Student musicians and emerging composers at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music have encouraged fellow aspiring artists to ‘go for it’ and apply for the $1.5 million dollars in travel, merit and equity scholarships made available by donors and benefactors every year.
Whether it’s recording a first improvised jazz album or taking masterclasses in Berlin — Conservatorium musicians have used their scholarships to make art, connections, and community.
But for many, it all starts with brave act of asking for support, like Seoul-born jazz drummer Yeajee Kim. In 2019, she completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Conservatorium. But immense financial burdens for an ongoing health condition while an international student seemed destined to stop the Korean musician from pursuing her vision.
This is when she decided to ask for support to continue her music studies here in Sydney. “I approached the Dean of the Conservatorium Professor Anna Reid, with the hope I could receive financial support,” said Kim, a recipient of the The George Henderson Bequest. “Thanks to the Dean, and the Conservatorium’s generosity and understanding, I was able to start my postgraduate studies, a Masters by Research, this year.”
Whether you’re a domestic or international student, here’s just some of the things you can do with a scholarship at the Conservatorium.
This was the experience of fourth-year bachelor of music student, Samuel Killick, a recipient of the Anthony and Sharon Lee Foundation Jazz Scholarship. The jazz performer’s move from his Port Macquarie home in his first year was made more difficult by needing to support his studies through work.
“The scholarship certainly helped ease that burden,” he says. Killlick is releasing a debut album at the end of the year with the band, Mansion, and he believes he would never have been able to dedicate time to this project without the scholarship.
And for pianist and second-year Bachelor of Music student Estelle Barker, a Clarence Addison Turrill Scholarship has helped her access chances to learn that she otherwise never thought possible. “Last July, I was able to travel by myself to Italy to attend two weeks’ of masterclasses and perform at the Brescia Talent Summer Master Courses. This January, I was more fortunate to spend four weeks studying in Germany, in Munich, and at Berlin’s Blackmore International Music Academy,” she said.
The 20-year-old, who hails from a small Victorian town along the Great Ocean Road, said these cultural and educational opportunities have had as a ‘profound effect’ on her musical development.
For Emma Holley, her scholarship has opened her up to sense of musical connection and community.
Holley has been singing for more than 10 years, focusing on jazz vocal for the past six years. An avid arranger and composer, she is in her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Music (Music Education) with principal study in jazz voice.
“I have had an incredibly diverse and varied experience in my subjects here at the Conservatorium and feel incredibly well equipped for my future as a musician and educator,” says Holley, who like Killick, received the Anthony and Sharon Lee Foundation Jazz Scholarship. In fact, both she and Killick are collaborators in the band, Mansion.
“One of my highlights at the Conservatorium,” says Barker, “has been the wonderfully friendly and supportive students, and how safe and connected I feel here. I’m grateful to be part of this community. And I look forward to spending more time here, where I’m supported and driven to achieve my best.”
Holley’s ‘ultimate career goal’ is to work as a music teacher within a tertiary institution — potentially teaching jazz music skills and jazz voice.
“I would also love to start jazz vocal groups in different high schools around the Sydney area to pass on my expertise and encourage other young musicians to perform — and love — jazz music. I’m also eager to record more music and release albums with Mansion, where we create improvised music as a quartet,” she says.
And the scholarship recipients want others to have the same opportunities they have. “So many students at the Con have gone through their degrees not knowing that they were eligible for many different scholarships, so don’t let the possibility go to waste,” says Holley.
Barker agrees: “I would say to go for it! What do you have to lose? The Conservatorium has so many different scholarships available and for many different reasons. Academic award, financial need, travel assistance — the list goes on.”
She found the application process quite simple. “Even if application-writing isn’t your forte yet, the University has support services for writing convincing applications,” says Barker. “This scholarship has been life-changing for me. I would urge other students to look at all the avenues available too.”
And Kim’s experience is a reminder that both international and domestic students can receive a wide range of scholarships. The jazz drummer says other students should not be nervous about seeking out financial support. “Be honest and do remember the Conservatorium faculty members and students are always available to listen to individuals’ voices and willing to provide help and support however they can,” she said.
Both domestic and international applicants, will be considered for merit scholarships, which are assessed on auditions, portfolio results and academic achievement. The Conservatorium also offers grants for overseas study — when safe to travel — along with student-touring opportunities, and postgraduate research support.
Professor Anna Reid, Head of School and Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, said its music scholarships provide vital support to talented artists every year. “At a challenging time for higher education, we’re immensely proud and thankful for the generosity of our donors, who have funded over 190 annual scholarships."
"These scholarships are usually awarded on the basis of a student’s academic merit or financial need. We’re excited for the next generation of aspiring musicians to receive this support, which will allow them to focus on what really matters: their training."