The ears for the job
In 1959, when I was 8 years old, my parents took me to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The programme included a piano concerto. As you may know, concerti generally start with an overture, during which the orchestra plays on its own. Then the piano soloist comes in.
On this occasion, when the pianist came in, little Eric shouted, “the piano's sharp, or the orchestra’s flat, or something!”, to which all listeners in the area went, "shhh!!" It turned out that a mistake had been made by the organisers of the event, and that the piano had been tuned to continental pitch, which is around A448, whereas the orchestra were playing at British standard pitch, i.e. A440. There is a significant difference between these two pitches, so the sound was most displeasing.
The family business
My parents ran a music business in North West London, and I joined it when I left school. The business then mainly dealt in new and reconditioned pianos. I became more interested in the tuning and repair of pianos. I went to the London College of Furniture one day per week, and with help from the staff there as well as my experience in the family business, I learnt the basics of the trade.
Building on skills
I later worked for Broadwoods of London, which retains its long-standing Royal Warrant. At the time of Prince Philip and the Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Wedding, in 1972, the Palace required a Broadwood grand in the State Rooms to be tuned for the occasion. The management, for some reason, sent me to do the piano. So there you have it, I have tuned for the Queen!
I passed the Piano Tuners' Association test in 1981. I am proud to be a member. We regularly help each other to improve our professional standards, over the internet and with annual conventions, where leading international experts teach practical classes. Among many other things, the use of computers to assist tuning accuracy is taught and encouraged. In my case, this enables me to tune to various non-standard scales, to your requirements.