The Grinnell Music Department presents the following scholarships and competitive awards each year. Winners of competitive awards will be recognized in the Commencement program when they graduate. In addition to these department-sponsored awards, ensembles such as the Grinnell Singers and the Fresh Flutes occasionally sponsor composition contests; winners have their pieces performed on the ensemble concerts.

Music Lesson Scholarships

The affordability of music lessons at Grinnell is, in my opinion, one of the single greatest parts of going here. I've never taken formal lessons with anyone but my grandmother (who taught me for free) because I know how insanely expensive they can be. I am so so so grateful for Grinnell for providing this opportunity. — Student #95

So much of learning and the arts becomes restricted by class. At a place like Grinnell I think it is so important that we have access to all kinds of education and resources. It is one of the things that makes college unique, and Grinnell in particular which is a place that strives to create equal opportunities for all students. — Student #69

Most Grinnell students are entitled to some sort of scholarship towards the cost of music lesson fees.

Music Major Benefit

All music majors may take an unlimited number of lessons of any type without charge. Majors must declare before the end of the add/drop period in order to receive free lessons for that semester. The scholarship is applied automatically upon registration in lessons; no application or audition is necessary.

Grinnell College Music Scholarships

These scholarships were established in 2013 by President Raynard Kington with funding earmarked from the College Operating Budget. All non-majors receiving need-based aid from the College are automatically entitled to one music lesson scholarship of $290 per semester (the balance due from the student is thus $100 for 14 weeks of 30-minute lessons, or $365 for 60-minute lessons). The scholarship is applied automatically upon registration in lessons; no application or audition is necessary. Scholarship eligibility is determined by the Office of Financial Aid; to check your eligibility, visit the Online Financial Aid Office and click on the Messages tab.

Haglund Music Scholarships

These scholarships are made possible for a limited time through a generous bequest from the estate of Mariam B. Haglund '41. The benefits, eligibility, and requirements are identical to those of the Grinnell College Music Scholarships.

Curd Music Lesson Scholarships

The Curd endowed fund was established in 2003 through a bequest from Phyllis Lehmer Curd '28, who was a music major. Her hope was that those receiving the scholarship would later provide vocal and instrumental instruction in public schools. This portion of the Curd endowment was originally configured to provide music lesson scholarships to incoming students. In 2013, it was reconfigured to provide non-majors with music lesson scholarships tied to participation in selected Music Department Ensembles.

In 2016, the Curd Endowment was reconfigured again to provide assistance to students not eligible for other types of music lesson scholarships, but who are still financially unable to pay the full cost of music lesson fees. The scholarship currently awards $150 per semester (the balance due from the student is thus $240 for 14 weeks of 30-minute lessons, or $505 for 60-minute lessons). Funds for the Curd Music Lesson Scholarships are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you plan to take lessons during the academic year (either semester) and the cost of the lesson would pose a financial hardship for you, please complete the application for the Curd Music Lesson Scholarship. Applications are for 2016-2017 are due September 5. To determine the status of your application, visit the Online Financial Aid Office and click on the Messages tab. NOTE: Completing the scholarship application for does NOT register you for lessons: that is a separate process.

Hill Ensemble Scholarships (Fall Auditions)

The Hill endowed fund was established in 1891 by Dr. James L. Hill D.D., class of 1871. It provides merit scholarships to outstanding students in vocal and/or instrumental performance. In 2016 the endowment was split into two different types of award. The new Hill Ensemble Scholarships provide music lesson scholarships tied to participation in selected Music Department Ensembles (Grinnell Singers, Grinnell Symphony Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble). Winners are selected by ensemble directors during regular ensemble auditions held during the first week of the fall semester. Check posters in Bucksbaum for audition dates/times, or email the ensemble director.

Winners receive a music lesson scholarship of $390/semester (renewable for spring semester) for the CURRENT academic year. This amount covers 100% of the fee for 30-minute lessons for one year, or 60% of the fee for 60-minute lessons. In exchange, winners agree to participate in the ensemble for each semester that they receive the scholarship (they are not required to formally register for the ensemble if doing so would incur overload fees).

Hill Solo Awards in Music (Spring Auditions)

The Hill Solo Awards recognize outstanding solo performers. They are open to students in any major or year. Winners who are music majors or graduating seniors receive cash prizes; all other winners receive a two-semester music lesson scholarship for the FOLLOWING academic year. This award may be taken either as free 60-minute lessons or two courses (in the same semester) of free 30-minute lessons (the first course is covered by the Comprehensive Fee). The top winners among the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd- year contestants in the Hill Auditions will receive the Curd Outstanding Instrumentalist Award and the James Outstanding Vocalist Award.

To be eligible for the Hill Solo Awards, contestants must be enrolled in music lessons at Grinnell College during the current semester. Application forms are due in March; auditions are held in April. The Music Department will provide a keyboard accompanist for contestants who need one. Those who require an accompanist must submit a copy of the keyboard part with their application; they are responsible for contacting Melinda Westphalen to arrange rehearsal times with the accompanist. Contestants should perform no more than six minutes of music, either excerpts or complete movement(s). If two or more shorter works are performed, they should be of contrasting styles. Contestants should provide two copies of the music (including accompaniment) for the judges on the morning of the competition.

For more information about the Hill Solo Awards, please contact Eric McIntyre.

