Tag: #VPA

Music Competitions

**Note about fees: Most competitions listed below require an application fee to be paid in order to compete. Other costs may be involved with transportation, accompanists, recordings, etc.

American Protégé
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-February
Approximate Competition Date: mid-May to late-June (winners recital)
Application Fee: $200 (solo performers), $150 (per member in chamber ensemble)

Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: NA
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: NA

Berliner International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-July
Approximate Competition Date: late-September (winners recital)
Application Fee: $125

Carl Nielsen International Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-October
Approximate Competition Date: late-March (finals)
Application Fee: $115

Central International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early-June
Approximate Competition Date: early to mid-August
Application Fee: $105

Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: late-November
Approximate Competition Date: early-April
Application Fee: $40

Concord Chamber Orchestra
Approximate Application Deadline: late-November to early-December
Approximate Competition Date: early-December
Application Fee: $30
Concours de Geneve
Approximate Application Deadline: early-May
Approximate Competition Date: early to late-November (finals)
Application Fee: NA

Crescendo International Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early-November
Approximate Competition Date: early to mid-December
Application Fee: $85 (solo), $130 (duet), $175 (trio), $50 (per player, quartet and larger)

Feurich Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-May
Approximate Competition Date: late-June to early-July
Application Fee: $150 (solo), $105 (per player, duet), $70 (per player, trio and larger)

Approximate Application Deadline: late-February
Approximate Competition Date: early to mid-May
Application Fee: $125 (trio), $165 (quartet), $205 (quintet), $245 (sextet)

Forte International Music Competition and Festivals
Approximate Application Deadline: early-November
Approximate Competition Date: early-December (prelim and semi-final), early-February (final)
Application Fee: $150 (solo by October 15th), $180 (duo or more by October 15th) **application fee increases $10 for solos and ensembles on November 5th and another $10 on November 10th

George Gershwin International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-October
Approximate Competition Date: late-October to mid-November
Application Fee: $150

Grand Prize Virtuoso International Concerto Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early to mid-May
Approximate Competition Date: mid-July (winners recital)
Application Fee: $205 (solo), $145 (per member, duo and larger)

Granquist Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: late-May
Approximate Competition Date: mid to late-June
Application Fee: $35 (solo and duet by April 30th), $45 (trio + $10 each additional player by April 30th) **additional $10 added when submitted after April 30th

Great Composers Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: competitions held monthly
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: Free (prelims), $32.50 (approved applicants)

Green Bay Civic Symphony (every-other year)
Approximate Application Deadline: late-October
Approximate Competition Date: early to mid-November
Application Fee: NA

International Clarinet Association Competitions
Approximate Application Deadline: early-April
Approximate Competition Date: late-July (final)
Application Fee: $75

International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-March
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: NA

Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: late-May (piano, violin, voice, string quartet), mid-August (composition),
Approximate Competition Date: mid to late-September
Application Fee: NA

Lakeshore Wind Ensemble
Approximate Application Deadline: late-October
Approximate Competition Date: mid-November
Application Fee: $20

Lawrence Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid to late-October
Approximate Competition Date: late-October
Application Fee: Free

Lawrence Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid to late-January
Approximate Competition Date: late-January
Application Fee: Free

Manhattan Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: late-March
Approximate Competition Date: early-July (winners concert)
Application Fee: $105

Marquette Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early-May
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: $30

Music Teachers National Association
Approximate Application Deadline: early to mid-September
Approximate Competition Date: mid-March (winners concert)
Application Fee: $120

National Association of Teachers of Singing
Approximate Application Deadline: early-September
Approximate Competition Date: mid-October
Application Fee: $75

National Federation of Music Clubs Competitions
Approximate Application Deadline: early-March or early-April (depending on competition)
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: $10

National Flute Association
Approximate Application Deadline: mid to late-February
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: $55

Approximate Application Deadline: mid-February
Approximate Competition Date: late-March
Application Fee: $40 (per player)

Queen Sonja International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early-April
Approximate Competition Date: mid-August
Application Fee: $105 + $230 (second round)

Rising Stars Grand Prix
Approximate Application Deadline: early to mid-April
Approximate Competition Date: late-June (winners concert)
Application Fee: $200 (solo), $130 (per player, duo), $90 (per player, trios to octets)

