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How to get a scholarship? The DOs

For everyone who missed our previous blog post about what not to do when you are searching and applying for scholarships and funding, go and check it out. I promise there are some useful stuff to read and remember for a 'richer' future. ;)

When it comes to how to actually get that extra money there are some crucial things you should not miss out.

First let's look at how the funding system actually works. You need to understand that even though it seems like a free given money the funding/scholarship is everything but that. Most of the money that is given towards scholarship and funding funds is there because it is not taxable. Which has benefits for the people putting it there but let's not get too much into that. Also a lot of colleges take scholarships as promotion material because students which are supported by them and successful are the best possible advertisement you can get as an educational institution. So in general if you get funded by someone else then your close family you are probably expected to give something in return (probably your parents also expect holiday visits every know and then and helping them out in their old age but that's another topic). The institutions may want you to have a concert, mentioning them in your CV or a report letter after a year in order to see what you achieved in the time that passed. Whichever it is you need to be aware of it prior to applying. Never take money if you are not sure you will be able to stick with the agreement. Not just that it is not fair but it can also push you into some troubles you do not want.

Let's look at the important things you should look after when you are searching for available funding.

1. Eligibility

That is probably the first and most important one. Here goes everything, from your age, instrument/voice to your nationality. Some funds are open just for British students, other just for international ones, some take people who are under 25, other have no age limit.

Be sure you fit into the criteria, whatever that is.

2. Deadline

When is the application due? When will they make the decision? This are all important questions, while if you already missed the deadline for this school year, you could probably save the link for future but it won't really benefit you here and now. Also check when will you receive the answer, because in order to plan your budget further in advance you need to know approx. how much and when are you getting any kind of funds.

3. What do they want in return?

As we said it may be a small thing, like one concert for their trustees or mentioning them in your CV but it can also be a tour around UK that you need to sponsor yourself (that is rare) but you need to be careful that you will actually make profit with your successful application, not just covering the expenses of whatever they would want from you or even fall into the cold minus area that you don't want to be at.

4. What is needed for the application?

Now if they are offering 100£ but they want you to go through 3 stage of auditions you need to decide if its worth it. If you think you need to play your repertoire anyway and some extra audition experience won't hurt you then go for it. But we all know how much it takes to be well prepared for auditions and you need to calculate for yourself that again you are not actually drifting to the minus side with your financial balance and time investment.

Most of the big funding institutions will have auditions, but the amounts are usually bigger as well. On the other hand smaller institutions usually want just documents (CV, Motivational letter, Letter of Recommendation) and luckily for you they all want the same thing. So when you once have all the documents together (well written documents) you can apply to more then just one funding option.

If you keep this 4 points in your head and do a quick mind check through all of them when you are looking for new funding options it will save you a huge amount of time and disappointment. My personal advice would be not to dwell too much on the ones you are not eligible for (even if they look really nice and promising). We are all different in age, instrument, nationality and a lot of foundations decides to support a certain group of people. And that's okay, at the end of the day it is their money. You will definitely find something you can successfully apply for.

Good CV

There is a lot of examples of how to do this right, but the advice I can give you comes from the years of experience and I found a way that work out for me pretty well.

CV in UK means something different then in the most of the other countries in Europe! This is important especially for all foreign students (like myself) who were completely shocked when they saw a British example of a CV.

The main thing with your CV is that it is easy to read and that your experience and education are in the order of relevance (if you are applying for funding to go for an orchestral masterclass, the first thing you will put under the experience is your previous orchestral jobs/projects)

Use bullet points and don't lie.

In general CV is a boring piece of document. There is no much space for your personality, except of what kind of font you will choose (Comic Sans is a no-no). I would avoid stating your age as well, while unfortunately people stereotype a lot (if the funding is just for a certain age you will need to provide your ID, but keep the actual age off the CV).

Good Motivational Letter

When it comes to Motivational Letter here is where you should shine. Use all of your creativity, use a lot of adjectives (especially if applying for a UK based funding) and present yourself in the best light possible.

My formula which proved to be quite successful was:

- 100 words of describing who you are (Ines M is a young Irish violinist who started her musical journey at the age of 7. She is passionate about chamber music and making classical musical accessible to the wider range of people. etc)

- Your 3 biggest relevant (!) successes in life (up to 400 words)

- Your 2 important goals for the future (up to 200 words and be innovative, finishing college is not as unique wish as it may seem)

- Explanation that in order to achieve your goals you are in need of financial help due to very high expenses or family situation etc. Always add that even though you are very responsible with your money (if not then here you are allowed to lie but also seriously think about your future) the expenses are still too high for you and your family and that as a full time student unfortunately you can not take a full time job.

-Conclusion, where you say thank you for any kind of help or advice they are willing to provide and thank you for the given opportunity. (Always stay nice and polite, they may not consider you for this specific opportunity but if they really like you, there may be something else with what they could help you.)

Recommendation Letters

- Have at least 2 (3 is a better option)

- If you have 2, one should be from the performance perspective and another one from academic perspective

- They can't be written by the same person and shouldn't be written by your mother or yourself

- Ask someone you trust but make sure they like you, otherwise they will just write a polite 'As far as we know this is an okay student' and you don't want that.

When you put all the documents together, send the applications out as soon as possible.

Well and then, Good Luck!

You will need it.

Links to check if you are looking for funding (this is just to get you started, this topic is probably the only one where you should check anything after Page 1 on Google):

http://www.savethestudent.org/student-finance/student-grants-bursaries-scholarships.html

http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/Funding/about-youth-musics-grants-programme?gclid=CKuX0r_LsNMCFfUV0wodbKkBaQ

http://www.european-funding-guide.eu/scholarship/overview/United%20Kingdom

http://www.unigrants.co.uk/music

https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/get-advice/funding-careers/student-funding/student-funding

http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/Home/Advice/Your-Career/Finance/Sources-of-Funding

https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/who-else/employment/grants-funding

http://www.scholarship-search.org.uk/

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