Auditions, Scholarships & Lessons

Music scholarships are available by audition to all student musicians regardless of academic major. Music scholarship auditions can be completed virtually! 

Scholarship auditions should be completed (or scheduled) by March 1, 2023. FIll out an Alma College Performing Arts Interest and Audition Form. Students who apply for admission in February or later will have a three-week window in which to complete an audition.

Performance Scholarships

Nearly 200 Alma College students receive music scholarships to assist them in making their education possible. Scholarship amounts are awarded in the following manner: 

$1,500 per year. These scholarships are renewable for four years for students who continue participating in ensembles and/or lessons as their scholarship requires.

Students who receive an award perform in an ensemble every term. Piano students who may not be performing in an ensemble will study privately each term. To be considered for a performance scholarship, you need to apply to Alma College and arrange for an audition with the Music Department. Please contact Profs. Nichols, Zerbe or Abo directly — or reach out to Rachel Plasch, Assistant Director of Admissions & Coordinator of Diversity Recruitment, or audition dates and requirements.

Outstanding student performers who have already auditioned and been recommended for a performance award may be eligible for a Distinguished Performance Scholarship.

Distinguished Performance Scholarship

These larger awards carry with them the expectation that the recipients will quickly become student leaders in the music program and Alma College music ensembles.

Instrumental performers who have auditioned for and been awarded a performance scholarship may be invited to submit a video recording for a Distinguished Performance Scholarship. Candidates are notified by letter of invitation.

Candidates for a Distinguished VOCAL award will be invited to return to campus in February to interview with Dr. Nichols and current choir members.

Acceptance of the scholarship requires that the student perform in an ensemble as assigned by the faculty and take studio lessons.

Vocal Scholarship Auditions

Singers should contact Dr. Will Nichols at (989) 463-7221 or Scholarship auditions should be completed by February 1st of your senior year in high school.

Steps to take:

1. Choose to audition virtually or on-campus:

Virtual Auditions: Contact Dr. Nichols to arrange a ZOOM audition. Choose one of the songs listed below, practice with the videos and piano accompaniment on the practice page, and then sing your zoom audition! Easy!

On-Campus Auditions: Contact Dr. Nichols to arrange a day to visit campus and sing your vocal scholarship audition. Choose one of the songs listed below, practice with the videos and piano accompaniment on the practice page, and come to campus and sing. Dr. Nichols will play the accompaniment for you. Easy!

2. Please prepare one of the songs listed below.

  1. Come Again, Sweet Love (High voices)
  2. Early One Morning (Medium voices)
  3. Has Sorrow Thy Young Days Faded (Low voices)

Practice videos and piano accompaniments have been uploaded here.

Distinguished Vocal Scholarships

Potential music majors students considering careers as choral conductors, music teachers, and professional singers/performers are eligible for Distinguished Vocal Scholarships of up to $8000 to help make it possible to explore these career paths. To be considered, the interested student should visit campus, meet with Dr. Nichols and complete a vocal audition by February 1st of your senior year in high school.

Kaiser Orchestral Scholarship

Students who demonstrate exceptional talent and play in the Alma Chamber Orchestra are eligible to receive up to $8,000 through the Kaiser Orchestral Scholarship. This award can be combined with other music scholarships, merit and need-based financial aid.

Instrumental Auditions

Band and Percussion Auditions:  Contact Mr. David Zerbe at (989) 463-7213 or to schedule an audition.

Orchestra Auditions: Contact Takeshi Abo at (989) 463-7167 or to schedule a string instrumental audition.

What to prepare for instrumental ensemble auditions:

  1. Be prepared to tell us about your high school band or orchestra experience and if you know how to play more than one instrument.
  2. Major and minor scales of your choice.
  3. Two short and contrasting etudes or a solo piece from solo and ensemble festival or as recommended by your private lesson teacher. Auditioning by memory is not required.

Piano Auditions: Contact Dr. Will Nichols at (989) 463-7221 or to schedule an audition.

What to prepare:

  1. Two contrasting works from the standard classical repertoire. Auditioning from memory is recommended, but not required.
  2. A brief biography indicating repertoire and musical experiences (i.e. competitions, camps, recitals, etc.).

Scottish Arts Scholarships: Piping

To be considered for a Scottish Arts Scholarship in Piping, you’ll need to apply for admission to Alma and arrange an audition with Andrew Duncan, Piping Director and Co-Coordinator of Highland Arts. You must be accepted to Alma College before you can apply for a scholarship. If you have questions, contact our Admissions Office at 1-800-321-ALMA or Andrew Duncan.


Receiving a performance scholarship qualifies you to take private studio lessons with one of the department’s outstanding professionals in the music faculty. You do not have to be a music major or minor to enroll in lessons. Lessons are available at two levels in half-hour- and hour-long units. The private instruction fee for all levels is $165 per term.