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Tax deductible donations to our scholarship funds (Talent Bank Awards Festival and Opportunity Grants) are gratefully accepted. Make checks payable to SCCMTAC. Please specify in a letter to which scholarship fund you’d like your donation applied. Mail checks to:

Barbara Jirsa, Treasurer
221 Nevada Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Talent Bank Awards Festival

Talent Bank Awards Festival (TBAF) is a merit scholarship program representing our branch’s oldest continuous project, funded by donations and endowments. The 2024 event will be Saturday, April 13 at United Methodist Church, 250 California St., Santa Cruz. Students will have an opportunity to perform before professional musicians for adjudication and written evaluations. Scholarships totaling about $2,500 are awarded to students with highest scores. The event is open to the public at no charge.

The Festival concludes with an award ceremony to announce the scholarship winners, followed by the Barbara Call Memorial Recital, featuring top scoring winners. All participants are expected to attend. SCCMTAC dress code is in effect for the day.

The Talent Bank Awards Festival is an annual event of the Santa Cruz County Music Teachers’ Association of California. This merit scholarship program has been an encouragement to county music students since 1970. Member teachers, students and friends have over the ensuing years raised thousands of dollars for these awards. Primary funding in recent years has been through the efforts of Celebrate Piano Ensemble. Their annual recital features piano ensemble music performed by member teachers and friends.

Barbara Call Memorial Scholarship was established in 1999 by Barbara Call and her friends to recognize excellence in performance for piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, or chamber music by students from Santa Cruz County. It is held in conjunction with the Talent Bank Awards Festival. Barbara Call was a distinguished Santa Cruz County pianist, teacher, and founder of the Talent Bank program.

  • November 1, 2023 – Applications available at branch website

  • January 15, 2024 – Application deadline

  • February 15, 2024 – Repertory deadline

  • April 13, 2024 – Awards Festival and Barbara Call Recital (Winners Recital)

Opportunity Grant Scholarships

These yearly awards go to highly motivated young students whose families are financially unable to provide private music lessons.

Applicants must be enrolled in a Santa Cruz County school or be home-schooled county residents, and at grade levels from 2 through 12 during the coming school year. Applicants must have practice access to the chosen instrument of study.

The scholarships, which may be full or partial, remain in effect for one school year beginning in September. Scholarships may be renewable on a year-to-year basis, provided funds remain available and acceptable musical progress is being made.

Applications are due June 1 for scholarships serving the upcoming school year. Interviews are held in early summer. 

Mueller Scholarships – Administered by the Santa Cruz Symphony

Now in its 29th year, the Santa Cruz Symphony’s Mueller Scholarship Program is named for Ruth Mueller, a retired Santa Cruz music teacher. Upon her death in 1988, through a planned gift to the Symphony, Mueller created an endowed scholarship/campership fund for local music students. Her vision was to encourage students of orchestral instruments by helping with the cost of music instruction tuition. Mueller Scholarships were first awarded in 1990, and nearly 150 students have been the beneficiaries of her generosity.

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • demonstrate a commitment to an orchestral instrument for at least one year.
  • practice regularly and be consistent in attending lessons or ensemble rehearsals.
  • show promise and have the discipline to develop as a classical musician.
  • be less than 18 years of age as of July 1, and reside in Santa Cruz County.
The Symphony’s Education Committee typically awards a total of over $12,000 annually, with individual scholarships and camperships ranging between $500 and $750. The award will be paid directly to the recipient’s music teacher or ensemble, (e.g. Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony or Cabrillo Strings) or music camp. Applications are available through the Symphony’s website and are due no later than April 1. Please visit for more information.

Youth Chamber Music Competition

Since 2003 the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has offered an annual Youth Chamber Music Competition to encourage young music students to participate in chamber music ensembles. The competition is open to chamber ensembles consisting of Santa Cruz County and Santa Clara County(*) student musicians (Santa Clara County student musicians are admitted on a space-available basis). To participate, a competition entry form must be submitted on behalf of each group. Each member of the winning ensemble receives $100 up to a total of $400 and performs during the Baroque Festival’s Season Concert II or III. Second place winners receive $50 each up to a total of $200 and are recognized along with honorable-mention award groups. While groups are encouraged to compete by playing Baroque and other early (pre-1750) music, the competition is also open to instrumental ensembles performing Classical, Romantic, 20th Century and 21st Century concert repertoire.

This competition has been generously supported by the David E. Kaun Fund at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County. For more information, go to

Performance Dress Guidelines

// Preferred Dress


Hair should be arranged so that it does not fall into the face while performing.

Black concert attire is appropriate.


  • Dresses or skirts knee length or longer, or dressy slacks. (Skirts shorter than knee length should be accompanied by tights.)
  • Blouses or shirts completely covering midriff when performing.
  • Dress shoes (no athletic shoes or flip-flops).
  • Pianists: Try out shoes with piano pedals beforehand.


  • Collared dress shirt, dress slacks and nice shoes. Coat and tie welcome.
  • No athletic shoes or flip-flops.

**Dress guidelines apply to all Santa Cruz County Branch performances, including Certificate of Merit events.

// Not allowed

T-shirts, shorts, athletic team jerseys, jeans, bare midriffs, exposed underwear, form fitting camisoles or tank tops, sloppy slide-on shoes including flip-flops.

We reserve the right to ask inappropriately dressed students not to perform.

Concert Etiquette

  • Plan to arrive a little early – allow more than enough time to find parking.
  • Sit quietly while others perform.
  • Performers should acknowledge the audience’s applause with a bow and smile before and after performing.
  • PLAN TO STAY FOR THE ENTIRE RECITAL — if you must leave early, sit near the exit and leave between pieces.

  • Parents, be prepared to take noisy younger siblings outside.