Forum Music Teachers Association of Houston, Inc.

TMTA SA Original Composition Contest

CHAIRMAN: Chiao-Li Tsai: (505) 610-1580
703 Cannon Ln, Sugar Land TX 77479
INTRODUCTION The TMTA SA Original Composition Contest encourages students to compose their own compositions. With their teacher’s guidance, students can compose solo or ensemble compositions for any instrument that may be submitted to the state contest for adjudication by highly qualified judges. Winners in each category receive certificates and cash awards and are invited to perform their works at TMTA’s annual conference.
DEADLINE: December 1
FEE: $25 for Contest Divisions

    1. OPTION 1 (preferred): Send payments via Zelle to Add a message to the transfer with the memo “Composition Contest enrollment for #__ students.”

    2. OPTION 2: Mail your registration check to the appropriate chair. Your payment must be postmarked no later than the deadline. One check per teacher made out to Forum by the December deadline

GUIDELINES: Eligibility


  • 1. Students must be enrolled in Student Affiliate before they can be entered in the TMTA SA Original Composition Contes
  • 2. All students in grades 1-12 must pass an appropriate TMTA SA state-graded theory test during the current school year as stated in the “Theory” section of this Handbook under “Theory Eligibility for Other SA Activities”
  • .3. Young Artist (Post-12) entrants are music students who are high school graduates or collegiate students who have not reached age 27 by the state entry deadline.
  • 4. Students in grades 1-12 who win first place in any division may not enter that same division the following year. They may enter again after skipping a year, if still eligible for that division. Young Artist (Post-12) entrants who win first place in a division may not enter again in the same division. For example: A first grade student who wins first in E1-4 may not enter E1-4 again until he/she is in grade 3 or 4; a Young Artist who won solo could enter only in a different Young Artist category.
  • General Information (please follow the guidelines carefully to avoid disqualification)
  • 1. Entries may be composed for any medium.
  • 2. Students must enter in their grade level unless the composition is co-written. Students who co-write must enter in the division of the oldest member of their group.
  • 3. A student may enter only one composition in a given division.
  • 4. The entire submitted composition must be the original work of the student.
  • 5. Co-writers (collaborators) may enter in any category. Each collaborator pays the entry fee.
  • 6. Compositions previously entered may not be reentered in any form in subsequent years.
  • 7. Compositions may be in one or more movements, but the performance time for an entire work must not exceed ten minutes.
  • 8. Arrangements of pieces and/or the use of themes from a piece are allowed under the following circumstances:
    a. The original composition that is being made into an arrangement or from which themes are being used must be in the public domain.
    b. The student has permission from the composer and/or publisher to use the original copyrighted composition.
    c. Students submitting a piece under either of the circumstances above are responsible for proving that the original composition falls under one of the above categories. A paragraph explaining the circumstances should be included with the submitted composition.
  • 9. Manuscript Requirements:
    a. Manuscripts are to be generated with computer software. All compositions will be submitted digitally as a PDF. The PDF should be printable on 8.5 x 11 inch letter-sized paper.
    b. Accuracy in fundamentals should be checked by the teacher before the composition is submitted. Other help from the teacher is limited to the acceptable practices used in teaching the elements of composition. Final manuscripts should not be edited or revised by a teacher or judge. Corrections should be made by the student.
    c. Only one file should be submitted for each composition (solo and ensemble) and must meet the following requirements:
    i. The composition title must be centered on all pages.
    ii. The division must be in the upper right corner of all pages.
    iii. Page numbers, starting with page 2, should be placed in the upper right corner.
    iv. All measures must be numbered, either by bar or by system.
    v. The manuscript should be free of any identifying markings such as personal identification of the composer (student’s name, pen name, age, or any other personal information), copyright holder, teacher, local association, previous judges’ comments, cover sheet, or illustrations.
    vi. All files should be saved as DIVISION then TITLE. For example: “S4 Composition Title”.
    d. Poems, performance directions, or the student’s annotations are accepted.
    i. Copyrighted text must have a written statement from the copyright holder giving permission to use text.
    ii. Text that is in the public domain must have a statement signed by the student and the teacher indicating this fact.
    e. No change may be made to the manuscript after the submission deadline.
  • 10. Audio File Requirements:
    a. All entries must be submitted with audio files. Only MP3 files will be accepted.
    b. The audio file must not contain any personal identification of the composer, copyright holder, teacher, or local association.
    c. All files should be saved as DIVISION then TITLE. For example: “S4 Composition Title”.
  • 11. Photo file requirements
    a. Student photos should be jpg, jpeg, gif, or png files.
    b. Photos should be saved as “Last Name, First Name”.
  • 12. Submit the following information to the local chair by the deadline
    • Student name, school grade and contest level
    • Theory test (Fall or Spring)
    • Composition Title
    • Composition teacher (only if different from primary teacher)
    • Photo of the student (jpg, jpeg, or png) saved as LAST NAME, FIRST NAME.
    • Composition file (PDF) saved as DIVISION then TITLE. For example: “S4 Allegro”
    • Audio file (MP3) saved as DIVISION then TITLE. For example: “S4 Allegro”
  • Contest Divisions
    1. Divisions designated by S are solo compositions with one performer only. This division does not include voice/piano or instrumental/piano.
    2. Divisions E and L are ensemble compositions. For contest purposes, an ensemble is defined as any composition requiring two or more performers.
    a. Division E: Compositions requiring 10 or fewer voices and/or instruments with one performer per part. If percussion is included, one percussion performer counts as one voice or one instrument, even though that performer may be playing more than one instrument. A piano score with text will not qualify for an ensemble division. The vocal part should be notated on a separate staff if voice/piano.
    b. Division L: compositions requiring more than 10 voices and/or instruments with one performer per part.
    3. Contest divisions are as follows:
    • Division S1-3 Grades 1-3
    • Division S4 Grade 4
    • Division S5 Grade 5
    • Division S6-7 Grades 6-7
    • Division S8-9 Grades 8-9
    • Division S10-12 Grades 10-12
    • Division SP12 Post-12
    • Division E1-4 Grades 1-4
    • Division E5-8 Grades 5-8
    • Division E9-12 Grades 9-12
    • Division EP12 Post-12
    • Division L1-12 Grades 1-12
    • Division LP12 Post-12