A Real-Life Gnomish Profession for Me?


You know that big change I was talking about? Read on…

Six years ago, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I decided to walk away from a field and specialisation I received my Master’s degree in to pursue playing piano full-time. Far from being something out of a movie, it was really just me deciding to do what I loved full-time and accepting the risks and consequences it came with. Back then, I had no idea where the path would take me career-wise, but I was determined to find out.

The journey so far has been filled with Bach, Beethoven, Brahms with a good dose of music history, performances, recordings and even artistic injuries. The question on my mind lately is where I want to go with it.



Over the last two years I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the rather geeky subject of tuning and historical temperaments. It’s really cool and interesting and the more I learn about it, the deeper I want to dig. At some point being able to tune my own piano sounds particularly cool. I could dabble in these historical temperaments, not be stuck with out of tune pianos whenever I visit India, and possibly have a “proper” I-can-pay-the-mortgage-by-myself type career with it. And, it does seem kinda gnomish doesn’t it?? The pianistic version of an arclight spanner is my hands! So, is piano tuning for me?


It’s a tough question for me to answer. Considering my colossal misjudgment of my Master’s degree, I’m being cautious about approaching this one. I’m applying to one of the best schools in the country for this (because there are a lot of scam ones around and anyhow, if you want to do something, might as well go all the way and do it right the first time). It however comes with a decent price tag – $25k for the year long program. I have no doubt of the schools caliber of education and prestige it’s name has, but 25k is 25k.

There’s a bit of an internal conflict inside of me right now:

“You should totally go for it! It’s a great way to continue your interest in historical temperaments while making some money!”

“Wat. No, you’re only considering this because you’re really just running away from performing. And recording. Because you hate an audience.”

“That’s not true! I like historical temperaments and all!”

“So keep reading those books! I mean really, do you like them 25k much?”

“But I’m ready to get a career and make some proper money and be independent.”

“But but it’s so far away! And I JUST got settled here!”

“You gotta take a risk if you want a reward! Don’t be a gnub!”

“Who’re you callin’ a gnub?? You’re the gnub! I’m the smart one!”

“No you’re the gnub!”

“No u!”

“No U!”

After a few hours of internal back and forth, we end up here…


I’m such a stressed out gnome. Partly because making decisions is hard. And also because this one’s such a big one!!

4 thoughts on “A Real-Life Gnomish Profession for Me?

  1. That’s a big decision to make! You’re braver than I am… I shrink away from most anything that isn’t comfortable and familiar. >.<

    If you think you will be happy and fulfilled by this profession/choice, then I say go for it!

    • Well I admit I am tempted to stick to the familiar things too…although that ship might’ve sailed when I switched careers six years ago >.< I'm just worried I'm going to do the "wrong" thing. And there's a definite sense "better not screw it up THIS time" hanging about lol.

  2. re: a career in tuning and historical temperaments – is there some way you can dive into that for a month or two without fully committing to it? I have no idea what level of apprentice/work opportunities exist for that but going hard for a month or two into something reveals whether it’s more enjoyable as a professional or an enthusiast. That’s killed multiple potential careers for me.

    • I looked into apprenticeship opportunities with other tuners and it’s mostly hit and miss as far as that goes. This is because not all tuners want to teach, and secondly even if they do, experienced tuners themselves are incredibly busy and don’t have much time to teach and take on apprentices. This place I’m looking at is the only full-time program in tuning in the entire country >.< Otherwise, one of those "crash courses" for a month or two would've been great.

      I did look at other courses ofcourse – even some distance learning ones that are 1/10th the cost of this one. But they came off mostly as unrealistic at best and scams at worst. To give a good analogy, it would be like learning to drive a car by watching 6 videos online and hoping your body "gets it". In tuning, we train our ears to hear vibrations or beats so it's a very hands on process.

      So far I've read books on it and am meeting with tuners in the area just to talk about what the profession is like – the good AND bad. Get an idea of their typical day etc.

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