Students Urged to Enter NAfME’s 2016 Student Composers Competition

Calling All Student Composers!

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) seeks original music written by student composers for featured performance in the Young Composers Concert at the National In-Service Conference in November 10-13 Grapevine, Texas.

Teachers and students are invited to submit original compositions by students for possible inclusion in the concert. Students in elementary school, secondary school, college, and graduate school are eligible to submit compositions.

 Photo credit in print: Event Coverage Nashville | 2015 Student Composers Concert in Nashville, TN

Photo: Event Coverage Nashville |

In 2016, for the first time, the winning composition for chorus will be considered for performance by the NAfME National Honors Ensemble at the national conference.

Up to ten winning composers will receive cash awards, thanks to the generous support of the European American Musical Alliance (Dr. Philip Lasser, president) and the Double R Foundation. All entrants will receive written evaluations of their compositions.

Is composing your passion? Some of the 2015 composers discuss why they compose, the teachers who inspired them and what the contest meant to them.

Aaron Mencher:  

“The best part of participating in the contest was going to Nashville [for NAfME’s 2015 In-Service Conference] for the final concert on the last day. It was an entire day of amazing performances by some of the most talented students in the country, which was topped off by a wonderful premiere of my piece.”

“If you write music that fits the instrumental qualifications, only good things can come from submitting it to the contest. It was such an amazing experience for me. I wish that each person could have a similar experience.”

Jacob Lay:

“I began composing when I was 12 years old in the sixth grade. The teacher that encouraged me the most was my 7th grade orchestra teacher, Ms. Dawna Demster. The teacher that encouraged me to enter the Young Composers Contest was my current chorus assistant director Mrs. Jennifer Wilson.

“Composition is truly my passion because I can let any of my ideas simply flow from my mind and out into the world for the ears of others to not only hear, but to experience. I have been inspired by loved ones, graphics and paintings, celestial bodies, and famous composers of old such as Rachmaninoff and Debussy, my two favorite composers.”

NAfME In-Service 2015, Student Composers ConcertAustin Peay State University Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble perform the winning pieces of the 2015 Student Composers Contest

Photo: Event Coverage Nashville |

Zachary Catron

“The best thing for me was the recognition of my work. I am a student musician insecure in my abilities, especially when faced with the prospect of trying to have a career in music. Being a winner of this competition brings a feeling of personal validation that someone, somewhere enjoys my music.

“I would absolutely encourage others to participate. Young composers are not nourished as much as other musicians. I am lucky enough to come from a very supportive music department that performs my work and wants to see me thrive as a composer, but this is not a luxury for many. There could easily be a winner of this competition who has never had their work performed and to have a piece played for an audience at such a high level is an amazing prize.”

Benjamin Wenzelberg

“It is fun to create something that had lived in your head, see it on paper and then hear it realized. I am inspired by literature, travel and art.

“And it’s a nice feeling to receive acknowledgement for something you’ve worked hard at and are passionate about, and it’s a nice opportunity to potentially have your work performed and to meet other composers and instrumentalists with the same passion and interests.”

Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, and Rosalind Fehr, January 26, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (