Guidance & Regulations

Deadline for entries is Friday 26th March 2021
Please enter online at

Postal entry forms can be downloaded from the website and sent to:
NESPA, c/o EPS, 4th Floor, H1 Building, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen, AB15 6BL.

The Festival is organised by a large team of volunteers and we aim to make it an enjoyable event for both performers and audiences alike. Any constructive suggestions or offers of assistance are always welcome.

 Should anyone have any concerns about any aspect of the Festival, please contact the Festival via email at  or tel: 07437 962351


  • Only complete entries received by the closing deadline can be guaranteed to be processed. Entries are complete when all necessary information and payment have been received.  Entries arriving after the closing date may only be accepted if the volunteers have time to process them.  2021 online festival:  in view of the difficult teaching circumstances, if you are unsure of your entry, please get in touch and make us aware of your situation.
  • Age: The operative date for reckoning the age of the performer is the first day of the Festival, i.e. Monday 7th Jun 2021.
  • Amateur status: All entrants, other than conductors, must be amateurs.  If you consider yourself to be a Professional, then you are welcome to take part, but your performance will be on a non-competitive basis.
  • Multiple entries: A performer may enter more than one class, unless the syllabus states otherwise.  In ordinary solo classes
    • offering any one instrument, a performer can only enter a maximum of two classes, which must be in adjacent age groups or grade levels.
    • offering more than one instrument, a performer can enter on all available instruments in that class.
  • Applicants: All entries must be submitted by an adult (i.e. someone over the age of 16) whether performer, teacher, parent or guardian.  This is the “Applicant”.  Each Applicant should give one contact only for all correspondence, and this must include a telephone number and a current email address. 
  • Please ensure that the telephone number provided is one that can be used to make contact at the time of the performer’s class in case of any technical issues that arise.  
  • Please make sure you enable your email to receive messages from Ballot slips will be sent to that email address.
  • Performance times: Ballot slips with class dates, times and zoom link will be issued in early May.  Applicants are asked to check them carefully and advise the Secretary promptly of any mistakes.
  • Refunds: Entry monies cannot normally be refunded.  (Refunds made in 2020 were due to the exceptional circumstances.)  However, see guidance on groups below.

Own choice classes
Please read the syllabus carefully to check what information and paperwork is required at time of entry, and what should be provided by 17th May for the adjudicator. Unfortunately, entries which are not complete cannot be processed without all the necessary titles/copies.

Please note: As the festival is online, copies must be submitted to the Festival so that they can be forwarded to the adjudicator in advance.  See below.

  • Programme details for Competitive classes:
    Full particulars of each Own Choice must be given with the entry, unless otherwise stated in the syllabus.  Exceptions include solo classes up to Grade 4 or classes for primary age. The details required are:
  • Title of the work
  • Where applicable a note of movements, chapter, or other boundaries of an extract
  • Composer/author
  • Duration of programme
  • Details of any key change, if different from original
  • Programme details for Non-Competitive classes:

Applicants are not required to give details of titles at time of entry, other than in the Adult classes.

  • For online festival 2021 copies of works to be performed are to be provided for the adjudicators. All performers, other than those in classes with set pieces, should submit a photocopy of the page of the work to be performed by 17th May, i.e. date of submission of video. To assist the administration of the festival hard. i.e. printed, not digital, copy should be sent to the Festival Office. NESPA, c/o EPM, 4th Floor, H1 Building, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen, AB15 6BL. 
  • Such copy must be in the same edition and key as that used by the performer.
  • The name of the performer and class should be marked on the copy, and the work to be performed clearly identified.
  • Ensembles should submit a score of the chosen piece.
  • All photocopies so provided will be destroyed after the performance.
  • at the current Festival. The choice may be a set piece for another class, provided that the competitor is not taking part in that class.
  • Choices: Performers may not select a piece which they have performed at a preceding Aberdeen Music Festival or which they are performing in another class
  • Time limits: The duration of each Own Choice piece must be stated on the entry form to enable the timetable to be prepared accurately.  Performers should ensure that the Own Choice piece(s) do not exceed the time limit prescribed for the class.  See “Performing”
  • Repertoire/Recital classes: Entrants should perform at least two contrasting pieces by different composers.
  • Change of programme: when titles are required with entry only. There may occasionally be circumstances which make changing the stated Own Choice piece unavoidable. When this arises, a piece of similar duration may be substituted if this is advised to the Festival Secretary on or before the deadline for submission of videos, i.e. 17th May 2021. Where a change occurs after the 17th May the entrant is still welcome to perform and receive an adjudication but the performance will be treated as non-competitive.
  • Use of Official Accompanist: See below. Where the Official Accompanist (O.A.) is required a printed copy of the full piano accompaniment must be submitted by 16th April 2021 to NESPA, c/o EPM, 4th Floor, H1 Building, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen, AB15 6BL. Music should be clearly labelled with the name of entrant and class number.  This music will be forward to the O.A. who will provide the recorded accompaniment.


