Archive for February, 2012

The short answer is “Yes”, I did…tune my piano!

And the long answer is….

Those that read my last blog entry know that I set a date, last Wed, to tune my own piano…so I felt compelled to follow up and say, “Yes”, I in fact did just that.

To be quite honest, it had been close to 2 yrs. since I had tuned it last.  I do play it weekly, and therefore monitor it often, and it seemed to be holding tune pretty well.  So, I was pleased when I found that it was only a couple cents off here and there.  In fact, it was very close to proper pitch and hadn’t slipped much at all since the last tuning, and a few notes were even slightly sharp.  Still, no excuses…I should have tuned it a year ago…just because!

Anyway, I got to thinking about why it seems to be so hard for those in service oriented professions (like mechanics, piano tuners, etc.) to consistently service their own equipment even though they expect it of their customers.  Again, no excuses here, but I would just imagine it has probably has a little bit to do with money…like the fact that we don’t get a paycheck for doing service work on our own things. Not exactly, anyway.  True, we definitely save money by not having to hire it out to someone else, so in essence it is still money in our pocket, but it still isn’t quite the same as getting paid for it.

Besides, if you’re working on cars or pianos all day long for others, why would you, in your right mind, want to come home to work on your own?  To me, it almost seems like there’s something intrinsically wrong with that.  Nevertheless, we do it, but usually not without a few groans here and there, wishing there was something in it for us….but wait….maybe there is after all!

The payoff!  Yes, there really is a payoff after all.

The first payoff came when I finally realized I was in my own home, tuning my own piano.  There are several fringe benefits to this.  I think I was a little over 3/4 the way through my tuning when I realized that I was still in my own home and could actually get up and raid the refrigerator if I wanted to (I didn’t want to…but I could if I wanted to!).  I also realized that I also already knew where the restroom was without having to ask directions…or permission from anyone, which was nice!  I also realized that I had been in “the zone” and was working at my normal pace, and that I could have relaxed a little if I really have wanted to.  No one was pushing me to finish at a certain time and that is a pleasure I’m not always used to.

I should explain what I meant by “the zone”.  It is interesting how once I begin tuning, I am somehow transported to “the zone” as I call it.  It’s the zone of concentration where all that matters is the job at hand.  It’s the same zone that makes my wife wonder if I’m going to die of starvation by missing a meal as I often can do when I’m in “the zone”.   Sure my mind wanders a little in this zone, but when you strive for a perfect tuning every time, I guess it doesn’t matter who’s home you’re in, even your own.

So, the second payoff came when I had tuned the last note and the piano began singing ever so sweetly, as only it can when it’s been freshly tuned.  I always say that there’s nothing quite like a freshly tuned piano.  I could play for hours after a tuning if my customers would let me!  I believe that that is one of my biggest reward in this profession is getting to play a freshly tuned piano at the end each and every tuning.  What a payoff!

And, the third payoff came when I had packed my bags, stood to sign my own sticker in my own piano, and mumbled to myself with a smile on my face….”self…that will be ‘x’ amount of dollars for a job well done!”, chuckling to myself in satisfaction that I have just saved myself a tuning fee by having been able to do it myself.  In this moment, not used to dialoging with myself, I feel I have a bit of a split personality: half piano technician, and half client…for in that moment, I am both.  So, in the spirit of the moment, I say to myself, “thank-you” and “you’re most certainly welcome!”  If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s the importance of being polite to your clients so they will call on you again….
So, with that said, I had so much fun, I think I’ll do it again next year!


Until next time, make a joyful noise…and remember that pianos are meant to sing sweetly…and not just once every 10 years!

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The pot calling the kettle black…a tuner’s confession!

I’m guilty as charged!  I found myself caught the other day staring down the proverbial double barrel, caught red handed, cornered, whatever you want to call it….anyway, my conscience got the best of me and I couldn’t deny it.  I have to confess I felt pretty hypocritical.


Here’s the situation.  I was sitting in the dentist chair a couple weeks ago for my annual….semi-annual, no…more likely, my bi-decade visit, just wrapping up the visit which proved to be very painful for me.  Not in the teeth either.  It was painful for my conscience, as well as for my wallet.  See, my dentist found that I needed 3 or 4 crowns and a filling since my last visit 4 years or more ago.  Wow.  That will cost me, big time.  As I was leaving, he said something to the effect of, “now don’t be such a stranger”, or “next time, let’s not wait as long”..what he was really saying was…”dude, it’s your own fault for waiting so long.  I could have saved you a bunch of money and a whole lot of pain if you had only kept regular checkups.”

It was at that moment I thought I was listening to myself talking…or at least thinking of what I’ve wanted to say to certain customers at times.  For instance, the customer who told me that they had their piano tuned the week it came home from the store in the early ’80’s, new …then just had it tuned this year…nearly 30 years later.  That was it!  Two tunings in 30 years…and the first one came with the purchase, I guess!  Don’t I feel special, I was the one who was chosen to do the honors after all these years! : )  Yup, we had some catchup work to be done on that piano.

Anyway, back to the dentist chair.  It was at that time that my conscience got the best of me, like a child who stole the cookie from the cookie jar and couldn’t contain his guilt, and I blurted out before I could stop myself…I said to him, and his assistant, “you know, that’s funny you should say that.  I feel so hypocritical.  Here, I’m a piano technician, and I implore my customers to not wait years and years to get their piano serviced, or it will end up costing them  “big time” later…and here I did that very thing with my dental visits.  Wow, do I feel like the pot calling the kettle black”.  He just chuckled…his way of saying that he of course was in total agreement with me!

I say that to say this…that it’s pretty natural for most of us to put off, to forget, or avoid what we know we should do because more important things come up, or we dread the tuner’s/dentist’s visit for whatever reason (see they’re both about the same…you grit your teeth the entire visit!  It’s either the noise of the monotonous pounding of the tuner, or the dreaded noise of the dentist’s drill!)

Many find it interesting that it’s usually the mechanic that drives an old beater and the piano tech who doesn’t have time to tune his own piano…so, I decided I’d better break the stereotype and put my piano on the calendar.  Next Wed. at 11am, I scheduled my own piano to be tuned!  I haven’t gone years or anything like that, but let’s say, I sure understand how my customers feel, as it’s really easy to forget how long it’s actually been.  Time has a way of getting away from ALL of us.

So, I hope this post serves to do both of us some good.  It sure helped me to get that off my chest, and it will surely help me to empathize a little better with my customers…that I truly do understand.  I also hope it helps you to realize that it does sometimes cost more to make repairs than it sometimes does to do preventative maintenance.  Waiting can be costly. Ask me how I know!

It was a lesson that I’m sure everyone can learn from.

Believe me, I’ll be reviewing this little lesson for the next couple months as I have my teeth repairs done!


Until next time, make a joyful noise….and make an appointment with your tuner…and dentist while your at it!








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