Curriculum

BASIC PIANO TECHNOLOGY

The PT program covers all phases of aural piano tuning, including the concepts on which equal temperament is founded. You’ll learn to tune, regulate, and repair both upright and grand pianos. Classes include hands-on work, lectures, and field trips to such venues as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mason & Hamlin Factory in Haverhill, the Steinway factory in Long Island City, as well as various workshops and collections throughout New England.

ADVANCED PIANO TECHNOLOGY

The PA program focuses on the entire piano and comprehensive piano service. This includes advanced tuning and regulation practice, and resolving service problems that occur in the field—an example of which is the School’s 72-piano service contract with the Boston Public School system. Each year, PA students work in teams of two or three to dismantle, rebuild, and repair grand pianos.

In addition to the Full-Time program, we occasionally offer an introduction to piano technology course through our Continuing Education Department. View all CE courses here.

Basic Piano Technology Curriculum

Introduction to Piano Technology

  • Elementary tuning procedures
  • Supply house catalogs
  • Basic tool familiarization
  • Elementary woodworking

Tuning

On a variety of pianos, the student will tune in equal temperament by various methods at a professional standard.

  1. Musical acoustics
    • Elementary acoustics
    • The vibrations of music wire
    • The phenomenon of beats
    • Perfect and tempered intervals

    • Intervals used in tuning
    • Pitch designation
    • Inharmonicity
  2. Aural Tuning Procedure and Practice
    1. Unison tuning
    2. Pure octave tuning
    3. The circle of fifths
    4. Comma of Pythagoras
    5. Pythagorean temperament
    6. Equal temperament
    7. Bass octave and unison tuning
    8. Treble octave and unison tuning
    9. Raising pitch and lowering pitch
  3. Use of Electronic tuning devices

  4. Other Temperaments
    • Extended temperament
    • Historic temperaments

    Note: Topics are arranged around the central tuning practice which continues on a daily basis.

Principles of Piano Construction

Given a modern piano, students identify and explain the function and operation of parts of the piano with 70% accuracy.

  1. Grand - vertical - console - spinet piano
  2. Case nomenclature and functions
  3. Disassembly and re-assembly of case parts
  4. Major piano parts
  5. Plate and frame
  6. Sound board and bridges
  7. Pinblock
  8. Scale
  9. Keyboard and action
  10. Damper system
  11. Pedal system

Repair Procedures

On grand and upright pianos, students perform with accuracy and quality workmanship regular repair and replacement tasks encountered in the routine piano maintenance.

  1. Restorative techniques for common parts
  2. Breakages: the key, whippen, hammer, damper, tuning pin and string
  3. De-stringing and re-stringing practices
  4. Hammer resurfacing

Action Regulation

On grand and upright pianos, students use common adjustment procedures to regulate the action for uniformity of touch and tone.

  1. Function and design of a piano action
  2. Regulation of grand piano action
  3. Regulation tools and their uses
  4. Regulation of direct and indirect vertical actions
  5. Comparison of various procedures
  6. Introduction to tone regulation

Related Topics

Students demonstrate a knowledge of pianos and their manufacture and learn sound business practices appropriate for self-employed technicians.

  1. History of clavichord, harpsichord, forte piano
  2. Field trips
    • Museums
    • Harpsichord builder
    • Piano factory (Steinway, Mason and Hamlin)
  3. Business practice
    • Marketing
    • Record keeping
    • Ethics
  4. Seminars by visiting professional lecturers

Internships

As students approach a professional standard, we arrange field work at local institutions. Many of our graduates earn internship positions at summer music festivals, including Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival.

Advanced Piano Technology Curriculum

Tuning

Given a piano, students complete an aural fine tuning in equal temperament.

  1. Fine tuning practice
  2. Refined tuning techniques
  3. Two pianos in unison
  4. Field work
  5. Testing against professional standards
  6. Use of electronic tuning devices as tuning aids

Advanced Regulation

Students demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the action of pianos by using all appropriate regulating techniques and procedures to achieve uniformity of touch and tone.

  1. Analysis of fine action regulation - continued
  2. Regulation practice
  3. Analysis of action geometry
  4. Retrofitting with new parts

Hand Tool and Machine Operation

Students demonstrate safe use of hand tools and woodworking machines.

  1. Woodworking hand tools
  2. Safety in machine operation
  3. Power hand tools: drill, router, sanders
  4. Machines: tablesaw, drill press, bandsaw, jointer, planer

Modern Piano Rebuilding / Restoration

Student perform all rebuilding procedures to bring grand pianos to optimum condition.

  1. Theory of rebuilding procedures
  2. Documentation of disassembly
  3. Repair and/or replacement techniques of:
    • Pin block, sound board, bridges, and ribs
    • Cabinet and veneer
    • Plate and bearings
    • Keyframe, keyboard
    • Action and damper mechanism; hammers
    • Case hardware
    • Dampers, trap and pedal work
  4. Computer rescaling
  5. Re-stringing, chipping and tuning
  6. Re-assembly, action regulation, tone regulation
  7. Case finish
    • Finish removal
    • Sanding, filling, staining, refinishing, polishing

Issues in Field Service

Students demonstrate commitment to high professional standards by undertaking field work assignments and attending meetings of Piano Technicians Guild (PTG).

  1. Recurrent and common field service problems
  2. Customer relations
  3. Estimating repair costs
  4. Attendance at Regional Seminars of PTG (optional)

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Questions? Contact Rob O'Dwyer, Director of Admissions, at 617-227-0155 x111 or admissions@nbss.edu.
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