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Has Alanna found the key to happiness?

In this week's Mid-Week Mugging, we talk to a local entrepreneur who 'tunes by ear'

Guelph entrepreneur Alanna Gurr has a trained ear for finding the right note and has no problem identifying the key to her happiness.

“It is definitely the love of music,” said Gurr. “Piano tuning is a great way to meet people in my community and help other people with their music. Everything, with all my work, always connects back to music.”

She started Alanna Gurr Piano Tuning and Services seven years ago and offers a number of services that include, standard tuning, pitch raising and lowering, regulation, repairs and buying and selling consulting.

“I tune by ear,” she said. “There are a lot of people that use digital tuners, which is great if you are in a studio and I can do that but I choose to do it the more traditional way by ear because I find it sounds more musical to me and more pleasing to my ear that way.”

The business has continued to grow largely due to word of mouth and her reputation for thoughtful, quality service but she still makes time to compose and perform with her band, teach with the Guelph Girls’ Rock Camp and work part-time for the city’s tourism department.

“I do like having a part-time job because piano tuning is somewhat seasonal,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have their pianos tuned in the summer because they are away and they aren’t taking lessons. From the beginning of December to Christmas Day is kind of my crazy time.”

Piano tuning has become her main focus but it wasn’t her first career choice.

“I was in school for television broadcasting and media and I did a few co-ops but I just kept skipping class to go play my piano,” she said. “I quickly realized that maybe I’d be better as an entrepreneur and spending my time working on pianos and making money doing it if it was making me happy anyway.”

Tuning pianos was also a way to pay the bills while she toured and performed, first as a solo artist and then with her band Alanna Gurr and the Greatest State.

She released her third record Stand Still in June on the Guelph-based Missed Connections Records label and her first music video two weeks ago that she shot with Guelph videographer Colin Harrington and his company a Pocket History from Mars.

“We shot it the day of the super moon last year up at the Arboretum,” said Gurr. “I did the editing myself. I thought I would use some of the skills I spent all that money on.”

Gurr likes to help others learn from her experience and three years ago co-founded the Guelph Girls’ Rock Camp.

“That is a big part of my life,” she said. “I just need to help foster younger women into the music world as well.”

She also works part-time for the tourism department at the City of Guelph and has been busy this week helping set up for The Merry Maker Night Market at the Guelph Farmers’ Market that runs from 4 - 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20.

“It is a relatively new job and I like it,” said Gurr. “It is nice to be able to promote Guelph because it is a city I love.”

Gurr’s love for music and community has allowed her to establish a harmonious and sustainable work-life balance.

“I definitely see myself growing old tuning pianos,” she said. “It is something I want to be in my life for a long career.”