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Nice. Can you send me a letter? Why not post it in the Journal? My suggestion is to wait a bit longer and maybe get a feel for the number of RPT's who endorse your cause. You have one here.

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Will do, Mark. But I don't think of this as "my" cause. It's the PTG's cause. The PTG is, after all, more than just the top brass. It's the entire organization.



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Something escape me, is not a technical examination also necessary to obtain the title.

If I recall correctly, an upright regulation is done in 4 hours as part of the test here.

Plus other things on a grand model, and written questions, points of history of the trade, for nstance


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You're absolutely right, Olek. The exam in its entirety would be the same, except the tuning portion. As far as the written and technical portions, both the RPT and RPT-E testee would be given the same tests.


Last edited by Chuck Behm; 08/02/15 09:53 AM.

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Last edited by Olek; 08/02/15 03:47 PM.

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Mixed feelings, the tuning part is not so important, but keeping THE aural tuning is way more important than many believe (must be also because one is more helped to learn how to obtain a good tone, may be) ?

So I understand the idea, while I don't believe the tuning test is such a challenge.

The main problem certainly could be to have good instructors for aural tuning.


Last edited by Olek; 08/02/15 03:46 PM.

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The reason I learned aural tuning was that the most successful and respected technicians in the Puget Sound area were aural tuners. When I was in my 20's and decided to pursue this as my career I thought "if I'm going to be successful I should emulate what the successful people are doing".

I often compare our field to that of cooking or hairdressing. In both of those professions there is a very wide range of skill level and monetary compensation. On one end of the spectrum you have the short order cooks and $6 haircut barbers. On the other end you have chefs of fine restaurants and hairdressers who work for hollywood stars and charge hundreds of dollars for their work.

Not everyone is going to work in the high-end.


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I sorry to say, Chuck but whatever you do will be a complete waste of time and energy. The rules are the rules and all attempts at creating some kind of other membership category have failed in the past to the point where they don't even want such a thing on the council agenda.

If somehow such a proposal made it to Council, the recommendation by the Board, the By-laws Committee and the Examinations and Test Standards Committee would be for defeat and it would not even raise much discussion before it is defeated. The question would be raised at Chapter meetings and Delegates would go to the Convention with their minds set on defeating it and moving on.

I am sorry to sound or seem hard boiled about it but I am just telling you that is how it works and that is what would happen. Your proposal could only take effect if Council approved it. Letters to people who don't even belong to PTG would have no effect. They would not result in any Chapter initiating a proposal.

There have been resignation letters printed in the Journal before and if yours were printed, it might be read by some people but that would be about as far as it goes. Seen, read, perhaps thought about a bit but then dismissed and forgotten. The most you could expect would be a letter that expresses regret for your decision and asks you to reconsider.

People, some quite great teachers have come and gone. Sometimes, their material remains among the teaching and exam prep materials and some tools like Spurlock tools are still recommended and sold but otherwise, people who quit for personal reasons are simply forgotten.

Your Journal articles and photos are the property of PTG and people will have access to that material through PDF and CD-ROM versions of the Journal but once you have left the organization, you will no longer have the opportunity to contribute to it except perhaps on a very exceptional basis which is rare.

Your decision will do absolutely nothing at all to change the Tuning Exam standards, much less allow technicians who cannot demonstrate aural tuning skills to call themselves RPT's or to have any say whatsoever in the way the organization is run or what the standards for the RPT credential will or should be. I am sorry to be so blunt about it but I know what I am talking about.

If you are now at retirement age and you don't need any of PTG's benefits, you would not be the first or only member to simply retire and discontinue your membership. Someone else will surely come along to write material that the Journal will publish.

It has been and remains my suggestion that you rise to meet the challenge of the aural tuning requirement. It is not going away. People from the outside of the organization can complain about it all they want but there has only ever been and there will only ever be one solution to the perceived problem that these people apparently have: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I have said that I fully understand your point of view and I do. I have even made such suggestions as to how a fully electronic tuning exam could present a fair and equitable challenge to someone who chooses that option. If it got any response at all, it was that it isn't going to happen. For the most part, it was ignored. Jim Coleman, Sr. made such a proposal some 25 or so years ago too and it was shot down. Nothing has changed and it is not likely to change anytime soon, if it ever does.

It certainly is true now and it always has been that Piano Tuning, as a business is not regulated by any North American government. There are no requirements whatsoever but there are laws against restraint of trade. So, any individual who thinks he or she wants to make money tuning pianos, that person has all the liberty in the world to go out and do it however it may be done.

