Guitarist | Educator | Mentor
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
~ William Butler Yeats
It was the sounds of James Taylor, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, and Valdemar Horsdal (Valdy) that first resonated with Don in his teenage years, and although Fender Telecasters and Gibson Les Pauls took up space in his bedroom, it was the Jean Larrivée steel-string and the Rene Wilhelmy hand-built classical guitar that felt right in his hands. From an early age, Don was intuitively drawn to the classical guitar, but he took a circuitous route in nurturing his first love.
In addition to exploring the styles of steel-string fingerstyle singer/songwriters in his youth, Don was also captivated by the music of George Benson, the Beatles, Jeff Beck, Beethoven, Stan Getz, Artur Rubinstein, Luiz Bonfá, Quincy Jones, and Bach. Don first studied jazz composition & arranging and jazz guitar at Capilano College. He then attended the University of British Columbia where he was the first person in Western Canada to receive a Bachelor of Music degree in classical guitar performance, studying under the guidance of Michael Strutt. Post-graduate studies were with the Canadian guitarist Harold Micay.
Don has performed throughout Southwestern British Columbia as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, including performances with members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and the Borealis String Quartet. Although his formal training was on the classical guitar, Don's musical interests extend to include a wide variety of music styles, including acoustic finger-style, jazz, world, Flamenco, and Celtic music.
Don Hlus (B. Mus., M.A.) was a member of the music faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) from 1993 to 2019 and served as Chair of the Music Department from 2012-2018. He was also the Director of Guitar and Founder and Artistic Director of the Fraser Valley Acoustic Guitar Festival. After twenty-six years, Don retired from academic life, which has which has allowed him to pursue other music projects and opportunities close to his heart.
Although Don has been an administrator, artistic director, performer, and arranger, his zeal, sense of fun, and first love is teaching. He has been passionate and devoted to helping young musicians find and develop their own artistic voice. “There is nothing more satisfying than working with students, whether they are just discovering music and the guitar for the first time or fine tuning their artistry and advancing their professional careers.”
Don currently works with students at his private studio in Fort Langley, BC and is a member of the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators' Association and the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers' Association (South Fraser) as well as a RCM Certified Teacher. He is currently completing an instruction book introducing music reading to young guitarists. He also recently participated in the Volterra Project, a summer guitar institute in Tuscany, Italy, where he worked with young artists from all over the world, helping them launch and/or develop their careers as well as explore entrepreneurial opportunities.
- The Volterra Project - Summer Guitar Institute - 2019 - Tuscany, Italy
- Festival of Learning: Celebrating Teaching & Learning in Higher Education - 2018 - Vancouver, BC
- Teaching and Learning Symposium - 2017 - Surrey, BC
- British Columbia Music Educators' Conference