Piano technicians who work for colleges and universities have long realized that their experiences and their range of work are far different from those of other technicians. The instruments under their care generally receive far heavier use than other pianos, and the quality required for tuning and maintenance is very high. They are generally responsible for overseeing a complex maintenance system, involving intricate scheduling, record keeping, submitting reports, and dealing with a large number of demanding customers. So it isn't surprising that College and University Technicians (cauts) have tended to get together when they have had the opportunity, to share problems and solutions.
Much of this interaction has taken place at annual PTG conventions, and by the late 1970s there was usually a period set aside for a "CAUT Forum." A CAUT committee was appointed to organize this annual event, and the first attempt was made to produce a regular newsletter. As time passed, and more conversation occurred, it became apparent that the piano maintenance situation in higher education was quite bad, that there was inadequate staffing and a lack of information about how a successful maintenance program might be designed. A group of cauts decided to develop a formal document, which became the Guidelines for Effective Institutional Piano Maintenance. This was completed in 1989. By this time the CAUT committee was established under PTG bylaws, with responsibility for various charges, among which was production of a newsletter.
Outside the channels of PTG, a group of cauts initiated an email list, "pianotech," hosted by a university, which facilitated communication among cauts. It was an open list, and over a period of years attracted a very large number of subscribers, which resulted in CAUT specific concerns becoming sidelined in favor of more general piano maintenance topics. A separate "caut" list was formed to address this problem. In another initiative aimed at electronic communication, a CAUT website was created, again hosted by a university.
In 2001, the CAUT committee hosted an all day event at the annual PTG convention, consisting of panel discussions between representatives of manufacturers, educators and technicians. In the years following, the CAUT committee has continued to organize a full day of classes at annual institutes, usually comprising topics of particular concern to cauts, which would not otherwise be offered. The Guidelines document was revised during this period as well.
In 2007, the CAUT committee was charged by the PTG board to create a formal "CAUT Credential," which would certify the possession of a skill set appropriate for a caut. This effort failed for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the difficulty of developing an adequate testing regimen that would be acceptable to the organization. In the process of developing a "credential," the committee came up with the concept of a "CAUT Academy," a series of perhaps four intensive training sessions on specific topics, which would lead to a credential. This concept has been borrowed by PTG in its adoption of the Yamaha 37 Steps program, and plans to expand into other areas in the future.