But there are prudent ways to go about something like that and imprudent as well. I also felt, early on, that certain hostility that some people express about being qualified and a member. I did something about it however over 32 years ago. There was still hostility, to be sure but I simply continued to do what I do and do it well.

Now, I can't handle all of the business there is but I am in the position to refer it to others who need it. I tune the way my customers and my community have come to know and expect but my skills are versatile and infinitely adaptable. Those adaptations are certainly possible with an ETD but to execute them well, one must have a very thorough understanding of aural tuning.

12 years ago, I decided to try to help technicians who could not pass the aural tuning requirements of the tuning exam. I did research and I consulted with the very best. I wrote articles for the Journal and I taught classes at the conventions and at Chapter meetings. I found solutions that work and I have helped more than I can count succeed. I can only do that one at a time, however and I can't help anyone who simply does not want to learn but prefers to complain and simply lament.

There is no one and I mean no one at all who has normal hearing or even some impairments who cannot hear beats. That is a cop out. Even a rank beginner can hear beats. What there are, are people who have closed their minds to it and who want an easy ticket to what any RPT has worked hard to learn and accomplish. It is not easy, no but it is a skill that anyone who truly wants to learn can acquire.

As a PTG member, I don't have the power to change any of the rules, even if I felt some of them should be changed. Nor does any other member, even those who hold offices or have some other position such as chairman of a committee. I didn't like the last change to the exam regarding stability but as an individual, all I could do was express my opinion and have it overruled by the majority. That is the way it goes in PTG: majority rule by those who have taken and passed all of the exams. They make the rules. People who cannot or do not want to acquire the necessary skills do not and they never will.

The bottom line is that to become an RPT, one must be able to use a tuning fork (or at this time, an aural electronic tone is acceptable) to set the pitch of A4 within a very small margin. One must be able to set an Equal Temperament and midrange from C3 to B4 within the defined tolerances. Most ETD users fail the first time. Many fail repeatedly. In one respect, the tolerances are quite forgiving but if you don't know what you are doing, you will not pass.

One must also be able to tune unisons from C3 to B4 within the accepted tolerances. Any kind of beat at all is suspect but if the results fall within the tolerances, one passes. Those unisons must also be stable enough to pass a stability test where they are subjected to three hard test blows. Some of them can move, yes and still pass but not very many.

No one acquires the skills to perform the above without studying and practicing. No arguments or protests that all of the above can be done just as well electronically without fundamental knowledge and skills will ever be given the time of day. You either do it or you don't.

Since the outer octaves have some subjectivity to them, concessions were made in 1998 to allow an ETD to tune them. Most ETD users pass those parts just fine. But there are not going to be any concessions made for the parts that require aural skills. It is not me saying that. I know what the prevailing sentiment is and PTG would rather become smaller and have thoroughly qualified people as its franchised members than to lower its standards so that people who cannot tune by ear would have the credential. No ifs, ands or buts.


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Yes, but wouldn't a RTPe have less distinction? I think it can be done, but then again, my head has no bruises in it yet. ;-)

I agree he shouldn't quit, but a letter to the editor might mobilize a few more for the cause. Chuck did say he noticed a change in attitude over the years he's tuned.

I say go for it. The only downside, if you don't take this too seriously, is too much excitement!

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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer
I sorry to say, Chuck but whatever you do will be a complete waste of time and energy. The rules are the rules and all attempts at creating some kind of other membership category have failed in the past to the point where they don't even want such a thing on the council agenda.

If somehow such a proposal made it to Council, the recommendation by the Board, the By-laws Committee and the Examinations and Test Standards Committee would be for defeat and it would not even raise much discussion before it is defeated. The question would be raised at Chapter meetings and Delegates would go to the Convention with their minds set on defeating it and moving on.


The rules are the rules until the rules are changed. smile Just because every proposal regarding a change in membership category has failed over the past 25 years or so, that doesn't mean it won't change in the future. PTG is still a young organization. And, it turns out that the current membership category setup is probably in legal violation of our charter.

Simply putting a proposal on the Council agenda is a very inefficient way to instigate change. One thing I did learn with my limited experience with national PTG politics is that the vast majority of decision making goes on behind the scenes: phone calls and emails privately between members and groups of members, and closed door Executive Session Board Meetings where everything is kept hush hush.

Forging meaningful change requires building alliances between chapters and Board members. These things have to be hashed out BEFORE any proposal goes before council. I'm delighted that 3 of the new Board members who have recently stepped up have served as Institute Directors, which is encouraging to me, because it means they are oriented towards education, are well connected, and have already sacrificed a lot for the good of the organization.

