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Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2133554
08/15/13 06:22 PM
08/15/13 06:22 PM
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Posts: 18
Estonia
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BlueberryTheo Offline OP
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Estonia
Originally Posted by Minnesota Marty
Theo,

This is just an observation of you through your writing. English is a very difficult language to master, yet you have accomplished that goal. If you put the same work and dedication toward the mastery of tuning and the technical aspects of the piano, you will certainly be able to accomplish your goal and assure your future.

Follow your heart. "What ifs" are only viewed in hindsight.
To those, there is no real answer.


Thank you for the observation. I still have a lot more to learn though! My English is by no means perfect.

I will follow my bliss.

Thank you for the encouragement and compliments.
I appreciate it very much!

Sincerely,
Theo

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Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: MU51C JP] #2133556
08/15/13 06:26 PM
08/15/13 06:26 PM
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Estonia
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BlueberryTheo Offline OP
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Estonia
Originally Posted by Johnkie
Theo : I sincerely wish you the very best in whatever career you finally decide on. If you have determination, dedication, pride and honesty, as well as being prepared for your expertise to flourish only as your experience increases, then there's no earthly reason why you shouldn't be able to eventually become a member of a very elite band of much sort after top class tuner / technicians who rarely need to find work .... it just keeps coming in. smile


Thank you. I dedicate most of my days to self-improvement. Hopefully, if I am not already determined enough and don't have the pride and honesty it takes, then my passion for self-improvement will get me there one day.

Theo

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2133701
08/16/13 03:40 AM
08/16/13 03:40 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline
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Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted by BlueberryTheo
Originally Posted by Johnkie
RxD : That is exactly my point ... if you are really good then you should be able to pick who you work for. Piano firms are desperate to employ good tuners, but good tuners normally make a much better living working for themselves. However, in order to be in this position, you must have a solid track record if you expect the likes of the big manufacturers to either employ you or use you on a sub-contract basis.


What is a track record?

Theo


I think the expression originated in athletics. It refers to the good, reliable name that you build up for yourself, by having achieved good and reliable results in the past. When your work speaks for you, then you have "a solid track record".


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: MU51C JP] #2133868
08/16/13 12:56 PM
08/16/13 12:56 PM
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Posts: 1,634
Scotland
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David Boyce Offline
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Originally Posted by Johnkie
RxD : That is exactly my point ... if you are really good then you should be able to pick who you work for. Piano firms are desperate to employ good tuners, but good tuners normally make a much better living working for themselves. However, in order to be in this position, you must have a solid track record if you expect the likes of the big manufacturers to either employ you or use you on a sub-contract basis.


Where, Johnkie? What piano firms in Antarctica, for example, are desperate to employ good tuners? And who are 'the big manufacturers' in the UK? There are none! (Even Steinway in London, who do have a restoration workshop, can only have one trainee at a time).

In places of high population density, high piano density, and reasonable wealth, there may well be a good living. But if you don't live in one of those places, you'll have to move there. Which may be OK.

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Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2133898
08/16/13 01:58 PM
08/16/13 01:58 PM
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England
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MU51C JP Offline
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England
David with the greatest respect, I did not specifically say piano manufacturers. My point was aimed toward the well respected piano dealers who (in my experience) would be only to pleased to employ a top class tuner / tech if approached by one.

The fact of the matter though, is that a people of that calibre can realise more money by working for themselves ..... both in higher fees and by being self employed, and as an added bonus, being able to legally offset business expenses against earnings.

I think one has to think carefully about where to operate as you rightly say, but just about anywhere that has an established reputable piano firm should have more than enough work for a respected tuner / tech.

Back in the days (having just completed my training) when I was just starting out on the road and looking for the security of being employed, I moved to a completely new area, popped into the local piano shops and was offered full time work from all three. After selecting the best of the three and subsquently working for them for 8 years I decided to try self employment. From that day on I have never looked back.



Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: MU51C JP] #2133971
08/16/13 04:43 PM
08/16/13 04:43 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,634
Scotland
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David Boyce Offline
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Jonkie, also with the greatest respect, you said
Quote
you must have a solid track record if you expect the likes of the big manufacturers to either employ you or use you


What big manufacturers were you speaking of? Not piano manufacturers? (As you know, there are no big piano manufacturers in the UK).

