While most of his friends will be partying in Pemberton at
the end of July, Scott Verbeek will be in school. Strangely enough, the 16-year-old
musician isn’t all that upset about missing out on the upcoming Pemberton Music
That’s because he’ll be making music, instead.
The Grade 10 student has been accepted into a five-week
summer program at the Berklee College of Music, a prestigious independent music
college located in Boston, Massachusetts. The college boasts Quincy Jones,
Melissa Etheridge and Paula Cole among their alumni.
Faculty members teach classes from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., with
visiting artists presenting a variety of clinics and concerts. After class,
students can take advantage of jam sessions, private practice rooms, computer
synthesizer workstations, the library and career development centre in their
Verbeek found out about his acceptance into program at Berklee
about a month ago, but said he’s been interested in the program since he heard
about it from one of his instructors.
Like many musicians, Verbeek was introduced to music by a
family member. His mother used to play the guitar, so at the age of eight he simply
picked up an old acoustic that was lying around the house, and she got him
started with basic chords. It wasn’t until Verbeek discovered rock at the ripe
old age of 11 that he really got passionate about his music. Eventually, he
decided he wanted to switch to electric guitar.
“Every guy I liked and listened to, like Angus Young and
Slash, were all playing electric guitar,” he explained.
His parents were supportive of his switch to electric,
despite the extra noise, and bought him his first electric guitar – a
“super horrible” Fender Squire Stratocaster. Now Verbeek plays a Gibson Les
Paul, his equivalent of a first car, that he got about a year ago.
He also has expanded from rock — now, he draws
inspiration from a vast range of music, especially fusion artists like Herbie
“It doesn’t really matter what kind it is, as long as it’s
got a really good groove, I like it,” he said, “… I’m into fusion, jazz,
anything I can get my hands on, really.”
Verbeek is also one of the members of Black Swade, a young
rock band based out of Squamish that formed about three years ago.
“We’re all friends and we just play the music that we want
to play, and we’ve gotten some really cool shows,” Verbeek said, adding that
they’ve performed at First Night, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival twice,
and Sound Off at the EMP in Seattle Washington.
“We all share the same love of music, we’re all really happy
that we get to play together and enjoy some success.”
The experience of playing in a band has encouraged Verbeek to
push his musical limitations.
“Instead of just practicing scales by myself, I’ve gotten to
jam and explore playing with other people,” he explained.
Now, he is going on to pursue some solo endeavours –
namely, attending the five-week pre-college summer program at Berklee, where he
will live in residence and study music all day long.
The experience is designed to not only strengthen your
musical abilities, but to give students a taste of what it would be like to go
to school there.
Verbeek hasn’t even been to Berklee yet, but he’s already
pretty certain he would want to study there after he graduates from high
He heard about the program from one of his guitar teachers,
Dave Martone, and applied right away.
“He went there, and he’s basically one of the best guitar
players in Canada — like super crazy good,” Verbeek said with a laugh.
“I’m going in funk fusion, so I’m hoping to sort of expand my musical skills
and get better at different kinds of music, because I’ve been playing rock for
a pretty long time now.”
The application process didn’t just involve filling out a
form – Verbeek had to prove his musical abilities, too.
“Basically, I had to record an old classical song, and I did
a rock arrangement of it,” he explained, “It’s called the Fifth Caprice by
Paganini and, yeah, basically I just recorded it for that, just to show them
what I can do.”
They must have been impressed with his application, because
Verbeek wasn’t just accepted into the program; he was given a partial
He leaves for Boston at the beginning of July, and will be
back in town by mid-August.
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