Ronald Sachs International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-March
Approximate Competition Date: mid to late-May
Application Fee: $50

Schubert Club
Approximate Application Deadline: late-January
Approximate Competition Date: mid-March
Application Fee: $45

Skokie Valley
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-May
Approximate Competition Date: late-May
Application Fee: $50

Tchaikovsky Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid-March
Approximate Competition Date: mid to late-June
Application Fee:

Unsigned Only Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: early-April
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: NA

Vandoren Emerging Artists Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid to late-January
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: NA

Vienna International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: NA
Approximate Competition Date: early-March (winner’s recital)
Application Fee: $110

North International Music Competition
Approximate Application Deadline: mid to late-April
Approximate Competition Date: NA
Application Fee: $65

Music Grants and Scholarships

Aaron Copland Fund
Amount: $1,000-$20,000
Qualifications: NA
Approximate Deadline: late-June

Academy of Country Music
Amount: $5,000-10,000
Qualifications: music educators or therapists
Approximate Deadline: late-October

Against the Grain
Amount: $1,000
Qualifications: at least 25% Asian and/or Pacific Islander
Approximate Deadline: early-May
Amateur Chamber Music Players
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

Associated Male Choruses of America Scholarship
Amount: $1,000-$1,200
Qualifications: NA
Approximate Deadline: early-March

American Music Therapy Association Scholarships
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers
Amount: NA
Qualifications: students studying music composition and/or arranging
Approximate Deadline: early-October

ASCAP Foundation
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

BMI Foundation
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

Colburn-Pledge Music Scholarship
Amount: NA
Qualifications: Texas resident
Approximate Deadline: late-April
Dr. Robert Hawkins Memorial Scholarship
Amount: $1,000
Qualifications: instrumental music ed major
Approximate Deadline: early-November
JEN (Jazz Education Network)
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: involvement in jazz
Approximate Deadline: mid-September

Keys + Kids Grant from VH1 Save the Music
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: VariesKllipsch Audio Engineering Scholarship
Amount: $2,000
Qualifications: anyone, but aimed at audio engineers
Approximate Deadline: mid-January
Margaret Blackburn Biennial Composition Competition
Amount: $1,000
Qualifications: female composition students
Approximate Deadline: NA

Mockingbird Foundation
Amount: $100-$1,000
Qualifications: NA
Approximate Deadline: early-August

Music Performance Trust Fund
Amount: NA
Qualifications: NA
Approximate Deadline: NA

NAMM Gard Scholarship Fund
Amount: $2,000
Qualifications: employed by NAMM member company
Approximate Deadline: late-July
National Federation of Music Clubs
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

NewMusic USA GrantsAmount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies
Approximate Deadline: Varies

Percussive Arts Society
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Percussionist
Approximate Deadline: Varies

Ray Charles Foundation Grants
Amount: NA
Qualifications: NA
Approximate Deadline: late-September

Ruth K. Jacobs Memorial Scholarship
Amount: $1,500
Qualifications: music major with emphasis on choral church music
Approximate Deadline: early-February

Sinfonia Educational Foundation (SEF) Scholarships
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: Varies Approximate Deadline: Varies

Top of the Rock Peggy Gram Scholarship
Amount: NA
Qualifications: women involved in Music Education or Vocal Performance Education
Approximate Deadline: mid-March

Women Band Directors International
Amount: Varies
Qualifications: women music ed majors planning to be a band director
Approximate Deadline: NA

Zildjian Concert Scholarship
Amount: $3,000
Qualifications: for percussionists
Approximate Deadline: NA

Other General Grant and Scholarship Websites (not specifically for music)








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Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part III: A Few Last Things to Consider


What will make your audition great/ make you a good candidate for schools?

  • There is no such thing as a “perfect audition” so if you mess up a little, don’t worry about it too much. Play musically, confidently, and with passion. Trust yourself that you have spent a lot of time preparing for the audition and it will show through in your playing. The audition committee is not looking for perfection, but instead a student that has potential and they will enjoy teaching.
  • Know your music! Know all the standard excerpts, solo repertoire, method books, and chamber music for your instrument. Be familiar with standard symphonic repertoire as well.
  • Do your research on the school and teacher so you are familiar with the institute and the kind of instruction you will receive. Reach out to the professors and, if time and money allow, take a lesson from the instructor before auditioning.
  • Some auditions may include a lesson from the instructor. Be open to criticism and show that you are able to make adjustments/ improvements on the spot.
  • Have a general goal in mind of what you want to do while attending the school and what you want to achieve post-graduation. This will likely be asked in the application process or at your auditions.
  • Get teaching experience on your major instrument and secondary instruments if possible.

