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Merle J. Isaac Scholarship


This is an award given to one new string student who demonstrates financial need and is renewable annually based on good academic standing. 

Merle J. Isaac (1898-1996) graduated from VanderCook College his bachelor of music education degree in 1931. While still taking classes, he began to teach on the summer faculty at VanderCook alongside distinguished music educators including H.A. VanderCook, William Revelli, Clifford Lillya, H.E. Nutt, and Forrest Buchtel, Sr.  Isaac continued to compose, arrange, and write professional articles at an incredible pace even after leaving the school classroom in 1943.  His influence began to increase greatly with the commencement of the Midwest Clinic in 1947.  Although Midwest was an event primarily for band directors, Isaac successfully included orchestra sessions and performances, and continued to inspire via attendance at every Midwest Clinic through 1981. 

Isaac contributed more than just his musical talent. He served on the executive boards of many professional music organizations and on the board of directors for VanderCook.  Isaac was the recipient of many awards throughout his lifetime, including an honorary doctor of music education from VanderCook in 1990.  Upon his death in 1996, Isaac bequeathed VanderCook his extensive collection of original manuscripts (both published and unpublished), instruments, and other artifacts from his life’s work.  He also specified that an annual scholarship be established from his estate.  Through the generosity of his family and the impetus of his niece Martha Norman, the Merle J. Isaac Scholarship has been created specifically for string students. 

Recipients of this scholarship include:

  • Jamie Steinberg 2012-2013
  • Devon Reedy 2010-2011, 2011-2012
  • Vaijayanthi Vaidyanathan 2009-2010


                     Dr. Merle J. Isaac


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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