Sydney Conservatorium Tuning Style.

This fast accurate aural tuning discipline was introduced by Dr. Yoji Suzuki at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in the 70s. It combines the best of German and American tuning styles with the results of Japanese engineering research and time-and-motion studies. Dr. Suzuki selected 3 talented graduates of the Tuning School to take the Tuning Teacher Training course at the Yamaha Academy:
  • Wayne Stuart returned and took over from Dr. Suzuki as Head of the Tuning School. Wayne moved to Prestons TAFE in Victoria and continued teaching and research.
  • Trevor Fulcher, who became the Conservatorium Tuner had practical engineering experience, and an academic mind. Trevor is responsible for adapting Dr Suzuki's notes into a textbook.
  • Ara Vartoukian was a very energetic Head of the School. His Armenian background may be behind his amazing teaching method -- he would "remind" you of something you didn't know, a technique perhaps deriving from Plato's theory of knowledge.
Local conditions vary from the situation in Japan. The stock of pianos is different, the climate is different, and venues and musical expectations are different. Sydney also had at the time, a history of piano manufacture and a tradition of tuning and service. All these conditions had a part in shaping the Conservatorium tuning style.

The existing piano servicing had the upright piano as its focus, grand pianos having been rarer till recently. The local tuning style was much simpler, involving less "checks". It would be safe to say that Yamaha imported their own more accurate tuning discipline in order to help promote their pianos. Grand regulation procedure was virtually unkown till then, so the Yamaha course ensured that its graduates would be able to maintain the new wave of Japanese grands in good playing condition.

It was appropriate that the Tuning School was part of the Conservatorium, as the feedback from performers and teachers encouraged the acceptance of the "Triple Octave Tuning" here, while Japanese audiences favoured a safer "Double Octave Tuning".

Since the early eighties, with increased communications and interaction, tuning schools are becoming closer. There are still major differences though. The simpler style involving a rough temperament and octave tuning has been replaced by more sophisticated techniques, and the development of computerised scopes has given rise to another major dichotomy among tuners.

Next:  Outline of Tuning Procedures

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