Curd Outstanding Instrumentalist Award and James Award for Vocal Performance

These awards recognize the top instrumentalist and top vocalist among the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd- year contestants in the Hill Solo Auditions. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Recipients must be in good academic standing. To be eligible, contestants must enter the Hill Solo Awards Competition

The winners receive:

1) a year’s worth of free 60-minute lessons for the FOLLOWING academic year, plus:

2) up to $1140/year towards expenses that will enhance the student’s study of musical performance (music majors, who already receive free lessons, will receive an additional $540 towards these expenses). In consultation with their regular vocal or instrumental teacher, each student will present a proposal to the Music Department for approval. Allowable expenses may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Travel to attend a masterclass or workshop in musical performance
  • Travel and tickets to attend a recital or concert off-campus
  • Private coachings with a master teacher brought to campus
  • Professional recording session to prepare a CD/DVD for graduate school/employment auditions, demo for recording contract, etc.
  • Hire professional musicians to perform with the student in a recital at Grinnell College (N.B. piano accompaniment is already provided free of charge)

Other Scholarships & Awards

Grinnell Symphony Orchestra Soloist Auditions

The Grinnell Symphony Orchestra invites eligible students to audition for an opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Grinnell Symphony. Applications are due in October for the auditions held in November. Selected performers are featured on a GSO Concert the following spring.

The auditions are open to orchestral instrumentalists (and saxophonists), vocalists, guitarists, and pianists. Students auditioning on orchestral instruments must be members of the Grinnell Symphony. Pianists, guitarists, and vocalists must be enrolled in private lessons, and saxophonists may be either taking lessons or members of Symphonic Band or Jazz Ensemble.

Instrumentalists should prepare a single movement of a concerto or work for solo instrument and orchestra. Particularly short multi-movement works may be eligible but must be approved in advance. Vocalists should prepare one or two arias or songs (songs must have an orchestral accompaniment available). All selections must be approved by the director of the Grinnell Symphony in advance of the auditions.

Selection of soloists is determined by one or two judges in collaboration with the director of the Grinnell Symphony. Judges may choose to select one or more soloists to perform with the orchestra. In the case that no performances are deemed qualified, the judges reserve the right to select no candidate. For more information, contact Eric McIntyre.

Steiner Awards for Creativity in Music

The Steiner endowed awards were established in 1913 by Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Steiner in memory of their son Henry-York Steiner, who died as a teenager. Edward A. Steiner was the Rand Professor of Applied Christianity at Grinnell College from 1903 to 1941; Steiner Hall was named for him in 1959. Steiner Awards are also offered annually in the departments of English (short fiction) and Art (art history).

The Music Department awards Steiner prizes in two fields: composition and research. Students from any major at Grinnell College are eligible to compete; students may enter both the composition and research contests. Students must complete an Intent to Enter Form (due in April). Winners receive a cash prize and are honored at a luncheon with music faculty. For more information, please contact Mark Laver.

Steiner Awards for Music Composition

Compositions may be of any length, style, or genre (including electronic), and may have been performed or not. Contestants must submit one hard copy of their composition (if possible, both a score and a recording in CD format) and a short paragraph describing their compositional process. Entries will be judged by a composer from outside the Grinnell College community. One or more awards may be given, depending on the recommendation of the judge.

Steiner Award for Music Research

Research entries should demonstrate original thought on some musical topic; they may grow out of a class project and are not restricted to classes in the Music Department. The award will be made on the basis of an oral presentation only; a written version of the paper is not required. Presentations should last approximately 20-25 minutes, plus 20-25 minutes for discussion afterwards. Presentations will be judged by faculty outside the Music Department.

Ninth Semester Fellowship in Music

The Music Department offers an opportunity for continued independent study by a music major in the semester immediately following graduation.* This fellowship provides a stipend of $3500 plus $600 for supplies for a semester of research or creative work to develop a stronger portfolio in preparation for graduate school or a career in music. In exchange, the Fellow is expected to serve the Department by assisting with minor class-related jobs, giving demonstrations in his/her discipline and/or presentations of work in progress when called upon, and presenting his/her work publicly.

Applications, consisting of essay and portfolio, are due to the Music Department Chair in early March. The essay should describe in detail the scope of the proposed project, how it contributes to the applicant's long-range career plans, what courses and other work the applicant has done to prepare for this project, and why the Fellowship is necessary to complete the project. The portfolio should include three to five examples of the same type of work as proposed for the Fellowship (i.e. written compositions, recordings of performances, research papers, electronic compositions, etc.) The winner will be selected by the voting members of the Music Department. The Department reserves the right not to award a Fellowship in a given year.

* Students graduating at mid-year should apply the spring before their graduation. They would then hold the fellowship in the spring following graduation.

Important Information about Music Lesson Scholarships

  • There is a limit of one music lesson scholarship per semester for all non-majors; different types of scholarships may not be combined in a single semester.
  • To receive a scholarship, all qualifying students must officially register for a music lesson by the end of the add/drop period for that semester — NO EXCEPTIONS. You do not need to be registered at the time you apply for the Curd Scholarship or audition for the Hill Ensemble Scholarship.
  • The scholarship will be applied to your bill after the end of the add/drop period. You may see a charge on your bill, but it will be revised once the scholarship is processed.
  • To retain your scholarship funding, you must successfully complete the course (14 music lessons). Those who do not complete the course will be billed the full amount. Non-majors who drop the course within the first 6 weeks of the semester will receive a pro-rated refund based on the full cost of lessons.

Questions? Please reach out to the Office of Student Financial Aid, 641 269-3250, email the Music Department, or call 641 269-4262.