The old guard is passing from leadership and fresh leadership is coming onto the scene. "The Old Boys' Network" is (hopefully) becoming a thing of the past. This is not the time to be cynical about the future of PTG or the piano technician craft - quite the opposite! I believe we will see some exciting changes over the next several years. thumb


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I (sic) sorry to say, Chuck but whatever you do will be a complete waste of time and energy. - Bill Bremmer


Gee, that's a bummer. The whole concept of the PTG becoming a more welcoming, inclusive organization has gone tits up before I even pen my first email. Dang it all.

I will concede that much of what you say about the chance of change with the current leadership in place is most likely spot on. Intractable minds tend to dig their heels in and resist change at all costs. Even if a whole crop of disenfranchised associates were to decide to vote with their pocketbooks by going on leave from the PTG until rules were changed (unlikely for sure, but anything could happen once people see what's at stake), the leadership would, I'm sure, stubbornly resist any change.

One point on which I think you're fooling yourself is that things won't change in the future. ("Nothing has changed and it is not likely to change anytime soon, if it ever does.") It won't be long before us old guys are sitting in a nursing home drinking pureed peas and steak from a malt glass with a straw, and the PTG will be under the guidance of a new crop of technicians - guys and gals who grew up with and are comfortable with technology. Folks who realize that change is inevitable, and that organizations which refuse to adapt wither and die as more and more potential members look elsewhere for inspiration.

When a new technician asks me to describe the difference between aural tuning and ETD tuning, this is what I tell them: "Imagine two guys out camping at separate campsites. It's evening and is time to build a fire. One guy, a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, finds two sticks and begins rubbing them together. The other guy, a more modern type of fellow, piles up a few leaves and sticks and takes out his Zippo lighter. He lights his fire and puts some logs on to burn. While the first guy is still laboring away, secure in the knowlege that his method is superior the second guy is relaxing in front of a blazing fire, cooking hot dogs for his supper." Myself, I would prefer to be the second guy.

I'll give you that learning aural tuning is more of a challenge, but with the time that I have, I would rather spend it learning other facets of the trade, as I have done. I may be not be (and never will be) an aural tuner myself, but I'm willing to bet that my overall knowledge of piano repair and restoration exceeds that of the average RPT.

So, I'll correspond with my associate friends, even though (according to you) it's a lost cause and I should save my breath. Time will tell whose point of view will take the day. If you've gleaned anything at all from my articles (if you've even bothered to read them) it's that I love a challenge, and don't typically walk away from one without taking my best shot.

Oh, also, on one other point you are only half right. Your statement that "Your Journal articles and photos are the property of PTG" is not quite true. If you would refer to one of your contracts (I've signed 80 of them) it states that, "You grant PTG a perpetual, worldwide, royalty free license to use and exploit all or any part of the Work . . ." If you keep reading, however, you'll see the following: "As author of the Work you may publish the work or grant someone else the right to do so."

So, as far as me being forgotten, that may or may not come to pass. Currently, the "Small Shop, Big Results" series is being translated into Chinese, with a Japanese translation and an English version also being contemplated. Technicians can of course still read the article one at a time from the original Journals they were published in, or they will soon be able to have the entire series as a stand alone publication.

I must say thanks to Ryan S., Mark C. and others for their encouragement. You are both an inspiration and a hope for the future. Everything does change over time, and guys like you will lead the charge. Cheers, all. Chuck Behm

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Last edited by Chuck Behm; 08/03/15 09:20 AM.

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Thanks for your views Ryan and Chuck. The only person who did positively acknowledge my ideas about creating an electronic only tuning exam was then Vice President, Phil Bondi who is now President. I remember him from what only seem like a few years back on Pianotech. He always called himself the "Rook" in his signature line because he was still learning.

My idea was fairly simple and it didn't even involve another class of membership. It is already built into the exam and it has already been done. It has to do with adjusting time limits, tolerances and multipliers.

Electronic only exam:

Pitch: Reduce time limit to 1 minute. Eliminate second chance. Remove all tolerance. Points off begin at +/- 0.1 cents. +/- 2.0 cents is the limit for a score of 80.

Part 1:

Reduce time limit to 15 minutes. Increase Temperament multiplier to 4. This still allows for 5 errors from +/- 0.9 to 1.9 for a minimum score of 80. Increase Midrange multiplier to 2. This still allows for 10 total errors of +/- 0.9 to 1.9 for a minimum score of 80.

