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Audrey Sherrill & Michael D'Ambrisi Music Scholarship

3 winners, $3,500 each
Application Deadline
May 15, 2024
Winners Announced
Jun 1, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
3.0 or higher
Education Level:
Field of Study:
Music Performance, Music Education, Music Therapy, or Jazz Studies
Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, or Massachusetts

Michael D’Ambrisi had a love for music that he passed down throughout his family. Earning his music degree in violin at the New York University at age 12, Michael went on to lead a jazz ensemble that performed throughout New York City during the depression era.

Michael’s daughter, Audrey Sherrill, was also a gifted performer at a young age but devoted her music career to teaching piano and playing the organ. Audrey filled her home with music and was passionate about helping students fulfill their musical potential. Together, Michael and Audrey created a lasting musical legacy for their descendants for generations to come. 

This scholarship seeks to honor the lives of Audrey Sherrill and Michael D’Ambrisi by supporting students who are pursuing musical careers.

Any undergraduate student in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, or Massachusetts with at least a 3.0 GPA who is studying, Music Performance, Music Education, Music Therapy, or Jazz Studies may apply. Candidates with a classical focus will be given preference.

To apply, answer one of the following prompts below and upload a short performance video.

Selection Criteria:
Need, Passion, Drive
Published November 30, 2023
Essay Topic
  1. Relate a personal experience that helped you decide to pursue a career in music.
  2. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Explain what (you think) he meant by this and how applicable this might be today.
  3. Describe how you envision you might make a positive impact with your music career.
400–600 words

