Composition Rules
Revised September 24, 2017
Replaces all previous versions; In effect until replaced by a later version
  • Click here to open the Composition application PDF
  • $20 for each composition entered, one composition per student. Fees are paid separately from other YMF events. Send one check per teacher for the total of all Composition Event entries.
  • Application information must be filled out for each student entry. Forms are available online at Each form accepts info for two entrants. Print and photocopy the form as needed, for additional entrants.
  • The score of the composition must be in some form of notation. Standard traditional music notation is preferred, using staff and notes. However, it is acceptable to use any form of invented or graphic notation. Please see for more information on non-traditional musical notation. We still prefer traditional music notation for most entries. The student must create the notation themselves, by either writing it down in their own hand, or by actually entering the notation into a computer program themselves. While it may be acceptable to obtain helpful advice from their teacher, the actual writing and/or computer note entry must be physically done by the student themselves. It is absolutely forbidden to allow the teacher or parent to do any computer notation entry of any kind, on behalf of the student.
  • Accompanying the notated score must be a recording of the piece for listening. This is now required of all entries. We prefer a recording of an actual, living person, or multiple people, to perform the piece on real musical instruments. The recording does not need to be of professional quality. It is merely a reference to aid the judges. We are not judging the performance quality or recording quality. Instead we are judging the notated score itself. In most cases it would be desirable to have someone other than the composer perform the piece. If the teacher themselves or a group of musicians can perform the piece, it would be absolutely ideal. Otherwise, we will certainly accept recordings of the composer playing their own piece if they wish. Also accepted are synthesized computer audio playback files. That is the least preferable method of obtaining a recording. Please keep in mind that audio recordings are now required, not optional.
  • This year we prefer entries be submitted by email, rather than being physically sent by mail. The entries can be sent to COMPOSITION@JAMESKESSLERMUSIC.COM
  • Please send images in the PDF format or the JPG format. Handwritten scores can be scanned or simply photographed. Data files of the score are not accepted. For audio recordings, we prefer MP3 format for easy emailing without constraints on time limitation. Most computers, tablets, and smartphones are easily capable of creating MP3 recordings.
  • If you would like any assistance in creating and/or sending the files by email, we are very happy to help. We can also help you learn how to create a basic audio recording from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Please just contact us as early as possible so that we can help you in time to meet the deadline. If absolutely necessary we can still accept entries by mail, though we really prefer not to. If you decide to send by mail, please include the audio recording as an audio compact disc, also known as a CD.
  • You will receive an email confirmation of receipt with each submission. Please include the text “YMF COMP” in your email subject line. Look for your confirmation email reply within 48 hours of your submission. Please kindly wait a full 48 hours after sending your submission. Then, if you have not gotten a reply after 48 hours please call James Kessler at (914) 843-3650.
  • Each teacher must send just one check covering all the applications and compositions in one envelope per teacher. Please refrain from sending multiple checks.
Postmark deadline for applications is March 14, 2016.
Results will be mailed to all teachers no later than April 15.
The Young Musicians' Festival reserves the right to disqualify entrants for infractions of these rules.
  • Each student will receive one rating from each of the presiding adjudicators: Gold (5 points), Blue (4 points), Red (3 points), Green (2 points) or Yellow (1 point). Students are awarded the higher of the two scores or an average of the two scores as their official score. (e.g. A student who received a 5 and a 4 is awarded a "5". A student who receives a 5 and a 3 receives a "4." A student who receives two 4's is awarded a "4".)
  • All students will receive a "Certificate of Participation" which lists the earned rating. Colored certificates will no longer be used. The number of consecutive Gold ratings earned will be noted on the Gold certificates. (e.g. "Jane Doe received a Gold Rating in Composition for the Second Consecutive Year.")
  • Points are accumulated for each composition. When 15 points have been earned in an event, the first Gold Cup will be awarded. Teachers of students who are scheduled to receive a gold cup should report this to Rita Lapcevic,
Maill all applications to:
James Kessler
49 Bittersweet Lane
South Salem, NY 10590
(914) 843-3650
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