The Butler School of Piano Technology

The Butler School of Piano Technology

The Butler School of  Piano Technology

Rick Butler RPT  -  Registered Piano Technician, The Piano Technicians Guild

rickbutler@thebutlerschool.org

phone: 240 396 7480

About the School


Our School is dedicated to providing quality education. We wish to offer a unique and interactive learning experience for those who want to begin a new career or part-time business in tuning and servicing pianos.

We believe we rank among the best regarding this kind of long-distance aural tuning education; providing support at the lowest possible tuition. Look and compare our program to other piano tuning courses and see if you don't agree.

To be able to pick up the phone and talk to your teacher is very important. Of course, you can e-mail me as well. It's not only what you know, but it's also who you know. I'm here for you.  

We regularly work with performance pianos and well-known artists from around the world. However, that is not what makes someone a good teacher. Good teachers understand how to teach. We not only have experience working on pianos, but we also have experience teaching as well. We know how to teach.

Our facilities also serve as a center for administering the Piano Technicians Guild certification exams in the Washington D.C. area and beyond.


The goal is to qualify for RPT classification. To become a Registered Piano Technician, you must pass three examinations. First, the written exam, which tests your basic knowledge of piano design, tuning theory, repair techniques and various other topics relevant to piano technology. Then there are two separate practical hands-on exams which test your tuning and technical skills. The practical exams are administered by panels of RPTs under the leadership of examiners trained and certified in standardized exam procedures. The Butler School Course provides you the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to pass these exams.

Exam procedures are designed to comply with standards of objectivity mandated by US anti-trust legislation, thus assuring that exams are fair and equivalent regardless of where or by whom they are administered. On the tuning exam, the candidate must match as closely as possible a "master tuning" created by a panel of examiners who have agreed - after painstaking experimentation and analysis - on an optimal tuning for the test piano. The exam is scored by using extremely sensitive electronic equipment to measure the deviation of the candidate's tuning from the standard thus established. Candidates who use electronic tuning devices in their work must nevertheless demonstrate their ability to tune by ear, unaided by electronics. The technical exam requires the candidate to demonstrate professional level skills in assembling a grand and a vertical piano action (the mechanical component of the piano) and in making all the complicated adjustments (called "regulation") so that they function properly. The candidate must also demonstrate facility in various common repairs involving wood, cloth, felt, piano wire and other materials commonly used in pianos. All the procedures on these exams must be completed in prescribed time periods - thus demonstrating the fluency required of a professional. 

The classification of RPT 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 ensure quality service. The written test takes about 1 hour. The tuning and technical tests take about 4-5 hours each. 

Although our course is designed with the RPT examinations in mind, it doesn't mean you must join the Guild and become an RPT. You may just wish to enroll in the school and work toward receiving a diploma from The Butler School of Piano Technology.  


One on One Feedback

We believe our tuning lessons are what sets this course apart from the others. Think about it. Learning to tune pianos requires much more than learning the answers to questions about piano tuning. Yes, I ask you to complete written exams. That's very important. But I also ask you to submit aural tuning exams via the internet. These exams allow me to monitor your progress. When you submit your aural tuning exam one day, I will usually review it and provide the necessary feedback by the next day. How will I respond? Most of the time it's with an email. But sometimes emails aren't enough. I will email you a direct link to a personalized video that only you can view. Here's an example of such a video.  ~  Along with the instructional tuning videos, this approach has proved to be very successful. This is indeed a one on one strategy that works. Just ask my students.  click here


And now we're offering the option of having realtime-online tutoring sessions. My students are really liking this additional feature!