The Rochester Music Guild is proud of the assistance they have given music students in the Rochester area for over 46 years. The Rochester Symphony Guild, precursor to the Rochester Music Guild, formed a Scholarship Committee in January 1965. The committee began financing the Congress of Strings with assistance from the Rochester Branch of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 457. The Local had been funding scholarships for six years and needed financial aid to continue. The Guild stepped in and was able to send one string student to the Congress each year.

That same year (1965), the Guild began awarding scholarships to other music students in the Rochester area. The funds for these awards came from a collection taken at the Christmas Concert and a donation from the Rochester Branch of the American Association of University Women.

In 1989, the Congress of Strings was dissolved and at that time the Guild decided to provide a Camp Scholarship to a student to attend the music camp of their choice. Over the years, a thriving organization and various bequests and memorials have enabled the Guild to increase the number and amount of the scholarships.

In 1998, the music competition was opened to 8th thru 12th graders within a 50-mile radius of Rochester. For 2008, the Guild voted to re-organize the scholarship format in order to maximize uniformity across the classes of competition. In 2010 Junior Divisions in Piano and Strings were established and in 2011 a Junior Division in Winds was added as well.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was cancelled in 2020 and was held virtually with submitted video recordings of performances in 2021 with a virtual winners’ recital.  It returned to an in-person event in 2022.

Additional scholarship awards are given to outstanding high school seniors on behalf of Sid Suddendorf and his wife Carol. In 1986 with money contributed in their honor, the Suddendorf Memorial Scholarships were started – with awards going to seniors at John Marshall and Mayo High Schools. In 2005 the Music Guild established the Rochester Music Guild High School Scholarship to honor an outstanding music student at Century High School as a match to the Suddendorf Memorial Scholarships.