Top 10 Music Scholarships You Should Apply for ASAP

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This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.

As a music student, you should focus on the beat and not the bank. These 10 music scholarships can help pay for your education so you can do just that. That means saying goodbye to the broke blues and hello to whatever melody flows from your talented, financial-aid freed soul. Music always sounds sweeter with a scholarship. Take a look in the next measures for a rest from tuition stress. While you’re figuring out which scholarship speaks most to your abilities, the NAMM President’s Innovation Award wants all music students to apply to attend the 2018 NAMM Show. Get your applications in!

Check out these top 10 music scholarships you should apply for ASAP.

1. John Lennon Scholarships

Imagine no student loans, it’s easy if you try. No federal or private, if you just apply. Yoko Ono and Gibson Musical Instruments fund three scholarships totaling $20,000 for the winners of this songwriting contest through the BMI Foundation. U.S. college students between the ages of 17 and 24 can submit original compositions to the contest. Music publishers, songwriters and executives, with Tony-winners and Hollywood songwriters among them, judge the submissions. Previous winners include TED fellows and John Legend’s composer and producer. Director Samantha Cox said, “Don’t try to write a John Lennon song! Good songwriting can only come from knowing yourself, being yourself and letting your own ear guide you. Lean on what makes you an individual, and don’t try to sound like anyone else. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, that sound is already taken.”

2. National YoungArts Competition

youngarts music scholarship

Heike Dempster

High school seniors and college freshmen, change your reeds, shine your brass and get performance-ready. A great performance in this competition could win you up to $10,000 in cash awards to use towards your college education. Separate competitions for many different instruments exist. Each one requires skill, discipline and stage presence. Beyond the cash prizes, participants and alumni of the program become eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. “Our alumni community is one of the most vibrant aspects of our organization. Through our national and regional programming, our winners create relationships with the most promising artistic talent in the nation,” Public Relations Manager Heike Dempster said. Alumni can participate in weeklong residencies at the Miami Campus (called In Process), open-call grants for films or similar projects or write for the YoungArts blog. “Becoming a YoungArts [alumnus] is an invitation to inspiration,” Dempster said.

3. Music Publishers Association Scholarship

Who doesn’t love sitting around your birthday cake? Your loved ones surround you, singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” right before you blow out the birthday candles and wish that you could afford the fee to use “Happy Birthday” on the air. Well, it happens on TV at least. If you know the reason why we can’t use Happy Birthday on the air, explain to those that still wonder. And do it for some cash. The Music Publishers Association, the oldest musical trade company in the United States, will award the winner of their scholarship contest up to $10,000 for the best 30-second to three-minute creative video on the Importance of Intellectual Property and Copyright Law. Anyone between the ages of 13 and 25 can win the prize to further their education in music, supporting the MPA’s mission to educate the musical community about intellectual property laws and protection.

4. MTNA Young Artist Performance Competition

Memorize your favorite composition for this competition in brass, string and woodwind, piano or vocal categories. The winner of each category could receive up to $5,000 to use for their education. National Young Artist Coordinator Jeanne Grealish replied, “If performing musicians are to develop and survive, they must have their talents verified by such things as winning competitions and gaining support from organizations dedicated to doing so.” To apply, you must be a member of the Music Teachers National Association. Your membership will earn you access to multiple resources for future and current music teachers, such as insurance services, leadership and teaching tips, webinars and legal resources. From teaching toddlers to use a triangle to conducting clarinets in concertos, music teachers will flip their music stands for the opportunities at MTNA.

5. BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship

Let me sax you something: How great would you feel if your jazz talent could win you a scholarship in honor of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Fellowship? BMI wants to find Louis Armstrong’s modern-day equivalent to keep jazz alive in today’s music scholars. Winning this contest, which has been judged by Ahmad Jamal, Jack DeJohnette, Jimmy Heath and Ron Carter in the past, will get you $5,000 to any U.S. college or university for your musical studies. Now that’s something to scat about.

