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 ear (noun)- keen or sensitive perception of the differences of sound, esp.
 musical sounds: an ear for music. [Random House Dictionary].
  

"My Ear" - A Brief History

Having a good musical ear is probably the most important aspect of being a piano tuner.

Following is an account of some of the memories that contributed to the development of My Ear. From the perspective perceived by those organs on both sides of my head, I log the following history.

So, if my ears could talk, here's what they would say ...

Once upon a time...

Two ears were born into this world in 1952 in the small town of Huntsville in the district of Muskoka, Ontario. We developed, naturally on either side of Franc's head, as a set of rather handsome ears (if we do say so ourselves) and, in conjunction with Franc's memory (for whatever that's worth), recall several instances from our combined youth.

Our fondest memories are couched somewhere in a somewhat non-specific area as they seemed to have occurred from the very earliest beginnings of our memory. There were countless occasions where Franc's mother, concert pianist Nadine Ysaÿe, would put us to bed along with Franc's siblings and then go to her grand piano downstairs and play soft lullabies and nocturnes by Brahms and Chopin, sending us sweetly to the land of Nod.

One specific memory, however, was of Hans the old German piano tuner who came to Huntsville from Toronto to tune our piano. Now THAT was a set of ears. When he first began pounding his incessant "ping ping ping" on the individual notes, we almost felt pain, however it wasn't long before we realized that he was tightening and loosening the strings very slightly which had the effect of making the music, that ultimately came from the piano, more soothing and natural sounding. Although not too fond of the actual process, at the time, the benefits proved wonderful for our ultimate listening pleasure and the importance of good tuning was imprinted upon our aural memory. This memory instilled a sense of balance and harmony for us that could only have been achieved through auditory and somewhat "artistic" senses.

A favourite memory was when Franc, at about age 4, would play with blocks or simply go to sleep under the grand piano as his mother practiced. The sound emanating from the soundboard directly above us was totally enveloping. One hasn't lived until one has experienced the sound of a grand piano from lying underneath it. As Franc's mother practiced for many hours every day, the opportunities for this pastime were endless.

After performing her usual regimen of exercises, Mama would chose a specific part of a piece that she was learning and would play the said part in different key and time signatures, exploring and interpreting multiple dimensions in the music. Her errors became our education and an intimacy with the music she played developed that seemed to make the tuning of the instrument even more important to us.

Later on, we used to hear these very "familiar" sounds that Franc would be in harmony with, namely his brother & sister, Garth & Mary. For several years they produced very harmonious vibrations as the jazz-vocal group, Genes. Tuning with two other siblings seemed to be the most natural thing for us to achieve. (Probably coming from vague memories of the family singing barbershop stuff around the kitchen as they cleaned up after a meal.)

Franc has always loved the piano for these and other memories and its sound is indelibly imprinted upon his experience. It hurts us when something sounds out of tune and, consequently, we will always get Franc to correct it.

So ends the story of the two ears.


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