Juried Scholarship Competition

Supporting Jazz Studies

In February 2022, NJJS launched a Juried Scholarship Competition, awarding $1,000 and $500 prizes in each of two categories: Jazz Performance and Original Composition.

The competition is open to college students currently enrolled in a New Jersey college undergraduate program or New Jersey residents currently enrolled in an out-of-state program.

Along with the cash awards, winners will receive guidance, mentorship, and the opportunity to perform with industry professionals. The winners also receive coverage in Jersey Jazz.

The Competition is judged by professional musicians, educators, and industry leaders, and the 2023 prestigious panel of judges was comprised of:

Don Braden – world class tenor saxophonist, flutist, composer and educator

Ted Chubb – Vice President, Jazz Education + Partnerships, Associate Producer, Jazz House Kids, trumpeter, composer, and educator

Jason Olaine – Vice President of Programming, Jazz at Lincoln Center

Mariel Bildsten – Trombonist, bandleader, side-woman, and educator

The competition was generously supported by Nan Hughes Poole.


$1000 – Richard LaRouech, trombone, William Paterson University, Jazz Studies Program

“As a performer, Richard is among the strongest players we have had in our jazz program in a long time, certainly one of the strongest trombonists. He has a pro-level command of the jazz language, and he has a very strong technical foundation on his instrument, a strong and projecting sound. He is already gaining recognition in the New York jazz community and is starting to work, as his reputation grows.”

– Dr. David Demsey, Coordinator of Jazz Studies, William Paterson University

$500 – Joseph Foglia, saxophone, William Paterson University, Jazz Studies Program

“Joseph is an inspired learner and is intensely involved in continuing to grow academically as well as musically. He has a good foundation on his instrument, and he has a very strong and rapidly expanding jazz vocabulary. He has gotten deeply involved as a writer/ arranger, and he has already brought very successful arrangements into our Jazz Orchestra rehearsals.”

– Dr. David Demsey, Coordinator of Jazz Studies, William Paterson University


$1000 – Banks Sapnar, trumpet, Boyer College of Music and Dance, Jazz Studies, Temple University

“His jazz playing and his arranging/ composing [are} extremely accomplished in both areas for a young man of his age. He has a big, beautiful trumpet sound (for which I take no credit) and a substantial repertoire of songs, well balanced between standards and jazz composers from the swing era through more modern styles. I find his playing to be soulful and exciting and deeply informed by jazz tradition.”

– Bruce Barth, Faculty, Boyer College of Music and Dance, Jazz Studies Program, Temple University

$500 – Grace Fox, trumpet, Manhattan School of Music, Jazz Arts Program

“Though we were restricted by the limitations of Zoom lessons, I was tremendously impressed by Grace, both as a musician and student. She was uniquely accomplished as an instrumentalist, particularly within the specialized skill of playing lead trumpet. But it was her drive to improve in other areas that struck me the most.”

– Tatum Greenblatt, Faculty, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Jazz Studies Program, Rutgers University

Click here to learn more about these fine up and coming musicians, in the June 2023 issue of Jersey Jazz.

Entry Instructions


  1. Carefully read the Official Rules of the New Jersey Jazz Society 2024 Scholarship Competition
  2. DO NOT INCLUDE your name or college name on your submitted audio ONLY files. DO NOT embed any identifying information within the file. Audio files containing names identifying the student or college will be disqualified.
    FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 11:29PM Eastern Time.

Complete Entries Must Include

  • Cover Letter with Name, College, Email Address, and Instrument. Vocalist applicants should indicate Vocalist.
  • Two Three Minute MP3 Audio ONLY Recordings
  • Letter of Recommendation from College Music Teacher
  • Personal Statement (300–500 word essay)
  1. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a New Jersey college undergraduate music program, and must show proof of enrollment, or be a New Jersey resident currently enrolled in an out of state college music program, and be able to show proof of residency.
  2. Applicants may apply for ONE CATEGORY ONLY.
  3. Pitch Correction is NOT permitted. Entries found to be using pitch correction (or similar techniques) will be disqualified.
  4. The scholarships are not open to student musicians engaged in full-time professional work.
  1. All entries must be submitted online no later than FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 11:29PM Eastern Time
  2. Jazz Performance applicants must submit TWO three minute MP3 Recordings (audio ONLY)
  3. Jazz Composition applicants must submit ONE MP3 recording (audio only) and a copy of the score.
  4. Applicants need to write a 300–500 word essay to accompany their submission addressing the question:
    “How do you plan to use your jazz education and how will this prize money help you achieve that?”
  5. Complete entries should be sent to:
    Cydney Halpin • pres@njjs.org
  6. Incomplete entries will NOT be considered.
  1.  Judgments are made on the totality of the submission, the ability demonstrated on the candidate recordings, the accompanying personal letter and reference. Recordings are judged “blind.” The only identification on recordings sent to the judges is a code number. No student or school names will be submitted to the judges.
  2. The judges are professional musicians, educators and industry leaders. The2023 judges are: Don Braden, Ted Chubb, Jason Olaine, Mariel Bildsten, and select NJJS board members.
  1. Applicants will be notified via email when complete entry is received.
  2. Scholarship winners will be notified via email by May 1st. The results of the competition, along with winner profiles, will be published in the June issue of Jersey Jazz, as well as on the NJJS website homepage and Facebook page.

Two winners per category will receive:

  • $1,000 in prize money
  • $500 in prize money
  • Professional mentorship and guidance from an industry professional
  • Coverage in the award-winning magazine Jersey Jazz
  • The opportunity to perform with an industry professional
  • Winner will be partnered with a younger musician to mentor


Questions about the scholarship or application process?

Cydney Halpin, President, New Jersey Jazz Society

Funding Jazz Studies Scholarships

The funding of Jazz Studies scholarships is an important priority of the NJJS, with the goal of providing grants that cover a significant portion of educational costs. However, without generous financial contributions from people like you, we cannot increase our scholarship awards to keep pace with rising education costs. What better way to express your support of jazz than to help provide for the education of the next generation of musicians?

A contribution to the New Jersey Jazz Society can be earmarked for its scholarship fund. The NJJS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Scholarship donations are restricted to the use of funding Jazz Studies scholarships. A contribution of $1,000 or more marks the donor as a Lifetime Member of the New Jersey Jazz Society with all the rights, privileges and services provided to annually-renewed members. For more information contact Education Director James Pansulla at JazzEducation@NJJS.org.

Would you like to contribute to the NJJS Scholarship Fund?

We accept credit card payments through Paypal – simply click on the button below – or you can mail a check to:

New Jersey Jazz Society
Mike Katz, Treasurer
382 Springfield Avenue Suite 217
Summit, NJ 07901

Please make check payable to: NJJS Scholarship

Would you like to maximize the impact of your donation? Many employers match employee contributions, sometimes doubling or tripling your gift! Contact your Human Resources Department to see if they participate in a matching program.

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