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Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award FAQs

These FAQs relate to applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award.

Please review this section thoroughly.

Questions? Email scholarship@fromthetop.org. or call 617-437-0707 Ext 4.

JKCYA Award Information

1. The Basics

1a. What is the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award?

The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award is a one-time, non-renewable, need-based grant of up to $10,000 given in conjunction with full participation in From the Top’s Learning and Media Lab Fellowship. The award is given to driven and committed pre-collegiate musicians with financial need to help offset the often prohibitively expensive costs of studying classical music at a high level. Each year, From the Top chooses approximately 20 students ages 8-18 to receive the Award.

1b. How many Young Artist Award recipients are selected each year?

Approximately twenty Young Artist Award recipients are selected each year from across the country. Learn more about past Young Artist Award recipients by clicking here.

1c. When will I hear back regarding my Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award application?

Applicants will receive a decision letter regarding their eligibility for the Young Artist Award by 90 days from the application deadline for which they submitted.

1d. Is the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award renewable?

No. The Young Artist Award is a one-time grant.

1e. Can the Award be used to pay for college tuition?

The scholarship cannot be used to pay for college tuition. It can be applied to a wide variety of pre-collegiate music expenses (see question 6a).

2. Eligibility

2a. Am I eligible to apply?

The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award is a need-based award. Click here for more details.

We are looking for classically trained instrumentalists, vocalists, and composers who have not yet entered college and have an interest in participating in our Learning & Media Lab Fellowship.

Applicants must be between the ages of 8–18 and full-time elementary, middle, or high school students to apply. College students and those who have already graduated from high school may not apply.

High school seniors may only apply for the fall scholarship deadlines. Click here to see this year’s deadlines.

2b. Must I be a U.S. citizen to apply?

No. You must, however, currently reside and/or study in the United States full-time.

2c. Are home-schooled students eligible to apply?

Yes. Home-schooled students must submit grade reports or grade summaries. We also request two recommendations: one academic and one music recommendation from teachers, tutors, or mentors other than the home-schooling parent.

2d. What are the selection criteria?

Applicants are evaluated and chosen for the Award based on the following criteria: Strong musical commitment, unmet financial need, commitment to learning and creativity – inside and outside the classroom, and strength of character. Click here for more information on the selection criteria.

2e. How do I know if I am financially eligible?

Applicants must provide evidence of a family income unable to meet the costs of his/her musical pursuits (new instruments, music lessons, summer festival tuition, and travel, etc.). 90% of our past recipients come from families with an annual household Adjusted Gross Income of under $60,000.

While we do consider extenuating circumstances such as cost of living, medical expenses, dependents, etc., we do not encourage applicants with an annual household Adjusted Gross Income of over $100,000 to apply. Please contact the Scholarship Department at (617) 437-0707 Ext. 4 or scholarship@fromthetop.org if you have additional questions.

3. How to Apply

3a. What are the key dates in the Young Artist Award application process?

3b. When should I apply? Is there an advantage to applying earlier in the season?

Our show season runs pretty much parallel to the school year. Therefore, the earlier you apply in the school year, the more shows we have available to consider you for within that particular season. We encourage you to apply as soon as you feel prepared and have repertoire that you love and would like to share with us.

If you are a high school senior, you MUST apply by the final fall deadline.

We will consider all applications equally (regardless of the deadline for which they were submitted). High school seniors will be considered for shows through the end of the season (at which point they become ineligible for the Award). All other applicants will continue to be considered for shows in future seasons.

3c. What will I need to apply?

Beyond filling out the application itself, you will also need the following items. Some will require help from your parents/guardians.

  • At least two unedited, un-enhanced video or audio samples of your music for upload into the application portal
  • Contact information for two teachers (an academic teacher and a music teacher) who are willing recommendations for you. They will receive further instructions after you’ve submitted the online application.
  • A copy of your family’s most recent tax forms (including all schedules, attachments, and W2 forms), and a copy of your recent academic transcripts
    • We maintain a special secure-encrypted platform to receive these documents electronically, so please do not send these documents by mail or email. You will find more instructions in the online application.

Click here for the JKCYA Award Application Guide.

3d. May my parent/guardian complete any section of the application on my behalf?

Parents and/or guardians may complete the financial portion of the application. However, the applicant must complete all other sections of the application.

3e. Can I apply to appear on the show with my small ensemble (2–8 performers) and still apply for the Young Artist Award?

Yes. If you would like to apply for the Young Artist Award as a member of a small ensemble, please contact scholarship@fromthetop.org for instructions.

NOTE: The Young Artist Award is a need-based scholarship. Please see question 2e for financial eligibility requirements.

3f. If I do not receive a Young Artist Award, can I still be considered for the Learning & Media Lab Fellowship?

Yes. If you are not selected for a Young Artist Award, you may still be selected for the Learning & Media Lab Fellowship.

3g. If I am not selected for the Award this year, may I apply again?

