Lance's Journal: Blind Piano Tuner, Apr. 29, 2013

Norman Dority learned how to tune pianos in the summer of 1962. And he has been honing his craft for the past 51 years.

Even at 76 years of age, Norman is still working full-time in and around Lincoln and is widely known as one of the best piano tuners in southeast Nebraska.

At first, Norman grabs your attention with his wry sense of humor, "If I get tired of piano tuning, I think I'll take up psychiatry, so I can still work with tension."

Then he impresses you with his tuning knowledge, "I'm on an F right now."

You could say he has a great ear, and he's needed it...because he's tuned hundreds of pianos over the past half century...without the gift of sight. Norman says, "It's called Retinitis Pigmentosa."

It's a condition that both of his siblings were also born with, "You had many black flecks over your retina and each one of those is a blind spot."

Norman attended the Nebraska School for the Blind in Nebraska City, "I began taking piano lessons."

Many years later, Norman was at a seminary studying to be a pastor when he learned how to tune pianos, "It's kinda fun and there's a satisfaction in having something work better when you finish than when you started."

Norman lives by himself and over the past 5 decades, he's ridden many buses and walked who knows how many miles, making house call after house call, "I can be crossing O Street and get out in the middle of 13th Street by accident and people enjoy pointing me to the curb, they like to tell me where to go."

Norman was married for 37 years and had 4 kids with normal vision, "I'm 16 years a widower now and my younger son says one time mom had a blind date and look what happened to her."

At 76 years of age, Norman could've retired a long time ago, "Why?, going to work and accomplishing something is a great contentment."

Keith Heckman of Dietze Music House has been subcontracting Norman for years, "The first thing you should know is that he doesn't have a challenge, you and I have the challenge, we can see. He thinks we're challenged. He's an amazing individual."

Norman concludes, "Some people in middle age or so go blind and they sit down, some other people are so daring that it would started the daylights out of 'ya, I admire the daring ones.">>