Executive Outlook

Dec 21

How Do You Become an Examiner?

By Marc Poulin, RPT, PTG President and Dave Davis, RPT, Examinations and Test Standards Committee Chair

This is such a common question, and there is no simple answer. We are hoping to shed a little light on the subject to clear the air and provide direction for those who may be pondering this question.

If you just wish to help with RPT exams, you do not need to be certified as a technical examiner (TEC) or a tuning examiner (CTE). All RPTs are welcome to assist with all three exams. All you need are a willingness to volunteer, the ability to follow policies and directions of the examiner in charge, and the desire have fun! Assisting with exams can be an education program all on its own. At a convention several years ago, the RPT “assistants” for the master tuning were Jim Coleman, Sr. and Michael Travis. As a first-year, full- time CTE, working with technicians of this caliber for four hours on a master tuning was a training opportunity that you couldn’t ever pay for.

Examiners come in three types: Written, Technical, and Tuning. Each of the disciplines has differing requirements to qualify for training as well as different training programs to complete your certification. The one thing all three have in common is simple: You must be a Registered Piano Technician to administer the RPT exams and become certified as an examiner.

Download the complete article on becoming an examiner.

Nov 21

David Stoneman

The First Four Words

By David Stoneman, RPT
PTG Secretary-Treasurer

The first four words of the Piano Technicians Guild’s Code of Ethics are: “I will act honorably.” In an ethics code, what more really needs to be said?

After this are found follow-up points that help to illuminate specifically what these first four words mean for someone in our industry. The additional wording also acts to make certain that we can find consensus, codify our understanding of honor and how it will manifest itself in our day-to-day actions as professionals who interact with the public. Simple, no?

Ah, now the hard part. These first four words present an ancient philosophical challenge that has at its core a paradox of Gordian Knot-like proportion. How do I know what is the honorable thing to do? As an individual, who’s to say that my understanding of honor is the same as any other’s? We do trust that we all have that “same small voice” that gives us direction in what is right and what is wrong, our very own Jiminy Cricket that can sound an alarm when we begin to head in a direction that is contrary to our better selves, moving us away from the wrong and toward the right.

I feel that I know what is right, and though I am not a philosopher or high thinker, I strive to do right by my clients and my fellow technicians. I strive to avoid selfish gestures with family, friends, clients, and suppliers. It becomes more difficult as the relationships extend further from the “me” that is in the center of my world. Of course I want to treat “me” well. Of course I want to treat “mine” well. But how about suppliers, people with whom I may have nothing more than a single business dealing? Do I try to arrange fair deals, good deals, advantageous deals, exceptional deals? At what point am I trying to take advantage of someone? Conscience and honor must guide me to act in the proper fashion.

“I will act honorably” has implications regarding how we look at all others in our profession. It is a guiding precept of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) that none of their members is ever to disparage the work of any other appraiser, whether that person is a member of the ASA or not. The thought behind this is that any language that speaks against an appraiser works to the detriment of the entire profession. Isn’t this an ideal that makes sense? But that curbs free speech and forces me to swallow my tongue when I have a right to speak my mind about what I see to be a lack of quality in the work of other “technicians.” Well, yes, and no. Acting honorably would direct us to find a way to convey our opinions in a fashion that educates, looks to truth, and works toward betterment. To do this requires a certain professional attitude which is reliant on a certain level of emotional maturity. I don’t always find this easy, and in those instances when I find myself struggling to find the next right thing to say, I find it is sometimes best to take a moment. Yes, it can sometimes be a long, very long, or very, very long moment. But I’d better take time rather than say something quick, unfortunately unprofessional, and therefore less than honorable.

One of the fascinating things about piano technology is the fact that the learning curve is infinite; there is always more to learn. As this is true, then it follows that, regardless of our feeling that “I know more about ‘______’ than anyone,” we have more to learn and therefore should be open to the idea that we can learn from our colleagues — our RPT colleagues, our member colleagues, and our colleagues who are not in the Guild. If we can learn from any of those around us, why wouldn’t we treat them with professional respect as our default attitude?

I’m always pained to hear of a situation where someone has come to a first PTG chapter meeting and reported a feeling of being frozen out, unwelcome, or underappreciated as a potential new member. Worse, perhaps much worse, is the way some contrary opinions are handled on the PTG email lists, where we are supposed to discuss ideas for the betterment of the profession. Language is occasionally chosen that derides fellow technicians so viciously that I can’t recommend new members subscribe. I fear they will find the way we treat each other so discouraging that they’ll turn tail and run.

It certainly isn’t possible to be perfect. It isn’t always possible to be sure of the right next step, but we should always be able to know what it is to act honorably and then do so.

PTG Mission Statement
The mission of the Piano Technicians Guild is to promote the highest possible standards of piano service by providing members with opportunities for professional development, by recognizing technical competence through examinations and by advancing the interests of its members.

Oct 21

Jim Fariss

Focus and Direction

By Jim Fariss, RPT
PTG Vice President

I sincerely appreciate the honor and opportunity entrusted to me by the delegates representing more than 3,000 members of the Piano Technicians Guild at the 2021 Council meeting in Orlando. At that meeting I was elected to our PTG executive committee, along with Marc Poulin and David Stoneman. That was followed by our seven regions selecting their regional vice presidents to complete your 2021-22 board of directors.

That, for the most part, should be the last time you’ll see me use the personal pronoun “I” or refer to the executive committee. From the moment this group was elected, ten of your fellow piano technicians came together with unique and in some cases wildly diverse ideas on what the future of PTG should or should not be, and they became one board of directors.

The day after Council, your new board met to discover where we had commonality and, equally as important, what our differences were. We started off with some fundamental questions, such as, “Is the PTG a school?”, “Our shrinking examiner pool,” and “The importance of Council in a board-governance world.” We then began to list issues facing PTG, each board member weighing in with concerns. The list grew and grew. From there, we ranked an order of priorities this board needs to tackle. In the end, these ten piano technicians came together as a team to create the top five priorities your volunteer board will focus on over the next six months as we head towards reviewing our progress at the winter board meeting next January.

The following five priorities are the solid foundation your board will build upon. This list contains our issues, not the answers or solutions. In the two and a half days your board met in Orlando, we unfortunately were not able to solve the world’s problems just yet, but certainly we’re working on it!

RPT Examiners & Exams
The pool of tuning and technical examiners has reached a critically low level, to where we’ll soon be giving RPT exams only at annual conventions if things don’t change. Your board has put together a task group with this direction: If PTG were creating a tuning exam today, with or without regard to the past, what would that exam be? Particular focus should be paid towards the requirements for the examiner and skills/process necessary to administer the exam. Of the utmost importance was included: There is NO reference to removing an aural requirement for an ETD user.

Council Role & Board Relations
The makeup of our Council and board comes from the same place, volunteer members of PTG. The transition from Council governance to board governance continues to elude us, and it is your board that must work to break this us-vs-them mentality that serves no purpose but to divide and destroy.

Assessment of Member Benefits
We banter about the phrase “Member Benefits,” but what does that really mean? What information can we arm our members with so they are prepared to answer the question, “Why should I join the PTG?” While we worked on that, a few thoughts came up, such as:

  • Access to a living knowledge base
  • Support for remote members
  • Local chapter meetings
  • The Piano Technicians Journal
  • Conventions

Recruitment – Grow Membership
So often we hear, “Somebody should do something about . . .” Your board is that somebody. No matter how you slice it, when any organization fails to attract young, fresh talent, it’s destined to collapse. Our PTG must embrace 21st-century training, communication, and technologies to provide that attraction.