Part 2:

Reduce time limit to 30 minutes. Add a multiplier of 2 to Bass, Treble and High Treble. This still allows for 10, 1 point errors in Bass and Treble and up to 10 2 point errors in the High Treble for a minimum score of 80.

Part 3:

Move Unisons and Stability to a separate category as has been proposed. No other changes in time or tolerances but the ETD may be used to help create beatless and stable unisons.


Aural Only Tuning Exam:

Pitch: Increase tolerance to +/- 1.5. Keep second chance. This gives the aural tuner another 1/2 cent before failure. Only a tuning fork (no electronics of any kind allowed)is permitted and the examinee is responsible for the calibration.

Part 1:

Decrease Temperament Multiplier to 2. This allows for 10, 1 point errors for a minimum score of 80. Eliminate the Midrange multiplier so that a total of 20, 1 point errors will still result in a minimum score of 80.

Part 2:

No changes.

Part 3:

Create a separate category as proposed.

For both versions of the exam, if Part 1 and/or Part 3 is failed, the failed parts may be retaken with a 1 year time limit at a 1/3 fee for each part retaken.

********************************************

If the two versions of the exam are compared, it will be seen that for aural only, examinees are given just a little better chance at passing. Many aural exams have had marginal failures, especially on Midrange scores. The slightly more tolerant Temperament will encourage those who wish to tune aurally to learn a temperament sequence and use it.

Many people fail on Pitch alone, even with the second chance. The slightly larger tolerance allows for the few extra tenths that may make a difference in passing. Aural tuners must have and be able to use a properly calibrated tuning fork.

Electronic tuners on the other hand, must be able to use the platform with a degree of skill that reflects the high standards associated with the RPT credential. Unisons and Stability are still just as important for both kinds of tuners and the ETD provides little or no benefit in that regard.

Examiner Trainee qualifications:

No changes. All scores above 90 and no second chance on Pitch.

************************************

I believe that the above would truly level the playing field and would be fair to all and it would still encourage aural tuning. It would mean that people who qualified as an RPT with an electronic tuning platform could only do it if they have sufficient skill and experience. There would be no distinction or different class of membership. RPT means RPT. The standards have been met using the tools, knowledge and skill that the technician normally uses in daily practice.

What do you say to that, Chuck, Mark and Ryan?


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This sounds very fair, Bill. Just one question - would the electronic examinee be given a few moments to calibrate his machine to the specific piano before setting the pitch? I have an older Verituner, and sometimes it takes more than a minute to do the calibration. Once that was done, a minute to set the pitch is more than adequate.

So (I have to ask) if you have had this in mind all along, why the big fuss? Just wondering. Chuck


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PS I am amazd to see you call the place "small shop" !

My shop have a space for spraying it is done with curtains in the middel of the space.

I use large vaccuming so to get rid of sanding dust or polishing dust, so the place is more or less clean.

Of course separated rooms ... this is luxurious;

That said I do more actions than rebuilds


Your point about tuning I cnanot agree with
If you cannot hear, work with a good tuner and just know that you can just do basic tiuning (which is all that most customers may need)

I listen to very subtle things when tuining, some of them not easy to learn, as noticying at which level the partials are coupling.

This allow to balance a note that is a little weak, partial wise, and also generally speaking top provide an eveness of tone and tone dynamics that is truly necessary.


I have a few friends that do not conside rthemselves as "good (very) tuners, adn thios is absolutelyu not a problem for them, nor for me, I cerctainly will not consider them as second grad etechnicians for that reason, actually they provide very strong and stable tunings, from which I could if necessary "shape the tone" easily, without necessity to "redo" the whole tuning (as it can be the case afetr an ETD pass, the tuning can generally easily be tweaked by ear without much work;


BUt it is siimply too easy to leave the door open to people that do just want to make a fast buck and do not imagione really what tuning is about (I bet there are some RPT in that case as well)

As I said the main problem is probably to have available instructors for aural tuning.

ANd what puzzle me is that the aural part of the tuning process is something most apprentice learn very fast, it can be a little unnerving sometime, but this is due also to the quality of the instructors, they learn from the start to "build " their tone, a musical result is expected, whatever kind of tone is obtained in the end (a colleague that tunes a lot for concert produce somewhat acid, rubbing unison systematically, and I can assure you that some pianists like that somewhat moaning tone, it sound a little percussive and strong but all notes are sounding the same, )
a "raggeae or salsa piano, but not really a classical one, while sopme pianist like it in Chopin"

I have seen also one of the head tuner from Yamaha insiflating some life in an old Yamaha upright by specific tone building, using the defects due to old strings and hammers to create a lively tone where the piano was sounding dull and "empty" (same process than when lacquering to gives an impression of richer spectra and power). He voiced lightly all the hammers to wake up the felt before processing

The way many tuners seem to work by "fighting" against beats, is not working in acceptation of the piano tone, to me.

sure a step ahead and you are making a honky tonk piano, as rubbing between partials create power of tone, but too much rubbing create audible beats.


