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#3212942 04/30/22 11:58 PM
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Generally,
How much do the Piano Trade schools cost to learn piano tuning and rebuilding? And usually how long are the courses? If a student travels to another state, is there also housing? I was also wondering if anyone who has gone through a school if in the end if it was worth it.
Thanks in advance.


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I went to the (now closed) Chicago School for Piano Technology (directed by the late Paul Revenko-Jones), 2010-11 and 2012-13. If memory serves it was about $9500 per year (not counting tools, which were a fairly significant amount - I want to say at least $1500?). The basic curriculum was one year, but there was an option to do a second year, either focused on rebuilding or (and this is what i chose) concert prep/institutional management (which also included replacing a pinblock and restringing a grand). There was no housing assistance, and there wasn't any financial aid available until my second year. Still, it was absolutely worth it to me. In a fairly short time frame it laid a very solid foundation and prepared me very well for what is now a very happy and fulfilling career - one that would have taken considerably longer to achieve had I gone through a correspondence course or mentoring approach. I still consider my choice enroll in the school as one of the best decisions I've ever made.


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From the North Bennett Street School in Boston's website:

Basic Piano Technology
September 2021-July 2022 tuition is $25,500, with the option of making 9 monthly payments of $2,883.
The estimated cost of tools is $1,500.
The estimated cost of transportation for class trips is $300.

Advanced Piano Technology
September 2021-July 2022 tuition is $25,500*, with the option of making 9 monthly payments of $2,833.
The estimated cost of hand tools is $800.
The estimated cost of transportation for class trips is $300.


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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Generally,
How much do the Piano Trade schools cost to learn piano tuning and rebuilding? And usually how long are the courses? If a student travels to another state, is there also housing? I was also wondering if anyone who has gone through a school if in the end if it was worth it.
Thanks in advance.

Having spent my G.I. bill on a BFA, and realizing one could starve to death throwing pottery for a living, I scraped up enough to live in Boston for a year while attending NBSS (1975-76). I bought used tools to start with, and we didn't go out. Had a 10 year old car with 165000 miles on it.

I have never looked back. Arriving in Nashville, I quickly found out that I really didn't know how to play guitar and my dream of being a bluegrass professional evaporated. However, I also found out that being formally trained put me light-years in front of the competition. In fact, there was no competition once I got my tuning in the studios. There were no advanced ETD's so it was all on the aural chops, and the school had taught me a standard that would have been very difficult to obtain on my own. Slipped into a university position that lasted 38 years while building a private clientele I still have today,(after pricing myself out of the studios and now leaving the constraints of a school's performance calendar).

The expense of receiving formal training, devoid of most of the idiosyncratic techniques individual techs have come up with ,(we are an inventive lot and most of us spend WAY too much time by ourselves), was the cheapest investment I have ever made and I am eternally grateful for the standards around which I formed my approach to the piano. I am not alone, as numerous other, better-known, techs in the industry also were taught at NBSS.

At the time, there was NO substitute for the instruction we received. Today may be a bit different, as the PTG actively encourages potential members to join, participate, and avail themselves of the training it makes possible. If one wants to add piano work as a part-time occupation, the expense may not be worth it, but if they want to go full professional and reach for the top, it is hard to do better than enrolling in a proven schooling environment as a basis for the lifetime of learning from experience that will follow.

Just my .7 ¢
Regards,

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If I started a school of piano technology. The first requirement would be teaching how to think from first principles. This is the basis of civilization. All else is heresy.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
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Is there any other in-person school in N. America still around now besides North Bennett Street? The Chicago School folded, as did our respected program based at Western U in London, Ontario.

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Mr. McMorrow,
Could you explain in more detail, I'm not sure what you mean?
Thanks.
Chris

Last edited by Chernobieff Piano; 05/01/22 12:36 PM.

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In the US there are currently two institutions that offer academic courses in 'Piano technology':

https://music.fsu.edu/programs/piano-technology

https://www.oberlin.edu/piano-technology

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I'm sure each of these 2-yr university programs struggles to stay afloat. But it's nice to see that they exist. Thanks for this info.

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I graduated from the North Bennet Street Basic Piano Technology program in 2006, and Advanced Piano Technology in 2007. Each followed a traditional September-May school year schedule, full days, M-F. I had been to graduate school a few years previously, and I remember noting that the NBSS tuition was quite comparable to tuition at the private seminary I'd attended. One can rent a place near the school, or live farther away and travel into the city every day. At the time, the school would put people in contact with others looking for roommates.
Housing isn't cheap in Boston. Some students had outside jobs. They do (or did back then) help students get set up with financial aid. (I didn't go the financial aid route, because I'd come into some money and had my graduate school loans paid off.)

I have a BA in elementary education, which I used in a first career as a grade school teacher. I also have a Master of Divinity, which I earned during a time when I thought I was called to the ministry. (I now think my calling was to attend seminary, not to be a pastor.) It's great to have a master's degree, but I never used it professionally, although I like to think I learned a lot and did a lot of good field work and internship. I feel my education at the North Bennet Street School was just as high-quality, comprehensive and professional as either of my previous degrees, and I've created a successful piano business since graduating.


