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Staying in tune with the special needs of music students

This Following Up feature picks up with traveling piano teacher Emilee-Mae Feely from Feely Music

When GuelphToday first featured Emilee-Mae Feely at the end of August last year she was celebrating her company’s expansion into Eastern Canada and setting her sites on the rest of the country.

“Last year we expanded to Halifax and in addition to Halifax and Ontario we added Calgary,” she said. “We have been marketing in Calgary and just this month we got 20 new students and four teachers out there.”

She rebranded the business from Feely Piano School to Feely Music and describes the service as the Uber of piano teaching.

“We spent a lot of time last year changing the business and how the organisation works,” said Feely. “We have all online bookings now so you can choose a teacher and see their biography. You can choose a time and a schedule and a payment and the teacher can arrive at your house within 24 hours.”

Feely started the mobile piano teaching service in 2014 as an elaborate and economically resourceful way to pursue an ex-boyfriend who had moved away from her home town of Brantford. The service provided an excuse for her to visit him out of town and, with any luck, patch things up.

The scheme to rekindle the relationship failed but the business concept of providing piano teachers that do house calls caught on and spread to a dozen communities in Ontario as well as Nova Scotia and Alberta.

“In the city of Guelph particularly student enrollment tripled this year and that has been great,” she said. “So, we have been able to provide employment to two music teachers here. I have trained 40 teachers across Canada and we had 10 co-op students working with us this summer.”

She said Guelph has a vibrant musical community and a large number of their students hope to build careers in the music business.

“A lot of people in Guelph have been coming to us for the specific purpose of learning to read and write music,” she said. “That is a big demand in Guelph and I have been training the teachers to meet that need.”

The home service is attractive to people with mobility limitations and other disabilities who find it easier to learn in the comfort of their homes.

“We’ve had a lot of individuals in Guelph inquire about students with autism, learning disabilities or visual impairments,” said Feely. “This summer I have been creating different curriculum books to help students use music as a way to develop skills especially with autism.”

She has standardized the teaching methods with instructors across the country.

“The new books are something we just launched this month,” she said. “We have partnered with Staples Canada and Staples is printing them on demand for us. You can pick them up at any location with our teachers across the country.”

Feely said that apart from failing to reprise the lost love that inspired her business everything has been going as planned.

“Last year I sat down for four months and wrote about my business and I put it into a 90-page document of everything I needed and wanted and I put it into action,” she said. “Although, the planning and execution hasn’t been easy it has been really neat to see the need and develop it.”