Education Goals – “Where do I go for training?”
Some of that 21st-century communication is already here today in the PTG. Do yourself a favor and click on “Become a Tech” on the home page of the PTG website. There you will see an introduction video created by our marketing committee, headed by Tim Barnes and Chris LaBarre. Our Executive Director, Barbara Cassaday, informs us there has been a notable increase in the number of inquiries since that page and videos were created. The problem is that when asked, “Where can I get training?” our Home Office does not have a stock answer. We’re going to change that.

Your board does not have the answers today, but you can see where we’ll focus our limited time and resources to come up with answers or develop a direction to get them. When your board gathers at its winter meeting, there should be an expectation of an answer to the question: “What has the board accomplished since last August?”

Questions, comments, concerns? Contact your regional vice president via your community forum. That person is your direct connection with the board, and there’s no doubt that others share those same questions.

Sep 21

Marc Poulin

Be That Person to Someone
Marc Poulin, RPT

PTG President

My entry into the world of the piano began in 1979. I was four years old and was fascinated by the piano that had arrived at our house. I still remember the day, shortly before Christmas, when the movers struggled to bring the brand-new Wurlitzer studio upright into our living room. Even more memorable was the day the technician, Dale Howe, arrived to tune and service it for the first time.

After begging and pleading with my parents for the next two years, my mother arranged for me to begin piano lessons at age six. Little did I know, my teacher, Richard Shadroui, was a World War II veteran and graduate of Julliard, modestly stating that immediately after the war, they would let anybody in. Richard would become a second father to me over the course of 15 years of lessons. He was encouraging and patient with a small child’s ignorance and lack of practice. He was also always willing to talk about almost anything as we worked our way through a lesson. He offered advice, sometimes indirectly, sometimes more directly. He stoked my love of the piano in multiple ways by simply being himself. He just quietly set the example. He passed away at age 97 a few weeks ago.

Fast forward to spring 1995, when I toured the North Bennet Street School. The first staff member I met was Jack Stebbins. Jack immediately introduced himself with his traditional big smile and handshake, followed by a bad joke. Again, little did I know over the next two years working with Jack at school, and then in the next 25 years working with him as an examiner, I would take away the temperament I still use today, now commonly known as “Jack’s Stack.” (If you don’t use it, try it. It’s great!) I would also learn how to be compassionate to those stressing out over exams, and eventually I had an observer in a piano prep for a master tuning tell me, “You tune just like Jack.” That was about the highest compliment I could ever receive! Jack is one of the most kind, talented, and skilled teachers I have ever met, and he accomplished this simply by being himself. Jack is usually anything but quiet, but he quietly challenged me and all his students, just by setting the bar high with his example.

Shortly before I graduated from the first-year program, I was looking for work. My uncle mentioned he had been talking to an old college classmate from the University of Vermont who happened to be a piano technician and was looking for help. That technician was Dale Howe, whom I had first met as a small child. I accepted that job for the summer after my first year at NBSS and took a full-time job after completion of year two. Dale was an old-school small-town Vermonter who had such a way with people. Seeing him interact with customers on the sales floor or in their homes, and on the stage prepping for a performance, he taught me more about human interaction than any class I’ve been through in law enforcement. Being honest and open to the point of bluntness served him well, and I have continued in much the same vein from his example. Every now and then, when I’d be on the shop floor tuning or regulating, Dale would wander over, ask a question or two, and wander off again, leaving me to ponder his suggestions. I quickly became a better technician under his quiet guidance and commentary. He didn’t demand anything be done “his” way, but he made a large impact with just a few words or a moment of demonstrating. That was just how he did things.

Now that I’m finished telling war stories with tears in my eyes, I come to the point of this essay: Be that person to someone. Be kind, helpful, and supportive to those who are under your care, come to you for help, or that you run across in your daily life. All three of my mentors were just being themselves. They didn’t have to go out of their way, but they made remarkable impressions on me just by being who they were and are. Be that person. You never know what impact you can and will make.

Marc Poulin, RPT
PTG President

Aug 21

Marc Poulin

Whose Job Is It Anyway?
Marc Poulin, RPT

PTG President

Greetings to you all!

Shortly after I joined the Piano Technicians Guild in 1996, I met PTG President Marshall Hawkins at a regional seminar held outside of Boston. He took the time to chat with me about where I was heading after my training, why I got into piano technology, and a bit about his history within the Guild. Little did I know then that I would be following him as PTG president 25 years later. Thank you all for your confidence and support in my PTG involvement and piano technology career. I will try my best to leave the presidency and PTG in better shape when I leave office than when I took office.

A little about me, for those of you whom I have not met, spoken with, or given exams to over the years: I am from Barre, Vermont, where I live with my wife, Melanie, who is also a piano technician. I studied mechanical engineering in college before attending and graduating from North Bennet Street School. I served in the Army for seven years in the artillery branch before being medically discharged. I worked for a local piano dealer for a few years before venturing out on my own, eventually entering a career in law enforcement. I recently changed employers and am currently an officer for the Vermont Capitol Police in Montpelier. I am an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, District Award of Merit and Silver Beaver award winner, all from the Boy Scouts of America, where I continue to serve in multiple roles.

I joined PTG in 1996, became an RPT and Certified Tuning Examiner in 1997, served on the Examination and Test Standards Committee as a member and tuning sub-chair until 2007. That same year I joined the institute team, serving until I was institute director in 2011. I returned to the ETSC as chair after becoming a technical examiner that same year. I became the Northeast Regional Vice President in 2015 and have served on the board ever since. With any luck, at the end of my term as president, I will return to the exam rooms, which is my first love.


Speaking of exam rooms, and ALL the other myriad jobs that make PTG run…

We are a volunteer organization.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a volunteer?


  • noun: a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task without being paid.
  • verb: freely offer to do something. 

It sounds simple enough, right? It takes a TON of volunteer work to make PTG operate. Years ago, getting people to volunteer seemed to be easier. There were more members to ask, and society seemed more willing to step up and get things done. PTG and society have both changed. Since we changed to board governance in 2017, we hear an awful lot of The board needs to do this, that, and the other thing. The board is comprised of ten people. PTG is comprised of almost 3,000. Who is better able to get things discussed, created, and accomplished? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have thousands working vs. ten. All of us are capable and necessary to get the business of PTG completed. A volunteer “freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” We have many people who freely offer to take part in an enterprise but seem to fail on the “undertake a task” part. Our committees lie

dormant with a few exceptions. Our tuning examiner pool is at a critical low level. Every year there are pages and pages of discussion on my.ptg regarding changes to PTG policy and bylaws. What comes out of these discussions? Not so much. We need more people stepping up to the plate, getting things done vs. endless talk and argument. We all are PTG and are all needed to help. Let me end here with a brief story, titled “Whose Job Is It, Anyway?”

