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Fall Music Competitions: Are You Ready To Apply?

Summer is over and it’s time to gear up for fall. For student musicians, that means getting prepared to apply for fall music competitions. For many people, auditions rank as things to be avoided, like getting a cavity drilled, being surrounded by spiders, or having your identity stolen. Nervousness and stress make competitions the most difficult part of your musical education. However, you don’t have to dread the yearly ritual. Half of the battle can be won before you ever set foot on stage. Preparation has the power to limit your fears.

This time of year is already busy for most students. Fall competitions add to the overwhelming pressure you feel. Although they aren’t required, for students who want to pursue a professional career, fall competitions provide scholarship funds and other recognition that is a crucial part of the journey. The following contests offer endless opportunities for musicians.  

American Protégé International Music Talent Competition Fall 2017

This bi-annual competition is open to all music instruments and allows winners to perform at Carnegie Hall during the Christmas weekend. It awards trophies for a variety of categories. The online application and additional entry requirements are due by November 2, 2017. You’ll need a DVD or YouTube video, a written biography, a portrait, and follow the guidelines for the various age groups. The website provides all the information you’ll need. 

2017 Vancouver International Music Competition

This Canadian competition is for strings players, vocalists, and pianists. But, you’ll have to hustle to participate in the 2017 contest. The application deadline is September 9, and the online video submission is due August 27. The Vancouver event draws artists from all over the world.       

International Chamber Music Competition “Cidade de Alcobaça” (CIMCA)

Entry deadline for this international competition is October 23. It is open to both students and professionals and includes a who’s who list of judges. Categories are divided into junior and senior competitors. If you plan on participating in this elite contest, know that both monetary prizes and performance opportunities. 

National YoungArts Foundation

This competition accepts submissions in classical music, and winners can receive up to $10,000 along with a lifetime professional mentorship. Students aged 15-18 have until October 13 to submit their work and the online application. 

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band

High School musicians in grades 9-12 can complete in this competition. Winners play a solo with the band and receive a $2,500 scholarship from the Marine Corp Heritage Foundation. Application submissions are due December 15. 

Thursday Musical

Thursday Musical's Young Artist Scholarship Competition is open to students in grades 7-12 and undergraduate students in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The contest takes place in 2018, but you’ll need to get your application ready this fall. Any instrumentalist is eligible, and online applications open on November 1 and close on January 8. 

Unsigned Only   

These annual competitions are for budding artists under the age of 18, and the grand Prize is $20,000 with a mentoring session with a group of music executives. Although the winners of this year’s competition will be announced in September, it’s never too early to start the application process. It’s the perfect competition to apply for if you’re looking to start a professional soloist career. 

Local Competitions

Don’t forget to search for local competitions in your area. Many communities support the arts by sponsoring smaller venues, but those opportunities provide plenty of experience for larger contests. Go online, or check out your Chamber of Commerce website. 

After you’ve chosen which fall competitions you want to participate in, the following tips will help ensure that you’re ready to excel. 

Start With a Plan

In the bustle of preparation, it’s easy to miss practices and overlook important steps, but that can ruin your confidence when the competition rolls around, or even disqualify you. The best way to avoid stress is to arrange your time so that all the steps are listed clearly and that practice is an essential part of your day. Include things like:

  • The deadline for admission submissions
  • The deadline for video pre-auditions (if required)
  • New strings, or other instrument maintenance, that you need before the competition (do this in advance to give the strings time to stretch)
  • Travel schedule, if needed
  • Practice sessions with a mentor and mock auditions with friends or family
  • Sight reading practice—Brush up on the basics and take time to thoroughly review the piece before you play 

Ensuring that you do your best at a music competition just requires a little preparation. By taking time now to get all the application requirements done early, you’ll reduce the jitters that accompany competitions and be able to successfully demonstrate your talent to the judges.

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