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#2102041 - 06/13/13 02:30 PM Tuning in the dark  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
BenP Offline
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BenP  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
South Jersey
So I was tuning at a church this morning and the power went out during a massive thunderstorm. Thankfully, the church member who was waiting with me went out and grabbed a Coleman lantern so I could see what I was doing. During the time in-between while I was struggling to get through the mid-treble with no light, I started wondering how blind piano tuners do it. I've heard of a couple; one that used to live in my area, and someone on the forums here mentioned one recently (can't remember who).

Obviously they tune completely aurally, but wouldn't tuning present a lot of other challenges? The one that used to work in my area (he passed away a few years ago and I never met him) did a good job as far as I can tell.


Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
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#2102045 - 06/13/13 02:42 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 225
AndyJ Offline
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AndyJ  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 225
Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted by BenP
So I was tuning at a church this morning and the power went out during a massive thunderstorm. Thankfully, the church member who was waiting with me went out and grabbed a Coleman lantern so I could see what I was doing. During the time in-between while I was struggling to get through the mid-treble with no light, I started wondering how blind piano tuners do it. I've heard of a couple; one that used to live in my area, and someone on the forums here mentioned one recently (can't remember who).

Obviously they tune completely aurally, but wouldn't tuning present a lot of other challenges? The one that used to work in my area (he passed away a few years ago and I never met him) did a good job as far as I can tell.

In most cases, the brain's so-called "visual cortex" works fine in blind people. The brain being a remarkably plastic thing, this large area of brain assumes duties it doesn't perform in sighted people. This is what often gives abilities to the blind which can astonish sighted people.

Mapping physical things (like tuning pins) in space is one of those abilities. I can well imagine that blind piano techs perform feats that a sighted tech in a blindfold couldn't do running downhill with a tailwind.

When I was in college, the severely visually impaired tuners who dealt with our music school's instruments seemed to manage them extremely well.

Andy

#2102046 - 06/13/13 02:42 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
My wifes mother used to be an assistant for a blind tuner many years ago and helped him with some repairs and such. As far as the tuning goes, its not that difficult to navigate the piano with mutes and move the hammer once a blind person practices a bit. About 4 decades ago and later here in Canada, our government had a sponsorship program for blind people (through the CNIB) to encourage them into the piano tuning trade and also had a training center for it. A fellow classmate of mine at GBC was also "legally" blind and did some decent repair work even though he could only make out high contrast and large objects with his limited sight.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#2102049 - 06/13/13 02:46 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: Emmery]  
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 225
AndyJ Offline
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AndyJ  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2012
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Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted by Emmery
About 4 decades ago and later here in Canada, our government had a sponsorship program for blind people (through the CNIB) to encourage them into the piano tuning trade and also had a training center for it.

I bet that's how the guys I saw at York University (Toronto) got into the trade. Interesting.

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#2102097 - 06/13/13 04:25 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 121
wcctuner Offline
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wcctuner  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 121
Princeton, NJ
Yes, those were some bad storms this morning, a lot of power outages. Just curious, where in S Jersey are you located. I grew up in Collingswood, so I'm familiar with that end of the state. PM me if you want


Dave Forman
Piano Technician, Westminster Choir College of Rider University
#2102124 - 06/13/13 05:12 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Jun 2003
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BDB Offline
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Oakland
I carry an inexpensive headlamp for such occasions, but if my sight were impaired (more than it is), I suspect I would have trouble finding the proper string to damp and tuning pin to turn, just the way that I have trouble finding the proper key to play when I attempt to play the piano.


Semipro Tech
#2102141 - 06/13/13 06:12 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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Supply Offline
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Supply  Offline
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Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
A light of some kind in the toolkit (headlamp is great) is almost as essential to going out on the road for tuning as tuning mutes are.
What was the old boy scout motto? Something about being prepared....

#2102149 - 06/13/13 06:39 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,378
accordeur Offline
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accordeur  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,378
Québec, Canada
I always carry both a head lamp and a regular small flashlight. LED is now so advanced they weigh very little. And my iPhone has a flashlight on it for when I have not even opened my tool kit. Great for estimates, taking pictures etc.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
#2102158 - 06/13/13 06:54 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: Supply]  
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Posts: 186
BenP Offline
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BenP  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
South Jersey
Interesting. I know the blind tuner that worked in my area had his wife drive him around to his appointments, but I'm pretty sure he worked alone. It gives me a whole new respect for blind tuners (or any blind people, for that matter). It would probably take me 2-3 minutes just to find each tuning pin at first.

Originally Posted by Supply
A light of some kind in the toolkit (headlamp is great) is almost as essential to going out on the road for tuning as tuning mutes are.
What was the old boy scout motto? Something about being prepared....


I actually do have a pretty bright light on my phone that I could have finished with without too much trouble, but the Coleman lantern made things quite a bit easier. Typically I use my phone, or whatever piano lamp is available when I need to get more light inside a piano. But I like the idea of a headlamp - it would come in handy for more purposes than just when the power goes out.

I'm still at the point, and probably will be for a long time, when I realize on practically a weekly basis my need for some new tool in my travel tool kit. I guess a light is the next thing on the list.


Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
#2102161 - 06/13/13 07:05 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,378
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member
accordeur  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,378
Québec, Canada
I have a small 3 LED headlamp that works with 2 watch batteries. It lasts a long time. It also swivels, which is great when you are removing or inserting upright hammer flange screws hidden behing the jack. Energizer makes some really nice ones, mine are just cheap walmart special.


Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca
#2102206 - 06/13/13 09:37 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 543
Ryan Hassell Offline
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Ryan Hassell  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 543
Farmington, MO
Ditto on the headlamp. I got one for Christmas last year. It makes things so much easier!


Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com
#2103137 - 06/16/13 12:23 AM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]  
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
Gary Fowler Offline
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Gary Fowler  Offline
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Joined: May 2013
Posts: 375
I can tune away, even in very low light(or nearly dark). If I have to replace a string however, I need LIGHT like nobody's business! I can't stand to replace a string in a dimly lit room


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