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Marc Poulin, RPT

PTG President

July 21


Happy Trails
Paul Adams, RPT

PTG President

The last two years have been quite a ride, to say the least. Despite the challenges, I was honored to be your president and tried to properly fulfill my duties to the best of my ability. I laid out my goals in my election speech. As is often the case, some were realized and others got placed on a back burner. Unexpected turns occur and some goals take longer than two years to accomplish. In some small way, the broadside of the Covid-19 pandemic made me feel what it must be like to be a wartime president.
   I would be remiss if I did not credit the help and guidance provided by Vice-President Marc Poulin, Secretary-Treasurer Jim Fariss, and all seven RVPs. The entire Home Office staff under the direction of our Executive Director, Barbara Cassaday, did a remarkable job despite their reduction in personnel. I wish to thank all the past presidents that I reached out to for their guidance. In particular, I am indebted to our esteemed bylaws chair, Allan Gilreath, for his continued dedication to the betterment of PTG.
   Many members have asked how I find the time to do this job and keep my business going. My answer has two parts: (1) If you want to get something done, ask a busy person, and (2) I felt compelled to give back to PTG because of all I have received from PTG over the years. When you are committed to serve, you find the time to do so. It also doesn’t hurt to have a very supportive wife. I would encourage all of you to get more involved and volunteer for service at the chapter level or for one of our committee positions. You will get back more than you give from the experience. Please join this dedicated group of volunteers. We need you!
   I was invited to travel to China by Basilios Strmec of Hailun USA, and this visit strengthened our relationship with the Hailun company. It helped solidify the production of an exam-quality three-note upright action model for our exam testing process. We have a contract for the production of this action model, which will be fulfilled as soon as travel restrictions are lifted for the final inspection procedures before delivery. Also, I represented PTG at the International Association of Piano Builders and Technicians, (I.A.P.B.T.) conference held in Japan in May of 2019.
   The speed of communication between the board and the membership regarding requests for action, (RFAs) has increased exponentially since I joined the board over ten years ago. It has gone from once a year to twice a year, then 60 days in the Board Update column in the Journal. Most recently, they are posted in the regional forums as soon as they arrive. Please remember that they can be submitted at any time.
   Our long-range plan is bearing fruit in many areas, but most especially regarding educational opportunities. We will continue to grow the PTG Academy Online. We will soon have an index for most of the Journals to facilitate locating information. In the Education Hub, an index has already been created to search all of the TT&T articles. There is a new form for posting your online chapter technicals to our newly minted events calendar. One of my unrealized goals was to establish a system of continuing education units (CEUs). This project began with past-president Norman Cantrell. The good news is, it is part of our long-range plan. Stay tuned!
   I cannot express my firm belief strongly enough that we must retain an in-person Council at all costs, as well as an aural component to our RPT exams. As I said in my election speech, “I never thought I would see the day when it would be considered controversial to expect an RPT to be able to demonstrate the ability to hear.” Let’s maintain my catch phrase, “Progress with Respect for Tradition.”
   My presidency can best be described in an often-repeated favorite quote of mine. Its origin dates to a writer in the 1957 Reader’s Digest named Allen Saunders and is often attributed to John Lennon: “Life is what actually happens while you are making other plans.”
   Finally, I wish to thank the membership for giving me the opportunity and privilege to serve as your president. I sincerely hope to see as many of you as possible this summer at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Orlando at Sea World!
   If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Paul Adams, RPT

June 21


Convention Highlights
Paul Adams, RPT

PTG President

To entice you to participate in our 2021 PTG Convention and Technical Institute on August 4-7 in Orlando, Florida, I present the following list of classes. Commentary is provided by your Institute Director, Ingrid Kraft, RPT.

From Rocks to Cream Puffs: Voicing Difficult Hammers, with Don Mannino, RPT. Take the fear out of voicing as you learn how to deal with difficult hammers. I got to view this class at a regional convention about 15 years ago. It’s so good.

Street Pianos – Not Just a Pretty Case, with Gina Bonfietti and Amy Tiernan, RPT. Learn everything about community pianos, from proper prep, finding a location, dealing with your municipality, and promoting your piano. A fascinating class, because we all see these pianos every summer.

Grand Action Rebuilding – Making the Right Choices, with Rick Baldassin, RPT, Renner USA, and Carl Teel. Learn to make correct choices with measurements and action geometry, then test your choices before committing wholesale. Finally, learn efficient key weigh-off. Fabulous class.

Dampers from the Ground Up, with Steve Brady, RPT. Learn everything from installing felts, regulating damper and sostenuto pedals, along with troubleshooting damper problems. I think we can’t get enough classes on learning how to refine our damper skills.

Relentless Repetition, Relentless Repetition, with Mike Reiter, RPT. This class will focus on rapidly repeating notes on grand actions. Mike will demonstrate the ins and outs of some of the finer points of grand regulation.

Rebuilders Grab Bag, Action Edition, with David Hughes, RPT. This class will discuss the merits of installing new keys, new capstans and backchecks, keyboard weigh-off, action stack build-up, hammer weight management, damper system installation, trapwork goodies, and more. As David says, “This class is where the action is.”

You Don't Know Jack, with Nathan Mills, RPT. This class will demystify the concept of double escapement and will also present a simple method for getting simultaneous escapement consistently. What a great title for a class.

Harpsichord Basics for Piano Technicians, with Jason Cassel, RPT. Many of us have opportunities to service this instrument. This class goes over harpsichord repair. I have taken it. I was glad CAUT offered it this year.

Grand ActionWeigh-off Simplified, with Bruce Stevens, RPT and David Vanderlip, RPT. Gain confidence with this class through an innovative quick-and-easy method using balance weight protocols. The second period will cover considerations of geometry, action ratio, inertia, pattern key leading, parts selection and hammer preparation. Bruce and David do an excellent job with this class.

Just in case you cannot be there in person, for the first time you can register for a Live Stream Pass on our website, my.ptg.org/2021convention/registration. That pass will allow you to view 12 select Institute classes online. Several of the above are included in this grouping.

I sincerely hope to see as many of you as possible this summer at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Orlando at Sea World!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Paul Adams, RPT

May 21



Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

We all have certain obligations in life. The same is true for PTG. We have an obligation to continue to provide a long list of benefits to the membership and to expand that list whenever possible. We enter into contracts with major hotels in order to provide the facilities to hold our annual conventions. Our current contract with the DoubleTree Hotel in Orlando was negotiated and signed well before Covid-19. The only thing that was changed in that contract was the date of the event when we rescheduled to 2021, due to the pandemic. We have an obligation to fulfill that contract this year. The hotel is taking the position that by August, they will be able to fulfill their obligations and expect us to do the same.

FYI, all hotel contracts for large events have a cancellation schedule. The closer you get to the date of the event, the more you are obligated to pay if you cancel. This makes sense, because the later you cancel, the more difficult it is for the hotel to resell the facility. Our last cancellation date in this schedule with the DoubleTree was March 16th of 2019, at which time we would be obligated to pay nearly $250,000.00 and receive nothing if we did cancel.

We reserved a room block of 1,774 sleeping room nights that would provide the hotel with an anticipated revenue of $220,718.00. Furthermore, we agreed to spend $50,000.00 on food and beverage, which provides us with complementary meeting space. This represents a typical arrangement when contracting a hotel for our conventions in a pre-Covid-19 world. Given the demographics of our membership and the rapid rollout of multiple vaccines, your board of directors feels confident that we will be able to meet, while following CDC guidelines regarding masks, etc. The hotel assures us that they will provide extraordinary sanitation during the event.