You mention
Quote
My point was aimed toward the well respected piano dealers who (in my experience) would be only to pleased to employ a top class tuner / tech if approached by one.


Maybe there are well respected piano dealers in the Northeast of England where you are, who are eager to offer employment to top class tuners. But there are none in Scotland, believe me. Nor in Antarctica. Incidentally, can you tell me the name of a piano dealer in the Northeast who's looking to employ? I'd consider a move - I have good friends in Stockton, Sunderland and Redcar!

You say
Quote
Back in the days (having just completed my training) when I was just starting out on the road and looking for the security of being employed, I moved to a completely new area, popped into the local piano shops and was offered full time work from all three.


Johnkie, that was a long time ago! Almost fifty years ago! As you know, the piano industry and piano trade in the UK are very different now from how they were when you started.

With regard to your own location it's worth noting that you are relatively close to a number of quite large population centres each with its own civic identity and concert venues. Newcastle 277,800; Gateshead 200,300; Sunderland 275,300; Stockton-On-Tees 191,600; Darlington 106,000; Durham 87,650; Redcar 36,000 etc. The Northeast of England overall has a population of 2.6 million in a relatively small radius.

I don't think the demand/opportunity is as lively as you represent it to be John. There are no piano manufacturers left in the UK (only some small-scale individual craft making goes on). Since there are no factories, there are no apprenticeships. One by one the college courses have closed, leaving only the one at Newark, and that probably on a shaky nail (I know what college managements are like if you have a couple of years of low numbers).

You came into the field in a different era John, and you are well established and offering a high-quality service in a suitably populated area. One must be careful, I feel, about extrapolating anything too general from that to today's situation for entrants to the trade.

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134028
08/16/13 07:03 PM
08/16/13 07:03 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Well, coming from Estonia, I guess Theo needn't choose England, Scotland, or Antarctica.

It's a big world gentlemen.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2134047
08/16/13 07:51 PM
08/16/13 07:51 PM
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Scotland
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David Boyce Offline
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I don't think he should choose Scotland or Antarctica, but from Johnkie's comments it sounds like there are lots of opportunities in the northeast of England!

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134049
08/16/13 07:54 PM
08/16/13 07:54 PM
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Posts: 26,903
Oakland
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Which is easy to get to from Estonia, since walking on water is part of basic training for good piano technicians!


Semipro Tech
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134054
08/16/13 08:04 PM
08/16/13 08:04 PM
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Posts: 824
England
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MU51C JP Offline
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England
Seems that way Marty wink Funny how even the really bad tooners, of which I know are far too many, seem able to make a reasonable living as well though !

The west of Scotland seems to be a piano wilderness for David, although I know there is work to be had on the east side ... I often travel up there for concert work, so I assume that they have difficulty in finding local tuners.

The whole point of becoming a tuner that gets a really good living is that he has to offer something that others don't, and that is expertise and quality work. David is quite correct in that the work available is finite, and were there a sudden influx of new good tuners, then work indeed would become sparse. However that is not the case .... good tuners are dying off every year, and very few trained tuners are filling their shoes.

I realise things are different in comparison to when I started out in this business .... it is almost impossible to get the same quality of training ... who offers a 5 year apprenticeship any more?

Here in my part of the world there are maybe a dozen tooners who all make a reasonable living, of which I could only ever recommend 2 who could tune to concert standards. I'm now 63, one is on the road to building his reputation, and the remaining one had a heart attack earlier in the year and is slowly recovering. There will come a time that concert venues and serious pianists will struggle to find someone good enough to do their work.

I bet all the top class tuners here on this forum and throughout the world have more than enough clients to enable them to have a very good and reliable income, and that is the only point I am endevouring to put across ... if you are good enough in this game, you'll never be out of work.




Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134066
08/16/13 08:32 PM
08/16/13 08:32 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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Yep, and Theo wants to become one of the great ones!

That young man has ambition.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134069
08/16/13 08:34 PM
08/16/13 08:34 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 7,439
Rochester MN
Minnesota Marty Offline

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BTW - Penguins are much nicer clients than polar bears.


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: MU51C JP] #2134087
08/16/13 09:23 PM
08/16/13 09:23 PM
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Scotland
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Quote
I often travel up there for concert work, so I assume that they have difficulty in finding local tuners.


