Scholarship Page

RAMI Scholarships

Michael Ahrens

2020 Kim & Ruth MacCloskey RAMI Music Scholarship

I have attended music camps since the 5th grade every year which include multiple camps every summer at the Phantom Regiment, UW Madison, UW Green Bay, and in 8th grade I auditioned for and was one of 12trumpeters to attend Interlochen's summer trumpet camp. In addition, I have studied under the principal trumpeter for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra up until my graduation from high school in May 2019. I took Jazz band for four years at Hononegah High School and Wind Ensemble - in addition to Jazz - my Senior year. In addition to playing trumpet, I also play the fluegelhorn and have included solos for both instruments. 

I was selected for ILMEA every year since 7th grade except my Sophomore year of high school. That year Ilearned a very valuable lesson... you do not rehearse constantly up until your audition or your lips will have nothing left! My Junior and Senior year of high school I went to state in addition to district for ILMEA. 

My real motivation for trumpeting began when my grandfather died when I was in fourth grade. I watch the military honor guard play TAPS for my grandfather from a boombox. I thought that was unacceptable given the service he volunteered to our country. I learned trumpet and TAPS and by eighth grade and was accepted to volunteer to play TAPS with Bugles Across America. My mother and I would travel on weekends all over Illinois and Wisconsin to play TAPS for veterans. Both my parents are veterans so they fully supported my service and I have always felt like that is the least I could do for our veterans. I recently enlisted as a firefighter in the Army Reserves and have already played Trumpet in ceremonies while in training. I also play patriotic tunes for Police Memorial Week and Veteran's events. I fully intend to pursue music at Western Illinois University and have received positive feed back from the staff there. I will continue to play Trumpet with any opportunity I get. 

The Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. has awarded over $70,000 to over 50 students to support their desire to study music.

The Gary S. WIlmer / RAMI Music Scholarship

The Gary S. Wilmer Memorial Trust was established in 1996 to honor the memory and continue the legacy of Gary Wilmer by awarding scholarships to students who wish to pursue and education in music. Gary was the founder & publisher of RAM Magazine, a Rockford area music monthly, and a founding organizer of the RAMI awards. Joe Guzzardo, owner of Guzzardo Music, said of Gary, "He was thoughtful and sensitive, and thoroughly understood the problems and needs of local music and musicians." Gary could do it all, be it organizing benefits, booking bands, running sound or lights, helping new music club owners or encouraging new talent to persevere. As the president of his senior class at East High School, as a graduate of Rockford College and as a successful businessman, Gary's 43 years of living showed that education is a marvelous "conductor" of a successful musical life.

It is the sincere hope of the RAMI scholarship committee that the recipients of this scholarship will carry on Gary's legacy with pride.

Scholarship Selection Criteria

- Be a college-bound student in Boone, Ogle or Winnebago County;
- Be 19 years old or younger as of the application deadline;
- Be attending or planning to attend an accredited two- or four-year college/university;
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5/4.0;
- Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to further their musical education throughout college; and
- Be actively involved in school or community musical groups.
- Previous Wilmer scholarship recipients are not eligible to reapply.

Deadline January 1st. For more information and online application forms, visit

RAMI Young Artists Music Scholarship

RAMI funds several programs through The Music Academy in Rockford. Each student is nominated by the staff of the Music Academy and must demonstrate financial need. Scholarship covers one year of study.

PO Box 4128, Rockford, IL 61110
ramicommittee @

Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. is classified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the standards of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Therefore, any donations to the Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. may be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.