Composition Competition Entry Information and Guidelines

Entry Information and Guidelines

Registration for the 2023 Composition Competition is now open.


IMEA Composition Competition


  • The Middle School Division of the competition is open to students in grades 6-8 (2022-23 school year) who reside in Indiana and are sponsored by school or private teachers who are IMEA/NAfME members teacher’s membership ID number required.
  • The High School Division of the competition is open to students in grades 9-12 (2022-23 school year) who reside in Indiana and are sponsored by school or private teachers who are IMEA/NAfME members teacher’s membership ID number required.
  • The College Division of the competition is open to undergraduates (2022-23 school year) who reside in Indiana and are sponsored by school or private teachers who are IMEA/NAfME members teacher’s membership ID number required.


  • Arranging
  • Chamber Instrumental
  • Concert Band/Wind Ensemble
  • Electroacoustic
  • Jazz Big Band
  • Jazz Combo
  • Instrumental Solo
  • Orchestra (String)
  • Orchestra (Full)
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Vocal Choir
  • Vocal Jazz
  • Vocal Solo (Accompanied or A Capella)

With the exception of electroacoustic works, all submissions must include a fully notated score.

Composers may enter in multiple categories, but may submit only one work per category. Each work must be accompanied by a completed entry form, but payment should be combined in a single check or money order. There is a $35 entry fee per composition.

This competition is intended to provide an educational experience for all who enter.  Each entry will receive written feedback from our panel of three judges.  These judges are professional composers and collegiate level educators.

Before you begin the online entry process, please be sure that you have the following ready to upload:

  • Your brief biography (up to 100 words), to be copied and pasted into the online form
  • Brief composition description/program notes (up to 100 words), to be copied and pasted into the online form
  • PDF file(s) of the score and parts (except for electroacoustic works for playback only) - either one PDF file or a ZIP file containing all PDF files
  • An MP3 recording of the composition (MIDI realizations are acceptable)
  • Those submitting in the arranging category need to submit the notated score being worked off of (or indicate that you are arranging the piece by ear).

NOTE: You should write your biography and program notes prior to starting the online form and then copy and paste them into the appropriate boxes on the form so that the security time-out feature does not kick you out before your application is complete.

The score and parts must be in PDF format and can either be a single PDF containing the score and all parts or a ZIP file of multiple score PDF files (score and individual parts). The recording must be in MP3 format. Both files must each be less than 10 MB in size. If necessary, you can reduce the file size of your recording by reducing the bit rate of the file using an audio recording application or music management software such as the freeware Audacity (192kbps is sufficient for MP3s).

All submissions must be postmarked on or prior to the deadline June 7, 2023 and must include:

  • completed entry form (see the Entry Forms page) for each work (please include e-mail contact information to facilitate communication; please list specific instrumentation if the work is in the Arranging, Chamber Instrumental, or Instrumental Solo categories)
  • $35 entry fee for each work (please combine payment for multiple entries)
  • For extra help, examples, and advice watch this video!

Submissions should be addressed to:

Attn: Composition Competition
PO Box 30558
Indianapolis, IN 46230

Score Preparation

Remember this basic guideline, and use it to inform all of the choices you make: a score needs to communicate the composer’s musical intentions clearly while facilitating an ensemble’s rehearsal of the piece.

Therefore, it is important that scores are neat and readable, include all necessary information, and are well formatted.

If your score isn’t neat and readable, an ensemble director won’t be able to read your score from the normal distance on his or her podium.  This will make effective rehearsal difficult at best.

If your score doesn’t include information such as measure numbers and clearly marked rehearsal numbers or letters, rehearsals will be slowed down considerably while the musicians count measures just to know where to start.

If your score doesn’t include information such as dynamics, articulations, and phrase marks, an ensemble director will have to make an educated guess at what your musical intentions are, which might or might not match what you imagine. Also, it will take additional time and effort to get the ensemble members to perform the piece in a uniform way if their parts don’t show them this kind of information.

If your score has margins that are too small, important information such as the part name might be illegible. If the margins are too big, more pages, and therefore more page-turns, will be required.


Cover and Title Page

The cover and title page of a score should make certain basic information clear, such as instrumentation, duration of the piece (and, if applicable, its individual movements), and other special instructions that a conductor would need to know, such as special percussion and/or electronic equipment needs.

Always include a score cover that includes the title of the work and the name of the composer (and, if applicable, the arranger). This information should be exactly as it would appear in a printed program. This will enable a conductor to locate the score easily, and to list the work and composer properly in concert programs.

Always include a title page that includes a list of the full instrumentation (with transpositions indicated, such as Horns in F), doublings (such as Flute, doubling Piccolo), and all percussion instruments. This will enable a conductor to assess immediately whether s/he has the instrumental forces available to perform the work.


Page Layout

Most scores are laid out in portrait orientation (long dimension of the page vertical) rather than landscape. This is true for all band, orchestra, choir, and classical-tradition chamber music. The exception to this is with jazz ensemble scores, where landscape orientation has become the norm.

First Page: Title and Composer

The title of the work and the name of the composer (and, if applicable, the arranger) should also appear at the top of the first score page, with a margin approximately 1.5″ from the top of the page allowing for the information to appear uncluttered.

First Page: Instruments/Voices and Staff Names

On the first page of the score the full name of each instrument/voice should be listed to the left of its staff, center-justified. Show standard abbreviations on all subsequent pages (see The Big Site of Music Notation and Engraving by Colorado College for more information).


Tempo Indications

Provide tempo indication(s), such as Allegro, together with specific metronome markings. Be sure to relate the tempo(s) to meaningful notated pulse values (such as the quarter note in 4/4), and choose a number from the standard old-fashioned metronome (40, 42…(by 2s)…60, 63…(by 3s)…72, 76…(by 4s)…120, 126…(by 6s)…200). Use “ca.” (circa) to indicate if the tempo is approximate, rather than a range (e.g., 72-80), which might suggest that the tempo should fluctuate.


Measure Numbers

Show measure numbers at least at the beginning of every staff-system and at significant structural points in the piece (changes of tempo and/or key, important new musical ideas themes, etc.). For school ensembles, a newer practice of showing numbers for every measure has emerged as a common practice because of adjudicated performances such as ISSMA. In such cases, numbers are shown beneath the bottom staff, centered to the measure.