David Martin

Piano Tuner

Q. What is your principle professional skill?
Piano Tuner and Restorer.

Q. Can you tell us a little about it?
A. Rebuilding pianos and different types of tuning. Tuning pianos for homes and concerts. I am a member of the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology (IMIT).

Q. How long have you been practicing your skill?
A. 40 + years

Q. How did you learn your skill?
A. A proper apprenticeship. I served time with Bruce Millers working for journeymen. Hands on.

Q. How long did it take?
A. Five years apprenticeship then you keep on learning as you work.

Q. Are there any other people in the region doing what you do?
A. Yes, four in the North East of Scotland.

Q. How important do you think your skill is for the region?
A. Very

Q. How has your profession evolved over the last few decades?
A. When I started the pay was very poor and I had to play in bands at night to supplement it. Around 1975 the wages came up to encourage people to go into the industry but then they pulled back again.

Q. What are the main differences between now and when you started?
A. Most pianos just require tuning now. Days of rebuilding and restoring are a thing of the past.

Q. How do you anticipate the future to be for your skill?
A. Basically exist as being a tuner and doing small repairs.

Q. How important do you think it is to pass the skill on to the next generation?
A. Young teachers are advocating electronic pianos. Will there be pianos in the future?

Q. How could that be achieved?
A. It would be brilliant for that to happen but I don’t see it. People don’t want to spend money on pianos.

Q. Would you be prepared to train someone?
A. It would be difficult because the skills I have are no longer asked for. The piano trade has gone through many peaks and troughs.

Q. Do you think that society should feel obliged to find a way of preserving such skills?
A. No. Because things come and go. Unless there is a passion for something it will not continue. There is no education in the meaning of tuning. Music schools are using electronic pianos. Society would need to be re-educated with the skills.

Q. Does having a skill change the way you see the world?
A. No, I don’t think so. I look at the world from different angles, specifically from a Christian view.

Q. What kind of rewards do you get from your skill, monetary and/or otherwise?
A. Job satisfaction.

Q. What impact has broadband and the internet had on your work?
A. Not a lot. Although music shops are closing because of the internet.

Q. How do you use the internet for your work?
A. I don’t.

Q. What, if anything, could be done to help to preserve your skills and support your profession?
A. Education in schools so students learn what is possible. For example, different types of music. What a musician looks for in an instrument. The skills that are involved to create sound, individual sound.

1 Smiddy Cottages
AB39 3UR
Tel: 01569 764334