Olive MacPhail hones their tuba skills on the performance stage of Memorial University's music school. (Ife Alaba/CBC)
Do you ever wonder what it takes to become an amazing tuba player?
According to Olive MacPhail — a Memorial University graduate student who has already been named one of the CBC's 30 top Canadian classical musicians under 30 — it takes hundreds, actually thousands of hours.
Every day, there are two to three hours of practice, not to mention studying and finding music.
And yes, MacPhail knows the low-toned tuba is the butt of many jokes.
"If you are looking for someone to prove you wrong, come see one of my recitals, and I'll show you what the tuba is really all about," said MacPhail.
Born and raised in Prince Edward Island, MacPhail started playing the tuba at 12. An exchange experience in Rimouski, Que., playing in a band and competing in Florida all helped make a future as a tubist — you can also call them a tubaist, or a tuba player — seem more realistic, if not tubalicious.
MacPhail is now pursuing a master's degree in music and performance in pedagogy from Memorial. Describing themself as a "queer person playing an odd instrument," MacPhail said they always wanted to be a music educator from a young age because of the sense of community in music, and what belonging the music community can provide for many children.
WATCH | Olive MacPhail on why the tuba is more than just an instrument:
Earlier this year came the top-30-under-30 designition, which MacPhail says is good for their under-respected instrument.
'It's really been nice to receive recognition for an instrument that isn't always in the spotlight," said MacPhail, adding they were thrilled to find out they were the first P.E.I. musician to be on the list, which has been running for 10 years.
Ultimately, MacPhail would like to return to their home province to teach, start a professional brass quintet and set up an experience for young players to showcase their talents.
Their advice to young musicians? "Keep playing, don't let it go, strive to play and be yourself. Keep doing it."