Winning Applications

Emmeline McBride
University of DelawareMASSAPEQUA PK, NY
Wide brown eyes, full cheeks and two crooked front teeth. Everyone could see those two teeth as my smile grew immensely, making those cheeks even fuller. Only the anticipation of learning vocals, attending to dance intensives, and preparing for a performance could create a smile to grow that wide. My eight-year-old self strutted into musical theatre camp practically jumping up and down. I was intimidated by the teachers and counselors analyzing the crowd, but I was also eager to be in a room with people who were also obsessed with singing. Prior to this camp, I had never performed on stage. When I was backstage, the feeling of uneasiness hit me like a truck. I was shaking uncontrollably. I sang for my family mostly, and they told me I was good. As a child, you believe everything you’re told, and I believed I was so talented that I was going to be walking across a red carpet one day. Even if I was a tad full of myself, I know having that confidence was the extra push I needed. I worked up enough courage to step onto that stage. I don’t recall the actual performance, but I remember the warmth of the lights and the golden beam across my face. A wave of comfort washed over me. This blanket of security prompted me to continue performing in more camps, intensives and musicals for the next seven years. During the summer of 2021, I worked as a counselor at the musical theatre camp where I began one of my favorite pastimes. A mob of about forty kids rushed through the door. I’ve always been great working with kids due to the fact I have three younger siblings. I scanned the crowd and found a new pair of brown eyes, full cheeks and two crooked front teeth. Her name was Hanna and she was nine years old. Her face beamed with excitement, and she couldn’t stop jittering. It was strange how familiar she seemed. We had never met before, but I knew her. She was eight-year-old me. That night, I went to watch my little brother’s baseball game and I made eye contact with those big brown eyes again. Turns out, our brothers played for the same team! We kept each other entertained for six innings. She asked me about my experiences in theatre. I told her all about the shows I had performed, the friends I had made and how I had developed a passion for music. For the remainder of the four-week camp, Hanna and I became inseparable. Every day she would fly through the doors and give me the biggest hug. She always looked to me for reassurance, even though she didn’t need it because that little girl is extremely talented. I adored all kids I worked with, but I felt obligated to look after Hanna. She was like my little sister, and I wanted to continue to foster her love for music. Everytime she rehearsed, I would watch her brown eyes widen and her crooked teeth instantly appear. Hanna’s expressions displayed her love for singing. Encouraging Hanna to find the confidence to perform has helped me realize that I want to teach other children to develop a passion for music. I adore the idea of seeing students’ faces light up with excitement and wonder, just like Hanna’s did. I want the chance to guide students through the world of music that has given me an outlet for creativity and stress, multiple friendships, and the confidence to stand up in front of a classroom and inspire future musicians.
Mackenzie Caccamo
SUNY College at PotsdamSYRACUSE, NY
From a young age, music has been a guiding force in my life, thanks in no small part to the incredible music educators who have shaped my journey. Even though I grew up in a music-loving household, it wasn't until eighth grade that I truly understood my calling to pursue music as a lifelong passion and career. In middle school I encountered Mrs. Tompkins, our music director, whose impact on me was nothing short of transformative. Mrs. Tompkins wasn't just a teacher; she was a beacon of kindness and inspiration who had the remarkable ability to draw out the best in everyone around her. Even students who initially felt compelled to join chorus against their will soon found themselves singing with genuine enthusiasm, thanks to Mrs. Tompkins' infectious passion for music. Tragically, Mrs. Tompkins' life was cut short by ALS in April of 2021, leaving behind a void that can never be filled. Yet, her legacy of compassion and dedication lives on in the countless lives she touched, mine included. It was Mrs. Tompkins who sparked my desire to pursue music education, particularly with a concentration in voice. Her unwavering belief in the power of music to uplift and unite people inspired me to follow in her footsteps. The decision to major in Music Education was not merely a career choice; it was a heartfelt tribute to Mrs. Tompkins and all she stood for. As I embark on this journey, I am filled with excitement at the prospect of one day having students of my own, whom I can impact in the same profound way that my teachers impacted me. Each day, I am reminded of Mrs. Tompkins' enduring influence, and I am committed to carrying her spirit with me as I strive to create a nurturing and inspiring environment for future generations of music lovers, and I know she is so proud of me. When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow coined the phrase "Music is the universal language of mankind," he likely meant that music has the extraordinary ability to transcend cultural, linguistic, and societal barriers, speaking directly to the human soul in a beautiful and unique way. Regardless of one's background, upbringing, or language, music has the power to evoke strong emotions, convey messages, and forge connections on an intense level. In today's world, Longfellow's claim remains as relevant as ever. In an increasingly globalized society where diversity is celebrated and communication takes many forms, music serves as a unifying force that brings people together across geographical and cultural divides. Whether it's through the rhythms of a drum circle, the harmonies of a choir, or the melodies of a symphony orchestra, music has the unique ability to foster understanding, empathy, and shared experiences among individuals from diverse walks of life. In my vision for making a positive impact through my music career, I see several ways to achieve this. I want to inspire the next generation; as a music educator, my primary goal would be to inspire and empower the next generation of musicians. Through passionate teaching and guidance, I aim to ignite a love for music in my students, encouraging them to explore their creativity and develop their talents to the fullest. And, I want to foster an inclusive and diverse community; I believe in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in the music classroom, where students from all backgrounds feel valued and respected. By incorporating diverse musical styles and traditions into the curriculum, I can expose students to a wide range of cultures and perspectives, fostering empathy and understanding.
