Friday, May 10, 2013

A people business

I'm writing today about the true nature of the business of being a piano technician. If you  think its only about fixing pianos, you'd be mistaken.  It is much more about the people that own them, in fact, it is about 90% of the business.

I decided to write this article because, in the last year, I have lost three clients, two to cancer, one to natural causes.  These were three incredibly talented musicians, and remarkable charitable people, whom I came to view as much more than clients.  I saw them as friends.  They were what we in the trade would call a "rare" breed, in that they kept their pianos tuned regularly, so I had a chance to know them well. Their passing has left a hole in my life that can never be filled.

For those of you considering piano technology as well, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of a good "pianoside" manner.  I was lucky enough to be welcomed into my client's homes, but to be offered tea, biscuits, stimulating conversation, laughter, sometimes even lunch, and the joy and appreciation they expressed after I had completed my work made it all the more rewarding.

I said goodbye to one client two weeks ago.  Having never met her family, I had to introduce myself and who I was.  I was swarmed by her children and their spouses, her grandchildren, and her friends.  All of them said I had saved her life.  What did they mean by that?

A few years ago, I was having my workshop renovated.  The poor guy doing it told me if I brought another piano into my shop, he'd walk off the job (I'm sure he was just kidding, but you get my drift), because he was constantly having to move them around as he did his work.  At the same time, I had the opportunity to get a Canadian Heintzman piano for a good price.  My client had just moved into a nursing home and had to surrender a 7 foot grand.  It was difficult enough for her to have to go into a home like that, but to have no piano to play?  That would have killed her.  So I got this brilliant idea.  Send the piano to her, tell her that she could use it until, as I put it to her "you no longer need it".  There was a quiet understanding of what I meant by that, but the words were never spoken.  It stayed there for 6 years, until I got the call a few weeks ago from her daughter that she "no longer needed it".

This is the type of moment that no schooling can prepare you for.  All along I felt she was doing me a favour, when in fact, she and everybody else saw things differently!

While I will miss her terribly, it turns out her work may not be done yet.  One of the staff members of the home contacted me about purchasing the piano  You see, my client had been teaching her how to play piano, for free, just for something to do.  While this staff member was contemplating whether to purchase the piano, she told me she got a sign that it had to be hers.  My client had always told this staff member how much she loved the little yellow bird, finches, and saw them all the time at the beautiful garden at the home.  The staff member, who was on vacation when she learned of my client's passing, was sitting in her backyard, and what landed on her picnic table?  A yellow finch.  She knew it was meant to be, and I agreed that my client would be tickled pink to know that two people she liked and respected would now be coming together over the instrument she played and loved.

There are so many priceless moments in this job, which is why I love it so much.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The "Helpless" Desk

What I thought was a simple task turned out to be a two day affair. No thanks in part to the so called help desk at my hosting provider.

Naturally when someone pays for hosting (as I do), you would think that technical support would be superior. After the last two days, I'm wondering if the people who receive these tickets actually read what is in there.

It all started when I decided to move both the site and the moodle component of the program to a separate server. Easy, right?


Here are a few snippets from our conversation:

Me: I'll need moodle 2.4.3+ found here installed under this new add on domain.
Them: You can install a new moodle into new folder or sub domain name, you may choose where you want to install it into.
Me:Would you be able to install moodle 2.4.3+ under public_html/ Here's the link
Them: and are online.
Me: Would it be possible to have moodle installed under public_html/ I would like to be able to see my moodle site when I enter Right now all I see is the same thing that is at I would like version 2.4.3+, available here : (3rd time I ask, still not done)
Them:We have installed Moodle for you into /home/barbhall/public_html/ as requested.
Me:Thanks for doing that, but we still have a problem. When I type or I want to see the website. - I see my moodle - I get an error message from moodle: I just checked on the control panel and see that it was installed under, not under Would that explain the problem?
Them: (and this was the final straw for me) Sir, you did ask us to install moodle on the domain which is what has been done !
Me:Actually, I'm not a sir, I'm a ma'am! Yes, I realize that is what has been done, and perhaps it was my mistake not to create a moodle folder for the installation. I have now done that and would like moodle to be installed under that new folder, because leaving it the way it is means I can't access my website (not the moodle site), as I mentioned in an earlier reply.Sorry to be a pain, but I need the latest install of moodle reinstalled in the moodle folder.

And it went on and on like that all day until about 11 pm last night. What a hassle. 

Aside from calling me a sir (even though I signed each post with my name (Barb), each one of their responses ended with "Please let us know if there is anything further we can do for you." My response: try reading the posts properly!!!! Arghhhh!