Hidden Costs:

  • Application fees: Most applications cost $100+ so be prepared to spend a couple hundred dollars on all of these if there are several schools you are highly considering.
  • Accompanists: Not all schools require accompaniment in the auditions, but some might. Discuss with your accompanist how much they would like for rehearsals and recordings.
  • Recording spaces and equipment: This can cost a bit of money, but it can also be practically free if you reserve a room a space at school and use your own recording device.
  • Flights: These can cost anywhere between $100 and $500. Check frequently for good deals on flights and consider your options. If you have access to a car, consider driving to some locations- there will be some money involved to cover the cost of gas, but it will still be considerably cheaper. 
  • Hotels: Costs for hotels can vary. Consider staying at motels, hostels, Airbnb, with current students at the school, or with friends/family that might live in the area where you are auditioning. These could all be some cheaper options.
  • Spending money for travel: You will have to purchase meals when you travel and may want to go shopping if there is time so bring some spending money.  

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part II: Timeline


There are many steps towards applying to graduate schools and you should start thinking about this process early (junior year of college). Here is a step-by-step procedure in the process of applying to grad schools and how to organize the details:

Finding schools to apply to

  • Considering the tips from above, form a list of several schools that interest you and create a chart to keep track of all the information about the schools and their application/ audition processes. Definitely include more schools than you plan to actually apply to and then start narrowing down your options after really getting familiar with each school (this changed many times for me so it is helpful having all the information easily accessible). Then, I recommend making a chart for every school that contains the following information:
    • Location
    • Teacher(s)
    • Cost of Attendance
    • Application Fee
    • Prescreening Audition Requirements
    • Prescreening/Application Due Date
    • Live Audition Dates
    • Live Audition Requirements
    • Link to Site
    • Application Requirements
    • Academic Requirements
    • Scholarship and Financial Aid Available
    • Financial Aid Application
    • Other Comments (population, safety, surrounding opportunities etc. . .)

*This is also a good template to use when looking into music festivals!*

Audition Repertoire

  • Make a list of all the repertoire required for these auditions so it is easy to locate in one place.
  • Start preparing EARLY. Know everything you have to work on before leaving school for the summer and spend the summer working on all the audition requirements. Take many lessons and know the pieces inside and out!
  • Practice productively and do your musical homework! Listen to multiple recordings, practice with a tuner and metronome, score study, record yourself, etc. . .  

Application and Academic Requirements

  • Start working on your resume, CV, personal statement, biography, repertoire list, and additional essays early so you have them all ready to go! You may just have to make some slight alterations to vary from school to school.
  • Get your transcripts! Check which schools require official transcripts and which can be unofficial to save money. Lawrence’s transcripts freeze around finals time so if you need your applications submitted by December 1st, get them by Thanksgiving (the earlier the better), unless you need your fall grades.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation well in advance so your recommenders have time for them to be well-written and so they can submit the forms on time. Ask during the summer or right when you get back for the start of classes.
  • Most schools will offer a generous amount of financial aid so know this sort of information in advance and fill out forms accordingly (they will often be due at the time the application is due).
  • Also, review music theory (including aural skills and sight singing), music history, and keyboard skills! You will probably have to take more of these classes in graduate school and the placement exams might happen at the time of your audition so be prepared.

Prescreening Recordings:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to get this done. Save yourself time if you need to remake a recording.
  • Be professional! Dress nicely, play in a nice space, use good quality recording equipment, avoid extraneous sounds and distractions, and don’t say more than you need to if anything at all (let the music do all the speaking).
  • Reserve a date, time, and space far in advance and find a friend to help.
  • If any music requires an accompanist, ask someone well in advance and communicate about when and where the recording session(s) will be held.

