Bachelor of Music student Hana Hubley was not quite sure she wanted to study music when she started at the University of Lethbridge. However, with the support of music professor Dr. Nick Sullivan (BMus ’04), Hana has found their calling.

Hana’s high school band teacher is a ULethbridge alum and encouraged them to apply, highlighting Nick’s expertise in low brass instruments. Hana plays the tuba, an instrument that grew on her as she refined her artistic practice.

“I was really into music before I started school. When I started middle school band, I didn't really want to play the tuba, I wasn't expecting to get stuck with it. I was so miserable sitting in band class having to play the tuba,” Hana says. “But I stuck with it, because of a band trip that went to Disneyland. The experience of going to Disneyland combined with some honour bands I was able to do that year really changed my mind on music as something I should take seriously.”

Image credit: Petra Stauffer Photography.

Now in university, Hana is flourishing, performing in the ULethbridge Wind Orchestra and the Lethbridge Community Brass Choir in addition to working with the Mini U Music School at the Music Conservatory. She has grown to love playing the tuba and is able to enhance and refine her skills through experiential learning opportunities.

“I honestly believe that if I did play another instrument, I don't think I'd be getting a degree in it. I just fell in love with the less common parts of tuba playing because it's commonly known as a silly, big instrument that plays low notes and it doesn't always sound the prettiest. But when I got introduced to solo and higher tuba material, that's when I realized this can actually be a beautiful instrument that can really sing and fill up a room.”

Recently, Hana took part in the Domaine Forget de Charlevoix music academy and festival, which had them travel to Quebec for two weeks to participate in an intensive workshop aimed at expanding player’s repertoires and solo practices.

Hana says she met musicians and instructors from all over the world and had her eyes opened to all the paths she can take with music.

“The whole experience at Domaine Forget boosted my confidence, because I was so nervous to go. I realized I definitely want to go for a master's in performance, and hopefully I can play in an orchestra or teach at the university level. I'm also really interested in community outreach.”

Hana adds they were able to build their confidence in their musical abilities and network with other tuba players while attending the program.

“I learned I am capable of putting myself into these more vulnerable positions of exposing my skills to other people. I think an inherent fault of musicians is that we're so hard on ourselves and nothing we ever do is good enough. That can become such a toxic way to approach this, especially if we're supposed to love it. Being put into that position of, oh, it's okay if they hear my mistakes, I'm going to live, they're not going to be mean, it really boosted my confidence in my abilities.”

She credits Nick as the reason why she has participated in numerous experiential opportunities, as he encourages students to apply for workshops and programs to enhance their skill and practice. Hana says being able to partake in these programs is humbling.

“At ULethbridge, there is a very small pool of brass musicians. We get to know each other quite well. What I've found is that I got very comfortable performing around them, so when I got out of that comfort zone, it really pushed me to be at my best. You're representing your university and your instructor, so you want to put your best foot forward. Opportunities like Domaine Forget really helped to push what I'm already doing at university, because what I learned at Domaine Forget, I'll apply to my practice here.”
Hana at Domaine Forget with world-renowned soloist Øystein Baadsvik. 

As Hana prepares for her graduation recital in the fall, she reflects on her practice and says she is thankful for the freedom she is given to explore her musical and pedagogical interests. For example, Hana says they learned some breathing techniques while at Domaine Forget that completely changed their playing.

For students just beginning their musical journey at ULethbridge, Hana says it’s important to not be afraid to saying yes to new experiences.

“It's pretty scary being a first-year student performing in front of your peers. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll get. The more opportunities you say yes to, in turn, you'll get better. So, don't overwork yourself, but don't be afraid to say yes either and have fun!”
Get more than a degree at ULethbridge:
- Paid work terms
- Hands-on career & research experience
- International study
- Awards, scholarships and a range of student support
Learn how!