The Presidential Scholarship, Fortissimo Scholarship, and Forte Scholarship

Houghton’s most prestigious and highly-selective music awards are the Presidential Scholarship, Fortissimo Scholarship, and Forte Scholarship. These awards are offered annually to outstanding entering first-year student majoring in music.

  • Full-tuition President's Scholarship (1)
  • $25,000 Fortissimo Scholarships (up to 3)
  • $20,000 Forte Scholarships (up to 3)

In addition to being a first-year student pursuing a bachelor's degree in music, eligibility for this award is based on the following criteria:

  • High-quality academic work is expected, evidenced by high school record and SAT/ACT test scores. Continued academic excellence is expected while the scholarship recipient is studying at Houghton.
  • The scholarship recipient shall exhibit evidence of outstanding talent, potential, and solid preparation.
  • The scholarship recipient must affirm a personal Christian commitment, undertaking to live this commitment in their daily lives and through their musical calling.


  • The scholarship may be held for a maximum of four years, and will be forfeited if the recipient changes to a curriculum other than Bachelor of Music.
  • A minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 in college work is required to retain the scholarship.
  • These awards are exclusive and cannot be combined with other aid from Houghton College (including merit-based scholarships and grants, such as the Wesleyan grant or Alumni grant).
  • The full-tuition President's Scholarship is valued at the cost of full tuition minus federal (PELL) or state (TAP) aid in the amount of first-year tuition for subsequent years.


  • Music students who audition and complete the music application process prior to March 15 will be considered for these awards.
  • Audition committees will make recommendations to the scholarship committee upon the candidates completing both the audition and application process.
  • Finalists for the award will be notified by March 20th and the award recipient will be notified by March 30 th.

Repertoire Guidelines for the Competition

Instrumental Majors

Perform two solo pieces or movements demonstrating both a slow, tonal and a faster, technical style.

  • Perform one etude, solo piece or movement demonstrating slow, lyrical style (approx. 3-5 min.)
  • Perform one etude, solo piece or movement demonstrating fast, more technical demands. (approx. 3-5 min.)
  • Be prepared to play any major scale, if requested.
  • Sight-read one or two short excerpts provided by the instrumental faculty in the audition, if requested.

Organ Majors

Students interested in organ may audition on either organ or piano, depending on which will best demonstrate the student's abilities.  If auditioning on piano, requirements for Piano Auditions above should be followed.

  • Perform two or three selections from contrasting style periods, with at least one from the Baroque.
  • Play a hymn of the student's choice in a manner suitable for leading a congregation..
  • Scales & arpeggios may be requested.
  • Sight-read one or two short chorale preludes selected by faculty in the audition.

Piano Majors

  • Perform two or three pieces or movements from contrasting style periods (Baroque, Classic, Romantic, 20th Century). Please limit any fold, hymn, or contemporary arrangements to one.
  • Perform from memory, if possible.
  • Sight-read one or two short excerpts selected by the faculty in the audition.

Theory/Composition Majors

In addition to an audition on the major instrument or voice, applicants will have an interview with the theory/composition faculty.

  • If possible, scores and/or tapes of original compositions should be brought to this interview. Prior development of keyboard skills is strongly encouraged.

Voice Majors

  • Sing two selections in contrasting styles, demonstrating both a slow, lyric style and a faster, more technical style.
  • If prior voice study has included foreign languages, sing in the foreign language, if possible.
  • When possible, select literature from the standard repertoire of easy English and Italian Art Songs.
  • Learn and be prepared to sing an arrangement of "The Ash Grove" (mailed to you with your application materials , or download here). Two different keys will provided; select the one which best fits your voice range.
  • Applicants with prior choral experience, but no formal voice study, are encouraged to audition with solos selected and prepared with the guidance of their choral director.

Percussion Majors

  • Prepare an audition demonstrating development levels on each of these three areas: Snare drum, mallets (marimba or xylophone), and timpani.
  • Applicants typically choose to demonstrate their playing level on their primary instrument first by playing a solo chosen from their state solo listings (ex: NYSSMA Manual)
  • The typical audition generally consists of the performance of a snare drum solo, etude or exercise, then a mallet solo or exercise, and then an exercise for 2, 3 or 4 timpani demonstrating your tuning and technical skills. You may also perform on drum set, preferably with a CD accompaniment.