Melody College allows music to keep time with you
Would-be musicians and singers can learn online – and whenever they choose
Katherine Wyers: “We remove the need to travel and the live webcam lessons can be scheduled at a time that suits the student, day or night.”
Always wanted to learn an instrument but never had time to go to lessons at conventional times? Then Melody College, the brainchild of professional musician Katherine Wyers, could be the answer as students can take their lessons wherever they want at whatever time suits them.
“Melody College is a live, online 24/7 music school designed to help children and adults learn music in a way that fits around their busy lives,” Wyers says. “Our focus is on providing a high-quality music education for our students and we use a blended-learning approach based on solid pedagogical research and taught by a team of professional, vetted and highly-experienced music teachers.”
Melody College’s courses combine one-to-one webcam lessons along with pre-recorded video tutorials. Each of the lessons is recorded and then stored in the student’s personal archive so they can replay everything their teacher has said and played.
Wyers began working on the idea for the school in 2014 and has been testing the system with students in the US, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Australia since. It was formally launched this summer. The school is staffed by a team of part-time music teachers but the business is growing and Wyers says it will take on its first two-fulltime staff next spring.
The idea for Melody College was sparked when Wyers was running a youth music project in Co Mayo. The students were spread throughout the county and sometimes had difficulties making it to the sessions. “I ran a series of one-to-one webcam lessons and they were so successful that I began exploring the potential of online music tuition,” says Wyers who always had a big interest in computer science and music technology. She taught her self to code and has also taken courses in artificial intelligence.
“I tested a number of high-end web-conferencing systems to determine whether they provided all the elements that a teacher would need in order to give a great music lesson and provide an enjoyable, beneficial experience for the student. Melody College grew from that,” she says.
Wyers has been a professional musician and composer for 10 years and plays the saxophone. She has a degree in business management, a BA in jazz performance and an MA in music composition. Her compositions have been performed in the US, Asia and around Europe.
“The traditional model of music tuition has been around for centuries. Melody College takes that traditional approach and makes it easier to access,” Wyers says. “We remove the need to travel and the live webcam lessons can be scheduled at a time that suits the student, day or night. We have a student who travels the world for work and simply sets up her laptop and guitar in her hotel room. With a high-end web-conferencing system anything is possible.
“We offer a range of instruments including piano, drums, guitar and electric bass guitar, violin, saxophone, flute and clarinet and a mix of musical genres from jazz piano to rock guitar and classical styles. We also offer singing lessons. Pricing is still being finalised but a course of 12 lessons is going to cost in the region of €300 and we will also offer three- and six-week courses.”
Melody College’s main market is those aged under 18 whose parents have to ferry them to and from their music lessons. However the college is also appealing to older students attracted by its flexibility. In 2017 Wyers will focus on building her customer base in Ireland and she will then turn her attention to the UK and further afield. The school will be marketed through a combination of digital marketing, social media and through partnerships with musical instrument shops.
Wyers estimates she has spent about €25,000 – and a lot of time – bringing her idea to life. She has recently completed the New Frontiers programme at Synergy Centre in Tallaght.