6 Music Scholarships That Can Help Musicians Pay for College

Man playing a piano during a college recital

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Because a career in music, like many of the other performing and visual arts, can be both deeply rewarding and financially difficult, some graduates face a lifetime of financial difficulty as they try to pursue their passion while summoning the financial resources to repay student loans.

Earning a music scholarship can reduce the financial burden of student loans and allow budding musicians the freedom to fully explore their chosen performing arts field. That's why it is especially important for music students to search for scholarships that might be able to support their artistic endeavors. With that in mind, here are some scholarships that music students should know about.

ASCAP Foundation Scholarships

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) offers more than 25 music scholarships for students at different levels, from the Harold Arlen Musical Theater Award and the Cole Porter Award to the John Denver Music Scholarship and The ASCAP Foundation Scholarship at Julliard. Recipients are chosen by the music faculty at the schools that offer scholarships.

Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Music Scholarship

This scholarship, which honors the memory of legendary band leader Glenn Miller, has been around since 1977. The Glenn Miller Birthplace Society sponsors this annual scholarship competition, which is open to high school seniors and college freshmen across the United States. Finalists compete in the annual Glenn Miller Festival at Clarinda, Iowa, where three winners are chosen from each of the two categories: instrumental and vocal.

The BMI Foundation Music Scholarships

The BMI Foundation is dedicated to encouraging the creation, performance, and study of music. Throughout the year, the Foundation administers a number of competitions for awards, scholarships, internships, and commissions. They're available to a wide range of students and musicians and include the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship, Lionel Newman Conducting Scholarship, and the Nashville Songwriting Scholarship. Panels made up of some of the world's most distinguished artists and musicians select the final recipients.

The Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation

The Bel Canto Opera Scholarship is an annual competition for young opera singers, and the winners receive funds intended to help them toward careers in opera. Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 21 and 33 who are actively pursuing careers in opera performance. The amount and number of awards vary each year based on the number and quality of applicants. The foundation is committed to bel canto, or "beautiful singing," and wants to ensure that future generations can enjoy live opera performances.

Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Scholarships

The Young Musicians Foundation provides access to exceptional music education and experiences that strengthen communities in the Los Angeles area through social, cultural, and intellectual engagement. Music scholarships featured on their website include the David Weiss Scholarship Program and the Rafael Méndez Student Scholarships. The first one offers needs-based awards to young musicians in Southern California, and the second offers financial support to students ages 8 to 17 who participate in the organization's Neighborhood Orchestra after-school program.

Kerope Zildjian Concert Scholarship 

Percussion maker Kerope Zildjian offers an annual scholarship to percussionists around the world who are enrolled in undergraduate music studies. Each year, one recipient receives money toward college tuition, a travel allowance to visit Zildjian headquarters in Norwell, Mass., and a variety of cymbals made by Zildjian. In addition to an application, students must send specific recorded performances and a resume to apply.