I think you and I are really singing from the same hymnsheet, Johkie, just looking at the topic from a different angle perhaps.

I think the difficulty in finding local tuners is that there is not sufficient work to sustain tuners locally, so they move away or get other work. Hence you have to dot up from where you are.

A complicating factor now, too, is that in the recession, with cutbacks in local authority funding, the tuning and maintenance of school pianos is not the regular twice-yearly properly contracted work it once was, in many areas.

And of course you are right about no apprenticeships. No factories means no apprentices! And such restoration workshops are there are - though there isn't much profit now in "proper", thorough restoration - are small one-man businesses who cannot afford to employ and train apprentices.


Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2134089
08/16/13 09:24 PM
08/16/13 09:24 PM
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Scotland
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David Boyce Offline
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Quote
Yep, and Theo wants to become one of the great ones!

That young man has ambition.


If Theo learns piano technology as well as he has learned English at 19, he will be great indeed!

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: Minnesota Marty] #2134091
08/16/13 09:27 PM
08/16/13 09:27 PM
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Quote
Penguins are much nicer clients than polar bears.


OT: Chemists' joke:

Q Why did the bear dissolve when it jumped in the water?
A It was a polar bear.

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134742
08/18/13 08:39 AM
08/18/13 08:39 AM
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There is more room at the top now than there ever has been and the international market is expanding. This is accompanied by the traditional markets shrinking.

Principal employed manufacturers head concert techs live in the stockbroker belt of the cities they operate in. Within weeks of returning to England, I named my price for a conservatoire job only to raise it when I was offered yet another job from another conservatoire.

For ten years I have been principal piano tech for the Dartington International Summer School, a 60 year old institution attracting major artists for five weeks every summer. There are 400+ students of all levels each week and many bursaries for young international students. They come from places where westerni music is just getting a foothold and expanding. My fees include five star accommodation for the 5 weeks. My main assistant also has to be paid more than he would make per day working for himself. Institutions are realising this.

A manufacturers agent in London pays me according to the profit he made on the particular piano I serviced after the sale. My cheque is always much more than I would have ordinarily billed for. that signifies how much an experienced tech is worth to the industry.

On my suggestion, a dealer offered the same custom service that a concert pianist would get to all prospects for large grands. Because of this, his sales on high priced pianos rocketed and he on turn chose to pay a healthy sales commission plus my standard rates in return. I have always worked with dealers, not necessarily for them.

Much of all this is also personality and Theo, having wide and varied interests would have no difficulty with this.

I have known a few self taught and virtually self taught tuners attain high levels of work. The gentleman who was Steinways top concert tuner for many years here was taken out of the apprentice program after a few months and put to work as an outside tuner because he developed the right combination of skills rapidly. I have one colleague who is now assistant tuner at two conservatories and substitutes regularly at the major provincial concert hall in his city and for broadcasts after only a few months of ever touching a tuning lever. Some people just have it, others take years.

"Follow your bliss" is a good way of putting it. The rest of that phrase is....and the money will take care of itself".
I only ever met one tuner who didn't enjoy his work and now I learn that Max doesn't seem to enjoy piano work according to his earlier post here.

On the subject of where to work, although we bloom where we are planted, it is always a wise choice to follow the work. Most successful people are nomadic.



Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2134758
08/18/13 09:24 AM
08/18/13 09:24 AM
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Quote
On the subject of where to work, although we bloom where we are planted, it is always a wise choice to follow the work. Most successful people are nomadic.


Indeed. No matter how high our skill level at whatever trade, we will not be able to make a living if we live in an area with no demand for that skill.

Re: Greetings and questions (future piano tuner) [Re: BlueberryTheo] #2136767
08/21/13 05:42 PM
08/21/13 05:42 PM
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Estonia
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Thank you very much everyone! All of your posts have been highly inspirational, educational and have given me a lot of knowledge about the work and what difficulties or blessings may await me in the future.

I will definitely reread them periodically, because this knowledge (especially from the experienced tuner-technicians) is infinitely valuable.

I will make another post sometime in the future to let
everyone know how I am doing.

Cheers,
Theo


Last edited by BlueberryTheo; 08/21/13 05:42 PM.
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