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Welcome to the NYSSMA Student Songwriters Showcase Application!  Students who submit a song will receive a written evaluation of their piece, as well as consideration for inclusion in the 3rd Annual Student Songwriters Showcase at the NYSSMA Winter Conference in Rochester.  Selected students will also participate in coaching workshops and a post-concert reflection with their fellow student songwriters and members of the NYSSMA Composition & Songwriters Committee.


  • Grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
  • Works by 12th graders will receive evaluations but will not be considered for concert performance.
  • Although song quality is the primary criterion, NYSSMA will attempt to represent all three age categories and will seek to program a concert of varied style, genre and instrumentation.


  • Each K-12 student applicant must be enrolled in a NYSSMA Participating School District in order to be eligible to submit songs.
  • Songs must not exceed five (5) minutes in duration.
  • Song submissions shall include an audio recording and a lyric sheet.
  • Songs may be for a solo voice or for an ensemble of voices with or without instrumental accompaniment.
  • Song lead sheets are not required but will be accepted.
  • Songs may be in any style.
  • Song music and lyrics must both be written by students.
  • Songs that are intended to be performed in a recorded format are equally eligible as those intended to be performed in person.
  • Each applicant may submit a maximum of two songs, but each submission requires a separate application and payment of the $30 submission fee.
  • Songs will be adjudicated based on three criteria: Technique, Musical Appeal and Creativity.
  • If a song is selected for performance at the Winter Conference, NYSSMA will assist in recruitment of performers, but NYSSMA cannot guarantee that a performance will take place.
  • Students whose songs are selected will be expected to attend the Winter Conference.
  • Travel, housing and other expenses for students who attend the Winter Conference are the responsibility of the students' family and/or sponsoring school.

The committee evaluates the submitted compositions based on three broad criteria:
Compositional Technique includes the following elements, where applicable:

  • Organization of pitch elements such as melody and harmony
  • Organization of rhythmic elements
  • Organization of lyric elements
  • Formal design/narrative/story
  • Clarity of material
  • Appropriate writing for voice and instruments

Overall Musical Appeal includes the following aspects:

  • Stylistic coherence, regardless of the particular style
  • Effective handling of unity/variety and tension/release
  • Effective use of dynamics, articulations and expressive marks
  • Interaction of all of the musical elements (atmosphere, mood, direction, flow of the work)

Creativity refers to aspects of the piece that reveal the songwriter's individual "voice" and distinguish the piece from a musical exercise or a direct imitation of another piece.
If some of these terms are not familiar to you, please discuss them with your teacher or contact the committee chairperson at comp@nyssma.org.
The criteria listed above are not intended as a "checklist" for each student to go through as they write a song.  Each work is unique.  The committee attempts to assess each composition on its own merit.

  1. Complete the Submittable Application Form and uploads no later than June 9, 2024.
  2. Upload an mp3 audio file recording of the song.
  3. Upload as a PDF file the lyric sheet and a song lead sheet if so desired.
  4. Submit the $30 payment as per Submittable.

For further information, please contact Dr. Rob Deemer, NYSSMA Composition Committee Chair at comp@nyssma.org.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.