When Ryan Hommy arrived to Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus for his first year in the Contemporary Music & Technology Program, he was already an industry veteran who had seen more than his share of the right-hand side of midnight as a performer in sticky-floored venues.
Arriving to the mountainous West Kootenay region from the flatlands of Alberta, the 34-year-old was looking to break free of life that put music on the backburner for too long.
“I got to the point where I realized that I don’t really like working for other people, I would rather be self-directed and be my own boss,” says Hommy. “I always loved music and I figured this was a good time for it.”
While working at Edmonton’s Rabbit Hill Snow Resort, in 2016 Hommy decided it was time to check out post-secondary options. Once he discovered what’s available at Selkirk College, he originally considered the Ski Resort Operations & Management Program but instead shifted back to his true passion.
“Getting a formal education in music is pretty wild, I’ve learned much more than I thought I could learn,” says Hommy, who graduated as part of the Class of 2019. “There is way more to music than I thought was even out there when I started. Coming to school at this stage of my life, it’s been a big advantage. I have found who I am as an artist because I have learned so much on a deeper level
Delving Into Music at an Early Age
Hommy was raised amongst a musical family in Devon, a small Alberta community situated 25 kilometres southwest of Edmonton. His mom grew up in a Partridge Family type band and his older brother had a high school band, so it was natural for Hommy to fall into a love for music.
He started with The Beatles and Three Dog Night, but by high school it was the early-1990s and punk and hard rock started to became his outlet.
“I love the expression of music,” he says. “When you are younger, it is sometimes difficult to say what you were feeling. But through music, it was a little easier to get that angst out.”
While many of his peers were attending college and university to get a leg-up in the job market, Hommy spent seven years recording, performing and touring with his indie rock band The Omega Theory. He lived the life of budding musician between 2003 and 2009, a stint that provided an immersive industry education.
When you are going through your 20s as a rocker dude, there is an attitude that going to school will teach you to be like someone else, how to play like someone else, how to do something that has already been done. I’ve had that indie band experience and finally going to school was the right choice.
The Tenth Street Incubator
One of few post-secondary programs of its kind and based on the Berklee College of Music model, Selkirk College’s Contemporary Music & Technology Program has been turning out the future of the industry for 30 years in Nelson. With a stable of top-notch instructors from eclectic backgrounds, students are provided a quality education that puts focus on individual goals.
“In the first month of classes, you get a pretty good understanding that the teachers are top-notch musicians and they all have a tonne of knowledge to pass down,” Hommy says of the mentors on the Tenth Street Campus.
When he first arrived to the program, Hommy figured he would focus on building an education that would allow him to demo and push out his own songs. It didn’t take long for him to be captivated by the knowledge and experience of his instructors. After putting the wraps on the three-year program option that includes directed studies, he graduated with his original intent intact and a newfound desire to work on scoring movies, video games and commercials.
“I’m in my 30s, I don’t really want to do a dirty tour for little money,” he says with a smile. “I’ve done that and it was great, but there are so many avenues in this business where you can make a living and be really happy making music.”