NextNotes High School Composition Awards is a national program designed to nurture the next generation of creative voices in music composition – in any genre! Students in grades 9-12 are invited to apply with a single composition in any genre or style. Applications are submitted electronically through an on-line process.

Download a printable 11×17 poster for your classroom or locker here.

Each year, six NextNotes Composers receive: mentorship from professional composers and musicians over a two-day workshop, flights to/from the workshop, room/board during the workshop, a public concert of the winning works, a scholarship of $1,000 to be used for formal composition studies, a recording of the culminating concert and also be eligible to receive up to $500 in “bring it home” funds to share their accomplishment with their hometown. Thanks to a partnership with MakeMusic Inc., the six NextNotes winners will also receive free Finale software and be eligible to nominate one teacher to receive the NextNotes Music Teacher Award. Recipients of the NextNotes Music Teacher Award will each receive a free one-year subscription to SmartMusic.

Up to thirty applicants will be chosen as an Honorable Mention and will receive written feedback on their composition from the panel of judges.

All entrants who submit all required materials and are deemed eligible applicants will receive a free one-year American Composers Forum student membership.

2017 Winners

Stephanie Chow (IL)
Alistair Coleman (MD)
Nathaniel Heyder (VA)
Natsumi Osborn (TX)

 

Sammy Sussman (NY)

 

 

 

Evan Tiapula (CA)

 

Program Partner

 

 

 

PDF: 2018 NextNotes Guidelines
Download a printable 11×17 poster for your classroom or locker here.

The American Composers Forum (ACF) is pleased to announce the fourth annual American Composers Forum NextNotes® High School Composition Awards.

Whether you write for voices, electronics or instruments, are a singer/songwriter or improviser, hip-hop artist or sound designer… if you create original, creative music and are in high school, we want you to apply!

PROGRAM DETAILS and SCHEDULE:

  • Entries must be submitted electronically via SlideRoom by 11:59pm CST, Monday, January 8, 2018.
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of professional composers with diverse musical backgrounds.
  • Finalists will be notified of their status by April 16, 2018, at which time they will be sent and required to submit the following documents:
    • NextNotes Release for Use of Photo, Audio and Video
    • NextNotes Code of Conduct
    • NextNotes Emergency Contact/Medical Information
    • NextNotes Release from Liability

If ACF staff is unable to reach a Finalist within 24 hours or the above mentioned documents are not received by ACF staff within 48 hours of notification, the entrant will be disqualified and an alternate awardee will be selected.

  • The names of the NextNotes Composers will be announced by the end of the day on April 23, 2018.
  • Each NextNotes Composer will have the opportunity to work with a composer mentor (over the phone or internet) to refine their piece in May 2018.
  • The six NextNotes Composers will be flown to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota for a two-day workshop that will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 22-23, 2018 (with flights on June 21 and 24).
  • The awards ceremony and culminating concert will take place on the evening of June 23, 2018. NOTE: Participation in the workshop/concert is mandatory for the six NextNotes

AWARDS:

In addition to the mentorship, workshop and concert, each NextNotes Composer will:

  • Receive a scholarship of $1,000 to be used for formal composition studies to be applied towards one formal composition study program such as a summer composition program or a semester of individual instruction. These funds will be made payable directly to the educator or institution and must be used within 18 months of notification of the award.
  • Receive an archival recording of the culminating concert.
  • Receive Finale® notation software for continued writing.
  • Be eligible to nominate an influential music educator to receive a one-year SmartMusic Educator Subscription for classroom use.
  • Be eligible to receive up to $500 in “bring it home” funds to share their accomplishment with their hometown. These funds may be used to present the winning composition (i.e. hire musicians or sound technicians for a public concert), duplicate CDs of awardees music, etc. NextNotes Composers may request funds, use of which must be approved by ACF. Funds will not be made payable directly to NextNotes Composers, but rather to the performers, venues, sound technicians, CD duplication company, etc., who are hired to present the music of the NextNotes “Bring it home” funds must be used within 12 months of notification of the award.

Up to 30 of the entrants will be selected as “Honorable Mention” and will receive written feedback from the judges.

All entrants who submit all required materials and are deemed eligible applicants will receive a free one-year American Composers Forum student membership.

The American Composers Forum encourages applicants from the full range of musical styles, and is committed to supporting a diverse pool of artists whose work demonstrates strong artistic merit. Accordingly, awards for our programs will represent, as far as possible, artists and projects that are diverse in genre, gender, race, ethnicity and geography.

