Gary S. Wilmer RAMI

Gary S. Wilmer / RAMI Music Scholarship

Supporting students who are involved in the local music scene.

Fall Scholarship - Closed Closed This scholarship is part of the Fall application cycle. The application is open November 1st to January 1st every year. How to Apply

Eligibility Criteria

Applicant must:

- Be 19 years old or younger as of the application deadline.
- Be a college-bound student currently residing in Boone, Ogle, or Winnebago County.
- Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to further their musical education throughout college.
- Be actively involved in school or community musical groups.


Academic performance will be given moderate consideration in the selection process.

Applicants must provide a recorded audition (see instructions at left) and reference from a music teacher to be considered.

Past recipients are not eligible to apply.

Written Prompt

Each CFNIL scholarship is created with a specific purpose in mind. As you complete the application, the system automatically matches you with every scholarship for which you are eligible and will present you with a specific written prompt for each. You're encouraged to craft a unique response to each prompt to show the reviewers why you're the best candidate for that scholarship. 



The scholarship reviewers for the MacCloskey/RAMI Scholarship will accept most digital media formats, but prefer files in .aiff or .wav formats uploaded to Dropbox. Recordings made on a phone, tablet or laptop will not display applicants’ talents to the fullest. The loss of fidelity from compressing phone, tablet or laptop recordings into MP3 (or similar formats) makes it very difficult to gauge the skill level of the performer particularly on vocals or instruments like the piano, violin or cello.

Applicants must include the following information with their recording.

• Applicants should identify the name of the piece and the composer of each recording, especially if the recording was written or improvised by the applicant.
• If the recording includes more than one musical element (piano plus vocalist, vocal duet, ensemble performance, etc.) the applicant needs to indicate which voice or voices in the recording are theirs.

The recording is a significant part of the scholarship application process. If applicants are proficient on more than one instrument (including vocals), they may include multiple recorded tracks. The five minute time limit listed in the application is a guideline and going beyond the five minute time period will not be penalized.

Access RAMI Dropbox 

Scholarship Background and Intent

Gary S. Wilmer founded RAM Magazine, Rockford area music monthly in 1981. From that year forward the publication grew in stature to become one of this region's most appreciated sources of modern music information and influence. When Gary died October 16, 1994, his knowledge and assistance to, and his recognition of, local musicians continued in major ways. His magazine is still published and now embraces all of the arts. The RAMIs, the Rockford Area Music Industry Awards, which he was instrumental in founding, will hold its thirty-second annual ceremony in 2023.

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.

For many years, the Rockford Area Music Industry awards ceremony has raised funds for the RAMI Music Scholarship. The Gary Wilmer Memorial Trust of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois was established in June 1996 in fond memory of Gary. Since Gary spent much of his life helping those involved in music, the RAMI permanent committee felt it appropriate to establish this memorial trust to help fund the RAMI Music Scholarship. It is the sincere hope of the RAMI scholarship committee that the recipients of this scholarship will carry on Gary's legacy with pride.