As I have written in previous president’s messages, we have prepared several contingency plans and recently decided to hold our very first hybrid convention. There will be an in-person convention in Orlando from August 4 through August 7 this summer. In addition to this, one of the classrooms will be set up as a television studio and will broadcast a total of 12 classes over the Internet for a fee. 

I am making an appeal to you all, that you come to Orlando this August and please stay at the DoubleTree Hotel to help us fulfill our obligation to purchase as many room nights as possible. Yes, it is in Florida, in the summer, but as our former president and Floridian Phil Bondi often said, “We do air conditioning well here!” 

To see many of you in Florida this summer, I would be much obliged!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Paul Adams, RPT

April 21


One More Thing

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Over the years, the Piano Technicians Guild has come to mean many things to our membership.

1.  Our mission statement states: Our mission is to promote the industry’s highest possible standards by
  • Providing members with every opportunity for professional development
  • Recognizing and promoting technical competence through examinations
  • Advancing the interests of each of our members
2.  Strategic Initiative 1 from our long-range plan (LRP) states: Professional Development: Develop and implement well-curated, relevant, high quality education and certification programs that advance the skills of our members, and ultimately the quality of service for the world’s pianos.

3.  One more thing: In a subheading from the LRP, Tactic 1.1.3, Develop Phased Curriculum, Action, CEUs: Study the possibility of adding “Continuing Education Credits” (CEUs) for all programs. As I said in a previous president’s message, “RPT is a benchmark, not a destination.” In the near future, I would like to see PTG follow the model used by many professional organizations in requiring our members to amass a certain number of CEUs every two years. The net result of instituting this change would increase attendance at all levels for chapter meetings, one-day seminars, regional conventions and our annual convention. This would raise the bar and bring us into alignment with both our mission statement and what we’ve already agreed to do within our code of ethics. See number four below.

4.  Item #7 on the back of your membership card states: I will strive to upgrade my professional skills and I will encourage and help others to do the same.

5.  Our Institute incorporates a three-tiered system. There are classes for everyone (E), intermediate level (I) and advanced (A). PTG has always been about education.

6.  One more thing: Our certification process has evolved over time. It is consistent and fair. We now have the capability to provide our written exam online.

7.  One more thing: PTG has always been a social experience. The pandemic has brought many things into focus for me that I truly miss:
  • Seeing old friends, making new ones, shaking hands, and exchanging hugs
  • Seeking answers in the hallways
  • Taking home the new tip that made it worth the trip
  • Showing camaraderie during the call and response to our “List of States” at our opening ceremony
  • Hearing our barbershop chorus, just to name a few

I would proffer one more thing: The diversity of PTG is who we are, and this represents our greatest strength. By no means does that define us as a rudderless ship.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Paul Adams, RPT

March 21


It May Be Unconventional

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

We are all doing our level best to ensure that another year does not go by without a PTG annual convention. While composing this message in January for the March issue of the Journal, it is too early to know exactly how we are going to proceed. Much is still up in the air due to the pandemic. I do know one thing: 2021 will include a major educational event for our members in one form or another.
An in-person event in Orlando, Florida at the beginning of August would be the preferred way to go. Having said that, several months ago your executive committee began discussing the need for a plan B or C in the form of a virtual event. I advised our Institute Director to begin preparations for such an eventuality. Many of us have become increasingly familiar with virtual gatherings among family and friends. Producing a virtual convention is significantly more complicated.
In recent years several companies have cropped up to provide help in running a virtual event. In early January your institute team, along with Home Office staff and some members of the board, began auditioning some of these platforms. They varied in capabilities, training, and cost. Virtual conference platforms can simulate most but not all of what our annual convention normally provides. This would be our plan B.
Plan C would be a hybrid event. It would contain a combination of an in-person event along with live-streaming of at least one of the classrooms.
The state of the pandemic and the rollout of vaccines will shape our course of action. I hope to see all of you at our next annual convention. One thing is certain: In these uncharted waters, it will be unconventional.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Feb 21


A Virtual Reality, Virtual Classes, Actual Reality

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

While our website doesn’t deal in virtual reality, it does provide many virtual classes that provide a true learning experience equivalent to the actual reality of an in-person event. It is important to note that a portion of our website is dedicated to online learning. It can be found on the homepage of our social media platform at the following URL: my.ptg.org/home. Make sure that you log in first as a member, then look on the right side of the page for the “Member’s Corner.” The third item in the list is entitled “PTG Academy Online.” The PTG Academy folder currently contains 19 individual class topics. They run the gamut from tuning to repairs, regulation, voicing, and business management, to name a few. However, 19 is a deceptively small number because many of the classes offered are divided into multiple segments.

For example, “Your Money Or Your Life” has seven segments. “Business 101” has 12. “Piano Technician’s Playground” has 14, and “Quick Tips – 6 Pack of Technicals” has 25. Altogether, the 19 offerings include 73 segments. If you invested your time to review and study all of these, it would be equivalent to attending more than two annual conventions. You should know that we plan on investing more of your member dollars to increase the number of these virtual classes.

Here is the really good news! All of the information contained in the PTG Academy Online is included in your annual dues at no additional charge. It is a member benefit!

Furthermore, we are planning to include some virtual classes at our next annual convention. This will be our very first hybrid event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Jan 21


A New Year, a New Hope, a New Plan, and a New Calendar

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

I don’t know about you, but if I had the option, I’d like to mark the year 2020 “Return to sender.” As we begin 2021, there is a new hope that with the advent of vaccines and therapeutics on the horizon, the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end. However, it would be prudent to plan ahead as we wait.
   While we continue to organize an in-person annual convention in Orlando this year, there is a contingency plan in place, if required. Plan A was our 2020 convention, plan B is our 2021 convention, and the new plan C is a “Virtual Institute.” Many organizations have already gone this route. Let’s hope we don’t have to. However, this important member benefit cannot disappear for a second year in a row. We are contacting all of our instructors to assist in making this possible. We will provide guidance and resources as needed in this regard.
   Many chapters have adopted the use of online technology to hold their meetings virtually. This includes chapter technical presentations. An important member benefit would be to have a place to go to find out where, when, and on what topics these meetings are occurring. To that end, there is a new feature/repository on our home page that will answer those questions. From ptg.org, click on the heading “PTG Members” and then on “Events.” On the left side you will see the usual list of upcoming
in-person events. On the right side, there is a red button entitled “Online Education Calendar.” This takes you to our new calendar for PTG-member classes, seminars, and meetings. Although currently sparsely populated, as awareness of this feature increases, many events will be listed. To add an event to the calendar, simply click on the red button entitled “Submit your own event.” This brings you to a form that will provide the Home Office with all the details needed to post your event to this new calendar.
   In order to ensure a level of quality worth sharing with the membership, the event sponsor must be a chapter president or RVP. Events must be free to all PTG members to be added to this calendar. Please check with your presenters to make sure that they are open to inviting all PTG members to your event. And finally, please be sure to include information on how to access or attend your event, as all fields on the form are required fields.
   PTG currently owns four Zoom accounts. Therefore, we can facilitate up to four meetings per day. Please contact the Home Office to set one up for your event. Chapters can purchase their own Zoom account for a current annual fee of $149.90. Chapter members could easily share this expense, given savings on gas not used to attend in-person meetings. This works out to a chapter expense of just $12.50 a month and permits up to 100 participants for meetings of any length, plus one gigabyte of cloud recording storage.
   The mention of Zoom above does not constitute an endorsement — it just happens to be the platform we are using. There are many online meeting software offerings currently available. Here is a short list: Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Skype for Business, Vonage Meeting, Polycom, Blue Jean, Global Meet, Cisco WebEx, and many more. Check them out and compare costs and services.
   The pandemic has had all of us in a valley for most of 2020. Let’s remember that when you’re in a valley, there is only one way to go, and that’s up. Here’s wishing all of us a happier and healthier new year! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Dec 20

Paul Adams
PTG in a Covid-19 Year

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

As we enter this year’s holiday season, I am quite certain that many of us share the following thought: “I wish I could give 2020 back.” Shortly after last winter’s board meeting, the pandemic hit and all our lives changed. I sincerely hope that very few if any of our members had their health severely impacted by Covid-19. I do know that many of you have been struggling financially because of the pandemic. In recognition of this fact, your directors, in conjunction with the incremental dues task group I appointed, have instituted a new organizational policy. We hope this will prove to be helpful for those who need it.