Phoebe Chen
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA
Rose Coomes
The Boston ConservatoryStreet, MD
I have loved music my entire life. Even at just eleven months old. Once, when my mom put on the classical music station in the car, she looked back to check on me, and to her surprise, I was dancing and banging my hands like I was playing an imaginary piano! I started playing my church piano when I was seven. Then my mother got me an electric keyboard, to which I promptly stuck numbered stickers and began to write short songs in numbered code. I only learned to read music when I turned 8 and had my first violin lesson. Apparently, a violin was cheaper than a grand piano. Regardless, I soon enjoyed playing violin even more than the piano. Within ten years, I went from studying the Suzuki method to performing Dvorak’s violin concerto. During those years, I was accepted by the Baltimore School for the Arts, an arts high school that included the study of music history, literature, and theory in its schedule. The curriculum also included publicly performing in the orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo recitals, and the chorus, and taking private lessons with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s violinist, Ivan Stefanovic. It was the pure joy I got out of rehearsing with my peers and performing works of music that hold such soul-moving beauty that made me realize I could not live happily without playing the violin. Every summer, I am invited to perform for several churches in my hometown. There was one Sunday when I remember asking God for a sign if the violin was the right career path for me. After I finished performing, the pastor mentioned my performance in his sermon. He explained that music is a gift that can provide the mental rest we all need. This confirmed my choice. My life's mission is to use my love of music to provide people with joy and rest through music. Performing for me is less about the technical aspects of my performance than it is about providing music that will emotionally move the audience in an engaging or restful way. Although I love the thrill of performing on a stage in a large concert hall, my most fulfilling performances have been for small audiences in my local churches or in a nursing home. It is there that I get to truly make a difference and provide an experience that is many times out of reach. Classical music is a genre that has been increasingly restricted to only those who can afford to attend. Even more so in the educational field, where many are forced to choose a more affordable educational path over their passion for music. I am now studying at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee with violinist and professor Lynn Chang. I plan to finish my Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance, attend graduate school, and consider further postgraduate education. After my education, I intend to join an orchestra, form a chamber group, and join or create a program that will make classical music training accessible to young people. As the child of a single mother, I have faced struggles with affording such training: the cost of my instrument and its repairs, private lessons, summer programs, and now my college tuition. It is because I understand the extreme costs of classical training and my inspiration drawn from my hard-working and number-one fan, who is my mother, that I am driven to share classical music and its healing benefits. Especially for those who, like me, have struggled to access it.
Madeline Appelhans
Bryn Mawr CollegeNewark, DE
Having grown up in a very musical family, I do not remember a time when music was not a part of my life. However, it was only in my junior year in high school that I started to realize how much joy music truly brought me. I started piano when I was five—my mother is an MTNA certified teacher and active member of DSMTA, so I was very active with music from a young age. I would practice and go to my lessons, and I really liked it, but I never imagined myself doing much with it in a career or academia. I did the solo and theory festivals with DSMTA, but was never enthusiastic about performance or theory. Music was always just a hobby for me. But in high school, I started teaching piano lessons to beginner students—something which I enjoyed much more than I expected. In teaching others about piano, I started to better appreciate it myself. In sharing piano with others, I found myself enjoying it more. Then, during the days of quarantine, I started teaching myself ukulele, accompanying myself as I sang my favorite songs. I then taught myself guitar and spent hours at a time sitting in my room singing, learning, and making music. Music was no longer just a hobby, but a real highlight of my day. My love for music grew all the more and I picked up a fourth instrument, the lever harp. I then started singing as lead cantor at my church—it was then that I concluded that my favorite musical outlet was the one tied to my Catholic faith. By the time I applied for college, I knew I wanted to major in music. I was thinking I might pursue a career in music therapy, where I could share my love of music with those who would benefit so much from it. Or perhaps I might go to graduate school and study liturgical music. I kept these ideas in the back of my mind as I started college. My first semester, I took voice lessons for the first time and fell in love with singing all over again. Within the music major, I decided to focus on voice performance. I knew music was something I was going to be doing for the rest of my life—but at that time, I was feeling less and less inclined to pursue music therapy or go to graduate school. Eventually, I found myself being pulled in a different direction—a very unconventional direction. At this time, I began feeling drawn to join religious life, a form of consecrated life within the Church—what many people understand to be nuns. Of the various orders, I was attracted to those groups which primarily worked as children’s teachers, especially those which emphasize the importance of music and music education. After much prayer and contemplation, I found immense peace in the idea of following this call. This gave me an entirely new inspiration to continue musical studies—with a music degree, I could join religious life and bring music to children, while at the same time sharing with them the perfect joy and peace that comes from God. I could even continue to cantor and participate in liturgical music, using my voice for a higher purpose. The joy that I find in music is only multiplied when I give it freely, because it brings light to others’ lives as well. As I devote my life to God and live serving others, I hope to impact others through the music I will continue to create and share.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 15, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jun 1, 2024.

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