By the time I was 19, I had hit some pretty high marks as a pianist. I was a finalist twice at the MTNA Wurtlizers, once at the Stravinsky International, and had won the concerto competition at Interlochen four out of six summers. I was not destined for Curtis, but I had logged some hours. Certainly by age 17, I had hit the 10,000 hour mark doing at least one thing: listening to the sounds of our 20th Century tuning system.
Now, the 10,000-hour mark is probably hit by all professional pianists between age 14 and 18. What is unusual though about this profession is that I, like so many, labored to “perfect” these compositions without ever hearing them in the intonations that their composers did. My imagination had been severely handicapped. Continue reading Unequal Temperament: A Beginner’s Guide, or, Why I Became A Tuner