Members may now choose to pay annual PTG dues in full or in installments, utilizing the PTG Automatic Debit Plan. Furthermore, at our three-day summer board meeting on Zoom, we eliminated an increase in dues for 2021. Members who elect to make their payments in installments will be required to set up automatic payments through PTG’s website (ptg.org). You will log in and select “Pay Online & Dues Renewal.” An administrative fee of $5.00 per month will be added to the installment payments. There are no pre-payment penalties if you choose to pay off the balance at any point throughout the year. And, of course, you have always had the option to use a credit card and pay it off however you choose.

Payments or automatic payment arrangements must be made on or before December 31. Dues have always been due at the end of the calendar year. If payment or payment arrangements have not been made by December 31, your dues will be considered delinquent on January 1 of the new year. Because of the availability of the new payment plan for all members, the grace period for non-payment has been reduced to 30 days. Regrettably, you will be dropped from the membership rolls on February 1 for non-payment. Please note that your board of directors has given the Home Office some flexibility in this regard when circumstances are beyond the control of the member.

Chapters have two options: (a) collecting chapter dues directly from members, or (b) agreeing to have PTG collect chapter dues with the understanding that distribution to the chapter will only take place twice a year (August distribution for January-June and February distribution for July-December). Please note, option (b) is not available for new members in their first year of membership.

Please share the above information with your fellow chapter members. Questions may be addressed to either Sandy Roady (sandy@ptg.org) or Jason Hensley (jason@ptg.org) at the Home Office.

Here’s wishing all of us a Happy and Healthy New Year!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!
Be Safe and Be Well!

Nov 20


Challenging Our Exams as a Learning Tool

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Okay, let’s be honest. Our Registered Piano Technician (RPT) exams are challenging. They are meant to be so in order to verify a significant set of baseline skills that will assure your clients will receive proper service. In addition, they provide an equally important benefit to you along your path to becoming an RPT. They are the best learning tool you could possibly have to help assess your skill levels in many aspects of piano technology. The most important thing you will learn is getting to know what you don’t know or what you need to practice in order to produce results in a timely, proficient, and professional manner.

I am well aware of the significant trepidation associated with taking our exams. I have heard such comments many times over the years that I’ve been a member of PTG. I cannot stress this enough: There should be no shame in not acing the tests on your first try. You should take comfort in the fact that many of our members had to challenge one or more sections of our tests on multiple occasions. You should also know the joy and the sense of accomplishment they felt when they finally achieved their RPT status. Not a single one would tell you it was not worth the effort.

Membership in PTG provides numerous forms of assistance along your route to certification as an RPT. Your fellow chapter members or your regional vice president (RVP) should be willing to provide guidance and answer your questions. Some of them might already be participating in our new mentorship program. Chapter technical presentations, all-day seminars, regional conventions, Exam Prep on The Road seminars, and of course our annual institute will all help fill the gaps in your knowledge base. I would also recommend that you purchase our two exam source books from the PTG online store. 

The Education Hub on our website contains a wealth of information. There’s a link in the bulleted list on the Hub entitled “Path to RPT Certification.” Scrolling down, you will find an extensive document called the “RPT Exam Pre-Screening Manual” that will provide help with passing our written, tuning, and technical exams. Any RPT should be able to administer a pre-screening. You can test yourself with a mock tuning exam, available online in the February 2014 issue of the Journal. There is a discussion group on my.ptg.org for members interested in preparing for the RPT exams.

Please consider challenging our exams as soon as possible. I guarantee you will be glad you did.

Challenging Our Exams is a Learning Tool!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Be Safe and Be Well!


Oct 20


Passing the Torch

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

When I first joined PTG many years ago, my wife accompanied me to one of my first regional conventions, known at the time as the PA State Conference. As an insurance agent, she was dealing with small business insurance. She was astonished at the camaraderie and willingness to share knowledge that she witnessed at her first PTG event. In her own industry, lack of cordiality, holding secrets close to the vest, and a strong competitive nature were more prevalent.

We all should be grateful and happy to share in our association, once described by a former president as an “Odd Duck.” The free and open exchange of knowledge is the hallmark of PTG. It is the raison d’être that most of us remain members for decades.

Most of this sharing of knowledge occurs in classrooms, at chapter technical presentations, all-day seminars and in the hallways at various events. However, there is a much-underutilized approach known as mentoring. This should not necessarily be viewed as a soup-to-nuts curriculum, because it can easily be broken up into much smaller segments. 

In the previous President’s Message, I referred to the PTG Guide to Piano Technology. It now resides under a shorter name, the “PTG Education Hub.” It can be found in two ways from the homepage at ptg.org. A direct link can be accessed in the large scrolling banner, or click on the heading “Technicians” and choose “Educational Resources,” then “Education Hub.” The last bullet point in the upper right corner lists the Mentorship Program.

For access from a portable device, scan the QR codes on the left for the Education Hub and the Mentorship Program page.

This brings you to an overview of our newly minted Mentorship Program, brought to you by your hard-working education committee. Scrolling down to the bottom, there are two red buttons providing additional information for mentors and for mentees. The mentors button provides mentorship guidelines and allows you to sign up to become a mentor. The mentee button provides a list of members who have already signed up to be mentors. In addition to the above, a new community forum called “Mentorship Connect” has been established on my.ptg.org to engage with others interested in mentoring relationships and sharing resources.

Finally, your marketing task group is preparing to roll out five new webinars. They will include the following topics:

1. Becoming a Piano Technician ~15 minutes

2. Educational Opportunities for New Piano Technicians ~10 minutes

3. Building Your First Tool Kit ~15 minutes

4. Finding a Mentor ~10 minutes (Dovetailing with the education committee)

5. Building a Mentorship Program ~60-90 minutes (Dovetailing with the education committee)

Let us never lose sight of this most important tradition and always remember to: 

Pass the Torch!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Be Safe and Be Well!


Sep 20


Membership is Stewardship

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

A long time ago, in a Piano Technicians Journal far, far away in the back of your collection of Journals, another author penned the phrase I used for the title of this article. What was true back then is just as true today.

Stewardship is defined as the responsibility to manage or to take care of another’s property. Farmers pride themselves on being stewards of the countryside. Similarly, I would encourage all of our members to make it their mission to help preserve and contribute to PTG itself and to the collective wisdom and many decades of knowledge stored in our archives.

