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Grief inspires Bradford’s Ben Simon to start music business

In this week’s Midweek Mugging, learn to play like your rock ‘n roll idols with Ben Simon’s Guitar Lessons

Most 13-year-old guitar players are still taking lessons. Ben Simon was teaching them.

Simon, now 25, is one of the few registered guitar teachers in town providing private lessons.

Frequently throughout the week, the doors to Ben Simon's Guitar Lessons swing open as eager students, ranging from grade schoolers to senior citizens, learn to strum the strings, just like their idols.

“I’m lucky, now, that I’m at a point where a lot of my students are younger than me,” Simon said. “When I started, a whole bunch were older than me.”

Simon only had a few years under his belt with the guitar when he started teaching. But music had been part of his existence for years, as he took five years of piano before picking up a guitar for the first time.

Then, like now, most people didn’t have the opportunity to take private lessons.

“Originally, it was just supposed to be a high-school side job,” Simon said. “Then I got filled up pretty quickly, which was nice. I built a name for myself pretty quickly.”

But that name wasn’t going to turn into too much.

After graduating from Holy Trinity Catholic High School, Simon was planning to enter the family business: teaching. He enrolled at Trent University in the concurrent education program and had designs on following in his parents’ footsteps by becoming a school teacher.

But while Simon was away at school, his father died, succumbing to cancer at the age of 49. Simon’s way of thinking shifted with the death of his father.

“He loved his job; he didn’t make it to his retirement, but he was lucky enough to love his job,” Simon said. “I was scared I was entering into something that if I didn’t make it to my retirement, am I going to be wasting my time?”

He started giving lessons again that summer when classes were out.

Three years removed from teaching, he wanted to see if there was still a market. Within a month, he was fully booked until September.

Today, Ben Simon’s Guitar Lessons welcomes upward of 70 students each week. He’s thrilled to be sharing his passion in his hometown.

“I love Bradford. Bradford’s my home,” Simon said. “I built up my name here, my reputation here. It’s nice to know that when people are looking for a guitar lesson on Facebook pages, usually it’s my name that’s thrown in.”

For more information, visit Simon’s website or Facebook page.

Midweek Mugging is a regular series profiling local businesses or interesting people in Bradford West Gwillimbury. Want to be featured? Email [email protected].