So to say, it is not just a question of hearing beats, sorry to be long winding, I think that if your ear is at loss for high picthed tones, you still can perceive the way the energy flows in the tone, may be that could compensate somehow (we can tune good unisons while wearing foam earplugs, for instance)

Good coupling between tones is the absolute minimal to have a good tone, and this is recognised by the way the sustain works, as depicted, the tone is longer, and auto alimented, it may sound surprising with some pianos, as if small batteries where used to add power to the strings!








Last edited by Olek; 08/03/15 10:35 AM.

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Originally Posted by Lucas Brookins RPT
I think you should know how to tune by ear. How do you know that your ETD is correct? If you can't check intervals and stuff, then you don't know if it is correct or not. I have had to fix stuff by ear a few times because where the ETD put it wasn't the best for the piano.


Hey Lucas, I think you have Tunelab..fill us in on the steps you used to get the tuning file you found to have matching problems with a piano - and where in the scale the problems were? What kind of piano?

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Originally Posted by RonTuner
Originally Posted by Lucas Brookins RPT
I think you should know how to tune by ear. How do you know that your ETD is correct? If you can't check intervals and stuff, then you don't know if it is correct or not. I have had to fix stuff by ear a few times because where the ETD put it wasn't the best for the piano.


Hey Lucas, I think you have Tunelab..fill us in on the steps you used to get the tuning file you found to have matching problems with a piano - and where in the scale the problems were? What kind of piano?

Ron Koval

'Hmmmm. 'Cmmon, Ron. The guy is 18. when I was 18 I had trouble remembering where my car keys were half the time. I'm trying to put a foot in the ETD world from aural-only, and yes, I have quibbles with the ETD (Tunelab) quite often, but I sure wouldn't remember any specifics. It's just not the kind of thing that sticks in my mind unless someone is right there asking questions.

Lucas seems to be talking in general terms. Sometimes trying to drag specifics out of a general statement can look a little combative, especially using the 'fill us in' wording.


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Just never say any bad of ETD to Ron, it create some epidermic reaction generally.

A case of 'it sound good because the ETD shows it ", if you want my advice !

This, was invasive, yes may be...!





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I think that maybe what Ron is pointing out, is that in most instances when someone disagrees with what the ETD says, it's most likely not the ETD that is wrong. The ETD is only as good as the information you give it. A person needs to make sure to give the software the correct information. What's that old computer adage... "garbage in, garbage out?" I've been using Tunelab for eight years now. My experience is that it always does a very nice job. Even those poorly scaled spinets come out sounding stellar when the app is given the correct information to calculate. 100% of my customers have been very happy with how their piano sounds. I've been recently training couple of apprentices to help me keep up with my business. I've been thinking about writing down the steps that I use to feed Tunelab the correct info, including tweaking tuning curve to get the best possible tuning for that piano. I might post that here if anyone would be interested.


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Originally Posted by Ryan Hassell
I think that maybe what Ron is pointing out, is that in most instances when someone disagrees with what the ETD says, it's most likely not the ETD that is wrong. The ETD is only as good as the information you give it. A person needs to make sure to give the software the correct information. What's that old computer adage... "garbage in, garbage out?" I've been using Tunelab for eight years now. My experience is that it always does a very nice job. Even those poorly scaled spinets come out sounding stellar when the app is given the correct information to calculate. 100% of my customers have been very happy with how their piano sounds. I've been recently training couple of apprentices to help me keep up with my business. I've been thinking about writing down the steps that I use to feed Tunelab the correct info, including tweaking tuning curve to get the best possible tuning for that piano. I might post that here if anyone would be interested.


I would be interested, but perhaps you should
start a new thread for it...


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Hey Ryan - I believe it's your birthday today! I thereby declare this as "Everybody be nice to Ryan Hassell Day!"

You never know when you're going to tick somebody off here, so this should protect you against any big meanies lurking about.

Happy birthday, man. Chuck

Last edited by Chuck Behm; 08/03/15 05:33 PM.

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