You may ask yourself, “As a new member, what can I possibly contribute that would be of any value to the collective?” Many of our members are entering piano technology as a second career. Others have been tuning and caring for pianos for years before they decided to join. Within our ranks there are talented individuals with various skill sets that are worth sharing. Certainly, our younger members may have significant knowledge and experience with social media, website design, or other computer skills. Some of you may have advanced woodworking skills, marketing expertise, or business acumen.

As I have stated before, we have all benefited from the countless volunteer hours of others. Joining PTG and paying your dues on time is a great first step. However, for us to evolve and thrive into the future, we need your participation. It’s a great opportunity as well as a great responsibility.

PTG has much to offer you on your path to increased understanding of piano technology. Please reach out to your chapter president or to your regional vice president for some ideas on how you can help support our mission.

Let’s maintain the tradition together by always keeping in mind that:

Membership is Stewardship!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Be Safe and Be Well!


Aug 20


Did I Mention Retention?

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

There is only one thing more important than obtaining new PTG members, and that is retaining them. Our Home Office does send out a welcome package of documents to all new members, and this is a good first step. However, it needs to be followed up by the local chapter to which they are assigned. Too often I’ve heard stories about new members who received minimal or no contact or guidance from their chapter, not even a phone call or an email advising them of where and when the next chapter meeting will be.

Years ago, I read a story entitled “The Member Who Didn’t Come Back.” It involved a new member of an organization who showed up at a handful of meetings. The regular long-standing members hardly ever interacted with the newbie. They kept to themselves in their own clique. The new member was not invited to participate in any projects and was not asked to join any committees or to make a run for an office. After a short period of time, this member never returned. Several months later, someone remarked at a meeting, “Hey, what ever happened to Joe or Samantha?”

I certainly hope this is not a common illustration of what our new members experience. Even if it only happens once, it’s one time too many. It certainly is a good example of what not to do.

In the past, most small towns would engage a small group of individuals to form a “Welcome Wagon.” They would go out of their way make a new resident feel extremely welcome in their community. While it may sound quaint and old-fashioned, I would like to propose that all of our chapters go above and beyond to make new members feel valued by their chapters and all of PTG.

Here are a few ideas to consider from one of our chapters:

1. Send all new members a welcome card signed by all chapter members before they show up for their first meeting.

2. Find out what your new members want and do your best to meet their needs.

3. Set aside 30 minutes for non-RPT member training before your chapter meeting on whatever topics are requested by your new members.

4. Accept new members as they are and encourage them to participate from their own positions of strength. For example, if they are technologically savvy, ask them to help with running online training, monitoring Facebook Live broadcasts, videotaping training, etc.

5. Insert your ideas here, and always be encouraging.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Be Safe and Be Well!


Jul 20


PTG Guide to Piano Technology: A Path to RPT Certification

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

This is to inform you of the first tangible results brought forth from our long-range plan by our education committee. On our website, ptg.org, there will be a new link to a comprehensive map of our educational resources, entitled “PTG GUIDE TO PIANO TECHNOLOGY.” It will be laid out in a grid arrangement of tiles on various topics. Clicking on any one tile will open up a drop-down menu displaying a list of resources available for that particular topic. A map key or legend has been set up to differentiate the offerings with the following designations: PTJ for Piano Technicians Journal articles, AV for online academy videos, and PR for print resources.

The first-draft working model will contain the following topic headings:

Vertical Piano Regulation

Action Materials and Repairs

Grand Piano Regulation


Tone, Timbre and Voicing

String Repairs

Case and Finishing Repairs

Piano History

Business and Self-Management

Miscellaneous Materials

Tips, Tools & Techniques (A compilation of this section of the Journal going back years)

Journal Article Index (This may be subdivided and provided under each tile’s drop-
down list.)

In addition to the tiles listed above, there will be five bullet-point links to the following areas:

1. Events

2. The Journal

3. Discussion Groups

4. PTG Store

5. Path to RPT Certification

Number five shown above will open up an extensive document that will provide a study guide for the PTG written exam. It will include a host of materials and various resources to aid our members in passing both the tuning and technical exams. This will help any interested and motivated member achieve the status of Registered Piano Technician.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!


Jun 20


Confidentiality Versus Transparency

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

There is an inherent tension between confidentiality and transparency in the deliberative process. The Supreme Court of the United States described the constitutional and historic basis for confidentiality as “too plain to require further discussion.”

The Court went on to state: “Human experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interest, to the detriment of the decision-making process.” 

A president and those who assist him or her must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions, and to do so in a way that many would be unwilling to express, except privately. The PTG board of directors needs opportunities where its members can get to know and learn from each other without feeling the need to play to an audience. This process is often referred to as “the sausage making.” These sessions are necessary so that the entire board can freely express their opinions while working toward the best future for PTG. Please know, all board members have the best interests of PTG foremost in their minds.

I would argue that this dictum be applied to our work sessions and special meetings, as it is “too plain to require further discussion.” No official decisions are made, and no votes are taken on anything during work sessions. 

Special meetings are defined in Robert’s Rules of Order as a “separate session of a society (e.g., Council, chapter, board) held at a time different from that of any regular meeting, and convened only to consider one or more items of business …” The reason for special meetings is to deal with matters that may arise between regular meetings and that require immediate action by the board. These can be called on three days’ notice to the members of the board and do not require notice to the membership at large per our bylaws. This should not be misconstrued as secrecy, since all decisions, including minority votes, are published at the conclusion of every meeting. The decision to reschedule this year’s convention is a good example.

Page 96, line 21 of Robert’s on public sessions states: “A deliberative assembly or committee is normally entitled to determine whether nonmembers may attend or be excluded from its meetings (even when not in executive session).” Although sunshine laws require governmental bodies to be open to the public, Robert’s adds the following qualifying language, stating “such laws have no application to private, nongovernmental bodies.”

PTG-L, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have accelerated public discourse to warp speed, creating virtual versions of the mob. Inflammatory posts, based on passion, travel farther and faster than arguments based on reason. Rather than encouraging deliberation, mass media undermines it by creating bubbles and echo chambers in which viewers see only those opinions they already embrace. At one point, this digital zeitgeist caused the board to send a response to PTG-L.

Our regularly scheduled pre- and post-council meetings, as well as our winter board meeting, will continue to provide in-person observer rights to every PTG member in good standing. An exception will be made this summer, as no one is traveling to Orlando.

Democracy is a slow process of stumbling to the right decision instead of going straight forward to the wrong one.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!


May 20


Participation is Paramount

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

In a list of the top ten reasons why an organization or association fails, lack of participation is inscribed on lines one through ten. I don’t mean for this to sound disparaging in any way. Many organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain dedicated volunteers. We have all benefited and been inspired by many of our members over many decades. Having said that, there can come a point known as burn-out. We need fresh blood!

I would like to encourage more of our members to have a deeper sense of commitment to the mission of the Piano Technicians Guild. This most commonly begins at the chapter level, by running for an office. Another route would be to provide a technical presentation on some aspect of piano technology to your fellow chapter members. You will be amazed at the rewards you will receive.

