TORONTO -- A Canadian trumpeter who crowdfunded his education at a prestigious American music school no longer has to rely on the kindness of strangers – and he's celebrating by giving something back.

William Leathers launched the crowdfunding campaign in 2018, after he was accepted to the Juilliard School in New York City, because he was unable to afford the four-year tuition cost of $364,000.

Now 19, Leathers will no longer have to rely on the strangers whose donations covered his first two years at Juilliard. He has won a scholarship that will cover his tuition going forward. The scholarship is awarded based on faculty recommendations, grades and community involvement.

"Getting this scholarship kind of feels like a team win to me, because of all my donors and supporters," Leathers told CTV's Your Morning on Monday, from his home in Mississauga, Ont.

"I don't feel that I would have got to this point if it weren't for all those people that really gave so much to me."

As has been the case for most students, Leathers' education has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He and his fellow Juilliard musicians are unable to play together in person, though they have recorded a few pieces individually and combined their videos to simulate an ensemble performance.

Leathers has also taken the time to produce a little gift for Canadian students who are graduating without traditional ceremoniesthis year: a video of him playing 'O Canada' on the trumpet that can substitute for a live performance of the anthem.

"I thought, since most students … aren't going to have a real graduation ceremony this year due to COVID-19 … what I decided to do is put together a rendition of my version of 'O Canada' so people can have a little bit of live music for their graduation," he said.


A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the Juilliard School.