Live Auditions:           

  • Select an audition date and book flights and a hotel room ASAP (the school might be able to assist you with this).
  • Be working on repertoire for live auditions at the time you work on prescreening material (it may be a fast turnaround by the time you are accepted to advance from prescreening and not much time to prepare new music).
  • Packing: make sure you have all your music, equipment, forms, and dress clothes- do not forget your instrument! Have repair tools with you in case of an emergency and know how to care for your instrument on your flight.
  • Arrive early! Try to fly in at least a day before auditions (flights may be delayed or canceled) and get familiar with the layout of the campus well before your audition so you are not completely lost. Also, try to play in some of their performing spaces ahead of time or wherever the audition will be.
  • Understand you will likely have to miss some school for these auditions so contact professors and organize your schoolwork accordingly.

Dates/Times to start putting all this into action:

  • Throughout all of undergrad: Build up a vast knowledge for music (repertoire, performers, orchestras, festivals, competitions, etc. . .) and be able to perform most of the standard repertoire for your instrument.
  • Winter through summer break of junior year in undergrad: Make a list of schools you are interested in and start narrowing these options down to determine which schools you will apply to. As you continue to do research, start reaching out to teachers and get lessons from them over the summer or during the fall if it is possible. Start working on audition repertoire.
  • Fall of senior year: Ask for letters of recommendation ASAP, obtain transcripts, record prescreening auditions, and work on/ submit application materials. December 1st is the national deadline for these so try to have everything done by mid-November.
  • Winter of senior year: Take live auditions (some schools may accept recorded auditions or may have regional auditions, but auditioning in person is usually recommended).
  • May 1stNational deadline for college decisions. 

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part I: What to Consider


Why grad school?

  • Consider your options post-undergrad: Is graduate school the best route to assist you in finding a job in your field? Will this investment be worth it in the end? As a performer, it definitely can benefit you when looking for professional work, but it is not always necessarily required.
  • Do not do it just because everyone else in your studio or school is doing it- do it if you feel like this is the right path for you.
  •  Some people prefer taking a gap year after feeling burnt out from undergrad. Others would prefer to continue their education and do not want to take the risk of losing their drive.
  • Student debt really becomes a concern after undergrad so taking a gap year (or a few) or not attending graduate school at all is always an option in order to repay this debt.
  • Graduate school is not for everyone and that is ok!

What schools should I look into? These are the top things to consider:                      


  • Find someone who is a big name for your instrument/ voice and will help you make connections with other professional musicians/ organizations. Also, take time to read bios and listen to these teachers as performers- find someone who you admire and who you would like to influence your sound.You want to find a good fit: someone you will get along with that will push you hard and teach you a lot, but not someone that will push you over the edge.
  • Another aspect to consider is who best will prepare you for current real-life auditions. “Older” professors with many years of experience teaching and performing might have some of the top reputations in the business, but may not have taken a professional audition in decades. The art of taking and winning auditions has changed drastically from just 10 years ago so working with people with more recent auditioning experience can be just as beneficial.

Name/reputation of the school

  • Aim BIG and look into schools known for their musical excellence (schools you see in performers’ bios). Some schools have reputations for landing people jobs so find those schools that have high employment rates.
  • View ratings of the school/ professors and see what kind of overall rankings the school has.
  • You will be faced with competition everywhere you go, but some schools might be a bit more fiercely competitive than others might be. Is this something you would like or are you looking for a more supportive, sympathetic institute?


  • Find schools in areas that will have many performing and teaching opportunities available. Also, try to find schools located near first-rate orchestras so you have the opportunity to attend their concerts and connect with those musicians (places like NYC, Chicago, and Philadelphia are bound to offer great opportunities for freelancing and all have top-notch orchestras).
  • Location can be important. Consider if you want to be somewhere hot or cold; rainy or dry; East, West, or Midwest; rural or urban- these can all be factors to consider.

Other Important things to consider:

Cost and Finances

  • Graduate schools are expensive and the cost to attend is often a deciding factor in where people choose to go. Do not let this hinder you from still looking into great (but expensive) schools. If they really want you to attend, schools will find a way to make this possible and cover much or all of the cost for you. Graduate students are usually prioritized for financial aid and many schools offer graduate assistantships where you teach undergrad students of your voice or instrument.
  • Consider if you will be living on or off campus and how much living expenses will cost.

