The Pianist As Artist

  1. Composer
  2. Performer
  3. Teacher
  4. College and/or University Technician
  5. Performance and Concert Service
  6. Voicing
  7. Tuning
  8. Tone Regulation
  9. Action Regulation
  10. Hammer Selection

Essential to Piano Technology?

Those claiming to be expert in understanding the piano should most of all be able to play the piano with some facility, the most inexorable aspect of piano expertise in providing a comprehensive knowledge of the piano from all aspects, be it woodworking, engineering, or art. Make no mistake. Some might be astounded to realize just how unusual this contention is within the field of piano technology to-day. It is, rather, considered superfluous not only within the field, but for many of the artists the piano technician works with. It is bound to cause insecurities concerning general working knowledge of the piano on both fronts. How did playing and fixing the piano become mutually exclusive ways to demonstrate understanding?  

Until the mid-19th century, the maintenance and the use of the piano were not mutually exclusive things.  In fact, the first piano is generally thought to have been built sometime in the last decade of the 17th century. So for little under half the life of the piano when the majority of R&D took place, the first half, there were no piano technicians, all while so many specialists in the field today wonder why R&D ceased.

Piano could continue to develop, but without an integrated approach like that proposed here, it will continue to stagnate in its development. The use and maintenance of pianos must again be unified for the piano industry to thrive again.



Aural vs. Visual Tuning

For similar reasons, a revolution no less powerful than rap has happened in piano maintenance and tradition, and that is the movement toward use of Electronic Tuning Devices. In a matter of a quarter century, it is generally observed, though no hard data has been conspicuously presented, tuners have swung from 90% aural to 90% visual. This is a development disparaged for many reasons by tristate pianoworks, for one, because tuning is to be understood as part of the art, not the engineering, of the piano.

This is not to claim that those who tune aurally will make more money, or do more business. It is most certainly in many cases otherwise. This is not to claim that there are not bad artists tuning pianos aurally, and on the other hand, good engineers tuning pianos visually. This is to assert that the path to excellent piano work and artistry in the piano industry is that trod by the aural piano tuner, furthermore, that it is the responsibility of every piano teacher to understand the role that must play in promoting the live music experience, opposed to sampling, and recording, as represented by digital pianos, and tuning with ETDs. How is it that our pedagogy will benefit a piano industry and community devoted to the microphone, sampling, and recording, not the live music experience?