Dilworth Old Boy William Betham reaping the benefits of a performing arts scholarship

Growing up playing the ukulele at just five years old and progressing to the guitar when he was eight, Dilworth Old Boy William Betham has always had a love and appreciation for music. In Year 12, he decided he wanted to make a career out of his hobby. Thanks to the Roger and Julie France Award, the Class of 2019 student has been able to pursue his passion of playing music professionally.  

The Roger and Julie France Award for performing arts is an award given annually to provide financial support to Dilworth students or Old Boys who are striving for a career in the performing arts. The award enabled William to purchase his own jazz guitar and other equipment that he needed for his degree while also allowing him to perform at live shows. “It gave me the opportunity to grow and develop my skills on my instrument and also be part of amazing events that I would not have been able to, without being the recipient of this award,” said William.

Since leaving Dilworth, William has completed his first year of a Bachelor of Music, specialising in Jazz Creative Practice at the University of Auckland. He has also been heavily involved with music and youth ministry at his church.

One of his biggest highlights since finishing school, has been getting the opportunity to be the Music Director of a Static Youth Production entitled ‘Facing the Giants’. It was a collection of short stories, focusing on the giants people face in their life – anxiety, failure, expectation, self-image and fear. As a Music Director, William was in charge of all the music on the night including pre-production set and the transition to the items. “It was an incredible opportunity for me to witness the youth breaking out of their shells, developing in their musical abilities and showcasing their talents” he said. 


William Betham (top left) with the team from 'Facing the Giants'

The experience provided William with an opportunity to showcase his talent but also promote and share the gospel - two things that are very important to him.

William believes that the performing arts (in all forms) are very important for young men, especially for expressing themselves. “It is more than just a skill and expertise… it stems from the very essence of who you are as I person. I think music in particular is universal and is the most powerful way one can communicate with the world. Music crosses any language barrier and can move someone to feel a certain way. It is at the heart of every soul and influences us in ways that words cannot,” he explains.

A key piece of advice that William has for aspiring performing artists is practice, practice, practice. “To get to the top of the game, you need to practice. Constantly be reminded of what you want to achieve in the long term and not what you want in the moment.” He also reminds young people that it is equally important to follow your heart. “Music in particular, especially in Aotearoa, is all about people. Get around and play with as many people as you can to build lasting relationships and figure out what you like”.

Reflecting back on his time at Dilworth School, William says, “Dilworth has done more for me than I could ever imagine. Dilworth taught me the importance of hard work and provided me with the opportunities to grow as a young man.”

The next step for William is to continue to grow his musical talent and he wants to be an advocate for Gospel Jazz in the community and spread the message of the gospel through music while inspiring future generations of young people.

January 18, 2021