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Thanks for this post, Joan - your school has a superb reputation in this small field. Seems to me it has set the standards!

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I trained at NBSS for 2 years in the early 1980’s, in 1986 I was appointed head piano tech. at Boston University School of Music a position I held for 33 years until 2019. All of my assistants and many interns over the years were students at NBSS, wonderful school and first rate instructors.


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I attended Florida State for my DM in violin in the late 90s--I wish their piano tech program was on my radar. However, be aware there are some requirements. It may not be for beginners.

From their website:

The Master of Arts with an emphasis in Piano Technology requires a commitment of four semesters and 32 graduate course credits. Candidates will hold a prior undergraduate degree in music; in addition, the completion of a Certificate in Piano Technology at a residence school is highly preferred.

They do have assistantship stipends though, which is a huge advantage if you get in.

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It's hard for me to imagine who would be attracted by the Florida State program, given its 2-year residency and preference for prior fulltime training in piano tech.
The latter requirement, as we know, almost does not exist in N. America, and if one had already done it, one probably would be out in the piano field earning a living, not looking to put one's career on hold for another 2 years. Doubly so in these precarious economic times.

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Peter,
Yes they "prefer" experience, but it doesn't necessarily mean "fully trained." I can imagine someone with a little training and a demonstrated seriousness. The assistantship is a big deal for someone that does get in: just imagine how much money you'd save over NBSS. Just mind the fire ants and the crocodiles.

I gotta say that tuning those practice room pianos in the basement might not be so pleasant, especially after remembering what went on in them and what was smeared on the walls....

Ok I better stop. It's bringing back bad memories...

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Originally Posted by Scott Cole, RPT
Peter,
Yes they "prefer" experience, but it doesn't necessarily mean "fully trained." I can imagine someone with a little training and a demonstrated seriousness. The assistantship is a big deal for someone that does get in: just imagine how much money you'd save over NBSS. Just mind the fire ants and the crocodiles.

I gotta say that tuning those practice room pianos in the basement might not be so pleasant, especially after remembering what went on in them and what was smeared on the walls....

Ok I better stop. It's bringing back bad memories...

There's 250+ instruments at FSU and last time I checked they do not have a single fulltime technician on staff, except for the head of department, who happens to be a French Horn player by degree and does all the mentoring for the program. I believe you can fill in the blanks for yourself when it comes to the stipend for this academic course.

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I’m not sure what the blanks are as regards to a stipend. Except that it’s better than paying tuition. It’s just an opportunity, that’s all. I can say that there were both positives and negatives for me at FSU. My stipend wasn’t great, but it helped me get by. Another small amount I wouldn’t have to pay back for years and years.

Your sentence “they do not have a single full time technician on staff, except for the head of department” is artfully deceptive.

So, yes, they do have a full time technician on staff. The fact that this person has a music performance degree is a positive, not a disqualifier. Many schools only have one full-time technician.

If you look at the backgrounds of many well-known technicians in the PTG, you’ll see that many have performance degrees.

I have no particular position on FSU. I just wouldn’t condemn a technician because they have a music degree. Or any other degree.

At the same time, there are university technicians that are not RPTs—I wouldn’t automatically assume they are not skillful or qualified.

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We obviously have a different opinion about this particular university course.

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
We obviously have a different opinion about this particular university course.

As I said, I don't really have an opinion on this particular university program. I don't have an opinion on other programs either, except for NBSS, which I do think is a good program based on the many graduates I've met.

I neither recommend nor discourage anyone from investigating it. It's just an option, that's all.

You seem to have an ax to grind though. Maybe you were there and had a bad experience, or know someone that did? If so, that's fine. I have plenty of axes to grind about institutions I've been at.

It would be more useful if you relate your direct experience with FSU's program. If, for instance, you attended and found the instruction to be lacking, or you felt the students were over-worked or the resources limited, go ahead and say so. I have no plans to attend, but others reading this and considering it may find it useful.

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Scott, I have no axe to grind whatsoever.

It simply was part of my last job to survey all internationally available courses to become a concert technician. As part of that job I looked at what was offered on the institution's website and held interviews with those in charge.

Since I live in Europe and grew up with the mind set of free education at whatever level, I drew conclusions from comparisons I had at hand.

You've read my conclusions and it's up to you to draw your own conclusions from that. When you are happy with the results of a graduate from any of these institutions doing work on your own piano, then that's good. Different people with a different set of expectations would not let those graduates anywhere close to their own pianos and that's their choice.

When teachers don't have a track record of documented excellent concert service, my willingness to let their students handle my piano is about zero. And when I know that students of those programs bleed their ears by servicing substandard pianos every day, I most certainly would not want want them anywhere close to my own piano, let alone a real concert grand for performance.

Let's just agree to disagree on what we expect from the results of an academic piano technology degree course.


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