Yes! In fact, most of our Award recipients have applied more than once. We will keep your application on file until you graduate from high school, so you may also send in additional recordings as your progress continues, typically after about a year. Usually, there is no need to complete a new application in its entirety. Please contact scholarship@fromthetop.org for more information about reapplying.

4. My Repertoire

4a. What style of music does From the Top feature?

From the Top primarily celebrates music from the Western classical tradition. However, we also like to present music from other traditions including folk, world, jazz, and gospel. We are particularly interested in music that combines traditions! Contact auditions@fromthetop.org if you have a question about your genre of music.

4b. Do you prefer any particular types of repertoire?

We want to hear YOU! We want to hear repertoire that you and your teacher feel represents your playing most strongly. It does not need to be showy repertoire—some people shine through the slow lyricism of a haunting melody. Whether slow and lyrical or fast and virtuosic, we want to hear repertoire that you feel passionate about and that celebrates your playing in the best way.

If you are selected for the Fellowship, you will then work one-on-one with our music director to select a piece that will work for our radio program.

REPERTOIRE LIBRARY

Are you looking to learn something new? Do you need ideas for diverse repertoire, works by living composers, or composers from communities underrepresented in the classical canon?

If so, please check out our repertoire library.

4c. What should I include on my audition recording?

We require only two video or audio recordings, but you may upload as many as six recordings if you would like. A recording made using your phone is absolutely acceptable. We just need the audio to be clear. Please submit contrasting pieces if possible.

4d. Do I need an accompanist for my audition recording?

Even if the music you choose for your audition recording calls for piano accompaniment, we do not require that you submit a recording with accompaniment.

4e. I'm a vocalist. What type of music should I prepare for my audition?

We ask that you prepare classical repertoire such as art songs, arias, or equivalent repertoire from global classical traditions.

While we highly recommend you perform your audition with accompaniment, using a recorded track is completely acceptable.

From the Top is not able to feature pop nor a majority of musical theater repertoire due to rights and distribution issues. At this time, From the Top is also unable to feature singer-songwriters. Feel free to listen to past shows on our website for examples of vocal appearances, and contact us at auditions@fromthetop.org with any questions about vocal repertoire.

5. My Audition

5a. How polished does my audition have to be?

We would like to hear your playing in its most grounded, free, expressive, and consistent form. We would prefer to hear an old, polished piece for your audition rather than one you just began learning.

5b. What level of audio quality is required for my audition recording?

We need to be able to hear you clearly, but you do not need to spend money on reserving a professional recording studio or purchasing high-end recording equipment. Using an iPhone or other similar device is absolutely acceptable.

5c. How do I upload the videos to my application?

You can upload video files directly into the online application, on SurveyMonkey Apply.

You are also given the option to share the recordings as YouTube or Vimeo links in the application. This is preferred, when possible. We just ask that you make sure your videos’ privacy settings are set to either “public” or “unlisted.” If they are set to “private” we cannot see them!

5d. How many recordings should I upload?

We require only two video/audio recordings, but you may upload as many as six recordings if you would like. A recording made using your phone is absolutely acceptable—we just need the audio to be clear. Please submit contrasting pieces if possible.

6. Receiving the Award

6a. How can I use the award money?

Each Young Artist Award recipient will receive a grant of up to $10,000 which may be used for the following:
• Summer Music Festival Attendance
• Private music instruction, masterclasses and/or workshops
• Tuition for music school/extra-curricular music program
• Instrument/instrument accessories
• Air travel and lodging for summer music festivals, special workshops, consultation lessons, competitions, and college auditions
• Sheet music and scores
• *Concert attire
• *Recording equipment, music technology software and subscriptions

*Items that include a spending limit

6b. Can I use the award to pay for college tuition?

The award cannot be used to pay for college tuition. This is a set regulation for which there are no exceptions. The award also cannot be used for college textbooks, non-music-related pursuits and travels, or non-musical items—phones, earbuds, etc.

It can be applied to a wide variety of pre-collegiate music expenses (see question 6a).

If you have any additional questions, please contact the Scholarship Department at (617) 437-0707 Ext. 4 or email scholarship@fromthetop.org

6c. Is the JKCYA award renewable?

No. The Young Artist Award is a one-time award.

6d. What services and support do Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists receive?

Young Artists receive up to $10,000 in financial support, national exposure through a performance on one of From the Top’s radio broadcasts, and participation in our full Learning and Media Lab Fellowship program.

Please note that the Young Artist Award can only be given in conjunction with a performance on our radio show, which includes taking part in the full Learning and Media Lab Fellowship curriculum. The award cannot be given independently.

7. Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program Information

7a. What is the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program?

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program is an academic scholarship program that identifies high-achieving, low-income 7th-grade students. From the Top is not involved in the application or review for the Young Scholars Program. 

The Young Scholars Program provides selected students with individualized educational advising combined with comprehensive financial support from the 8th grade through high school. To learn more about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program and how to apply for this opportunity, click here to visit their website.

7b. If I am selected to the Young Scholars Program, will I still be eligible for the Young Artist Award?

No. If you are selected for the Young Scholars Program, you are no longer eligible for the Young Artist Award.