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Upcoming Music Competitions: Are You Ready to Apply?

Finding, applying, and prepping for the right music competition takes time. Now is the time to start looking for summer and fall competitions if you want to be sure not to miss any application or audition deadlines.

Nervousness and stress can make competitions a difficult part of your musical education. You don’t have to dread the yearly ritual. Half of the battle can be won before you ever set foot on stage with good preparation – it's a powerful method for overcoming your fears.

Music competitions offer too many benefits to let stage fright get in your way. Fall competitions provide scholarship funds and official recognition that is a crucial part of the journey for students who want to pursue a professional music career. For others, the experience can be a confidence and resume-booster for any professional aspirations.

Manhattan International Music Competition – Deadline is April 30, 2019

This competition covers nearly all instruments, including string soloists, ensembles, and age ranges. Competition categories are Young Artists (8 to 19-years-old), Virtuoso (20 to 26-year-olds), and Professional (27 years old and up). Winner's recitals take place at Carnegie Hall on July 6, 2019.

If you can put together a video audition fast – get your application in now! If you need a bit more time, here's another competition for all ages that gifts winners with a Carnegie Hall concert that has a June 20, 2019 application deadline for November concerts.

Central International Music Academy 2019 (CIMA)

If you'd like a reason to visit Vienna this August, you have until June 1st to get your application and audition videos submitted. It has categories for violinists, violists, and cellists born after January 1, 1986. This competition tells you what works you can submit for your audition, so if you want to apply, get practicing now.

American Protégé International Music Talent Competition Fall 2019

This bi-annual competition is open to all musical instruments and allows winners to perform at Carnegie Hall during the Christmas weekend. The Spring 2019 winners list is posted. There are several competitions with fall deadlines, such as its annual Romantic Music competition and its Piano and Strings Competition.

One of its newest competitions is to perform at its Summer Gala Concert at Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. The summer concert is on June 14, 2020. Application and audition materials are due before November 15, 2019. They aren't fooling. Audition results will be mailed out November 20, 2019. Here's the online application. You’ll need a DVD or YouTube video, a written biography, a portrait, and follow the guidelines for the various age groups. Audition fee is $200 for a solo performer or $120 per member of an ensemble. The website provides all the information you’ll need.

National YoungArts Foundation

This competition accepts submissions from musicians and other budding artists. This isn't just a "win and perform competition." The YoungArts Foundation winners become part of life-long professional and musical development opportunities, from participation in its National YoungArts Week to regional workshops, masterclasses, and eligibility for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Oh yeah, winners can receive up to $10,000 along with a lifetime professional mentorship. Students aged 15-18 can submit applications starting from the first Tuesday of June through the second Friday of October.

Unsigned Only – 2019 deadline is April 30!

These annual competitions are for budding artists under the age of 18, and the grand prize is $20,000 with a mentoring session of music executives. Winners in all the music genre categories will be announced in September. It’s the perfect competition to apply for if you’re looking to start a professional career. Since the competition began seven years ago, four of its winners have signed major label deals.

Local Competitions

There may be a local competition in your area, which can be a great first step if you have some trepidation about jumping into one of the larger competitions. Many communities support the arts by sponsoring smaller venues, but those opportunities provide plenty of experience for larger contests. Search online, including your Chamber of Commerce website, and get in touch with any orchestras or public arts organizations in your area.

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 demonstrate your talent to the judges successfully.

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