Sixty Years and Counting
Paul Brown, RPT
It’s hard to believe that 60 years ago, the National Association of Piano Tuners and the American Society of Piano Technicians merged to form The Piano Technicians Guild. The process took years of negotiation and a certain amount of trust to ensure the new organization would endure the test of time.
Thirty-eight years ago, the International Association of Piano Builders and Technicians was formed. It has been our pleasure to be their host this year in St. Louis, and we look forward to the IAPBT convention in two years.
The viability of our organization can be measured in many ways: management, communication, volunteerism, membership and certification. Now is the time to review these subjects to see how we are doing. Future articles in this space will discuss what action needs to be taken for the sake of our organization.
The Piano Technicians Guild is extremely well managed. We own our own building, have no debts, and are financially secure.
The Home Office communicates regularly with the membership by email, e-newsletters, the Leader Letter, questionnaires, surveys and the Piano Technicians Journal. Other membership information is available on www.ptg.org and my.ptg.org. How do we know that all members are receiving the communication? For email users, there is a way to determine who is clicking on links and viewing the information, but for snail mail, we have no idea if the material is being read. Currently, the response rate for membership surveys is not what it needs to be. It is very difficult for an organization to plan if many of its members don’t provide input.
We need volunteers to fill committee and chapter leadership positions every year. It is understandable that many members with families feel they will not be able to devote sufficient time to be effective committee members. On the other hand, there are many long-time volunteers who continue to give as much time as possible, even though they risk burnout. Not all volunteer positions require meeting attendance. Having a computer with email access is usually sufficient to communicate and fulfill the requirements of a committee position.
When PTG first formed in 1957, John Travis, PTG’s first co-president, wrote that PTG would be “an initial powerful, influential, and effective organization of over a thousand members.” Over time, our organization grew to a membership of over 4,000. However, membership numbers have been dropping over the last number of years. Currently, the number of PTG members is 3,409. Amazingly, the average age of piano technicians seems to be relatively stable over time. In April of 1950 the American Society of Piano Technicians magazine mentioned, “The average age of a man in this industry is 57 years.” According to the latest survey, the average age of a PTG member today is about the same.
Certification is becoming an area of great concern. When we lose examiners, we also lose exam venues, thereby making it much more difficult for Associate members to upgrade. In the last eight years, we have lost over 40 examiners. Have a look at the totals below:
2009 CTEs (64) and TECs (87) Total = 151
2014 CTEs (52) and TECs (72) Total = 124
2017 CTEs (53) and TECs (57) Total = 110
I look forward to hearing from all of you about the issues I have presented. Feel free to send me your thoughts at email@example.com.