Another approach you could utilize is to go to ptg.org, click on “PTG Members” and then on “Committees.” There you will find a list of 14 standing committees and six board committees and task groups. The vast majority of these are open to all members. Clicking on any of them will show you a list of what they’re supposed to be working on, known as their charges. You do not have to be an expert to participate, and you will learn a great deal by doing so. With so much to choose from, I am sure you will find something that will pique your interest. Contributing to the realization and implementation of the many goals contained in our strategic long-range plan would be a significant contribution to us all. This information was updated on October 30 of 2019 and can be found at tinyurl.com/sd46s78.

You might consider providing an item for the Tips Tools & Techniques column in the Journal. Perhaps you are in a position in your career to submit an article for publication in the Journal.

We are in need of more than a few good people to help PTG move into the future.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!


Apr 20


The Process for Progress

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Regardless of the form of governance, the only way to effect change or move our organization forward is through a request for action form, a.k.a. an RFA. This is true whether you are a member or an officer on any level, including the PTG president. This is not asking you to do board work. RFAs represent the vast majority of the work that your board deliberates and votes on. The form can be found on PTG.org / PTG members / Forms & Documents, in the “Forms” subfolder. Click to highlight “RFA Proposal Form (Word rev. 2019)” from the list on the right, then click “view” and scroll down to download the file. It can more easily found at tinyurl.com/w6mlj55.

If you as an individual member wish to make a change in how the organization is run, you must first take your idea to your chapter for approval. If the chapter agrees with your suggestion, a chapter officer must download the RFA form as explained above. It is important to mark the checkbox for either Bylaws, Organizational Policies or the GSM (Graphic Standards Manual) to indicate which document you wish to amend. 

Former president Norman Cantrell correctly described bylaws as the foundation of a house. We recently pared down our bylaws to represent that basic foundation. The foundation of any building is rarely changed, if ever. Several years ago, our attorney exclaimed that PTG amended its bylaws on an annual basis, more frequently than a combination of all 200+ other associations he represented. We do not encourage moving or deleting the cinder blocks unless it is an absolute necessity.

Proposed amendments to bylaws must be submitted to the Bylaws Committee (bylaws@ ptg.org) in writing no later than sixty-five (65) days before the meeting at which they are to be considered. Organizational Policy and Graphics Standards Manual (GSM) proposals are due 65 days before the meeting as well and should be sent directly to the Home Office (exec@ptg. org). The second page of the form includes detailed instructions. 

The Bylaws Committee is always willing to help with the construction of a proper RFA. RFAs can be submitted at any time. If they are submitted early enough, they will be included in the “Board Update” column in the Journal.

In a previous President’s Message entitled “Communication is a Two-Way Street,” I made it clear that your board of directors wants to hear from you. A recently produced spreadsheet delineating RFAs presented by the board, our chapters, and our committees from 2013 through 2019 shows a sharp decrease in submissions from the latter two in the last three years.

Please remember: “The RFA Is the Only Way”

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Mar 20


Expense or Investment?

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Over the history of the PTG, your annual dues have roughly been the equivalent of 2.5 tuning fees when adjusted for inflation. A tremendous amount of good has been accomplished with this investment in our organization. Please do not consider these dues to be an expense, even though it is a tax-deductible item for your business. All of our careers have been advanced exponentially, provided we participated in what PTG has offered. The education provided in our classes, the sharing of knowledge gained from online forums and videos, at chapter meetings, at all-day seminars, during regional and annual conventions, and even in the hallways at all of these events is astounding. The full list of the benefits of membership can be found on our website at tinyurl.com/ra5haw9. The willingness to share by “passing the torch” is something that in many ways is unique to PTG and needs to be celebrated. None of this would happen without a combination of your membership dollars and the generosity of all the volunteer hours that many of your fellow members willingly contribute. It is all available for the taking, and this alone is reason enough to maintain your membership.

Another investment that I would like you to consider is starting to collect chapter dues or increasing what you do collect. Without a significant investment at this level, it is difficult or impossible to present high-quality chapter technical programs or purchase training equipment, e.g., action models, etc. Home Office staff have informed me that there is a wide range of disparity among the chapters in this regard. It runs the gamut from zero to $110 per year. Approximately 25% of our chapters do not charge any dues at all. I implore all chapters to begin to make a change in this regard. One sure-fire way to maintain and add members to your chapter is to provide professional technical presentations. We have help on this topic at our website, where you will find an extremely extensive set of documents called the “Chapter Toolkit.” It would literally take you a month of Sundays to study half of what is contained here. It can be located at tinyurl.com/r653wzj. Also, I would direct your attention to the “Healthy Chapter Profile” document. This will help you evaluate where your chapter sits along the spectrum. It can be found at tinyurl.com/w4llg88.

Let’s continue to invest in our future together!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Feb 20


RPT – A Benchmark, Not a Destination

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

The title of this message is not meant to take way from the importance of achieving your RPT designation and credential. It is an accomplishment that should be savored and celebrated. Having said that, please look around you at all the PTG events and chapter meetings you attend. You will see many members who have attained their RPT long ago.

Why are they still showing up? It is because they know there is always more to learn, even if it is just a new approach to a task they have been performing for years. I have always maintained that whenever you show up, “Just One Tip is Worth the Trip.” This is especially true for our annual convention. The cost of attending should never be viewed as an expense, but rather as a tax-deductible investment in your career.

I would like to implore all of our RPTs, especially those who are newly minted, to encourage other members to challenge our exams. I know there are two main reasons that most members delay the process: fear of failure and the embarrassment that may follow.

Let’s address them both. I know many of my fellow chapter members who did not pass on their first attempts. Yes, they were extremely disappointed and frustrated. However, two things followed: They discovered what they did not know and what they needed to do to pass on their next try, and secondly, all of the members were very supportive, understanding, and willing to help them succeed. No one looked down on them.

We have many forms of assistance available to all members to help achieve your RPT status. Contact your RVP with questions. Here is a list of a few items that will help:

1. Purchase the two exam source books from the PTG store.
2. Ask an RPT in your chapter to evaluate your tuning. They could utilize our pre-screening manual to assist in this pursuit, found at: tinyurl.com/tcwdgrd.
3. Attend an “Exam Prep on the Road” all-day class wherever it is offered.
4. Attend the “Piano Technicians Playground” all-day class with multiple stations on various repair techniques at convention.
5. Purchase the On Pitch book and related DVDs by Rick Baldassin, RPT.
6. Make use of the educational resources available on our website. 
7. Apply for an exam scholarship through the PTG Foundation.
8. Log into my.ptg.org to download and print the RPT certification study guides at tinyurl.com/vcdvv2u.

FYI, it has been determined that the actual cost in equipment and volunteer hours to offer our exams at the convention exceeds $4,000.00. Even if the current price of $180.00 per exam increases, they are still a bargain.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Jan 20


Let’s Try Something New!

