Music Scholarships & Awards

Music Lesson Scholarships

Please note that most music lessons are available without additional fees. For more information, see Music Lessons.

Competitive Awards

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 chosen 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. 

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 first-, second-, and third-year contestants in the Hill auditions will receive the Curd Outstanding Instrumentalist Award and the James Outstanding Vocalist Award.

Application forms (on GrinnellShare) are due in March; auditions are held in April. 

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

Curd Outstanding Instrumentalist Award and James Award for Vocal Performance

The Curd and James awards recognize the top instrumentalist and top vocalist among the first-, second-, and third-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 Curd Outstanding Instrumentalist Award was initially established by Leslie Stearns ’87 in honor of Berneil Mueller, a longtime member of the music department staff. As a student at Grinnell, Leslie had worked with Ms. Mueller and valued the interest and support in students that she demonstrated. When the Curd Endowed Fund was established in 2003 (see below), this award received permanent funding and was renamed.

The James Award for Vocal Performance was established in 1997 by Irma Cooper ’34, former opera singer and professor at Ohio State, in memory of her Grinnell College friend and roommate, Frances Collins James ’34.

The winners receive upgraded instrument lessons and a stipend to cover professional development opportunities through travel, masterclasses, etc.  

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 in 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.

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 Putu Hiranmayena.

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.

Curd 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 semester of research or creative work should help students develop a stronger portfolio in preparation for graduate school or a career in music. Fellows will receive a small stipend and budget for supplies. In exchange, the fellow is expected to serve the department by assisting with minor class-related jobs, giving demonstrations in their discipline and/or presentations of work in progress when called upon, and presenting their work publicly.

Applications are due in early March. Students graduating at mid-year should apply the spring before their graduation. They would then hold the fellowship in the spring following graduation.

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