Pianotech

1.  Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 04-28-2014 17:12
We have received word of the death of Bill Garlick on the Isle of Man, where he had retired.
Bill was weak from extended illness, and succumbed quietly to pneumonia.

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Ed Sutton
Editor
Piano Technicians Journal
ed440@me.com
704-536-7926
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2.  RE: Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 04-28-2014 17:56
Sad news indeed, he was a major reason I got interested in early keyboard instruments and was always generous with his time and knowledge. Damn. Thanks for sharing that.

---Dave




3.  RE:Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 04-28-2014 18:02
I know he was  a big name in piano technology, and I have heard a few highlights and anecdotes about him.  But I don't really know that much about him, and I know I am not alone.  Could someone give a brief synopsis of his life and career in a paragraph or two?  I would be very grateful, and I know many others would benefit as well.

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Jurgen Goering
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4.  RE:Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 04-28-2014 18:20
Jurgen, it will take a few volumes.  I'm sure many will write and
I'm also sure the Journal will have a tribute.  Bill was one of the
giants, as a technician, as a personality.  Very sad to lose him,
and those closest to him, like the NBSS staff and former students, 
are surely feeling it today.

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Ruth Zeiner
ruth@alliedpiano.com
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5.  RE:Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 04-29-2014 09:28
Hi Jurgen -
As Ruth says, the many people whose lives were touched by his humanity will, hopefully, share these experiences, going forward.  I expect that many of the people you saw this past weekend at NEECSO (I wasn't able to attend, but I saw that you, or you're business, at least, had a booth) would have had much to share.  

I'm contributing now, as my interaction with Bill was tangential, and, in comparison, superficial.  I didn't attend NBSS, as I was unwilling to wait the year it would have taken to begin, once I decided to embark upon this endeavor, yet, in my subsequent interactions with him, I never felt as though that initial impetuousness prevented the same openness and sharing that he extended to his many students.   Others will be able to offer much more substantial and personal experiences of the man, but his passing certainly warrants noting.

I share Jurgen's hope that at least some of those who knew him well will take a moment, at some point, to share their memories and feelings.

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David Skolnik
Hastings-on-Hudson NY
914-231-7565
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6.  RE:Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 05-03-2014 00:57
Bill Garlick was a very skilled educator. I always enjoyed his presentations and valued my time with him. 

When He worked for Steinway, Joe Bisceglie was ecstatic to have him on board. Bill and Joe set in motion many of the improvements to production quality at Steinway NY. Prior to Bill, Joe felt somewhat "out gunned" by Joe Pramberger who refused to revisit the teflon bushing issues. Bill had a way to make a case that was most compelling for anyone listening. He was a giant among us. I feel honored to have known him.

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Edward McMorrow
Edmonds WA
425-299-3431
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7.  RE: Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 05-23-2014 11:35

Hi, all -

As preface to this posting, I've recently started a blog, mostly because its being a feature of my new tprtools.com website, and felt that a remembrance of one of the people who helped me get started, Bill Garlick, would be appropriate. I did a little online search to attempt to get my history right and found very little, but I did find this thread. Since not much has been said, I'll prime the pump with a brief homage:


Bill Garlick: the Long Reach of Mentorship

Bill Garlick passed away recently, after an extended and, to me, somewhat shocking decline. When I last saw Bill, in June of 1982, he was a force of nature, at the peak of his powers as a teacher and mentor of budding piano technicians. And I know numbers of techs who received a start directly or indirectly from Bill. Locally, there's Bob Cassidy, who studied with him in 1974, and David Stanwood in 1979 (?). Then, of course, his students David Betts, Christine Lovgren, and Jack Stebbins, who have carried on the teaching at North Bennet Street these 30+ years. "Pull your socks up," was a quote Chris reminded me of the other night at the Boston PTG meeting. That was so Bill, along with his un-Boston-like attire of Lederhosen, sandals, and knee socks!

I came to NBSS with three years experience as a piano technician, seeking to learn and hone my skills, certainly, but also full of my recently gathered "knowledge" and experience. I think my leading questions may have been a trial for Bill at times, disrupting of his carefully crafted curriculum. But certainly his leading questions, tests, and practical demonstrations were of great value to me. And his organized trips to the Steinway factory in New York, to the harpsichord workshops of Hubbard and Dowd, and to Herb Benedict's barn...

