Friends of Music & the Arts has prepared the following guide to NYSSMA for Scarsdale families. 

What is NYSSMA and the Annual Spring Festivals?

NYSSMA stands for the New York State School Music Association, of which Westchester County is a part.  NYSSMA's mission is to advance music education across New York State for its membership and students in member school music programs.  

Every spring, students may participate in NYSSMA's Spring Festivals. The Festivals (referred to simply as “NYSSMA”) are an opportunity for students to perform in front of specially-trained music judges (called "adjudicators") in order to receive a score and feedback about their performance.  Over 1200 students from across Westchester County participate in the Festivals each year.

Who is eligible for NYSSMA?

Any student in the district who wants the extra challenge of performing a solo before a judge is eligible. Usually these are students who take private instrument or voice lessons in addition to participating in the school music program (band, orchestra or chorus).  

Should my child participate in NYSSMA? 

To prepare for NYSSMA, students will need to dedicate time to practice a solo or small ensemble piece (selected from the NYSSMA manual – see below), scales, and sight-reading to perform for an adjudicator.  Many students enjoy practicing for and performing at the Festivals, meeting other student musicians there, and receiving feedback on their performance.  For students from elementary and middle school, NYSSMA scores are used to select students for the All-County ensembles that will perform in the winter of the following year.  For high school students, the NYSSMA scores are used to select musicians to perform in the Area All-State concerts in the fall.  

Consult with your child and their teacher to determine if NYSSMA would be worthwhile for your child. Students who are uncomfortable playing in front of a judge may not want to participate in NYSSMA. 

How do I sign up for NYSSMA?

Students should see their appropriate school music teacher for registration information and forms. Submit any requisite forms and the participation fee (payable by check made out to Scarsdale Public Schools) to the appropriate music teacher at least a day or two in advance of the registration deadline. Teachers, in turn, register their students for the Festivals. If you have more than one child participating, you must complete a separate registration for each child. 

What is the NYSSMA Manual?

The NYSSMA Manual contains repertoire lists of instrumental and vocal music for solo and ensemble performance.  Each list is organized into 6 levels of difficulty.  Students/parents should contact their school music teacher to select an appropriate piece to perform from the manual and to confirm the page number of your student's music selection.  

What do I need to bring to NYSSMA?

Students should bring their instrument and 2 original copies of the sheet music (photocopies are strictly prohibited) to the NYSSMA Festival – one copy for the student performing, the other for the adjudicator. Order sheet music well in advance of the Festival!  If the solo music comes with a piano accompaniment that also has the melody, this can be given to the adjudicator as the second original copy – just be sure the solo part in the piano copy exactly matches the solo that the student will perform. (If the student plans to perform his/her solo from memory, one copy of the music for the judge will suffice – but it should be free of markings!)  Accompanists are not required except for All-State.

What are the NYSSMA Levels?

There are six levels of performance for NYSSMA, based on your skill. Level 1 is the easiest, while level 6 is the most challenging.  Only current 10th and 11th grade students playing NYSSMA level 6 music qualify for an All-State audition. An accompanist is required for the All-State audition.  

What is the NYSSMA experience like and how do I get my score?

It is recommended that students arrive at the adjudication location at least 30 minutes prior to their scheduled time slot.  This is to allow enough time for parking, check-in, warm-up, and finding the assigned classroom.  A schedule will be posted outside the door by the assign classroom.  Once your name is called, you will be asked to perform a certain number of scales or rudiments, depending on your NYSSMA level. Afterwards, you will perform your NYSSMA solo piece. Finally, the evaluator will ask you to sight read a short portion of music based on your NYSSMA level.

Completed evaluation forms will be sent to students' school music teachers, who will return them to students shortly after the Festival. Your evaluation form will contain scores on all three of parts of your performance (scales, solo, sight-reading).  Scores range from “needs improvement” to “outstanding,” with specific areas of skill marked individually. Most judges add encouraging narrative comments to the score sheet.

What if I have further questions?

Reach out to your child's school music teacher for more information. 
Information from Scarsdale's K-12 Performing Arts District page can be found here

Helpful Links