Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

West Auckland's Haden Te Haara off to Berklee College of Music in US to 'pursue my dream'

A budding West Auckland musician is packing his suitcase to fly out to a prestigious American music college - despite not reaching his fundraising target.

Haden Te Haara, 18, secured a coveted place at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, a respected contemporary music school known for its jazz programme.

He hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the school's acclaimed alumni, such as his music idol John Mayer.

READ MORE: Massey pupil follows in footsteps of John Mayer, Imagine Dragons and Quincy Jones

"I'm really scared and nervous, but it's exciting," Te Haara said. "It's what I've wanted to do for a while now.

"It's like the start of it all."

The former Massey High School student was faced with the daunting prospect of raising US$60,000 ($85,337) in tuition and accommodation fees for the top college after being accepted late last year.

He was lucky enough to secure a US$10,000 scholarship, and has been busy fundraising ever since - including a Givealittle page, a concert which also featured reggae band Ardijah, a cinema night and selling strawberries donated by West Auckland's Garelja Bros Strawberries.

Around $14,000 was raised overall, Te Haara said.

"That's been through a lot of my friends and family, as well as people I haven't actually met before, which is insane," he said.

However, the total is only around half of what he needs. But he's not letting that get him down, and he plans to fly out to Berklee on Thursday.

"Mum and Dad are pretty confident now that if we keep this going while I'm over there, we'll be alright," Te Haara said.

A fresh round of grant applications will also open up at the start of the academic year, he said, which he plans to apply for.

"Thank you so much to everyone who's helped me so far - I wouldn't be packing right this second to go and pursue my dream without you," he said.

Te Haara and his mum Sarah will leave Auckland for Boston on Thursday, where he will move into his halls of residence ahead of orientation week beginning January 17.

"Somehow I've managed to start in January after finishing school [in December], so I guess it's a good thing because I'm jumping straight into it with a fresh mind."

And he hasn't had much of a break, having to prepare for a daunting audition process at the start of semester.

"Once I get over there I have another audition so they can tell me what my ensemble rating is.

"[That] tells me what bands I'm allowed to join, because obviously they don't want somebody with not much skill joining the best band at the school," he joked.

After that he has to sit a written theory test and a technology exam, "which is quite scary".

Other than some new school nerves, worries about how to survive a freezing Boston winter and homesickness, the guitar player is excited to be joining a school full of musicians.

"People are heading over there to meet like-minded people and other musicians, and even the teachers would be other musicians too, which is really cool.

"The teachers, I'm pretty sure all of them are people who've already made it and have come back to share their knowledge."

- NZ Herald

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