6. John Philip Sousa Foundation Scholarship

Your band director inspired you to march in his footsteps in reality and in a metaphorical sense. This scholarship will help you afford the education it takes to do so. Named for the writer of both the official Marine Corps march and the theme song for Monty Python’s Flying Circus (talk about versatility), the John Philip Sousa Foundation Scholarship awards a future band director with $1,000 for their education. The application takes your transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a 250-word essay about your goals, influences and your philosophy about band directing into account. With the help of this foundation, you’ll wear the director’s cap in no time.

7. Mario Lanza Institute Scholarship

It’s not over until the college student sings, and you’re singing for more than your dinner at the MLI. After an audition of three opera arias and one song, four winners perform at the Mario Lanza Ball and receive $2,500, $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 respectively towards their vocal music education. “The judges look at the singer’s overall stage presence, their technique and tone quality including pitch and diction, their musicianship and expression, and the choice of repertoire that they are presenting,” President Bill Ronayne said. “I always suggest to the applicants that they sing what they do best and not try to wow the judges with just a great high note as the complete performance and package is looked at.” Applicants must be between 21 and 28-years-old. All proceeds from the institute’s events during the year go to this scholarship program, the prima donna of the MLI’s mission.

8. Ruth K. Jacobs Memorial Scholarship

Take a seat on the pew: This scholarship makes the perfect first step for future church music ministers. The Chorister’s Guild offers up to $1,500 per year for students who wish to take their music expertise into the church music industry. You’ll thank the heavens for the opportunity to pray twice through music at a lower cost. Your demonstrated interest in youth music ministry and your academic merit will be considered in this application. You’ll also write an essay on one of Ruth K. Jacobs’ five values, which can be summed up as children’s choir and one of the greatest agencies for rebuilding the Church. “The five Ruth Kriehbel Jacobs principles listed clearly define why this organization supports the education of church music professionals. In addition, The Choristers Guild, a Christian organization, enables leaders to nurture the spiritual and musical growth of children and youth,” Executive Director Dawn Jantsch said.

9. NAMM President’s Innovation Award

Some musicians prefer a corner office rather than a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. While not a scholarship in the traditional sense, the NAMM President’s Innovation Award awards $600 dollar stipends to future CEOs of the music biz to help cover the expenses of attending The NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA in January. This award goes to full-time students with GPAs of 3.0 and higher. It comes with the chance to attend the annual NAMM Show to participate in professional development opportunities like networking with top music executives. “We define innovation as someone who seeks to enter the field of music, music business and/or music products and bring to it their skill level and digital natives, along with a view of creating within the field—be it musically, new creative products or processes,” Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation, Mary Luehrsen said. “As college students, we sense that many are on the cusp of innovation and we want to encourage them to explore these talents in the field of music and music business.” Think of this as your first $600 investment from musical Shark Tank in your best and brightest idea.

10. The William R. Gard Scholarship

Your boss at the NAMM member company you work for wants to give you the best bonus of your life, no strings (or coffee orders) attached. Employees of NAMM member companies who have worked 400 hours or more are eligible to receive $2,000 per academic year that may be renewed for up to three years—that’s $6,000 to be used for music education as winners of this scholarship. You need a 3.0 GPA or above and a letter of rec from your employer, so be sure to make an impression. “In general, students receiving the Gard scholarship or Innovation Award are working closely with their college’s career advisers and reviewing various career options across the industry,” Luehrsen said. Your job in the industry already puts you at the forefront of music business, and this incredible employee benefit helps alleviate tuition fees too. An employer who launches your career and supports your music education? That’s a double win.

This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.

Marin is a pizza snob from Chicago (deep dish only) who loves writing, baking, and wasting the day away watching videos of baby animals. She is a Journalism major at the University of Iowa and she hopes to be the editor of a magazine one day.

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