PROGRAM GUIDELINES:

Who May Enter:

  • Applicants who are at least 14 years old OR enrolled in 9th grade, and not older than 18 years old OR in 12th grade (or home-school grade equivalents) by September 30, 2017, are eligible. (A 14-year-old 8th grader, a 13-year-old 9th grader, a 17-year-old college student, and a 19-year-old 12th grader are all eligible to apply.)
  • Applicants must be living in the 50 United States at the time of the workshop and concert.
  • Applicants must be available to attend events in Minneapolis-St. Paul on June 22-23, 2018. Awardee travel expenses to and from, and food/accommodations in Minneapolis-St. Paul will be covered by ACF, as will the costs of the workshop, concert, mentors and supervisory counselors.
  • Applicants do not have to be formally studying composition and/or music to be eligible.
  • 2017 NextNotes Winners are not eligible to apply.
  • Employees and board members of the American Composers Forum, and the immediate families thereof, may not apply to this program.
  • You do not have to be a member of the American Composers Forum to apply.

Entry Details:

  • Vocal, instrumental, electronic or any combination thereof will be considered. Works must be written for 0-8 performers and no more than 10 minutes in length. Acceptable entries may include (but are not limited to) works for: voice and guitar, recorded electronics, string quartet, solo piano, brass quintet, live electronic performance, instrumental ensemble with electronic backing track, percussion ensemble, etc.
  • Applications must be submitted electronically via the following link: https://americancomposersforum.slideroom.com/
  • Each applicant may submit only one composition for consideration in the program. If more than one composition is submitted, only the first entry will be considered.
  • Compositions co-written by two people will be considered if both composers are eligible entrants. If the composition is co-written by two composers, their composition must be the sole creation of their collaboration and the two composers will be treated as a single applicant (e.g., if John Smith and Jane Doe write a piece together, they together are considered a single applicant, and neither may apply with any other entry.)
  • Compositions written by more than two individuals, groups, etc., are not eligible.
  • If the composer applicant partnered with a lyricist to write the piece, but wrote the music on his/her own, only the person who wrote the music is eligible to apply.
  • Compositions must be original and the sole creation of the applicant or pair of applicants. Entries must not be plagiarized or violate copyright laws.
  • If the entry includes a produced backing track of beats or other music, it must be the original creation of the applicant or pair of applicants.
  • If text is utilized, proof of public domain or author’s written permission for use of text is required. (Note: Most modern translations of the Bible are protected by copyright.)
  • There is no fee to apply.

Entry Materials:

In addition to the written information requested online, each applicant will be asked to submit:

  • An audio recording (up to 30 MB) or video (up to 60 MB) of entry, no more than 10 minutes in duration.  Recording does not have to be professional quality, MIDI realizations are accepted, but they must be converted to another audio format. Entries will not be judged on the quality of the recording. Acceptable audio formats are: .mp3, .wma, .ogg, .flac
  • OPTIONAL: If applicable, a PDF (up to 10 MB) score of entry.  Scores may be graphic notation (i.e., representation of music through the use of visual symbols) or standard notation.  Handwritten scores are accepted, provided they have been scanned and submitted in PDF form.
  • If applicable, proof of public domain or author’s/publishers written permission for use of text.

Application Deadline, Award, and General Information:

Applications must be submitted electronically on or before 11:59pm CST, January 8, 2018. Late applications will not be considered.

  • All performance, copyright, and royalty rights of the winning pieces remain with the composers.
  • The decision of the NextNotes jury will be final.
  • The finalists will be announced by April 23, 2018 and posted on the American Composers Forum website.
  • Scholarship monies must be utilized for one educational composition program within 18 months of the notification of receipt of the award. If not utilized within 18 months, award monies will be forfeited. These funds will be made payable directly to the selected educator or institution. In the case of individual instruction, ACF reserves the right to require proof that the educator selected is a qualified instructor and may, in its discretion, determine if that individual instructor may or may not receive payment of NextNotes scholarship funds.
  • “Bring it home” funds must be utilized for one event/project within twelve months of the notification of the award.
  • No form of cheating or, in the case of NextNotes Composers, violation of the Code of Conduct, will be tolerated. Any persons found cheating or otherwise violating the rules, as determined in the sole discretion of ACF, will be immediately disqualified from the program. NextNotes Composers who are found to have violated the Code of Conduct during their time in Minneapolis/St. Paul will immediately be sent home and any expenses incurred by doing so will be the responsibility of the NextNotes Composer or their parent/guardian.
  • For additional information about NextNotes, read the NextNotes FAQ at NextNotes.org. ACF reserves the right to modify or update the Guidelines and FAQ at any time and will have no obligation to announce or publicize such additions or clarifications.

