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NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) affords students an opportunity to measure their ability and progress outside of the weekly lesson.  NYSSMA is a yearly public school event (usually in the Spring) where students sight-read, and play scales and pieces for an adjudicator. Students are judged according to their performance (technique, rhythm, interpretation, etc.) and awarded a grade. Generally any student, except for the absolute beginner, may participate. Students who participate must pay a modest fee. Students enrolled in private schools are eligible to participate through their local public school. There is a deadline for registration for the event, so check with your local public school early in the second half of the school year (January or February).


There are six levels in the competition. Level one offers the easiest music, while level six presents the most difficult. Students must play a piece or pieces from the NYSSMA catalogue, along with the appropriate scales and sight-reading for their level. In levels one (I) through four (IV), students score out of a possible 28 points, while in levels five (V) and six (VI) they are scored out of a possible 100 points. There are also written comments that accompany the numerical score.


Students should notify the band, chorus, or orchestra director at their school of their intention to participate, and the level and category (classical or jazz) of their music. Students should also notify me as soon as possible about their intention to participate, and the date(s) that they are scheduled to play. A student must work on music from the appropriate NYSSMA level, and the piece must be listed in the most recent NYSSMA catalogue. (You can ask me or your public school music teacher if the piece is in the current catalogue.) This is necessary in order to obtain a grade in the competition. Students should bring an extra copy of their piece for the adjudicator. Photocopies are not permitted.