This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.
As a music student, you should focus on the beat and not the bank. These 20 (yes, we’ve added 10 more!) 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 calls all music students to apply for a $600 travel stipend to attend The 2019 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
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.
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.
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.
10 More Music Scholarships You Should Apply for ASAP
11. School Band and Orchestra Essay Contest
Flex your writing skills outside of musical scores. School Band and Orchestra magazine has given away $360,000 in scholarship money over 18 years to the students who can best answer their annual question about how music affects the world. This year’s question asked students, “What Would You Say To Your Fellow Classmates Who Are Not In The Music Program? Why Should They Consider Getting Involved?” You have the passion to expose yourself through song on stage; now pour that passion onto the page to get the funding to perform. Each year the organization gives away 10 $1,000 scholarships plus $10,000 in matching music products to the winning students’ school programs. But just like a great song needs to fit its meter, you need to reign your essay in to fit the prompt to win the prize. “When writing an essay for the SBO Essay Program I would say be original in your thought and presentation. Avoid quoting scientists, educators and the like. Wikipedia is often not a good source. Good thoughts, expressed in a concise manner are more important than flowery language, and answer the question directly,” SBO Scholarship Program Administrator Sidney Davis said.
12. Rossini Club Scholarships
Maine was made for making musicians, and the Rossini Club helps those musicians make money. All residents of Maine can apply for the Emily K. Rand, Lucia A. Wright and Barbara C. Littlefield Scholarships through the Rossini Club, the country’s oldest active music club. The traditional nature of this club comes through in its scholarship requirements. To apply, you’ll submit an application and perform in front of judges. “Read the rules carefully and follow them exactly (this seems like a no-brainer, but I have, over the years, been amazed at what has been overlooked),” spokeswoman Elizabeth Harmon said. “For a classical music competition, such as ours, dress carefully and conservatively. You aren’t dressing for your social peers.” One night of following the rules perfectly could mean the chance to make your own on the main stage one day.
13. Davidson Fellowship
Music doesn’t exist in a vacuum of creativity. The Davidson Fellowship honors musicians, and also the many innovators and creators within science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEAM), literature, philosophy and more. If your “thing” comes with strings, brass or vocals, submit your original “outstanding accomplishment” to the music category. The Davidson Institute will reward your work with funding, Congressional meetings and a special reception. “We support students interested in music because they are bright, creative and add cultural depth not only to the Davidson Fellows Scholarship program but to the world,” Davidson Fellows Program Director Tacie Moessner said. If you think your work could have an impact on the world, see what impact your application to be a Fellow could have on your tuition.
14. Musicians’ Dream Aid
We’ve all heard the bop, “Oh, Canada,” so we know the Great White North makes songs that sound just as sweet as their maple syrup tastes. For Canadian citizens hoping to make their own sweet tunes, the Musician’s Dream Aid gives $700 to the winner and $300 to the runner-up for their scholarship application. You’ll just need proof of citizenship, a completed application and two videos of you showing off what you do best musically in two contrasting works. Your dream is just one Musician’s Dream Aid away.
15. Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Scholarship
Can’t swing your finances to fit your music dreams? Head on over to the king of swing, Glenn Miller. Instrumentalists and vocalists could earn up to $3,000 for just an application and a submission video. Don’t worry—you don’t need a trombone, a zoot suit and a booming Miller sound to make it in this competition. The competition seeks “musical leaders of tomorrow” above any one sound. Your metaphorical conductor stick for the future of music matters way more than the notes you throw down.
16. Friends of DCI Scholarship
No one knows drumming like drummers—ba-dum-duh. A panel of fellow drummers will judge your application to this scholarship, which to date has given away $30,000 to talented musical linemen. For this application, you’ll need to swap drumsticks for pencils. You’ll write two essays about music and drum corps, and you’ll need two letters of recommendation. March to your own beat with bucks from someone else’s pocket.
17. Music for All Marching Band Scholarships
If your marching mentor took their band to the Bands of America Regional, Super Regional or Grand National Championship and has some time to spare to nominate you as their potential successor, catch them outside of the marching line right away. To earn a Music for All Marching Band Scholarship, your accomplished band director must nominate you. You also must want to follow in their marching footsteps right into music education when you graduate. Get recognized for all your hard work and leadership in marching band with this exceptional scholarship.
18. Strings Magazine Scholarship
All things strings struck a chord with Edith Eisler, the accomplished musician and late Strings editor behind this scholarship. If you feel the same way, pluck up the courage to submit your application. Anyone involved in strings education or a strings conservatory who shows financial need qualifies for this scholarship. Instead of taking your guitar to the corner and letting spare change fall into its case, try brushing up your application muscles instead.
19. The CBC Spouses Heineken USA Performing Arts Scholarship
If you’ve already found your full-time home as an arts major, but need a full-on financial savior, this scholarship can help you out. You must be African American and have a 2.5 GPA. Students in drama, music, dance, opera, marching bands and other musical ensembles deserve a chance to shine their light on the world, and so do underrepresented student populations.
20. Loren L. Zachary Annual National Vocal Competition for Young Opera Singers
Your search for college tuition isn’t over until you sing. Sing in front of the judges for this scholarship at either the New York or L.A. regional competitions for a minimum of $1,000 for making it as a finalist and up to $50,000 if you win. This scholarship requires singers ages 21 to 35 to submit six arias as an application and perform two if selected for the finals. The age requirement gives freshmen and sophomores two extra years to warm up their vocal chords and entices upperclassmen with money to start paying off those student loans. If your high notes can break glass, you won’t have to break the bank with this prize money.
This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.
**Updated on August 10, 2018 by Marin McCall to include scholarships for 2018