Composition Guidelines

Composition Coordinator

Christopher Goldston, NCTM

Applications will be available in August 2020


  • MTNA active membership dues must be paid before submission of the application. A $150 nonmember teacher fee will be assessed if entrant's teacher has not paid active membership dues for the 2020–2021 membership year.
  • Application deadline is Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. There will be no exceptions.
  • Primary communication is via email. The application must have accurate email addresses for entrant, teacher and parents.

Composition Competitions


  • Age: 5–10 as of January 1, 2021
  • Entry Fee: $50


  • Age: 11–14 as of January 1, 2021
  • Entry Fee: $70


  • Age: 15–18 as of January 1, 2021
  • Entry Fee: $100

Young Artist:

  • Age: 19–26 as of January 1, 2021
  • Entry fee: $100

National Awards

Awards made possible by Alfred Music

  • Elementary Winner: $500
  • Elementary Second Place: $400
  • Elementary Third Place: $300

Awards made possible by Alfred Music

  • Junior Winner: $1,000
  • Junior Second Place: $500
  • Junior Third Place: $300

Awards made possible by the MTNA Foundation Fund

  • Senior Winner: $2,000
  • Senior Second Place: $1,000
  • Senior Third Place: $500

Awards made possible by the MTNA Foundation Fund

  • Young Artist Winner: $3,000
  • Young Artist Second Place: $1,500
  • Young Artist Third Place: $750

General Guidelines

Entrants and teachers must meet the Entrant and Teacher Requirements. All submissions must follow the Composition Competition Rules listed below.

Competition Timeline

  • PDF score and MIDI file are required with submission of application.
  • Results of state competitions will be announced by November 1.
  • Results of division competitions will be announced by December 15.
  • Results of national competitions will be announced by February 1.

Competition Rules

  • An entrant may submit only one composition and may enter in only one state.
  • Entrant must be the sole composer of submitted composition.
  • Teacher listed on application must agree to entrant participation in the competition.
  • Decisions of competition judges are final.
  • A national first-place MTNA winner may not enter again in the same Composition Competition Level (Elementary, Junior, Senior, Young Artist).
  • A composition may be in any style.
  • The performance time must not exceed ten (10) minutes.
  • Compositions for more than nine (9) performers will not be accepted. Electronic realizations of larger scale works are not allowed.
  • If a composer uses a text: (1) copyrighted text must have a written statement from the copyright holder giving permission to use text or (2) text that is in the public domain must have a statement signed by the student and the teacher indicating this fact.
  • Compositions using extended techniques (i.e. introducing foreign objects into the workings of the piano to change the sound quality, strumming or plucking of strings) are not permitted at the request of competition hosts and piano companies providing instruments.
  • State and division winners/representatives will advance to the next level of the competition.
  • If there is only one (1) entrant in a State-level category, there will be NO State Competition. The entrant will be named the State Representative and that composition will advance directly to the Division Competition.
  • If there is only one (1) entrant in a Division-level category there will be NO Division Competition. The entrant will be named the Division Representative and that composition will advance directly to the National Finals.
  • If there are seven (7) or fewer entrants nationwide in a category at the state level, those entrants will advance directly to the National Competition.
  • Primary communication is via e-mail. The application must have e-mail addresses for entrant, teacher and parents.

    Submission Requirements

    • The application with computer-generated PDF score and MIDI file must be submitted online. Other audio file formats will not be accepted.
    • Handwritten scores will not be accepted.

    Score Requirements

    • The PDF should be printable on 8.5 x 11-inch letter-sized paper.
    • PDF score must be computer generated using music-notation software.
    • Cover art should not be included.
    • Measures of the composition must be numbered, preferably at the beginning of each system.
    • All materials must be labeled with the name of the composition, the name of the entrant and the level (Elementary, Junior, Senior, Young Artist).
    • The score must not include teacher name or any reference to school/institution, biography or picture of entrant.
    • No change may be made to the manuscript once it has been submitted with the application.
    • The entrant certifies that the composition is an original work, and the score was produced by the entrant.

    Performance Requirements

    • The composition of each national composition competition winner must be performed at the appropriate Winners Concert during the MTNA National Conference March 13–17, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. In the event that the MTNA National Conference is cancelled, national winners will be asked to submit a video performance of their composition.
    • Performances must be on the instrument(s) for which the submitted composition was written.
    • Winners must be present at this concert in order for their compositions to be performed and to receive the monetary award.
    • Winners must provide their own musicians for this concert, and only live performances are allowed.
    • Audio or video recording and photography of the Winners Concert is strongly discouraged.
    • Competition financial obligations are the responsibility of the entrant.
    • If the first-place winner is unable to attend the National Conference and arrange for a live performance of their composition:
      1. The first-place ranking will be retained, but cash awards for entrant will be forfeited and
      2. The second-place winner will have the opportunity to perform.
        • If the second-place winner accepts this opportunity, the entrant will receive the first-place cash award in lieu of the second-place cash award.

Competition Agreement

  • Entrant, parents/guardians and teacher have read, understand and agree to the Guidelines for the 2020–2021 MTNA Competitions. Failure to abide by these rules and regulations will make the entrant ineligible to receive recognition or awards.
  • Entrants under age 18 have parent/guardian permission to enter MTNA competitions.
  • Credit card holder has authorized use to complete the application.
  • All entry fees are nonrefundable.
  • Entrant will abide by all copyright laws. (Original compositions are not required to have registered copyright to enter competition.)
  • MTNA is not responsible for problems with Internet service or phones.

Applications will be available in August 2020