School Culture and Size

  • Can you imagine yourself attending this school? Are the students and faculty people you get along with and are people who will motivate you to grow more as a musician? You will be there for at least two years so make sure you can work well with your other colleagues.
  • Are you looking for a smaller conservatory or a large state school? There can be considerable differences between the kinds of opportunities available and challenges you face at large versus small schools so think about what kind of environment you will thrive best in.
  • Having gone through four years of undergrad, you have probably built up a strong support system of friends or are in a committed relationship. Are you ok potentially going to school on the other side of the country from your friends and family? There are various ways to cope, but this can be a concern for many students. There are always going to be plenty of people to meet and befriend in graduate school!

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

How to become a Music Teacher (Elementary, Middle School)

Interested in becoming a music teacher for elementary or middle school students? Read on for some important information on how to get your dream teaching job! 

Job duties:

Here are some specific job duties required for becoming a music teacher. First you must have knowledge of the instrument/instruments in the ensemble. Knowing your instrument(s) inside and out will make teaching your class that much easier. Next you need the ability to manage a classroom. Classroom management is important because sometimes children can get rowdy and not retain the information you are teaching. Finally, you’ll need experience writing curricula, and in this case concert programs with appropriate repertoire. Music teachers not only have to create classroom plans, but they also have to plan exactly what music their ensembles and students are expected to play. 

Where they work:

Oftentimes, any type of music teacher is hired by a school district to teach band, orchestra, or private lessons. Sometimes if hired by a school district you are expected to travel between several schools within the district per week to teach students. You can also be hired by private schools, however, this process can be lengthy and sometimes requires degrees from very specific universities. Many areas are looking for music teachers, especially during the pandemic. Be sure to choose the right area for you by taking into consideration the cost of living + your salary of that particular area to make sure that is where you want to be.

Working conditions:

As a music teacher, you can expect to be working at least 40 hours a week. This is often the minimum for music teachers since they also have to do after-school music programs, concerts, musical rehearsals, etc. The best thing about being a teacher though is that you have a good portion of the summer off of work! Unless you seek out summer music camps to help out with. 


Often times you are working with children in a classroom setting. Your colleagues will most likely range in age, and sometimes you may have to collaborate with a music teacher of another ensemble or even have a teacher’s assistant. 

Education and Training:

The minimum degree for this profession is often a bachelor’s degree in a music-related field. After earning this degree, you are then expected to complete practicum before applying to work within a school district. State licensure is required for teaching in any state within the U.S. Requirements for these do differ by state so it is important to do your research before applying for different school districts. Here at Lawrence, if you are a Music Education major you will be guided to get your certification over the course of the 5-year degree program (4 years of school, 1 year of student teaching).

How to gain experience while in undergrad:

The best way for aspiring music teachers to gain experience while in undergrad is by applying for and attending internships. There are many summer programs that offer teacher internships such as The People’s Music School, Merit School of Music, Wisconsin Conservatory, and much more! You don’t need your teachers certification to apply for these internships, and they are a great way to gain experience in the field.

Pay and Benefits: 

Your pay depends on the school district your working in and its geographical location. Often times your pay is based on price of living for geographic area. On the lower end of the price of living, but you can get by. Substitutes are going to be under a full teaching salary, making around $12-$15. Public school teachers generally have benefits (dental, vision, health) however, private school teachers often times do not.

Job Outlook:

Right now, music teachers are needed EVERYWHERE. There is a shortage of teachers in general, however, music teachers are especially needed. Sadly, music is one of the first classes to get cut out of curricula in elementary and grade schools. Job market is thankfully expected to grow by 12% in the next few years, and many school districts will hire you right out of your student teaching experience. 

Global Considerations:

Teaching jobs that are abroad (outside of the U.S) often offer 2 year contracts. Teachers coming into the U.S are asked to apply for a VISA upon hire; which means you can go through the application process without needing a VISA, however, if you are hired by the school you are required to apply for one. As far as I know, all types of US teaching certificates can be obtained by international students and they can secure a teaching job in the U.S upon graduation. There could be extra steps depending on where certification is obtained (NYC you need fingerprint scans), so it is important to do you research on the district you are applying for.