Piano, lessons questioned at SVS

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Question: I wish to address an issue that has been troubling my wife since we have arrived at Incirlik. She is a highly trained pianist capable of teaching an advanced course of study, and has a background that extends even to the manufacture, maintenance and tuning of pianos. When she first heard that there were piano lessons being offered at the base community center, she was delighted at the possibility of being able to work at something she loves.

When she went to the community center, she found that they would have no problem hiring her. When she looked at the piano, however, she was appalled at its condition. As near as she can tell, it has been damaged by the humidity and lack of required maintenance. The action (the feel of the mechanical linkages that tie the keys to the hammer) was not what it should be for many of the keys, and it was out of tune. She asked when it was last tuned, and the community center employee stated that the piano was tuned the week before. My wife realized that this meant more bad news: The damage was such that the piano can't stay in tune. She came home shaking her head in disbelief that anyone would let a quality instrument deteriorate to that condition.

At the heart of this are two issues: Maintenance of Air Force property and employment practices for piano instructors mandated by 39th Services Squadron.

The piano was paid for by the Air Force for the expressed purpose of using it for piano lessons. If the equipment is not maintained such that it can perform that function, someone should answer for it and correct it. Part of the purpose of using an instrument to teach music is so that the student can know how the instrument should feel and sound as it is played. Otherwise, it would be just a matter of having the student memorize where to place their hands and when to press the pedals. No instructor should have to worry about whether or not the equipment they are using to teach will, in fact, impair their students' ability to learn the skill or art they are trying teach.

As a result of the first issue, equipment maintenance, the hiring practices of 39th SVS should be amended to allow piano instructors to teach from their home. If 39th SVS can't provide equipment that meets the needs of the program they offer, then they should adapt and earnestly search for another way to meet the need.

My wife brought a piano from the states. It is a high-end electronic piano. Its action, sound and performance are that of a regular piano, with some additional features besides. When my wife asked the obvious question, she was told that she could not teach from her home as she would be competing with 39th SVS.

The question arises as to why she can not teach from home. An arrangement whereby 39 SVS allows instructors to teach from their home would be very similar to the Family Child Care system we have in place. It would also include many of the FCC's benefits:

-More flexible schedules for the students.
-39th SVS would get money from the operation because the teachers would pay a fee to advertise and forego the hassles of the process of setting up their own businesses in Turkey.
-If the piano at the community center is repaired or replaced, it would fill the same niche as the Child Development Center in this analogy: If the instructor doesn't have their own equipment or is uncomfortable with letting students use it, then the Community Center is available as a venue for them to teach out of.

Please bring these concerns to 39th SVS attention for prompt action. Their answer to this issue should not be that they have provided a piano, but rather they have provided a piano that operates properly. They should also be able to say that they have duly and thoroughly researched whether or not there is a means for instructors to work in their homes, and provide a basis in regulations and law for their answers to the base population.

Response: I'll just cut to the chase on this one. If you want to teach from home, no problem. All you need to do is apply for a Home Business License through the Housing office located in building 833. As far as the repair of the Services piano, the maintenance contract is tailored to correspond with the frequency of use. At the moment and based on use, we tune it annually and on-demand based on instructor input. If you believe the piano is in need of tuning or repair please contact the Service Representative in the Community Center or Lt. Col. Dale Bruner, the 39th SVS commander. I am sure they will take the appropriate action as the contract does have a provision for adjustment outside the normal maintenance schedule. For those with more exacting standards we can also make an electronic piano available.