Cookies must be enabled to use this web application.

To allow this site to use cookies, use the steps that apply to your browser below. If your browser is not listed below, or if you have any questions regarding this site, please contact us.

Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • 1. Select "Internet Options" from the Tools menu.
  • 2. Click on the "Privacy" tab.
  • 3. Click the "Default" button.
  • 4. Click "OK" to save changes.
Chrome Chrome
  • 1. Click the "Spanner" icon in the top right of the browser.
  • 2. Click Options and change to the "Under the Hood" tab.
  • 3. Scroll down until you see "Cookie settings:".
  • 4. Set this to "Allow all cookies".
Firefox Firefox
  • 1. Go to the "Tools" menu and select "Options".
  • 2. Click the "Privacy" icon on the top of the window.
  • 3. Click on the "Cookies" tab.
  • 4. Check the box corresponding to "Allow sites to set Cookies.
  • 5. Click "OK" to save changes.
Opera Opera
  • 1. Click on the "Tools" menu and then click Preferences.
  • 2. Change to the Advanced tab, and to the cookie section.
  • 3. Select "Accept cookies only from the site I visit" or "Accept cookies".
  • 4. Ensure "Delete new cookies when exiting Opera" is not ticked.
  • 5. Click OK.
Netscape and Mozilla Suite Netscape and Mozilla Suite
  • 1. Select "Preferences" from the Edit menu.
  • 2. Click on the arrow next to "Privacy & Security".
  • 3. Under "Privacy & Security" select "Cookies".
  • 4. Select "Enable all cookies".
  • 5. Click "OK" to save changes.
Safari Safari
  • 1. Click on the "Cog" icon in Safari.
  • 2. Click Preferences.
  • 3. Change to the Security tab.
  • 4. Select "Only from sites I visit" or "Allow".
  • 5. Close the dialog using the cross.
Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Entertainment & Performing Arts
  • Language:English
  • Pages:234
  • eBook ISBN:9781667820781

