Students keep pace with first annual Running Start Competition

MSU College of Music announces recipients of $2,500 grant

More than a dozen music students explored ways to be heard beyond the practice rooms through an inaugural competition sponsored by the Michigan State University College of Music.

The first annual Running Start Competition inspired students to visualize life as a working musician by developing innovative projects and programs with positive impact on the community. 

“We’re creating a culture that encourages our students to think about their careers in an entrepreneurial way,” says Michael Callahan, assistant professor of music theory, who envisioned and oversaw the competition. “Running Start gives them a way to formulate new paths and collaborations that can take their artistry into the real world.”

Callahan says student entries ranged from creating concerts with audience participation to establishing small niche businesses. After weeks of deliberation, judges selected a three-tiered proposal focused on performance, education, and community as the 2013 winner. 

Doctoral-level percussion performance majors Alina Waitrolik and Mark Grimm will receive a $2,500 grant from the MSU Federal Credit Union to further fund and implement the “Des Moines Percussion Project.” 

“What drew us to their proposal was their sincere commitment to making a difference in the lives of a large number of people in the community,” says Callahan of the project that involves music education and outreach to low-income families and children. “Their proposal realizes their passion to share music with people of all ages, including audiences who may not have access to classical percussion music.”

The Running Start Competition is coordinated through the MSU College of Music with support from the MSU Federal Credit Union. The competition is part of a larger, multi-disciplinary effort by the College of Music to prepare students for long-lasting and successful musical careers by applying business ingenuity and entrepreneurial practices.

For information on supporting the Running Start Competition or the college’s efforts in music entrepreneurship, contact Rebecca Surian, director of development, at or (517) 353-9872.

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