7 Music Scholarships to Sing or Play Your Way to College

 March 31, 2021
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Whether you’re a musician or motivated composer, attending an excellent arts school can help you achieve your goals. However, the cost can be prohibitive. Music scholarships can help in this realm.

Scholarships are a fantastic form of financial aid. When you take out federal or private student loans, you have to repay them with interest. You never have to repay scholarships. You can apply for and receive multiple music scholarships, reducing how much you need to borrow to pay for school.

Here are seven great music scholarships to consider, along with ways to find more:

1. Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship
2. The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Scholarship Program
3. John Lennon Scholarship
4. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship
5. Peermusic Latin Scholarship
6. National Federation of Music Clubs scholarships
7. Jazz Education Network scholarships
● Plus: Paying for college as a musician

1. Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship

The colleges you apply to can be the best sources of music scholarships and financial aid. School-issued scholarships can have a much higher value than other awards. For example, the Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship covers the cost of tuition, on-campus housing and a laptop. To receive this award, students must demonstrate both musical talent and financial need.

To find out more information about this scholarship, you can contact the financial aid office at 617-747-2274, or email at [email protected]

2. The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Scholarship Program

The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society has offered music scholarships for students across the country since 1977. High school seniors and college freshmen are eligible to apply, and 10 semifinalists in the voice and instrumental categories then compete at the Glenn Miller Festival. Three winners are then selected in each category, with prizes starting at $1,000 and going to $3,000.

The 2021 competition was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but look out for the 2022 edition. For more information, you can directly contact the Glenn Miller Birthplace Society.

3. John Lennon Scholarship

Yoko Ono, an artist and activist who was also the wife of legendary musician John Lennon, partnered with the BMI Foundation in 1997 to set up the scholarship program for songwriters and composers of alternative, pop, rock, indie, electronica, R&B and experimental music.

Each year, three scholarships totaling $20,000 are awarded. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • U.S. college student or alumnus
  • Between the ages of 17 and 24
  • Submit an original song
  • Cannot be a previous John Lennon scholarship winner

Submissions are reviewed by professionals within the music industry. For more information, visit the John Lennon Scholarship website.

4. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship

If you’re a Black college student majoring in the performing arts, you might qualify for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship. Your interests can be general performing arts or music. Award winners receive a maximum of $3,000.

To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Full-time college student
  • Grade point average must be at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • Submit a resume, two letters of recommendation and a two-minute visual recording sample

Applications are due in April of each year. For more information and to apply, visit the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s scholarship site.

Check out our scholarship resources for other majors…
Art
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Nursing school

5. Peermusic Latin Scholarship

This annual competition is open to students who write and compose Latin music, and the prize is a $5,000 scholarship. Musical artist Gloria Trevi is the spokesperson for this award.

In order to qualify, you must:

  • Be enrolled at a university in the U.S. or in Puerto Rico
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 24
  • Never have had any of your music commercially recorded or distributed

For more information, go to the Peermusic Latin Scholarship website.

6. National Federation of Music Clubs scholarships

The National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) offers several scholarships for various types of musicians, from those who plan to major in composition to those who play the French horn. Awards range in value from $600 to $3,000.

The largest music scholarship is the Student/Collegiate Auditions Award for piano, organ, harp, classical guitar, man’s voice, woman’s voice, violin, viola, cello, double bass, woodwinds, brass and percussion. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Between the ages of 19 and 25
  • U.S. citizen
  • Pay a $30 entry fee
  • Member of the NFMC
  • Audition live or with a digital recording

For more information about the scholarships, visit the NFMC website.

7. Jazz Education Network scholarships

Each year, the Jazz Education Network (JEN) offers several music scholarships for high school and university students with an interest in and talent for jazz. You must be a JEN member to apply to any of the scholarships available. If you are not a member and are interested in joining, you can apply via the JEN website.

Awards available include the highest-awarding David Baker Scholarship that pays out $3,000 to a university student who “demonstrates talent, spirit and commitment to the field of jazz studies,” according to the website. Other awards available include several $1,000 scholarships for university and high school students.

Paying for college as a musician

When you apply for music scholarships, you get the chance to reduce your education costs. However, full-ride music scholarships may be difficult to find, so remember to expand your search to include other opportunities.

Read up on scholarships for…
High school students
Current college students
First-generation students
Asian students
Black students
Latino and Hispanic students
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program students
Minority students
Community service
Military service
Professional development
Single parents
Single moms
Student-athletes
Out-of-state students
Studying abroad in Japan
Studying abroad in Canada

If you’ve exhausted your scholarship and federal aid opportunities and need help paying for school, another option to fill the gap and complete your degree is to consider federal and private student loans. That is, unless your music gigs bring in enough income to avoid borrowing altogether.

Andrew Pentis and Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report

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