Isaiah Carvalhal-Smith beat hundreds of other young musicians to win the coveted Slaight Family Scholarship to Berklee College of Music. (Isaiah Carvalhal-Smith submission)

Peninsula student scores only scholarship in Canada for top music school

Isaiah Carvalhal-Smith and his electric bass off to Boston after successful Vancouver audition

A recent Stelly’s graduate from North Saanich has achieved his long held goal of winning a top scholarship at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

Isaiah Carvalhal–Smith beat out hundreds of other young hopefuls, and the 17-year-old is now set to attend the school on a full-ride scholarship, which covers tuition, a laptop, room and board.

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The school, whose graduates have won a collective 250 Grammys and even a few Oscars, offers a limited amount of scholarships per year, including one for the whole of Canada called the Slaight Family Scholarship.

“I was looking into Berklee in about Grade 9, so four years ago, and I came across this one Canadian scholarship that they give out every year,” says Carvalhal–Smith. “So I made that my goal and it’s been my dream over the past four years. I’ve been focused on it and visualizing it and working towards it.”

The process to apply was rigorous. An application was sent and then he was invited to an interview and live audition at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver. He describes the performance as being a little like American Idol. Two interviewers were in the room with him – one taking notes on a laptop, one asking questions before jamming with him.

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“Music is my number one passion and what I love doing the most,” he says. “I will definitely try to pursue music as much as possible. I want to make a career out of it as a bass player in the industry. That’s my main goal.”

Carvalhal–Smith has been playing the electric bass for nine years and the stand-up bass for three. He mainly plays jazz and is inspired by a collection of contemporary and classic musicians. Despite his youth, Carvalhal–Smith has made the most of his opportunities, playing in the B.C. Music Educators’ Association bands and orchestras, B.C. Fiddle Orchestra and under Rob Johnson at the Peninsula Academy of Music Arts. He has also played in the Ryan Oliver High School Jazz collective and in numerous bands and orchestras at Stelly’s under Norbert Ziegler.

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He says the news of his scholarship has been well received by friends and family, and he ships out to Boston in September for the next four years.

“I’m very excited to do it, nerves haven’t really kicked in yet. I’m sure they will, but at the moment it’s mostly just excitement,” he says.

To view Carvalhal–Smith’s music visit his Instagram account @zay_smith_.


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