PMTA Keystone Composition Competition


To give students an opportunity to develop creativity, self-expression and better musicianship through the art of composition.

Classes of Entry

  • Elementary – Age 5-10 as of January 1
  • Junior – Age 11-14 as of January 1
  • Senior – Age 15-18 as of January 1
  • Young Artist – Age 19-25 as of January 1

Student Requirements

  • Students must reside in Pennsylvania or study with a PMTA member with an established studio in Pennsylvania.

Teacher Requirements

  • Teacher must have an established studio in Pennsylvania.
  • Participating PMTA teacher’s state dues must be paid for the current year BEFORE entering event.
  • Non-PMTA teachers must pay a $50 non-member fee in addition to the student entry fees.

Composition Requirements

  • For all classes, the composition may be in any recognized tonal or atonal style for any instrument or style.
  • The following length requirements apply:
    • Elementary & Junior – 16 measures minimum
    • Senior & Young Artist – 32 measures minimum
  • Total performance time will not exceed 15 minutes.
  • Words used in vocal compositions may be original. The author of the text must be identified. No compositions shall infringe on existing copyrights.
  • Ensemble works are limited to a maximum of nine (9) performers.
  • Compositions for prepared piano will not be accepted.

Submission Requirements

  • Entrants may submit only pieces that have not been previously submitted for this contest or previously published, recorded or performed for commercial purposes.
  • Entrants may submit any number of compositions per event. However, an entry fee must accompany each submission.
  • A fully realized score, completely notated by the composer, is required. The manuscript must be in the composer’s handwriting or in the form of a computer printout produced by the composer. Illegible copies will not be accepted.
  • Manuscripts must be titled on the top of the first page. The compositions must have the title, the name of the student (new requirement), and the category (Elementary, Junior, Senior, Young Artist). The teacher’s name must not appear on the manuscript.
  • Manuscripts of more than one page should be numbered.
  • Measures of the composition must be numbered at the beginning of each system.
  • Students may include a brief description, narrative or explanation of the composition (less than 50 words) at the end of the manuscript (must be included within the PDF file).
  • No change may be made to the manuscript once it has been submitted with the application.
  • No tape-recorded entries will be accepted.
  • Students submit completed compositions to their teacher, along with the entry fee (payable to the teacher).
  • It is the teacher’s responsibility to forward the compositions as PDF attachments to the composition chair’s address below. Teachers should submit one check, payable to PMTA, for the total of all entries and mail it to the chair with the entry forms.
  • Compositions must be received by April 1st. Applications and the entry fee should be postmarked NO LATER THAN March 31, 2018.
  • Entry fees are $25 per entry for students of PMTA teachers, $45 per entry for students of non-PMTA teachers. Entree fees are non-refundable.
  • Any submission that does not meet the submission requirements will be disqualified.


  • Awards in each category are:
    • Elementary & Junior:
      • First Place $75
      • Second Place $50
      • Third Place $40
      • Honorable Mention
    • Senior & Young Artist:
      • First Place $100
      • Second Place $75
      • Third Place $50
      • Honorable Mention
  • Additional prizes may be awarded at the discretion of the judges in collaboration with the committee.
  • Awards may be suspended if, in the final opinions of the judges, none of the entries submitted warrants commendation.

Performance Requirements

  • Winners will be invited to perform their composition in one of the fall DSPF Showcase Recitals. Performance is not a requirement of winning.
  • Register online at the PMTA website during the Showcase registration window of October 1 – October 14.
  • If performed in recital, compositions must be performed on the instrument(s) for which it was written.
  • It is the composer’s responsibility to provide the appropriate instrumentation for the performance of his/her winning composition.
  • Teachers may perform a student’s composition.

Judging Procedures

  • Compositions are blind judged on originality; form and style; correct, well-edited notation including marks of expression, tempo, phrasing and dynamics.
  • Judges’ comments will be returned to the teacher as PDF files or Word documents.
  • Competition results should be available on or before May 20th.

Submittal Information

  • Send compositions as PDF files to:
  • Send entry fees, non-PMTA teacher fees (payable to PMTA) and applications to:
    PMTA Keystone Composition Competition Chair
    Michele Millington
    410 Ice Harvest Dr.
    Mountaintop, PA 18707

    Phone: 570-466-3629

For More Information