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United Sound is an organization whose mission is to provide musical performance experiences for students with special needs through peer mentorship.

Scholarship Winners


United Sound’s first annual scholarship contest asked both New Musicians and Peer Mentors to share how participation in the program has changed their life.

we are thrilled to announce the 2019 Winners!

$500 Scholarship Winners

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Alivia Gaskins

My little brother has been diagnosed with mild autism and I often found myself becoming impatient and occasionally irritated with certain aspects of his behavior that I did not understand. We had frequent, petty arguments, and our relationship was tense. That all changed when I joined United Sound. I was encouraged to do so by one of the seniors in my orchestra, a U.S. mentor who inspired me with her passion for the club and the kindness she bestowed upon each and every New Musician. Once I worked with my New Musician for the first time, I realized what I had been missing. United Sound taught me how to be patient and to explain myself more clearly and specifically in order to help my New Musician understand what I was telling them. These techniques also translated to my familial relationships, and prevented my brother and I from becoming needlessly frustrated by dealing with our problems in a calm and mature manner. 

United Sound has greatly improved my relationship with my younger brother, who is very dear to me, and has truly changed my life.

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Vanessa Vincent

In the beginning we started with the basics and my mentee Kyle caught along so well. I felt so wonderful about the relationship made and glad that this program came to North Dakota. In senior year the whole group advanced to year two along with some newcomers. This year was very hard for me because of depression, stress, and anxiety. At the end of the day I didn't want to go to United Sound but I forced myself to anyway. I'm so glad that I did. Not only did I form stronger relationships but I also saw Kyle’s growth. He started to play line by line the music without any help. I was so proud it made my day so much better. He gave me joy in the week when I didn't think it was possible.

I’m so glad that I joined this program to see all of the smiling faces and to prove that these students can do so much more than people give them credit for.


$100 Scholarship Winner

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anabel byers

When I first learned that our Chamber Ensemble would be collaborating with United Sound to mentor special needs students at our school, I felt a mixture of intrigue and apprehension. After only a few weekly practice sessions, I customized my approach based on the specific needs of my partner, Darsh.  There was a lot of trial and error before we made progress. It quickly became evident to me that the final result was not as important as opening a portal for this student to learn. Eventually, my goals and expectations for Darsh shifted, as I realized that the excitement of merely discovering the instrument and the social experience of collaborating with other teens in an inclusive environment were equally important to him.  The lessons I learned from working with Darsh will impact all of my future interactions.

Everyone has different learning styles and aptitudes, to varying degrees, and taking the time to customize your approach will lead to deeper more meaningful relationships in every aspect of life.


* Scholarships can be used for anything that enriches the student’s life (summer camp, music lessons, college, etc.)