Jurgen Goering is not merely a piano tuner. In 1981 he entered into a 3-1/2 year piano apprenticeship under a Master Craftsman Piano Maker in Germany. The apprenticeship covered all aspects of piano work: tuning by ear, service, piano repairs and rebuilding. After passing the rigorous final examinations in 1984, he became certified as a Journeyman Piano Maker.
Jurgen soon realized that his professional training was far from over as piano technology is a discipline of life long study and improvement. After 30 years, Jurgen still regularly attends piano technician seminars and conferences to stay current. He has also organized and taught at such events, as well as written technical articles printed in the Piano Technicians’ Journal and Europiano magazine. Jurgen holds membership in the Canadian Association of Piano Technicians and the Piano Technicians Guild. He is a past member of BDK: the Association of German Piano Makers.
Tuning by Ear:
Why does Jurgen tune pianos by ear? Simply put, because he can.
Tuning aurally (by ear) is the time-honoured way to tune pianos. Aural tuning involves listening closely to the individual strings, the unisons, and intervals such as octaves, thirds, fourths, fifths etc. The piano is a polyphonic instrument, meaning that numerous notes are made to sound simultaneously. All these simultaneous notes interact and have to blend in specific ways to create lush tone colours and dynamics. In an aural tuning, these intervals are used to dial in the perfect pitch of every note, according to how it sounds in conjunction with others. For Jurgen, it makes little sense to tune individual notes outside of a musical context with each other, which is what an electronic tuner does.
While it is possible to achieve a good tuning with modern high-tech aids, all too often the “black box” machines are used as crutches by those who did not benefit from the extensive training required to learn the skill set required for aural tuning.
In the end, the human ear must be the final judge, so why not let ear direct the process from the start?
Most of my distinguishing clients – professional musicians and teachers – appreciate the method and care I use to tune their instrument and prefer my work because I tune aurally.
In 2009, Jurgen edited and published “The Voice of the Piano,” a hardcover advanced manual for piano technicians. The manuscript was written by acclaimed Dutch piano technician André Oorebeek. In the few years since its release, the book has become a classic reference book for technicians world-wide. Japanese and French translations were released in 2012. The next frontier: China?
Jurgen also operates Piano Forte Supply, a specialty supply source for piano technicians, which focuses on highest quality tools and materials for piano technicians. www.pianofortesupply.com
As an avid enthusiast of piano history and development, Jurgen’s passion for pianos has led to a personal collection of old, rare, and unusual pianos. Some of these still await restoration, such as his unique grand piano built in Berlin in 1872 and his piano playing robot from the late 1890s.