Scholarship Essay Contest

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 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.

2019 Scholarship Winners

What Music Means To Me

Manasvi

Winner, Grade 1-5

This is what music means to me:

The rustling of leaves on a cool fall day,

The wind whistling on my hair,

Horses galloping through plains,

A majestic bird squawking to its friends,

Baby birds chirping for thier mothers,

Snakes hissing through the undergrowth,

Leopards growling at their prey,

Dogs barking at each other,

Mice scurrying away,

Volcanoes erupting,

Tornadoes slicing through the air,

Kites flying in the wind,

When a tennis ball hits a bat,

When a basketball lands in a hoop,

Baseballs flying in the air.

Music expresses emotions in a unique way. I want the scholarship because music is for for one thing and I want to use it when I grow up because I want to be a doctor. I believe that music can heal anything from sorrow to cancer. It can be used for mood disorders. Who knows? Music might save the world someday!

What Music Means To Me

Olivia H.

Winner, Grade 6-12

Music is important to me because it fills our lives, starting when we were babies. Adults sing or hum lullabies to babies. Kids learn nurser rhymes (usually sung or spoken in a specific rhythm) in Kindergarten. Kids may start learning music basics in school. I remember learning about jazz and opera in elementary school, which helped me appreciate music when I began violin lessons in first grade. At camp, my friends and I enjoy listening to popular music. It makes camp a lot more fun than it already is when we get a chance to listen to our favorite music. Christmastime wouldn't be the same without the classic songs.

When we go to a movie, we're going to hear music. We will hear a specific piece of music when Darth Vader is entering the scene, or when Harry Potter wins the Quidditch match. We know there's a troublesome shark on his way when we hear basses playing staccato notes.

We know to stand and place our hands over our hearts when we hear the Star Spangled Banner. It's a solemn occasion when we hear a trumpeter playing Taps at a funeral. It's time to cheer when the school fight song plays. Music cues so many emotions.

A theatrical performance with music, based on a real person who played an instrument was what helped me decide which instrument to learn. In first grade, I was deciding between two instruments: piano or violin? My parents took me to a play about "Christmastime at Little House on the Prairie." At the end, after a climactic scene when Caroline "Ma" Ingalls thought a bear had broken into the house, Charles "Pa" Ingalls brought out his fiddle and played Christmas music. Not long after seeing that play, I told my mom I had decided on learning how to play the violin. Within a month, my mom had signed me up at the Marion Music Academy.

Sometimes, when I first look at a piece of music, it might look hard. But my instructor gives me guidance and tips. Once I've learned the piece, I feel accomplished. And she can always tell how much practice I've put into a piece. At camp, while I was taking instrument lessons, the instructor could tell I was ready for a challenge. When I practiced and played that challenging music for him, he was proud that I had stepped up and met his challenge.

My school's music teacher was happy when I decided to join the middle school band's percussion section because I could already read music. Now that we have a brand new percussionist, I can turn and help him because of the music foundation I've already built from weekly lessons since first grade.

I want to keep taking violin lessons because I've accomplished a lot already, and music is an important part of life. Plus, playing the violin is extremely fun. The awesome thing is that it only gets easier the more I learn.

2018 Scholarship Essay Winners

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.

Polished

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.

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