A Nanaimo jazz student has been offered a $100,000 scholarship to attend his “dream school” in New York City.
In late March, Wellington Secondary School’s Daniel Mottahedeh, 17, was accepted into both post-secondary institutions where he sought to continue his jazz studies: McGill University in Montreal and the the New School in New York.
He was also excited to be offered an annual $25,000 scholarship for the New School’s four-year program, which according to its website has 250 enrolled students. Mottahedeh said the scholarship covers half the cost of tuition and he’ll be negotiating an appeal for a greater subsidy.
“I’m not sure if I can afford the whole $200,000, plus the cost of living in New York is also insanely expensive, so we’ll have to see how much I can get but right now I’m pretty set on going to McGill unless there’s some sort of miracle,” he said. “But McGill is I think rated the top music school in Canada so I’m pretty excited about that.”
No matter where he goes, Mottahedeh said he hopes to hone his skills, meet people, make connections “and then see where that takes me.”
The letters of acceptance cap off what started as a strong 2020 festival season for the high school senior before all events were cancelled due to COVID-19. In February Mottahedeh was named Most Outstanding Senior Musician, Best Senior Drummer and Best Senior Auxiliary Percussionist at the Surrey Schools Jazz Festival and his Mottahedeh/Dobek/Morosan Trio won the A Jazz Combos category at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho.
Mottahedeh started drumming when he was 12 years old after one of his cousins taught him how to play a simple rock beat. From there he got his own kit and in high school he discovered jazz. He credits his success to the Wellington jazz program and band director Carmella Luvisotto.
“Carmella Luvisotto is very good at what she does and she inspires students. I wouldn’t be where I was today without her,” he said. “I don’t think I would have discovered jazz drumming and all the joy it brings me if I had never gone to that school.”