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Well, it’s a brand-new year. We all fall into familiar patterns in all aspects of our lives. While change is often perceived as loss, I maintain that an effort to pursue a different path can be very rewarding. A new challenge of any type can produce a refreshing experience. I am not referring to major New Year’s resolutions that quickly dissolve into the ether. Here are just a few suggestions:

1. Experiment with an impact tuning hammer. By reducing repetitive stress and utilizing new muscle groups, you can increase your career’s longevity. You can probably borrow one from a fellow chapter member. Be sure to get some instructions on how to use this tool. I would suggest using it only for pitch raises at first.
2. Try tuning an upright piano with your left hand. This is a technique recommended by many and will also reduce repetitive stress. Keep in mind that any new technique will slow you down at first, so perhaps try it on only one section of the piano.
3. Take the Piano Life Saver exam to get certified as an installer.
4. Purchase and utilize all six PTG technical bulletins to expand your service offerings and your income. They really help educate your customers as they are geared for the piano owner.
5. Offer a discount to all your clients for any referral they supply that results in a new customer.
6. Proper business attire gives a very professional first impression, and we all know you only get one shot at this!
7. Nothing happens until something is sold. Read a book or two on sales techniques and how to close a deal.
8. Save time in the office by purchasing and utilizing a macro program that will instantly type large volumes of text with a single keystroke. This is particularly useful when you need to repeat the same information to multiple clients.
9. Practice a seldom-used repair technique that requires a seldom-used tool.
10. Treat yourself to that new tool you have considered purchasing. It will probably save you time, and therefore money. Plus, you will feel great each time you reach for it.

                                                       Let’s Try Something New This Year.

Once again, I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at pres@ptg.org.

                                                   Onward and Forward with Fervent Endeavor!

Dec 19


Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Many of you were not present in Tucson when our new long-range plan was introduced. Following is a brief explanation/overview focusing on “seeing the forest for the trees.”

Six strategic initiatives (SIs) are in our plan. These were the result of a brainstorming session that took place during a two-day planning meeting at the home office prior to the usual winter board meeting. We developed the following list:

1. Professional Development
2. Membership Engagement & Equity
3. Building Chapters
4. Marketing & Outreach
5. Our People
6. Operational Excellence & Financial Sustainability

The plan is located in the Member Area in Forms & Documents on ptg.org. I will go into a little more detail here on strategic initiatives #1 and #2. 

• Goals: There are multiple entries for each in the plan.
• Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): These will act as proof that we are in fact reaching the various goals. There are 12 for initiative #1 and 8 for initiative #2.
• Tactics: How do we go about reaching the goals?
• Actions: What do we need to do?
• Responsible Party (RP): Who is responsible? Many areas are yet to be determined.
• Time Frame/Date Range: This gives us a target date for completion.
• Resources Planning Summary: What will we need?
• Strategic Plan Oversight: Who can make changes and at what level?
• Goal Assignment List: What committee or task group has a specific goal?

I hope this helps bring some clarity and focus to a very extensive document. The board will be reviewing this plan on a quarterly basis.

I wish all of you happy holidays and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Onward and forward with fervent endeavor!

Nov 2019


New Board Updates Column

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

Here is one suggested approach regarding a new client:

I am sure most of us ask when the piano was last tuned and if there are any repair issues to be addressed. The next thing I like to assess is who is playing the piano, at what skill level and for how many years. Since you only get one chance to make a first impression, you should assess the vehicle you’re driving, its cleanliness, and the clothing you are wearing.

I always provide a free evaluation of the piano’s condition on my initial service call. After determining the pitch of the instrument, I often provide a PTG technical bulletin on pitch raising for the client to read while I proceed with my examination. The assessment of the piano invariably produces a list of items in need of attention. I discuss this list with the client while keeping in mind the level of the piano player and the family’s budget. Often times, small and inexpensive changes like taking up lost motion by regulating the capstans can produce significant improvement in the response of the piano for a young musician. Although many of us are capable of concert-level action regulation, the expense curve rises geometrically as the circle of refinement proceeds and is not always warranted for a particular instrument or player.

Before presenting your evaluation, you would be wise to assess if there is any emotional connection to the instrument. This will often times override whether spending the client’s money makes any economic sense. I will supply additional PTG technical bulletins on regulation or voicing etc. that are pertinent to my assessment of the piano for the client’s consideration to be performed at an additional appointment.

Finally, you need to assess your skill level regarding any needed repairs. You will often gain the client’s respect and loyalty if you bring in a substitute technician for a particular aspect of the work. I have been asked by RPTs to replace broken agraffes on a Steinway grand on more than one occasion.

Assessing your own needs can best be determined by challenging the RPT exams. The worst that will happen is that you will know what you don’t know and have yet to learn.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and forward with fervent endeavor!

Oct 2019


New Board Updates Column

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

In my election speech, I said the following regarding the board governance model:

“I believe it’s more critical than ever to obtain ‘member buy-in’ regarding large sweeping changes to the organization. This is not to obtain permission, because all decisions now rest with the board of directors, but to provide guidance. To that end, the board will need to provide earlier notification to the members.”

Beginning with this issue of the Journal, there will be a new column inserted on an as-needed basis, entitled “Board Updates.” This will provide notice in a more timely manner of any significant information available. If a minor issue is raised that involves a small change or correction, we consider that “housekeeping” and we will not include that in this world of information overload. There may be times when there is nothing to report. Generally speaking, the board meets twice a year. In between those meetings, often times, nothing is happening.

Keep in mind that while there is a 65-day deadline for submitting a request for action (RFA) of any type, RFAs can be submitted at any time prior to that deadline. As soon as we receive them, they will be added to the next issue of the Journal in this new column.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at pres@ptg.org.

Onward and forward with fervent endeavor!

Sep 2019


Communication is a Two-Way Street

Paul Adams, RPT
PTG President

During our 2019 convention in Tucson, there were numerous requests to improve communication. The following is a list of the current opportunities for communication. These can provide dialogue among our members and between members and the PTG board of directors (BOD).

• 264 forums on my.ptg.org.
• Regional forums produced by each regional vice president (RVP).
• PTG-L, our political forum available to all members, providing you opt-in.
• Council Long Range Planning, found online at tinyurl.com/y3237vbx. This is where the discussion will continue after the long-range plan was presented to Council, approved at the post-Council board meeting and posted online at ptg.org in the Member Area, Forms & Documents section.
• RVP newsletters. Hard copies are snail-mailed to each member three weeks after each BOD meeting.
• Regional vice presidents:
Chris Labarre, RPT – nervp@ptg.org
George W.R. "Bill" Davis, RPT – servp@ptg.org
Douglas Garman, RPT – scrvp@ptg.org
Michael Gutowski, RPT – cervp@ptg.org
Jim Coleman, Jr., RPT – cwrvp@ptg.org
David Stoneman, RPT – wrvp@ptg.org
David Stocker, RPT – pnwrvp@ptg.org

• Executive Committee:
Paul Adams, RPT – pres@ptg.org
Marc Poulin, RPT – vp@ptg.org
Jim Fariss, RPT – sec@ptg.org

• Other avenues of communication include: PTG E-News, Leader Letters, the Journal online, PTG Academy Online and Journal President’s Message. All of the above are posted on the PTG home page in the Member’s Corner section, on the top right-hand side of my.ptg.org.
• Our main website, ptg.org
• Facebook
• Phone
• Texting
• Facebook Messenger
• Attending meetings. All board meetings are open to all members.
• Face-to-face at events
• Surveys: Our last poll from the Presidential Task Group had only a 16% response.
• There will be a new column added to the Journal, as needed, entitled “Board Updates.” Any questions or concerns should be posted to your Regional Communities.

Since one of the top ten ways to cause the demise of any organization is to not participate, I implore all of you to do so. We have many communication avenues already in place. Direct any questions or comments to me at pres@ptg.org. I look forward to hearing from you at any time. Please remember, “Communication is a Two-Way Street.”