What is an RPT?
The field of Piano technology is an unregulated trade. Therefore the Piano Technicians Guild has set its own standards of quality for piano technicians. The Guild has two types of members: Registered Piano Technicians and Associates. Associate membership is open to anyone with a "professional or avocational interest in piano technology." On the other hand, the title of "Registered Piano Technician" must be earned by passing a series of examinations.
The RPT examinations are in three parts. There is a written exam, testing basic knowledge of piano design, tuning theory, repair and general piano technology. Next, a technician takes a standardized tuning exam. At least three examiners, set up a "master tuning" by tuning a test piano until they are convinced as a group that every note is in the best possible place. This "master tuning" is then used as the standard against which the examinee is measured. Using sensitive electronic measuring equipment, the examinee's tuning is compared against the "master tuning." This system gives a fair and standardized test for all chapters of the Piano Technicians Guild. The next phase of the examinations is a "technical test." This test involves regulation of a grand action model and a vertical action model. On the test for the vertical action, the examinee is given a bag of parts, and must assemble it into an action model and make it function correctly. This method keeps the exam a reasonable length but still tests for the necessary skills. Then there is a repair test, covering all the basic in-home type repairs, such as broken strings, key repairs, and broken action parts.
The rating of RPT is not meant to be a rating for a rebuilder; it is meant to show that the technician is ready to handle normal piano service and repair. The Piano Technicians Guild has put a lot of time and effort into its examinations to establish a good set of standardized tests which will help insure quality service. The written test takes about 1 hour. The tuning and technical tests take about 4 hours each.
Only Registered Piano Technicians can advertise with that title.
Does the designation of RPT mean a technician is all they can be? Well...does a diploma in any other professional field represent that? No. However, be it doctor, lawyer, plumber, or piano technician, the individual who is willing to improve to the point by sitting for an examination, in order to gain qualification or certification, is someone who is responsible, and by definition, one who strives to improve.