Piano tuning a dying art in SA

No one in South Africa has been trained to tune a piano for nearly a decade — leaving only about 50 ageing piano tuners in the country.

The South African Association of Professional Piano Tuners (SAAPPT) is now concerned that unqualified people could damage the industry as well as the piano nestling in the corner of your living room.

” … This situation can do much more harm than good. Current clients will soon not be able to have their pianos tuned, often due to the growing demand for piano services and hardly any competition in the piano industry,” said the SAAPPT in a statement.

“The fees for piano services will rise radically which might create an opportunity for unqualified technicians to eventually ruin the profession.”

“There are already a few unqualified individuals operating in the country — often responsible for creating more work due to their lack of knowledge and skills.”

Training involves instruction in tuning, regulation, repairs and restoration of different kinds of upright and grand pianos.

“It is of utmost importance that technicians receive proper training as they work with delicate, hugely expensive equipment which often has sentimental value to their owners,” said the body.

Of the 50 or so qualified piano technicians remaining, some have normal sight and others are visually impaired.

The only official training for piano tuners, which started at the Institute for the Blind in Worcester, Western Cape, in 1884, was discontinued in 1998 because of financial constraints.

In 2004, the SAAPPT attempted to register the profession and entered into a joint venture with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Plans included a scheme to generate industry standards and establish a “learnership” programme.

But the process was “uncomfortably slow” and “suddenly” halted by SAQA due to a lack of funds.

“There will still be no training in the foreseeable future as the SAAPPT cannot finish the process on its own.”

The SAAPPT is to hold it annual general meeting in Brackenfell, Cape Town, on March 22, at which the skills shortage issue will be discussed. – Sapa

On the net

South African Association of Professional Piano Tuners

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