Pillsbury Music Scholarship Fund Touches the Lives of Young Musicians


Students from the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony are challenged with serious pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire. The orchestra is made up of 65-70 young, talented musicians from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Photo courtesy of the Santa Barbara Symphony.

E.S. Pillsbury understood the value of quality music education. He created a trust, in honor of his wife and daughter, to secure financial support to aspiring musicians that would last in perpetuity. He also established the Pillsbury Foundation School for Music, envisioning a center where young, exceptionally talented students could receive superlative instruction. And though the classrooms and rehearsal halls of the school are gone, the vision of its founder lives on thanks to a permanent fund created at the Santa Barbara Foundation.

The Pillsbury Music Scholarship Fund, established over three decades ago, has touched the lives of thousands of young musicians by providing financial aid to those studying with a music instructor or majoring in music at the college level. Annual grants are made to offset the growing need for tuition assistance for exceptionally talented students and serve as a crucial bridge for local youth to continue their musical progression. Pillsbury funds open doors for students to engage in unique musical experiences with established community venues like the Santa Barbara Opera and the Music Academy of the West, advancing exposure to a variety of musical skills and styles.


Children from the Santa Barbara Strings Sinfonietta perform at the 2012 benefit concert. Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Strings.

This year’s annual distribution of Pillsbury Music Scholarships will benefit five local organizations nurturing musical talent in students of all ages in Santa Barbara County. The Incredible Children’s Art Network (ICAN) utilizes the guiding principles of El Sistema (focusing on the togetherness of ensemble and the pride of performance), providing musical instruction to students ages five to ten years old through an after school program at Franklin Elementary School. Santa Barbara Strings offers skills training for young musicians ages six to sixteen and hosts an annual community performance showcasing students' musical success. The Santa Barbara Children’s Chorus supports programs both during and after school, with formal classes in music theory, vocal training, and choral singing. The Santa Barbara Symphony provides elementary and high school students with a range of private instruction and orchestra workshops through Santa Barbara Youth Symphony programs. Santa Barbara City College students working toward a degree in music or a related field will also benefit from scholarships distributed through the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College's music scholarship program.

At a time when funding for the arts has been reduced, permanent funds like the Pillsbury Music Scholarship Fund have become more critical than ever before. “Without access to private instruction, a musician’s progress is limited,” said David Grossman, executive director of the Santa Barbara Symphony. “Pillsbury funding enables access to the education one needs to follow their musical aspirations and is a safety net for vulnerable yet promising musicians of all ages.”

Click here if you are interested in becoming a partner donor to the Pillsbury Music Scholarship Fund or establishing a similar fund or contact the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Philanthropic Services department by calling (805) 963-1873.

Santa Barbara Foundation | 1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Main: (805) 963-1873 | info@sbfoundation.org