NJMEA Young Composers Competition

2021-2022 Information

Registration for the 13th annual New Jersey Young Composers Competition (NJ-YCC)  will be available until December 17th, 2021. Students from all over the New Jersey area  may submit original compositions in both instrumental and vocal divisions. Finalists will be  invited to participate in an interview/critique session at the NJMEA Conference in Atlantic City in February 2022 (Date/Time TBA). 

Click the heading on the right side of the screen for the 2021-22 NJ-YCC Application and Endorsement Page.

For questions, please contact Dr. Andrew Lesser, NJ-YCC Committee Chair, at andrew.lesser@yahoo.com.

Finalists of the 2020-21 competition included the following students (in alphabetical order):

Instrumental Division

“An Angry Young Man”
Composed by Hayden Marciszewski
Rumson-Fair Haven High School

Composed by Connor Morrissey
Absegami High School

“Trio in F Minor”
Composed by Aadhitya Raam Ashok
John P. Stevens High School

Vocal Division

“Dawn from Canticum Canticorum”
Composed by Gavin Tomasco
Morris Hills High School

“Tribute to the Trail of Tears”
Composed by Barron Brothers
Hopewell Valley Central High School

Recordings of each finalists’ compositions are posted on the NJMEA website under the Previous NJ-YCC Winners and Audio Files link. Congratulations to all who participated, and we look forward to receiving more exemplary submissions for our next competition.

 We are also looking for volunteers to participate in the committee of next year’s competition. You do not need to be a professional composer to be part of the committee. If you would like further information, please contact Dr. Andrew Lesser, NJ-YCC Chairman at andrew.lesser@yahoo.com.

Categories for Submission

Composers may submit works for vocal ensemble, instrumental ensemble, or mixed. All works must be 100% original. No arrangements or transcriptions will be accepted.

Competition Guidelines

  1. Applicants must be New Jersey residents and must be sponsored by a current NJMEA/NAfME member.
  2. Students may submit multiple selections in each category. However, a $20 application fee is required with each selection. Each entry must be have a separate completed application form and entry fee in order to be considered for eligibility.
  3. All compositions must have a title or opus number, and all names must be omitted from the score, program note, and audio file so that submissions may be judged anonymously.
  4. Students must include a brief program note that includes the composition title with composer name omitted, describing the composer’s intention of the work.
  5. All scores must be submitted as PDF’s using a standard notation program, such as Sibelius or Finale. No handwritten scores will be considered for entry.
  6. All measures must be numbered in the score.
  7. Students must submit an audio recording of their composition in MP3 or WAV. format, a PDF (digital copy) of their score and PDF of composition description/program note. Submissions without recordings or PDF score will not be considered for entry.
  8. While the applicant will retain ownership of their submission, all submissions will be kept by the NJMEA. No materials will be returned to students. NJMEA reserves the right to use student submissions for publicity and/or display. Finalist compositions will be posted on the NJMEA website.
  9. Submissions must be no longer than 7 minutes in length and within the difficulty range of a high school level ensemble (Grades 2-4).

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation of all submissions will be received by NJMEA approved Competition Judges. This panel will judge all works according to the following guidelines: 

  • Originality: Demonstrating a personal/unique style showing individual creativity.
  • Compositional Technique: Must have identifiable form, structure, and development. Correct usage of musical notation and score markings.
  • Accessibility: Must be playable by student ensembles on limited rehearsals.
  • Compositional Maturity: Knowledge of medium, effective use of instruments/voices, and look of professionalism in score and recording.
  • Overall Appeal: Must be innovative, imaginative, and enjoyable.

Competition Policies

  • In the case of a tie, the highest and lowest scores will be eliminated and the overall score recalculated. If there is still a tie after the recalculation, then both entries will be accepted into the finals and receive the same placement.
  • If a single participant receives multiple placements in the finals, then the judges will accept the piece with the highest score.
  • The judges have the right to request changes to any vocal and instrumental piece that contains potentially inappropriate or offensive material  (i.e. lyrics, program notes, etc.). In addition, participants who do not demonstrate ethical or moral behavior during all aspects of the competition may be disqualified through a vote by the NJ-YCC Committee.
  • The Grand Prize winner will consist of the piece that receives the highest score in both divisions.
  • Prizes will be determined based on availability by  the NJ-YCC Committee.
  • The NJ-YCC Committee has the right to change or alter these policies at any time on a case-by-case basis.

Suggestions for Students and Teachers

  • Remember that the submission must be able to be played by a student ensemble on limited rehearsal time. Make sure to adhere to the  difficulty level and length specifications listed in the guidelines.
  • Parts must adhere to the generally accepted instrument and voice part ranges for  elementary through high school ensemble music.
  • Remember, neatness counts! An excellent piece will lose credibility if the score is sloppy or shows careless errors.
  • Consider all aspects of a good piece when writing: dynamics, articulation, variety of melodic and harmonic ideas, orchestration and timbre, etc.
  • Above all, this piece should be personal and meaningful to you. You must consider your creative ideas above anything else combined with your musical knowledge.