Leandra Hubka said she didn’t know she wanted to play guitar as a profession before college, which makes her an “oddity” in the guitar world.
“To be honest, before college I never remember a time thinking, ‘This is what I am going to do with the rest of my life.’ But there were many times when I just kind of assumed this is what I would do by default,” Hubka said. “A lot of guitarists who get into it as a profession are passionate from the very beginning, but I was never like that.”
Hubka graduated from St. Thomas in May 2010 after majoring in music and Catholic studies. She is now teaching private classical guitar lessons, playing at various events and applying to graduate school for classical guitar performance. She has applied to five colleges, including Eastman School of Music in New York, the University of Southern California, the University of Arizona-Tuscan, the University of North Carolina School of Arts and Yale University.
She said her schedule is crazy at times, but staying organized, using good time management skills and making lists helps keep her disciplined, balanced and accountable.
Hubka began guitar lessons using the Suzuki method when she was 8 years old. She started playing because her parents wanted her to learn how to play an instrument and her friend was taking classical guitar lessons using the Suzuki method. She said the method is an educational philosophy which strives to create high ability and beautiful character through a nurturing environment.
“Because she (her friend) did, I was really intrigued and so my parents and I sat in on a lesson and looked into it,” Hubka said. “I then began taking lessons with the same teacher using the same method.”
She continued to play guitar through high school and began teaching private lessons using the traditional and Suzuki methods the summer before her senior year. She still teaches at the St. Paul Guitar Studio and her house.
“I started it for the money at first, but also because of the profound impact I found music can have on a person’s life,” Hubka said. “I was called to do this by God giving me this wonderful gift, and I should share it.”
Lessons with St. Thomas professor
During her senior year of high school, Hubka began taking lessons with St. Thomas guitar teacher Christopher Kachian. She took lessons from him throughout college and said he has been an inspiration.
“He is such a dynamic player and his music speaks,” Hubka said. “He always believed in me even if I didn’t believe in myself and because of him, I’ve done so many more things with guitar than I could have ever imagined.”
She said Kachian presented her with a “life-changing” opportunity last March: the Festival Honors Orchestra concert at St. Thomas. She premiered her transcription of Schubert’s Sonata Arpeggione for guitar and string orchestra at the event.
“It was really amazing because I got to perform a piece I arranged two years previously and it was the first time I got to play it,” Hubka said. “It was already cool to be playing with professional musicians, but to have it be my own arrangement was just another level of excitement.”
Kachian said he was proud of Hubka because he knew she got the most out of the program and became the best ambassador for St. Thomas guitar program.
“I often refer to her as the best guitar student I’ve ever had,” Kachian said. “She was the best player, best spirited, most organized, destined to succeed, disciplined, respectful of opinions on her music and showed the most leadership skills.”
Dreams for the future
After graduate school, Hubka said she hopes to return to the freelance guitar lifestyle and open her own guitar studio where she can mainly teach Suzuki students. She said she also would like to train Suzuki guitar teachers and continue playing locally, possibly at bigger venues. But her dreams don’t stop there.
“It is a dream of mine to start a non-profit to organize musicians to play at places like hospitals and nursing homes, because so many times those people are neglected and don’t have the gift of music,” Hubka said. “I think it’s really good for musicians to get out there in the community and play for those people.”
She also would like to teach at the college level and sees herself directing ensembles in the future.
“She was a star, both academically and musically,” Kachian said. “I think she’ll be an excellent teacher of children and I predict she will write a book on how to teach guitar.”
Hubka said she wouldn’t be where she is today without her faith. She also said her family and friends have been a big support system in her life.
“If I didn’t have wonderful people in my life like I do, my life would be very different,” Hubka said. “God does amazing things.”
For more information on Hubka, check out her Facebook page or her website.
Ashley Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.