Guide to Music Scholarships 2020

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 9/11/20

Like many of the arts, music is an area where massive success can come with or without formal training. However, students who wish to pursue degrees in music need as much or more help obtaining scholarships, as competition and audition practices tend to be very stiff. 

Conservatories and other institutions dedicated to arts education typically cost a lot of money, and music jobs are often not easy to come by. 

All of this means that finding college funding for music majors becomes more than just money. It represents a time to practice rather than work to pay tuition. It means the ability to hone your craft at the highest level instead of relegating it to hobby status in favor of another career. 

This article will explore a few of the most popular and lucrative choices in music scholarships for the 2020–2021 academic year.

BMI Foundation John Lennon Scholarships

The John Lennon Scholarships, a competition aimed at young songwriters and composers, is sponsored by the BMI Foundation. Yoko Ono, the wife of John Lennon, created this award in 1997 to offer three scholarships totaling $20,000 to U.S. college students between the ages of 17 and 24. 

Eligibility entails submitting an original song that has not had any of its original rights assigned to a major record label or music publisher. A highly prestigious panel of judges, made up of professionals from the music industry, evaluates works for creativity, musical sophistication, and originality.

The waitlist is now open to receive forthcoming details about the next competition for this renowned annual music scholarship.

Augustana Pro Musica Scholarships

The Augustana Pro Musica Scholarship is offered to vocalists, instrumentalists, and keyboardists at four levels of financial awards. Applicants must be accepted to Augustana University and can apply for the scholarship at the same time they set up an online account to apply to the school. 

The four available levels of Pro Musica awards are:

  • Mozart Award: $5,000 annually for a total of $20,000 over four years
  • Bach Award: $3,000 annually for a total of $12,000 over four years
  • Beethoven Award: $2,000 annually for a total of $8,000 over four years
  • Brahms Award: $1,000 annually for a total of $4,000 over four years

Any recipient who is awarded a scholarship of $2,000 or more will be obligated to take applied lessons for the first four semesters of their award duration. Applications are due by the end of May each year. 

Associated Male Choruses of America Music Scholarship

If you are a full-time college student currently in the process of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a music major, the Associated Male Choruses of America Music Scholarship might be for you. 

Students pursuing Vocal or Choral diplomas are preferred, and applicants must be sponsored by a chorus belonging to the Associated Male Choruses of America to be deemed eligible. Award amounts hinge on annual funds availability but ranged last year between $1,000 and $1,200. 

All applicants must perform with or for the sponsoring chorus in a concert venue, and the sponsoring chorus must then complete a sponsorship form and cover letter for the applicant. Applicants will also need three letters of recommendation and their most current transcripts. 

Applications are to be mailed by early March of each year for funding in the fall. However, the board recommends contacting the Associated Male Choruses of America as early as possible before the deadline to receive their full list of potential sponsoring choruses.

VSA International Young Soloists Award Program

The VSA International Young Soloists Award Program awards musicians aged 14 to 25 with disabilities from all around the globe with a monetary prize of $2,000. 

Any physical or mental impairment that has been impactful enough to affect your daily life qualifies as a disability for this award. This scholarship also comes with the opportunity to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 

Any genre is welcome, from classical to hip-hop. 

To apply for this award, applicants must submit a video performance following these parameters:

  • Recorded with high-quality audio
  • Showcasing your performance of one musical piece only, although multiple movements in a single piece are permitted
  • 10 minutes in total length or less
  • Reflective of your current level of musicianship (recording can be no older than two years)
  • All accompaniment must be live (no recorded music)
  • Vocalists may use no enhancements or edits

Multiple winners will be selected each year after video auditions are judged by a panel of music professionals who will be looking for style, musicality, and overall creative competence. 

If your video audition is selected, you will be given a trip to the Kennedy Center and a series of music coaching and professional development courses intended to hone your skills before the live performance you will give at the Kennedy Center. 

Applications will be made available in the early fall, and interested parties may write to to be notified as soon as applications open. 

Vandoren Emerging Artist (VEA) Competition

Classical clarinetists and saxophonists with strong musical chops who are keen to participate in traveling performances while earning money for college should check out the Vandoren Emerging Artist (VEA) Competition

This is open to all U.S. residents through early December each year. You must be able to demonstrate a superior level of musical achievement via presentable honors or accolades you have already received for music or via a solo performance.

For this award, you must be able to travel and complete Indianapolis performances from March 25–27, 2021. You must also submit your application and online audio-only recordings (no video allowed) by the aforementioned deadline. Applications are judged blind, and winners will be announced in mid-January. 

Repertoires for the various types of musicians to choose their audition piece are current on the website now. No one who already has a record contract or a product endorsement may apply for this scholarship.

Grand prize winners in every category will receive $1,000, travel and performance possibilities in Paris at the original home of Vandoren, a performance at the Music For All National Festival, and a Vandoren prize package relevant to the winner’s instrument of choice.

ASCAP Foundation Scholarships

To make sure that students of all levels of ability find opportunities to take their study of music further, the ASCAP Foundation has made a wide series of music scholarships available. 

Many of these scholarships are school-specific, and the ASCAP Foundation chooses no recipients. You will need to check whether you are eligible for any of these at your chosen educational institution. All scholarships are annual, but deadlines may vary.

The majority of these scholarships honor the work and legacy of longstanding ASCAP members and extremely influential musical contributors, such as Ira Gershwin. For these reasons, the total awards are often higher, sometimes even covering full tuition. 

Helping Students Keep Time With College Funding

Pursuing a degree in the arts is often met with skepticism and an immediate worry about funding. Even in academic years with far fewer unusual factors than 2020, has all the resources you need to get into art school and chase down your dream of postsecondary studies. 

Visit our site to find out how to fill out your FAFSA, whether a federal or private loan might be best for you, and even apply for scholarships you might never have known existed. 

There is more funding for college out there than you might think, and is here to help you find financial support that stays in tune with your goals.