Symphony Hall Scholars

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The purpose of the Symphony Hall Scholars is to provide support to defray the cost of All State Music Festival participation by the students selected. Beginning in 2012, Symphony Hall Scholars will also be designing programs to support Future Symphony Hall Scholars to ensure even more students receive the opportunity to develop the musical skills needed for All State level participation.



There is an old story about a young man new to New York City who asked a passerby, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The man, after a brief pause, answered, Practice, Practice. Practice. The same question is appropriate for those Massachusetts Music students who aspire to perform in Boston's Symphony Hall. The Massachusetts Music Educators Association provides such an opportunity each year for some five hundred (500) talented student musicians from schools and communities from all corners of Massachusetts.

Thousands of hopeful musicians develop their musical skills and make the commitment of time and practice to be able to compete for the opportunity to perform in the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. These musicians include singers, band, orchestral, and jazz players each vying for a place in the All State Concert.

Similar to honor students in the academic fields, these student musicians represent excellence in achievement, and that is why they have become known as the Symphony Hall Scholars. These talented musicians selected as Symphony Hall Scholars are privileged to be coached, directed, and guided by outstanding professional musicians. culminating in a public performance in Bostons Symphony Hall.

They also the opportunity to meet other talented students from many communities throughout the Commonwealth who come from urban, suburban, rural areas, vastly different social and economic backgrounds, and many ethnic origins. The students all have a common goal to make music together.


The First Step

Each year in late January, thousands of musicians attend a District Festival. There are five districts Central, Eastern, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Western that host these festivals, which include auditions, music workshops, and clinics. Every student who participates receives valuable experiences, both in gaining musical skills and understanding from the audition process, and also in sharing their abilities with other students.

The Next Step

As the result of the auditions of more than four thousand (4,000) students representing almost every community in Massachusetts, approximately one thousand (1,000) student musicians are selected to audition for participation in the All State Chorus, All State Concert Band, All State Orchestra, and All State Jazz Band.

From this audition, only five hundred (500) are invited to participate as Symphony Hall Scholars in the All State Concert held at Boston's Symphony Hall.

The Final Step

These musicians assemble at the Massachusetts Music Educators' Association annual conference, where they have three days of intensive rehearsals, coaching, and other musical experiences. Students are privileged to work with and learn from outstanding conductors who share their musical expertise in the rehearsal and performance of challenging music


The Schools

The approval for participation as a Symphony Hall Scholar in All State comes from the school, the school principal, and MMEA member teacher who must verify that the student is a member in good standing of a school music ensemble. The MMEA is endorsed by the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association, which assists with encouraging schools to fully participate with this program.

When concert expenses rise, the student participation fee also increases. This fee is subsidized partially, or in full, by some school districts. However, in many cases, it comes directly from the parents and families.

The Families

Cuts in school budgets continue to place a greater burden upon the parents of the student musicians to contribute either all, or part of the fee. Without the substantial parental support of a child's musical education, both in the school and through private lessons, selection to participate would be greatly diminished.


Since the actual cost for each student to participate continues to escalate, fees need to be subsidized by MMEA, member contributions, corporations, foundations, and individuals. Without this support, student fees will have to be continually increased.

Students of families with limited incomes may be excluded if additional funding support is not provided. In fact, some students may not even apply if they feel that they would not be able to meet the financial requirements.

In addition, there is a growing concern with the distinct lack of minority and low-income student participation in this event. This is what Symphony Hall Scholars new initiative Future Symphony Hall Scholars is being developed to address.

It is MMEA's goal to encourage participation of all qualified students, regardless of financial consideration.


The Massachusetts Music Educators Association is providing an opportunity for you to ensure that all talented musicians from across the Commonwealth have the chance to be a Symphony Hall Scholar.

Two thousand (2,000) parents, teachers, and friends of the performers attend the All State Concert, which for Symphony Hall is a full house. Your sponsorship or contribution is crucial in making this possible and will enable you to show your support to this large audience.

Thank you for giving serious consideration to joining other sponsors and contributors in making this outstanding event possible for these deserving student musicians.

Massachusetts All State Music Students and Future All-Staters Need Our Support

The Symphony Hall Scholars Fund was established twelve years ago to defray the high cost of giving our All State students a music experience second to none in the country. The goal of the fund is to make the All State music experience more affordable for all students.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, as the expenses for All State have increased, support for individual students from their home school districts has eroded, and donations to Symphony Hall Scholars have decreased. We are concerned that the cost to participate in the All State Festival may approach the point where some qualified student musicians may not be able to take part.

In addition, MMEA is becoming more concerned with the lack of minority and low-income students in our All State groups. As such, in addition to our traditional role, MMEA has directed SHS to develop a new initiative to address this concern. We are calling this new initiative "Future Symphony Hall Scholars".

Though not solidified yet, any expansion of our current role will require much more funding then we generated in the past. This means searching for major donors beyond our traditional ones. To begin this search, we need to clearly demonstrate the commitment of our membership to our cause. So our immediate SHS Goals at this time are:

  1. 100% of MMEA members becoming donors to SHS

  2.  A major increase of our 2013-14 fundraising achievement from $8000 to at least $15,000.


  1. Make a personal contribution. (If every MMEA member donated $20, we would raise $24,000. That alone is enough to reduce the All-State cost per student by almost $80).

  2. Suggest the name of a business or individual you feel would be interested in supporting the students in the All State Festival.

  3. Take advantage of matching gift programs, including those through family members, if available.

Also, remember your contribution to this most worthy cause is fully tax deductible.

If you have donated or helped in the past, MMEA and the Symphony Hall Scholars Committee sincerely thank you and hope you will continue to do so. If not, we ask that you take just a moment consider this program, and do what you can to help.

MMEA Symphony Hall Scholars Committee

Massachusetts Music Educators Association

MMEA logo
Dr. Michele Holt
Executive Director
PO Box 3886
South Attleboro, MA 02703-3886

Fax: 401-822-5151