broken strings and other damage, as well as for keeping the instruments in good condition.
- Piano technicians typically have a deep knowledge of the mechanics of pianos and are skilled in the use of tools and equipment. In some cases, they may also be able to rebuild or restore pianos to their original condition.
- As with any profession, piano technicians must keep up with the latest advances in technology and techniques in order to provide the best possible service to their clients.
If you’re interested in learning more about the work of a piano technician (or becoming one yourself), be sure to ask your piano teacher for advice. You can learn more about tuning a piano in the video below:
What Does a Piano Technician Do?
A piano technician doesn’t just tune your piano; he or she will carry out repairs and maintenance to allow you to get the best out of your instrument, and even extend its life. Like anything with a working mechanism, parts of your piano will wear out over time and need replacing. Your piano technician will replace worn out and broken strings, and also carry out a process called “regulating,” which means making sure that all the moving parts work properly. This helps keep your piano in good shape, and also ensures you can use your piano with proper technique! Regulation should be done around every five years or so to make sure that your piano is operating properly.
What Skills Does a Piano Technician Need?
Although an electronic tuner will tell you in the most clinical way whether the strings are in tune or not, the most essential skill for a piano technician is a good ear, and the ability to tune correctly by listening. Perfect pitch isn’t an advantage for this job, as the adjustments required for equal temperament in piano tuning can be off-putting and make the string sound “out of tune” to you. You will also need to be reasonably dexterous, as some repairs and replacements — such as gluing new felt onto hammers or replacing strings — can be quite difficult. Another skill you need is a good memory; it’s likely you’ll build up a relationship with individual instruments over a number of years, and if you can remember their individual characteristics in between piano tuning and repair appointments, you will not only find your job easier, but the end result for the instrument and your client will be much better.
The other often-overlooked skill you’ll need as a piano technician is to have a good head for business. Many piano technicians are self-employed, and although most of your work will be through word of mouth and personal recommendations, knowing how to carry out even basic self-marketing and networking will help you build a client base. It may be worthwhile taking an evening class in basic business skills alongside your technical training.
It takes a long time to train as a piano technician, and although there are courses and even guilds you can join, a great way to learn is to find an existing experienced technician who is happy to take on an apprentice. You may even wish to — as car-mad apprentice mechanics do — find a “beyond repair” piano and bring it back to life while trying out your new skills!
How to Become a Registered Piano Technician
If you love working with pianos and want to help keep them in good condition, you may be interested in becoming a registered piano technician. There are a few steps you’ll need to take in order to qualify for certification. Firstly, you’ll need to complete an accredited training program.
Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll need to sit for an examination administered by the Piano Technicians Guild. If you pass the exam, you’ll be able to use the title of Registered Piano Technician.
In order to maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete continuing education units on a regular basis. By becoming a registered piano technician, you can enjoy a career that is both challenging and rewarding.
Piano Technician Apprenticeship
Individuals who love music and have a passion for working with their hands may want to consider a career as a piano technician. A piano technician apprenticeship is a great way to get started in this field.
During apprenticeships, individuals will learn how to tune, repair, and rebuild pianos. They will also have the opportunity to work with a variety of different types of pianos, from grand concert pianos to upright pianos.
In addition, apprentices will gain valuable experience working with customers and clients. A piano technician apprenticeship is the perfect way to start a career in this fascinating field.
Piano Technicians Guild
The Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of the piano technician trade. With over 4,000 members worldwide, the PTG is the largest association of piano technicians in the world.
The PTG provides a variety of services to members, including education and certification, networking, and member discounts. The PTG also promotes the interests of piano technicians through advocacy and public relations.
In addition, the PTG sponsors a number of events each year, including an annual convention and trade show. The Piano Technicians Guild is an essential resource for anyone who wants to pursue a career in piano technology.
Piano Technician Salary
The average salary for a piano technician is $40,000 per year. However, salaries can range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on experience and location. Piano technicians in New York City, for example, tend to earn more than those in smaller cities.
In addition, those with more experience or specialized training can earn higher salaries. For instance, a Steinway-certified piano technician may earn 10-15% more than a non-certified technician.
Finally, piano technicians who own their own businesses usually earn more than those who are employed by others.
On average, self-employed piano technicians earn $60,000 per year. However, earnings can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the business, as well as the number of clients served.
How Does a Piano Technician Find Work?
We discussed marketing a little above, and also that most of your work will come through word of mouth. An apprenticeship will ensure that you get to learn on the job, but what happens when you want to branch out on your own?
Your major sources of employment will be schools, music shops, and individuals who need their pianos maintained and tuned on a regular basis. In terms of home piano tuning, it’s worth considering some kind of loyalty scheme to encourage regular business, or a “refer-a-friend” discount for both existing and new customers.
As you become more established and experienced, concert halls and recording studios are worth approaching. You can also join the Piano Technicians Guild, which will help you keep your skills up to date and give you further employment leads.
Is There a Demand for Piano Tuners?
In a word: YES! There is always a demand for well-qualified piano tuners. While many people believe that piano tuning is a dying profession, the truth is that there are more pianos in use today than ever before.
Thanks to the internet, people are now able to access a wide variety of music from all over the world, and this has led to a renewed interest in playing the piano. In addition, many people who grew up playing the piano have rediscovered their love for the instrument as they enter adulthood.
As a result, there is a strong demand for piano tuners who are able to keep these instruments sounding their best. While the competition for jobs can be stiff, those who are able to develop a good reputation and build a strong client base can find plenty of work. In short, there is still a place for piano tuners in today’s world.
Is Piano Tuning a Good Career?
Piano technicians are in high demand, and with the right skills, you can become one too. We’ve covered what those skills are and how to develop them, so it’s time for you to get started. The best way to learn is by doing, so find a piano that needs some TLC and start fixing it up!
Are you ready to become a piano technician? If so, we wish you the best of luck in your journey.
If you are currently taking piano lessons, let your teacher know that this is one of your interests. He or she may be able to provide valuable advice, and put you in touch with people who can advise you further. Good luck!
Photo by eamills