Piano Tuning: Proverbs & Providence

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In December 2006, when I felt compelled to resign my full-time teaching (music) job and stay home to teach piano lessons, my [shocked] husband was fearful that we’d lose the house, unable to pay the mortgage. I sent email to a few families of my students and church friends who’d expressed interest in piano lessons, and had twenty students committed within 24 hours, and a waiting list within 48 hours. But it still wasn’t anywhere near the steady paycheck I brought home from teaching. I prayed again…

Lord, If I’m supposed to do this, You’re gonna’ have to make a way… and please give my husband peace about it, too.

Ever since my sister drowned in 2004, I’d had a strong desire to work from home and be more available for my children, my husband, home management (cooking, laundry, shopping), and to help with my sister’s grieving children.

The very next day, I received an email from a friend. He said, “Hey, have you ever considered piano tuning?” I rolled myself back in the computer chair and started laughing out loud! I had already trained as a piano tuner nine years before, while pregnant with my last (biological) child! Having two in diapers for a few years and little time to pursue it, I’d laid it aside.

I've learned so many lessons from piano tuning - on faith and life.

I’ve learned so many lessons from piano tuning, on faith and life. [Photo Copyright 2016, Becky Wright, Inspiring Hope]

I immediately got out my piano tuning books, brushed off the dust, and took them to work with me for the following week, re-reading them as I ate my lunch. I realized that if I tuned a couple pianos a month, added to my piano lesson income, we could still pay the mortgage! And, I would have the time my family and I needed, and also for ministry travels. (I was singing and speaking at churches and conferences a lot by then.) We wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent, thank God!! He made a way, confirmed His plan — and gave the provision for the plan to work.

Over the last nine years, I’ve tuned several hundred pianos. It’s quite different, working alone, with no supervisor and (usually) no audience. The exception is when I tune for the nursing homes, where I sometimes have loud talkers, or even hecklers who complain about the noise. But most of them are thrilled to hear me play “God Bless America”, “How Great Thou Art”, or Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” when I’m finished tuning after a couple hours.

In the “loneliness” of piano tuning, however, I’ve found that I’m truly never alone. God seems to continually paint poignant portraits of His Word and His ways to me through the technical and tedious process of making 215-250+ strings sound like they’re supposed to in the 88 keys.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned about life and faith through piano tuning:

We must be stretched past our normal pressure point 2 test if we'll stay in the right spot afterwards. #pianotuninglessons #inspiringhopeblog Click To Tweet
  1. We must each periodically be stretched way past our normal “pressure point” to test and make sure we land — and stay — in the “right spot” when the stretching is over.
  2. Just like tuning every key around “Middle C”, everything in our lives (the tuning of every other string) will be out of tune if “the main thing” is off.
  3. Tuning a piano (and every aspect of our lives, personalities, overcoming bad habits, behaviors or thought processes) is an ongoing, no-quick-fix process that needs to be repeated on a regular basis. One tuning during a lifetime doesn’t fix it forever.
  4. Neglecting getting a piano tuned is more expensive and cost-prohibitive than just committing to have it done regularly — just like neglecting our family, marriage, checkbook, job duties, vehicle maintenance, dental cleanings, or medical check-ups.
  5. Neglected strings get brittle with no tuning, no “stretching” or pressure, and no use…. just like the human heart (not to mention unused and neglected talent or ability). Play it, tune it, love it — or you might as well throw it away.
  6. Just as in tuning the vibrations of “intervals” (the distance between keys/ pitches), our human relationships must be in good repair to have “good vibrations” which create harmony instead of dissonance. Also, some strings (like unisons and octaves) MUST be in perfect unison. If not, don’t proceed any further until they are. (Reminds me of marriage…)
  7. Tuning a piano — or your life — isn’t always a pleasant or pretty process. But it’s sure worth the end result.
  8. Regular tuning, stretching and pounding on those strings keeps them pliable. Stiff, stubborn, brittle strings (from neglect, environmental factors, rust, etc.) break very easily. It seems to be the same with our hearts. Flexibility, change-ability, teach-ability is good and necessary for good health and usefulness (of a piano or a person).
  9. Not all piano music is intended to be played “forte” (loudly). Sometimes a soft melody and simple chord progression is just what the doctor ordered. Same with our words.
  10. Unlike piano tuners which are difficult to find (I think I’m the only one in my city), the One Who can tune our souls, replace broken strings, regulate us and fix things that were once stuck and immovable, is always available, no prior appointment needed. And, unlike me, He never breaks something He can’t repair, and He always knows just how to tune us up.

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