The most numerous of these professional technicians are the piano tuners, and the pipe-organ tuners and repairers. Note that the world’s first musical instrument was the human body. Paleolithic dancers clapped, stamped, and chanted, and slapped their bodies to mark rhythm. Gourd rattles, bone whistles, scrapers, hollow branch and conch shell ‘trumpet,’ wooden rhythm pounder and knockers, and bullroarers followed. By the early Neolithic times, drums that produced two or more pitches and pottery and cane flutes that gave several notes were developed. The musical blow, a primitive stringed instrument and forerunner of the Jew’s harp, preceded the bow-shaped harp and the long-necked lute about 2000 B.C. Just before the Christian era, the pipe organ - the first keyboard instrument - was invented in Alexandria and utilized water power to send a stream of air through its pipes. People do not have to be musicians to recognize a flat note. Their pleasure in music, whether classical or rock, can be ruined by a poorly tuned instrument. It is the work of tuners and musical instrument technicians’ technical support jobs to keep the instruments performing properly - an important job when you consider the millions of people who depend on music for entertainment.
Piano organ tuners or technicians’ support specialist jobs have been focused to adjust piano strings so that they will be in proper pitch. When a piano key is pressed, it causes a felt-covered wooden hammer to strike a string to produce a note. The number of times a string vibrates per second is called its pitch. For a piano to be in tune, all the strings must be set at the right pitch. The piano tuners remove the board from the front of an upright piano to expose the strings. They use felt or rubber strips to mute the sound of strings adjacent to the one they are testing. When the tension of the string has been properly adjusted, its pitch will match that of the tuning fork.
Most piano tuners and technicians, like those in help desk employment, work in repair shops or in homes or establishments where the instruments are located, but some may work in piano factories, making the initial adjustments for those clients who call for the services. Because pianos and organs work differently, repairers rarely work on both instruments. Furthermore, organ repairers themselves fall into two groups, specializing in either pipe organs or electronic organs. Pipe-organ tuners and repairers service organs that make music by forcing air through two kinds of pipes: flue pipes and reed pipes. The flue pipe produces a note when a current of air strikes the metal lip of an opening on the side of the pipe. The note is determined by the length of the pipe. A reed pipe sounds when air vibrates a slender brass reed inside the pipe. The length of the reed, along with the size and length of the pipe, determines the note.
Pipe-organ technicians’ technical support job involves a task to diagnose, locate, and correct problems in the operating parts of the organ. This involves working with the electric wind-generating equipment and with the slides, valves, keys, air channels, and other equipment that enables the organist to produce the music desired. They also perform preventive maintenance, such as cleaning pipes, on a regular basis. For beginning jobs servicing musical instrument employers prefer high-school graduates. It is not essential that they be able to play the instruments, but general music courses will help them develop an ear for tonal quality. Courses in woodworking will prove useful when repairing the many moving parts that are made of wood in pianos and pipe organs. Most tuners and technician-repairers acquire their skills through on-the-job training. Inexperienced applicants are hired as trainees by music stores, large repair shops, or self-employed technicians. They handle routine tasks, do general cleanup work, and help move and install instruments. Working under the close supervision of experienced workers, they learn to tune and repair instruments. It may take four or five years of training to become a qualified piano or pipe-organ technician.
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