Grand Masters – scholarships open and youth fiddle camp announced

The Grand Master Fiddler Championship, held annually in Nashville over the Labor Day weekend, has announced that submissions are now open for their Matthew Thomas Lin Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship, now in its second year, was created to honor the memory of Lin, the Grand Master Youth Champion in 2014, who passed away in 2020 from surgical complications at only 19 years of age.

In addition to his status as a promising fiddler, Matthew was noted for his generosity and community service. He was an athlete, a popular peer mentor among young musicians, and an Eagle Scout. At the time of his passing Lin was pursuing a twin major in Chemical Engineering and violin performance at the University of Kentucky, and was a member of the UK Symphony Orchestra.

To remember his contributions, the Grand Masters offer a $1,000 scholarship each year to a music student “who displays academic achievement, a commitment to serving others, a strong work ethic, active leadership, and financial need, the opportunity to continue their musical and academic pursuits.”

The scholarship board received this note over the weekend from Jake Patty, who received a scholarship last year. He was at the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention when he sent it along.

“Receiving the Matthew Thomas Lin Memorial Scholarship from the Grand Master Fiddler Championship meant a lot to me for a few different reasons. Of course it was a big help to receive the money, which I used to pay a couple of month’s rent, but much more impactful for me is the idea of carrying on Matthew’s legacy in my everyday life.

Although we grew up in the same state, playing similar musical styles, I never met Matthew until college. During the fall semester of our sophomore year, we had a class together for our shared major of chemical engineering, and I was privileged through that to watch the caring, kind, and brilliant young man that was Matthew Lin. Accepting this scholarship in his name, alongside another friend of his and mine, was one of the greatest honors I’ve ever been blessed to receive.

I’m always going to miss him, and wonder what things would be like if he was alive, since we expected to be lifelong friends. But I know that for me and for everyone else, what Matthew would wish for us is to live a life filled with love and compassion, and live each day as a precious gift.”

Applications of the 2022 Matthew Thomas Lin Memorial Scholarship will be accepted through July 31. Submission forms can be downloaded from the GMF web site, where you can can also find more details about eligibility requirements. Recipients must be current music students in either high school or college with a GPA of 3.3 or above. A video is also requested with the application.

The Grand Masters have also announced a free one day youth fiddle workshop at the W. O. Smith School of Music in Nashville on June 30. It will be led by led by former Champion Justin Branum with assistance from two-time Academy of Country Music Fiddler of the Year fiddle champion Larry Franklin. The workshop is open to fiddlers 18 years old or younger and those enrolled as an undergraduate in a university program.

Only 30 students can be accepted and registration can be reserved by completing an online form.

Howard Harris, Chairman and CEO of the Grand Master Fiddle Championship, tells us that they have high hopes for this workshop. It is funded for the next three years by a grant from the Tennessee Nonprofit Arts & Culture Recovery Fund and the Tennessee Arts Commission. He plans to expand to two days next year and hopes to find funding to keep it going in perpetuity.

All of the efforts of the organizations including the prestigious Championship, are supported  by donations from the public and people passionate about their work. More information can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.