Chris Whelan

Trained at the NSW Sydney Conservatorium of Music where the training standard was high and, intense. I completed the course, realising, how little I knew!

I joined the Piano Tuners and Technicians Guild as soon as I could after graduation. In an effort to stay connected in the music industry, to learn from other technicians, and have a social interaction with others in the trade.

In an endeavour to stay relevant I continue to attend as many of the training courses and piano tuners conventions as possible both at home and overseas.

Being a member of the APTTA has helped me stay interested not only in learning about new piano developments but also resist the easy to fall into trap of becoming the piano technician, whose knowledge base is stuck in the distant past.

In addition to running my own business I am also a proud member of the Victorian Piano Tuners and Technicians Guild.

I am also currently working with Wertheim Australia to facilitate its re-entry into the Australian piano market, this has allowed me the opportunity to travel overseas to the manufacturing factories and enjoy the extremely interesting technical side of building the Wertheim piano.


Early communication to now!

Prior to the second world war our local piano tuner would write a letter to make his appointments for tuning. He would on occasions place an ad in the local paper to say he would be in a given area on a given date and to leave details with a local contact, generally the local music teacher. Often he would just turn up, as he would have been expected from the previous year, in those days someone was always home.

Echuca’s local tuner would catch the motor rail that ran between Echuca and Kyabram to Toolamba taking his push bike and a saddle bag of tools and get off at one of the numerous sidings between towns. Going out in the morning and returning in the evening.

In later times as phones became more popular and vehicles became more reliable he was able to travel more widely, always with a mind to the road conditions that could on occasions only be described as none existent. Now a days appointments are still made by phone although more contact has come through web pages. Texting is now a major aid to appointment making as well as reminders.

Although most tuners knew of each other, there was little interaction or dialogue between them as the areas they worked were known and were not encroached on until an outsider poached into an area.

Mr Harold Price of Shepparton and Mr Dave Richards of Bendigo and Mr Harry Burton of Echuca would often pass on stories and their anecdotes. A wealth of knowledge and stories disappeared with the passing of these tuners . I was fortunate to know these three gentlemen as friends and mentors and was able on numerous occasions to take advantage of their combined knowledge to help me when I came across something outside of my experience.

This is one of the reasons I joined the piano tuners and technicians guild when the realization hit that I effectively knew very little about pianos, and that age and experience quickly out ways what you read in a book. The Guild has also given me the opportunity to pass on the knowledge of my three mentors to the upcoming piano tuning generation.