 

 

 

 

PDF:  2018 NextNotes FAQs

Can you provide a quick overview of NextNotes®?

NextNotes® is music composition award program for high school students.

Applications are accepted via an online submission process and judged by professional composers.

Six entrants will be selected to receive the top prize, up to thirty applicants will be chosen as an Honorable Mention, and all eligible applicants will receive a free one-year student membership to the American Composers Forum.

For full details and application information, Guidelines can be found at www.NextNotes.org.

Who is eligible to enter?

Anyone in 9th-12th grade (aged 14-18) who writes music of any style is eligible.

What if I wrote my piece with a partner?

Two composers may submit a piece together, but groups larger than 2 are not eligible to apply. In the case of a pair submitting together, both entrants must meet eligibility requirements.

What if I wrote the music and a partner wrote the words?

If your partner wrote the words and did not help write the music, only you (the composer) is eligible to apply. If your partner wrote the words and also helped craft how the singer or rapper should perform those words, then you are both eligible to apply, as long as you both meet all other eligibility requirements.

May I apply more than once per application round?

No. Each applicant may only apply one time with only one composition. If you wrote your piece with a partner, you and your partner may NOT apply again as individuals.

What type of music is eligible?

All styles of music are eligible. Your submission may be for any voices, instruments and/or electronics. The total number of performers may not exceed 8.

What about rap and hip-hop?

All styles of music are eligible. If you’re a rapper, the beats or music you rap over must be written by you or written by a partner with whom you are applying. If you are using beats or a track that someone else wrote, your piece is not eligible for NextNotes.

What if I improvise?

Improvisation is welcome! If you wrote a piece that others are asked to improvise on, please provide the instructions they were given or a score to show your compositional input on the piece.

Can you explain copyright and the public domain?

Copyright is very complex. If you did not write a text or a piece of music (even just a short excerpt), you need to make sure it is legal for you to use it. That means you need to have permission from the author, composer or publisher to use the work. Some things are so old that they are in the “public domain” and don’t have copyright restrictions, but some old texts are still under copyright because they’ve been translated more recently – like some translations of the bible. Here’s a resource with some more information about copyright law: http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

It’s important that if you are thinking about using a text, you do some research and find out if it is legal for you to use it! If it’s in a book, look up the publisher and contact them to get permission. If you found the text online, it may take some research.

How do I submit an entry?

Applications must be submitted electronically via the following link: https://americancomposersforum.slideroom.com/.

Entries submitted by mail or means other than the official electronic process will not be eligible for consideration.

What do I need to submit?

In addition to filling out the submission form online, you are required to submit a recording of your piece. It can be an audio (up to 30 MB) or video (up to 60 MB) recording – whichever you wish. If you also want to submit a score, you may do so via PDF (up to 10 MB). Acceptable audio formats are: .mp3, .wma, .ogg, .flac

Do I need to have a professional recording prepared for my submission?

Your recording doesn’t have to be high-tech or professional. You can use a smart phone to record the performance or send a MIDI realization that has been converted to an acceptable audio format (see above). You will not be judged on the quality of the recording itself.

How will my submission be judged?

A panel of professional composers with diverse musical backgrounds will review the submissions.

Compositions will be evaluated according to four broad criteria: Originality (25%), Creative Potential (25%), Overall Musical Effect (25%), and Compositional Technique (25%).

Is there a fee to apply for NextNotes?

No. It is free to apply.

What do I win?

The six NextNotes Composers will receive: mentorship from professional composers and musicians over a two-day workshop, flights to/from the workshop, room/board during the workshop, a public concert of the winning works, a scholarship of $1,000 to be used for formal composition studies, a recording of the culminating concert, Finale® music notation software, be eligible to nominate a music educator to receive a one-year SmartMusic Educator Subscription, and be eligible to receive up to $500 in “bring it home” funds to share their accomplishment with their hometown.

Up to thirty applicants will be chosen as an Honorable Mention and will receive written feedback on their composition from the panel of judges.

All entrants who submit all required materials and are deemed eligible applicants will receive a free one-year American Composers Forum student membership.

What are the benefits of an ACF membership?

Some of the benefits are:

Who are the Composer mentors?

