'Twas the Tuning Before Christmas

By Carl Radford, RPT

(Reprinted with permission from the President's Message in the December, 2010 Partial Post, official newsletter of the North Shore Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.)


‘Twas the night before Christmas. What was I to do? 
The grand wasn’t tuned yet and I had the flu. 
With our Yule fest approaching, I found out with dread
That the pedal was squeaking and the B flat was dead.

The Steinway, so off key it hurt to play scales, 
The chords screeched like alley cats clutched by their tails. 
To top it all off, and to add to my woes,
The Damp-Chaser light blinked as red as my nose. 

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter, 
I put down the Pepto to see what was the matter. 
Away to the driveway I flew like a flash, 
Tore open the car door, and threw up on the dash.

The icicle lights on the new-fallen snow
Gave the inflatable Santa a suburban glow, 
When, what to my puffy red eyes should appear, 
But a van with a sign that said ‘Tuning by Ear’.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, 
Though he looked just like Santa, it wasn’t St Nick. 
With a beard white as snow his most prominent feature, 
It had to be Gordon, the tuner from Beecher. 

I told him my problems as best as I could. 
He listened and nodded and said, “Well, well, that’s not good.” 
And before I could blink, to his old van he flew, 
For a pack full of tools, a clamp and some glue.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, 
Down the chimney the piano man came with a bound. 
Though it’s not quite as fun and a bit of a bore, 
I told him next the time he might try the door.

He was dressed all in flannel, from his head to his toe, 
With a piano tie held with a clip that would glow. 
The bundle of tools he had flung on the floor, 
And he looked like a peddler just opening his store.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old tech, 
And I laughed when I saw him, and thought, ‘Well, what the heck…’ 
The tilt of his head, with the fork to his ear, 
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to fear.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, 
And tuned every last note with barely a jerk. 
The Dampp-Chaser pads he deftly replaced, 
Brought the dead keys to life, hammers evenly he spaced.

My fever was breaking, my throat not so dry. 
Perhaps I could sing if I gave it a try. 
With the piano now working, the pedal all fixed,
The guests could relax and the nuts would be mixed. 

I played every carol that I knew by heart, 
As well as a Rondo by Wolfgang Mozart.
The carolers arrived, and we sang, and we hummed, 
We sipped and we laughed and they left pretty numbed. 

Gordon then told me ‘twas past time to go, 
So I thumbed through my wallet to pay him some dough. 
“I have AmEx or Visa or my eldest born son.” 
He said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I just do this for pun.”

He sprang to his van, and we all waived goodbye, 
And he told me he planned to ice fish for Walleye. 
And I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, 

"Happy Christmas to all, stay in tune, and good night!"