Cash tight for music |

Cash tight for music

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

Jobs aren’t the only thing that may be hard for kids to find this summer.

It may be tougher to earn scholarships for music, voice and acting lessons from the Utah Conservatory, a nonprofit music organization that instructs 400 students in Park City and Salt Lake City.

The conservatory awards a handful of scholarships each year based on merit and need. At first glance, the dollar amounts of the awards appear modest. Scholarships usually pay for about half the total cost of lessons with a cap of $50. (It costs about $100 a month for basic once-a-week instrumental and stage lessons at the conservatory.)

It’s not enough for some families, but for others it means the difference between staying in lessons and curtailing study, according to director Dr. Frederic Cook.

An outside jury selects scholarship recipients in August. Scholarships span from September to May and can be applied to instructors and programs outside the conservatory.

Recently, Cook sent a blast email to about 2,000 parents and businesses asking for donations. "We need all the help we can get," Cook said. "We’d like to do more [than last year]."

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In 2008, Cook received 30 applications for just five scholarship slots. With more funding, he’d award more scholarships, but he said he doesn’t think that’s likely this year. So far, at this early date in fundraising, he hasn’t raised a dime. He said he expects donations to pick up as the August deadline nears, when applicants are required to submit personal essays and audition.

But will it be enough?

"There’s never enough funding," said Aaron Mitchell, the conservatory’s registrar.

Whether or not donations pick up, it’s clear that need has increased in the last six months as the economy has slumped, Mitchell explained. Parents persistently inquire about discounts, special deals and scholarships. The list of families interested in scholarship information, which Mitchell said he began compiling a few weeks ago, already contains nearly a dozen names. "There’s a huge need for scholarships and I wish we had more support for funding," he said. "I think there are kids out there who want to study music but can’t because of finances."

To donate, contact the Utah Conservatory at 649-6292.