How to write compelling scholarship applications

Jonathan Henderson: AYO Alumnus


Jonathan Henderson is Principal Flute of the Estonian National Opera. He has received numerous scholarships including support from the Ian Potter Foundation, the David Cubbin Memorial Fund and the PPCA Performers’ Trust Foundation.


Jonathan says: ‘Certainly my first couple of applications were the most challenging to write. I was uncomfortable with the self-promotional aspect and it seemed strange to have to justify my art form in writing.

‘It took me some time to find an appropriate writing style and how to best articulate my ideas and intentions, but once I had established a good basic application it became easy to tailor it for each grant I applied for.’

Jonathan’s tips for writing compelling scholarship applications:

  • Seek feedback from as many people as possible – past grant recipients, teachers, university lecturers etc.; this can help create a polished and thorough proposal.
  • It can be helpful to imagine an application as a piece of music you are preparing and aim to deliver the most convincing, interesting and nuanced presentation possible.
  • Be honest when writing your proposal and don't be afraid to promote yourself; be confident in your abilities but not arrogant in your writing.
  • Plan and outline every project detail to show you are ready to start the project tomorrow.
  • A polished application means every single detail is important – right down to punctuation, consistent formatting and neat, professional labelling of your recorded material (although now most funding organisations accept uploaded material).
  • Always acknowledge your supporters.

Click here to read an interview with Jonathan about his overseas performing experiences.

Click here to read more about AYO’s Alumni Program including news, events and opportunities.