Autobiography

by Virgil Smith, MM, RPT

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Overview
During the last decades of his life Virgil Smith became one of the most respected concert piano technicians in the United States, as well as a teacher of tuning whose classes were typically filled to overflowing. In this book, he describes his unlikely path to this second career after an early focus on musical performance in violin and piano, which led to an academic position at Moody Bible College. While at this institution, dissatisfaction with the tuning of the piano in his teaching studio inspired him to tune it himself. Soon after, he was moonlighting as a tuner for radio stations, performance venues and piano teachers. Quickly discovering that he would need skills beyond tuning in order to satisfy his customers, so he set about to learn how to voice, regulate and provide other piano services. His Autobiography is filled with anecdotes about his quest to become a comprehensively trained piano technician, while he sought to refine his tuning skills to the highest possible degree. In writing about his own life, he also documented important aspects of the profession of piano technician in the second half of the twentieth century - how skills were learned, what resources were available – as well as some of the organizational history of the Piano Technicians Guild. The Autobiography itself is supplemented by three major appendices. Two of them are texts by Virgil Smith on the topic of tuning: a short book called New Techniques in Superior Aural Tuning that recently went out of print, and a manuscript intended to replace that book that had not quite reached publication stage when he passed away in 2012. The third appendix is a compilation of an extraordinary discussion concerning Smith's more controversial ideas about tuning that appeared in the pages of the Piano Technicians Journal between Virgil Smith, Journal editor Ed Sutton and Dan Levitan.
Description
In this book, Virgil Smith shares his life story, from his roots as a visually challenged boy from a poor farm family, through his pursuit of a musical career, and culminating in three decades as a music professor. During those years he also became one of the most prominent piano tuner technicians in the United States, in his "spare" time. Born in rural Iowa, Virgil Smith attended the state boarding school for the blind through high school. While a student there, he was drawn to music, and decided he wanted to pursue a career in music evangelism. He enrolled in Chicago's Moody Bible Institute as a voice major in hopes of becoming a church choir director. Over time his focus shifted to violin, and later piano, with degrees in each from the American Conservatory of Music, and he eventually became a professor of piano and music theory at the Moody Bible Institute, a post he held for 32 years until his retirement in 1984. It was early in his teaching career at Moody that he began moonlighting as a piano tuner. Dissatisfied with the sound of the tuning produced on his studio grand piano by Moody's tuner, he decided to tune it himself, reaching back to earlier training he had received at the Iowa School for the Blind. Over time, he began tuning for others, beginning with a radio station where he performed live on a regular basis, and then progressing to various concert halls in Chicago. He soon became well known as one of the finest tuners in the area. Virgil Smith was, however, strictly a tuner as he started out, without any skills in regulation, voicing and other aspects of piano service, and he writes in detail about his efforts to gain those skills so as to be able to provide for all of his clients' needs. He is very frank about his failures, times when he was trying out procedures for the first time and failed miserably. Over the years, he found a number of teachers and mentors who aided him in gaining proficiency, including such well known figures as Franz Mohr of Steinway. He also interacted with many famous pianists, notably working on voicing in great detail with Alfred Brendel. In many ways, his is a story typical of how most American piano technicians from the 20th century to the present acquired their skills. Full-time training opportunities became increasingly rare, with the number of schools and factories decreasing to the vanishing point. Thus, the development of specialized skills has depended largely on personal initiative, making various contacts over the course of many years, and gradually acquiring proficiency via experimentation. In one particular respect, Virgil Smith's career was unique: throughout his life he worked almost exclusively on large grand pianos in concert and teaching situations, and he rarely worked on more than a few pianos during any given week. Hence, his range of experience was far different from that of the typical piano technician. Once he felt secure in his skills, Virgil Smith began teaching, developing a program in which he taught tuning to classes of eight people over a period of several years. He later abandoned that organized form of training, but continued to mentor and teach individuals, and began teaching classes at Piano Technicians Guild conventions and elsewhere. He also began writing articles for the Piano Technicians Journal on a regular basis, especially following retirement from his teaching job. Virgil Smith attracted a devoted following within the profession, and became one of PTG's most popular teachers. In 2002, he received the Piano Technicians Guild's highest award, the Golden Hammer. In 2004, when Virgil Smith was eighty-six, the PTG Foundation published Virgil Smith's short book (49 pages), New Techniques for Superior Aural Tuning. During the subsequent six years, he worked on what he seems to have intended to be a replacement for that book, with the editorial assistance of Stanley Ryberg. Both are included in this publication of his autobiography.
About the author
Born in rural Iowa, Virgil Smith attended the state boarding school for the blind through high school. While a student there, he was drawn to music, and decided he wanted to pursue a career in music evangelism. He enrolled in Chicago's Moody Bible Institute as a voice major in hopes of becoming a church choir director. Over time his focus shifted to violin, and later piano, with degrees in each from the American Conservatory of Music, and he eventually became a professor of piano and music theory at the Moody Bible Institute, a post he held for 32 years until his retirement in 1984. It was early in his teaching career at Moody that he began moonlighting as a piano tuner. Dissatisfied with the sound of the tuning produced on his studio grand piano by Moody's tuner, he decided to tune it himself, reaching back to earlier training he had received at the Iowa School for the Blind. Over time, he began tuning for others, beginning with a radio station where he performed live on a regular basis, and then progressing to various concert halls in Chicago. He soon became well known as one of the finest tuners in the area. Virgil Smith was, however, strictly a tuner as he started out, without any skills in regulation, voicing and other aspects of piano service, and he writes in detail about his efforts to gain those skills so as to be able to provide for all of his clients' needs. He is very frank about his failures, times when he was trying out procedures for the first time and failed miserably. Over the years, he found a number of teachers and mentors who aided him in gaining proficiency, including such well known figures as Franz Mohr of Steinway. He also interacted with many famous pianists, notably working on voicing in great detail with Alfred Brendel. In many ways, his is a story typical of how most American piano technicians from the 20th century to the present acquired their skills. Full-time training opportunities became increasingly rare, with the number of schools and factories decreasing to the vanishing point. Thus, the development of specialized skills has depended largely on personal initiative, making various contacts over the course of many years, and gradually acquiring proficiency via experimentation. In one particular respect, Virgil Smith's career was unique: throughout his life he worked almost exclusively on large grand pianos in concert and teaching situations, and he rarely worked on more than a few pianos during any given week. Hence, his range of experience was far different from that of the typical piano technician. Once he felt secure in his skills, Virgil Smith began teaching, developing a program in which he taught tuning to classes of eight people over a period of several years. He later abandoned that organized form of training, but continued to mentor and teach individuals, and began teaching classes at Piano Technicians Guild conventions and elsewhere. He also began writing articles for the Piano Technicians Journal on a regular basis, especially following retirement from his teaching job. Virgil Smith attracted a devoted following within the profession, and became one of PTG's most popular teachers. In 2002, he received the Piano Technicians Guild's highest award, the Golden Hammer. In 2004, when Virgil Smith was eighty-six, the PTG Foundation published Virgil Smith's short book (49 pages), New Techniques for Superior Aural Tuning. During the subsequent six years, he worked on what he seems to have intended to be a replacement for that book, with the editorial assistance of Stanley Ryberg. Work on that project was essentially complete at the time of his passing in 2010. We have decided to publish both of those tuning books as an appendix to this autobiography, as the documents fit together well.
Thanks for submitting a review!

Your review will need to be approved by the author before being posted.

See Inside
Front Cover

Loading book cover...

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Session Expiration WarningYour session is due to expire.

Your online session is due to expire shortly.
Would you like to extend your session and remain logged in?

Session Expired

Your session has expired.We're sorry, but your online session has expired.
Please log back into your account to continue.

This site uses cookies. Continuing to use this site without changing your cookie settings means that you consent to those cookies to enhance site navigation and the overall user experience. Learn more about our privacy policy or learn more about how to turn off cookies.