The composer mentors are professionals who are chosen for their high skill level as composers and strength as educators. The 2018 NextNotes Mentors have not yet been selected. The 2017 NextNotes Mentors were: Carol Barnett, Joshua Clausen, and Joseph Horton.

If I win, who will perform my composition?

If you are chosen as one of the six NextNotes Composers, we will ask you what your vision is for your piece – our goal is to help that vision come to life at the final concert. Did you write it for other musicians to play? If so, we’ll hire professionals to perform your piece. Did you write it to perform it yourself? If so, you will!

What will happen during the June workshop?

The workshop days will be filled with mentorship and music! The schedule is below:

 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Travel to Minneapolis-St. Paul

6:00 PM                              Orientation and dinner

 

Friday, June 22, 2018 – Day I

8:30 AM:                             Breakfast and introduction to speaking about work

10:00 AM-1:00 PM:          Rehearsal and individual feedback sessions with mentors

12:45 PM-2:00 PM:          Lunch and speaking about your work, cont.

2:00 PM-5:00 PM:            Rehearsal, cont.

4:45 PM-6:00 PM              Rest/time off

6:00 pm – 10:00 PM         Dinner/attend concert TBD

 

Saturday, June 22, 2018 – Day 2

8:30 AM:                             Breakfast

9:30 AM-11:00 AM:          What composers do and how they do it

11:30 AM-1:00 PM:          Lunch & What’s next for you?

1:30 PM-2:00 PM:            Sound check

2:00 PM-4:00 PM:            Dress rehearsal

4:30 PM-6:00 PM              Rest/time off

6:00 PM-7:30 PM              Dinner

8:00 PM                              Concert

 

Sunday, June 23, 2018

8:30 AM:                             Breakfast and debrief with mentors

Travel home

Where will the Workshop and Concert take place? Where will I stay if I win?

Locations for 2018 have not yet been finalized. The 2017 workshop was held at the University of Minnesota School of Music with the performance at The Lab Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The NextNotes composers were also housed on the University of Minnesota for the duration of the June 2017 workshop period.

What is the purpose of NextNotes?

The purpose of NextNotes is to: encourage and recognize the creativity of high school composers (students grades 9-12); award outstanding talent with mentorship and a performance of their work by professional musicians and scholarship funds; bring fresh relevance and ownership to the word composer; and raise awareness of the American Composers Forum.

Still have questions?

If you’ve read the Guidelines and the FAQ and still have questions, you may contact Laura Krider at the American Composers Forum to learn more. (651) 251-2840 or lkrider@composersforum.org

 

2016

Michael Cabrera
(FL)
Ángel Jochi (Josh) Hernandez-Camen (PA)
Lucy McKnight
(CA)
Molly Monahan (MI)
J.P. Redmond (NY)
Karalyn Schubring (AZ)

 

2015

Aiyana Braun (PA)
Evan Caplinger (CA)
Quinn Mason (TX)
April Lasken (IL)
Katya Richardson (CA)
Ian Underhill-Cady (MN)

 

  • Dr. Daniel Deutsch – Composer, Chair of NAfME’s Council for Music Composition; Composition/Improvisation Chair of New York State School Music Association
  • Dr. Michele Kaschub – Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Teacher Education & Graduate Studies, University of Southern Maine; Past President, Maine Music Educators Association.
  • Jeffrey S. Kimpton – President, Interlochen Center for the Arts
  • Dr. Libby Larsen – Composer and composition teacher
  • Dr. Tom Lopez – Director of Contemporary Music Division, Associate Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts, Chair of the Technology in Music and Related Arts, Oberlin; Director, Computer Music Program, The Walden School Young Musicians Program
  • Sky Macklay – Composer and composition teacher, The Walden School Young Musicians Program and the Brooklyn College Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts
  • Dr. David Myers – Professor and Director, University of Minnesota School of Music
  • Dr. Lewis Nielson – Director, Oberlin High School Composition Workshop; Professor of Composition, Composition Department Chair, Oberlin
  • Dr. Daniel Ott – Composer, Composition Program Director, New York Summer Music Festival; Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition, Fordham University; Faculty, Juilliard School
  • Dr. Janice Smith – Associate Professor of Music Education, Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College C.U.N.Y.
  • Dr. Janika Vandervelde – Composer and composition teacher, Perpich Center for Arts Education; Hamline University

Knight Foundation is the founding sponsor of the NextNotes® High School Composition Awards. Additional funding provided by The Augustine Foundation, the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, the Dr. Fred Noah Gordon Charitable Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation and by partnership with MakeMusic, Inc., makers of Finale and SmartMusic software.