Tuning the Ivories

An important individual in the musical life of New Zealand from the 1840s, was the piano tuner.  In addition to instruments brought in by colonists, pianos were for sale in New Zealand from 1846 and there was a constant demand for tuners which steadily grew as the number of pianos and those playing them increased.   As well as tuning in their own town, tuners travelled widely to outlying hamlets and rural areas.  They alerted potential customers to their forthcoming visit with an advertisement in the local newspaper which gave details of the business in the locality where those seeking a tuning could leave their details.  As these tuners were usually based in cities or large towns their visits not only provided a tuning service but also updates on musical activities in the wider world. 

In the nineteenth century in particular piano tuning was usually just one string in the bow of our notables.  To name just a few – Lewis Eady, Alfred Oakey and George West began as piano tuners but were also music retailers, William Jones and Byron Squire composed as well as tuned, William Flood and Hugh Forrest were teachers as well as tuners and Nicholas Pearce was an organ builder.