I’ll be the first to admit that when I hear the term ‘classical’ music, visions of Beethoven pop into my head. I think of taking a nap in the theater while the orchestra squeaks out a long, instrumental piece or tapping my foot in the elevator while waiting to get out on a higher floor. I would never think to include George Gershwin or Duke Ellington in that category, but they are both considered to be among America’s best classical composers. To this day, Porgy and Bess is one of my favorite musicals, and I still can't listen to "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing" without snapping my fingers or swinging my hips. Who would have guessed that I actually like classical American music? Now, I'm not saying it’s downloaded on my iPod, but I can at least appreciate the contributions that Leonard Bernstein and others have made to music. Why am I telling you this? Well, September happens to be Classical Music Month, so I thought it might be fun to ‘orchestrate’ a short list of scholarships that can help you ‘drum up’ some free money for college.
Are you currently in high school? You could be eligible to win one of over 400 scholarships offered through the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA). If you're not a gifted singer or musician, no worries, you can also compete in various dance, theater, photography and writing categories. The prizes range from $100 to $10,000 each. Deadline: October 18.
2. Marine Band Concerto Competition
Don't let the name of this scholarship fool you; it has nothing to do with the water and you don’t have to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, either. The winner, however, will get the chance to perform with the elite United States Marine Band as a guest soloist and receive a $2,500 cash prize. Any high school musicians who play a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument are eligible to apply. Deadline: November 15.
Each year, the “Negro Spiritual’ Scholarship Foundation (NSSF) sponsors a competition for vocalists who perform sacred music in the characteristic Negro-spiritual style. If you're a high school junior or senior, you may be eligible to compete. One male and one female student will each win a $3,000 grant and $300 in cash. If you're not a resident of Florida, be sure to check out the other scholarship programs offered by the NSSF. Deadline: December 6.
If you love music and writing, this scholarship is perfect for you! School Band and Orchestra Magazine provides 10 scholarships valued at $1,000 each to students in grades four through twelve. You simply need to submit an essay (250 words or less) on why now, more than ever, music education is important. Deadline: December 31.
Recognized as one of the biggest scholarship programs in the world, the Davidson Fellows Award helps extraordinary young people achieve their dreams. If you are both academically and musically gifted, you could be eligible to receive up to $50,000 through this program. To enter, you must be 18 or younger, and have completed a significant project that has the potential to impact others. Deadline: February 12.
It may be a good idea to contact your local symphony or music venues, too. Many often sponsor competitions in the spring and summer, so you could earn a few more ‘C’ notes to help fund your college education. Don't forget to register for a free account with several scholarship search services, as well. New competitions are always popping up, so you don’t want to miss a beat. With a little luck and dedication, you could be singing all the way to the bank!
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