But his most enduring act of mentorship came in the form of, pardon the expression, a kick in the pants. Shortly before my graduation from NBSS in the spring of 1982, Bill asked me to fill in for him at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, tuning for a fund-raising concert in Remis Auditorium. At the time, I was (as Isaac Sadigursky aptly puts it) a Michelangelo tuner, each opus a Sistine Chapel artwork, i.e., my tunings generally took 2 hours and longer. Fortunately, I arrived early, some three hours before the concert, because I don't think this 19th century upright had been tuned in the 20th century. It had no aftertouch at all. It was two whole steps flat. Action screws were totally loose. But it had lovely brass candelabras and, clearly, it was a work of high German craftsmanship, inside and out, just - not concert-ready.

Fortunately, there was a storage room rollably offstage, around a corner, and through a door. Adrenaline kicked in. Bridle straps were disintegrated so I removed the keys as well as the action, removed all non-cloth frontrail punchings, manually reinserted the keys, took up 100+ years of lost motion, pitch raised it three times, and finished my "tuning" with case parts back in place and the piano rolled onstage in 3 hours and five minutes.

Bill had tapped my warrior roots, reminded me of the rise-to-the-occasion-and-finish-while-appearing-calm piano technician's mandate, and handed me over his best client as he was leaving for New York to work for Steinway.

His "sink or swim" gesture set me swimming.

Cheers, Bill. I should have thanked you a long time ago for that ordeal. 



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Christopher Brown
Owner
TPR Tools
Littleton MA
978-486-0610
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8.  RE: Sad news of Bill Garlick

Posted 06-13-2014 23:15
The legacy of Bill Garlick cannot nor will not be summarized in a paragraph or two.  Such a brief summation could never tell of the extent to which he has contributed to PTG and to the entire field of piano technology.  He left his influence on the piano itself with his tenure at Steinway.

Bill Garlick was a major influence in my development.  I became acquainted with him as the instructor at the week long seminar at the Steinway factory in New York that I attended in June, 1986.  I carry with me to this day the many practices that I acquired during that session.

Many people know of me as a strong advocate for the use of non-equal temperaments.  At the time I attended that seminar, however, I was just like many other technicians, knowing only of ET and trying to stretch it to the hilt.  Bill had a way of pointing out that there were different perspectives, however and different results that could be enjoyed by learning and knowing of many options, not just one.

Although Bill had certainly taught ET at the NBSS and it is of course, what Steinway is generally known to insist upon, he embraced what one of my classmates at that seminar was interested in:  tuning her Steinway in a Historical Temperament.  I scoffed at the idea but Bill admonished me for it.  While he praised what I could do well, he showed me where my weaknesses were.  He told me that by dismissing an idea that I apparently knew nothing about, I may be missing out on a whole spectrum of what piano tuning may have to offer.

No one has mentioned this yet, but it is my understanding that Dr. Al Sanderson first consulted with Bill Garlick as to why theoretical frequencies for ET resulted in a less than desirable outcome.  Although the principal of 4:5 ratio of Contiguous Major Thirds is today considered a key element in ET perfection, it was largely unknown until Bill Garlick himself introduced the concept to Dr. Sanderson.  Many other names have been attached to that concept since then but we have Bill Garlick to actually thank for introducing it to PTG, the subsequent development of a workable Electronic Tuning Device and the PTG Tuning Exam.  He was the catalyst who started the many concepts we commonly know today into mainstream thinking.

A more widespread understanding of just what inharmonicity is and how to cope with it also can be traced driectly back to Bill Garlick.  What is so commonly known today, such as the various octave sizes and the checks for them, how they can be applied to deliberately affect the outcome of a tuning and the myriad of checks available for ET that were not published in books in the early part of the 20th Century are all what Bill Garlick new and taught.  His influence went far beyond the NBSS and Steinway.  His influence spread from every individual who was fortunate enough to have been in contact with him.

Bill was never satisfied with the status quo.  He was not always happy with PTG for one reason or another.  I recall one Delegate to Council ridiculing the Bill Garlick "diatribe", for example when Bill had expressed his discontent in a lengthy worded letter.  He was passionate about everything he did.  He was even passionate about his own physical health as I remember him.  He shied away from PTG in his later years but we did hear from him some words of encouragement from time to time.

Perhaps, he is due a posthumous award of some kind, Hall of Fame or even Golden Hammer.  Those who evaluate such nominations shall surely see the many contributions he has made and consider it.
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William Bremmer
Madison WI
608-238-8400
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