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2019 Scholarship Essay Contest

Entry Deadline Extension: Now October 11, 2019

The Marion Music Academy is offering two 6 month (24 lessons) scholarships to all area students. We're asking students to write a short essay of 500 words or fewer expressing what music means to them and why they want to take lessons.

We'll select two winners from the submitted essays, one from grades 1-5 and one from grades 6-12. This contest is open to all students whether or not they currently take music classes at the Academy. The value of the scholarships is up to $720.

To enter:


  • Mail essays to 940 8th Ave, Marion, IA 52302, or submit via email at newstudents@ marionmusicacademy.com.

  • Include a cover page with the student’s name, parent’s name, grade level, and contact information.

  • Deadline for entries has been extended to October 11, 2019. We look forward to reading your essays!

2018 Scholarship Essay Winners

We asked students from Marion, Cedar Rapids, and the surrounding area to submit an essay telling us about what music meant to them. Authors of the winning essays received a one-year music tuition scholarship to the Marion Music Academy. We selected one winner from grades 1 to 5, and one winner from grades 6 to 12. We wish to extend our grateful thanks to all the students who took the time to write an essay and enter the contest. We're so glad music is a meaningful part of your lives.

What Music Means to Me

Alexander A.

Winner, Grade 1-5

I really like music a lot. My Mom told me that she used to sing to me a lot when I was still in her tummy. My Mom and Dad even have a video of me, from when I was really little, in my diaper rocking and dancing to a tune being played on my very first baby piano. My aunt Joan bought me a toy guitar that I loved to play with too. Music seems to always make me happy and always makes me want to move and groove. I love listening to all kinds of music, singing and playing my piano. I really like watching others play music on YouTube too, especially “The Piano Guys.” When I grow up, my big plan is to play music for my church and to write my own songs. I have already played at church for the Easter program and the Christmas program and everybody loved it. They were so happy when I was playing. They all stood up and were clapping and singing along with my music. Music means life to me because it is one thing that makes me happy, makes other people happy and allows me to express myself however I want to. I like listening to reggae music and one of Bob Marley’s songs says “One good thing about music is when it HITS you feel no pain.” That is what I want to do. HIT them with good music where they won’t feel any pain but it will be like medicine – (pouring joy in their soul).

This scholarship will really help my Mom and Dad a lot, so that I can continue to take piano lessons and hopefully get to start learning the guitar too. I always wanted to play guitar but my Mom and Dad said I had to wait. This scholarship will really help my plans of becoming a really good musician as my teachers and the Marion Music Academy are the best.


Jacqueline A.

Winner, Grade 6-12

II remember the first time I ever performed on stage quite vividly. The blinding glare of the stage lights, the squeak creak of the risers, and the three hundred or so pairs of eyes in the audience bring into my soul and totally freaking me out. I was just a terrified fourth graded in a homemade poodle skirt, a girl who’d been told she was a horrible dancer and ran like a baby deer, someone who for once just wanted somewhere she could shine. As I dragged my rickety plastic chair across the seemingly vast stage and held my guitar, I thought, “This is it, Jacqueline. It’s your chance to become more than what you aren’t.” As I took my seat in front of all of my peers and their parents, I took in three shaky breaths and began. “He rocks in the treetops, all the day long, rockin’ and a boppin’ and a singin’ that song.”

I grooved over the verses, glided over the melody, and it was the best feeling I’d ever felt. Belting out the spunky lyrics created a new feeling, an almost indescribable one. I t was like swimming through Jell-O, tough and fun and crazy all at once. Once the last chord was strung, it hit me. The wave of applause was something I’d never experienced before. My heart overflowed more and more with each scream and shout, and created a sense of pure euphoria. The light blocked out most of the audience, but I could still see my mom smiling with pride from the third row. I was shining true and gloriously for the first time ever.


Except, all the praise and glory didn’t mean a thing in the big picture. In the end, all of the “OMG you have, like, such a good voice!”s meant nothing in comparison to the mom who came up to me and said with a smile, “My daughter just told me she wants to sing by herself next year. You’ve inspired her.” Hearing that was the biggest rewards of all, because knowing another girl would face her fears and embrace her talent onstage made all of the hours of practicing and overcoming my stagefright even more worthwhile.


I remembered seeing older kids in the past performing and wanting to be like them, becoming more intrigued  by music and thinking about how amazing it was to be in front of a crowd so open to judgement yet free from it all the same. For a long time, I thought music was just for me to feel good and be proud. I was terribly wrong. It’s taken a while to realize, but I’ve finally begun to understand that my voice wasn’t meant for me. It’s for the person next to me. It’s for the teenagers hearing me sing a message at youth group on Wednesdays and for the student whose crappy day is brightened by hearing their favorite song sung during show choir practice. It’s for that daughter who has been inspired to find her shining moment just like I was. Music makes you feel alive when everything else seems utterly pointless, and I feel so very blessed to have it in my life. All I need is to be polished so I can shine even brighter.