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Students reflect on the Fine Arts Scholarship

This past weekend, prospective students filled campus for Fine Arts Scholarship weekend. These scholarships can be given for art, dance, music and theater. The weekend entailed a busy schedule of interviews, auditions, tours and class visits. With the added pressure of substantive scholarships on the line, this weekend can be stressful and intense for students. However, this intensity doesn’t stop after receiving a fine arts scholarship.

After receiving a scholarship, students must fulfill certain requirements to keep it. In order to meet the requirements, students must participate in a St. Olaf approved music ensemble on their primary instrument and must attend weekly private lessons for a quarter credit. If a student is not a music major, they are expected to pay for these lessons at a cost of $530 per semester.

The first-year choirs require three hours of practice a week in addition to chapel performances a few times each semester. The St. Olaf Orchestra requires 4.5 hours per week in addition to time spent practicing with recommended quartets or trios. The audition process for music is specifically tailored per instrument and depends on if you are planning to pursue a B.A. or a B.M. Elena Getchell, a potential music scholar, who auditioned on flute this weekend, was required to play ten minutes from two contrasting pieces in addition to a chromatic scale and two scales of her choice.

Getchell felt confident in her audition, as she felt she chose pieces she “has been practicing for a while.” She was nervous about the scales, which she said  “should be easy, but something always seems to go wrong.”

The pressure to commit to a music major in order to finance lessons can lead to frustration as students plan their academic goals. Ben Homan ’22 received a music scholarship for viola, and, while he appreciates the generosity of the music department, is currently considering leaving the major and is hesitant to begin paying for lessons without scholarship funds.

“It’s frustrating because my added academic merit aid prevents me from claiming my full music scholarship and I’m not allowed to put any extra scholarship towards lessons if I chose to drop a music major,” Homan said.

Alex Long ’22, also a first-year recipient of a music scholarship, plays viola in the St. Olaf Orchestra and takes private lessons. He extols the value of St. Olaf’s robust music scholarship program and appreciates that his allotted scholarship will increase as tuition increases over the years.

Similar to Homan, Long says he is frustrated the scholarship  is supposed to offset the cost of lessons, but  one must take lessons to continue receiving the scholarship. Regardless, Long said the requirements are reasonable, as he would participate in music ensembles and lessons anyway.

“Most string players participate in the added quartets because they are fun, so the added time spent practicing does not negatively impact my academic or social life,” Long said.

While there are certainly frustrations within the scholarship program, overall it has given students opportunities and abilities to follow their passion.

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