Although the importance of subjects such as math, science and language shouldn't be underestimated, music is at least arguably as important because of the way it provides an outlet for creative expression and stirs human emotions. Some people show an aptitude for music early, and many know they want to study music by the time they enter high school. There are scholarships for high school students who need help funding their music study.
Scholarships for high school students generally are not large awards. They usually range between $100 and $2,000 although some major awards provide much more. Scholarships that award higher amounts are typically given at the post-secondary level. The purpose of the organization funding the award impacts how much funding is available for each scholarship.
Music scholarships cover many different areas. They often fund the cost of an instrument or supplies related to an instrument, such as sheet music, cleaning tools, key oil and reeds. The idea with these scholarships is to cover the most basic requirements of studying music. Scholarships also cover the cost of going to a music concert or symposium, attending a choir or band camp, lessons and going to a professional studio to learn recording or music management techniques. These scholarships are designed more to broaden a music student's concept of what is available for training or to provide specific musical experiences. They are more suited to the advanced student whose needs are not met via traditional education methods. Some very competitive scholarships allow students to travel abroad for music study, usually for a summer.
Usually, students can apply for a music scholarship during their junior or senior year of high school, but some scholarships extend eligibility to freshmen and sophomores. If a scholarship doesn't specify a grade level, it typically specifies an age range. Some music scholarships are open to any student, but others require enrollment in a music-related course. The primary determinant of eligibility is the demonstration of musical talent although many scholarships also require a minimum GPA.
Where to Find the Scholarships
High school guidance counselors provide a good starting point for locating music scholarships since they have access to different databases on all kinds of different aid. Choir and band directors, though, are often better suited to finding scholarships related to music because they network directly in the industry and are more familiar with the musical needs and aspirations of the students they have. Some local organizations that support the arts in your community may provide funding--your Chamber of Commerce office usually has a list of businesses and nonprofits that may offer scholarships. Lastly, websites such as "musicscholarships.us" (see Resources) provide links to scholarships. Note that these websites are sometimes out-of-date.
Schools in the United States are more concerned with meeting state and national standards for achievement than in the past, largely because a school's test scores are connected to educational funding. As a result, less of an emphasis is on humanities courses like music. Schools across the nation are cutting music classes from their course offerings in order to fund other areas. Music scholarships thus fill a widening financial gap that often prevents students from pursuing music the way they want.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.