  • Technical Rules for Video Entries: The performer should be the appropriate age for the class on 7th June 2021. Videos can be filmed anywhere, please ensure sound quality is clear. No device which can change your vocal ability may be used. You may use a live or recorded accompaniment for your entry (commercially available backing tracks are acceptable in 2021). The track must not have your instrument on it as a backing track and there should be no vocals on backing tracks.
  • Please state your name and the piece you are performing at the start of your video. Record your video with a smart phone/tablet or digital camera - ideally using a tripod or solid surface to rest your device on to produce a steady image. Record on a phone using it horizontally. You must record your entry in one go as if it were a live performance.
  • Social distancing rules: We hope that social distancing will have eased before April 2021 so that groups can perform together. However, fees will be refunded if these classes are not able to run. Social distancing rules must be followed at all times when you are recording your video.
  • Viewing classes: Adjudicators, section secretaries, general secretary and safeguarding officer will be able to view all entries for administrative and adjudication purposes. Entrants and teachers will be able to view their class entries including the other entries in their class during the Virtual Festival in June. Videos must not be copied, uploaded or shared in any way. If you do not wish your entry to be viewed before the adjudication please email the Festival Director and arrangements can be made for it to be heard privately.
  • Accompaniment: All set piece music with an accompaniment can be performed with that accompaniment, unless otherwise stated. However, for online festival 2021 a backing track may be used, or the performance may be unaccompanied.
  • Official Accompanist
    The Association engages the services of Official Accompanist(s) for the purposes of accompanying set pieces, and own choice pieces up to and including grade 7 level.  Performers should confirm their need of the Official Accompanist with their entry and should advise the Secretary if there is any change to their requirements.  They are free to use their own accompanist, and as stated above for Festival 2021, perform with a backing track or unaccompanied. 
    In order for a recorded Accompaniment to be prepared and sent back to the performer, please ensure that hard copy of the music is submitted by Friday 16th April 2021 or earlier to the Festival Office. 
  • Transposition: Where required a transposed copy for the accompanist should be sent to the Festival Office.
  • Own choice exceptions: The Official Accompanist will not be provided for the following classes, and performers must arrange their own accompanist:
    • Open classes
    • Non-competitive classes Grade 5 and above
    • Any performances in the Challenge Recital
    • Adult only classes
    • Recital classes above grade 5

Please contact the Secretary promptly if help with finding an accompanist is required.

  • Time limits: Performers must observe set time limits. They should be aware that if they overrun, the adjudicator may stop the performance at the end of the allotted time. At grade 5 level and above, the performing time will be deemed to begin as soon as the video starts.
  • Exceeding time limits: Should the time limit stated in the syllabus be exceeded, the performer will still receive an adjudication but the performance will be treated as being non-competitive.
  • Repeats: In all classes, apart from those in Traditional Music, no repeats should be played other than Da Capos, unless specified. 
  • Substituting performers: In ensemble or group performances, substitutes can be made if a performer has to withdraw.
  • Late arrivals: Where an entrant is unable to attend at their balloted time, their video may be “performed” competitively if they arrive before the class ends and the adjudication begins. Should anything prevent the performer from attending the class, please get in touch.  Last minute notifications should be made to the Festival Mobile Phone so that the section can be advised. Please make sure that the Festival has a mobile number for the performer that can be contacted during the class in case of technical difficulties.
  • Timetables: Applicants are reminded that ballot times are estimates and due to either delays or withdrawals, classes may not start at the planned time. Consequently, performers are advised to arrive at least ten minutes before the start of their class. Performers should be aware that the Hosts may not be able to admit them to the Zoom room if they arrive after the start of the class.
  • Photocopies: Performers are reminded that it is illegal to copy works which are copyright, without the written permission of the copyright holder. See “Copyright”  The use of photocopies to avoid awkward page turns is permitted.  All photocopies provided for the use of the adjudicator/accompanist will be retained by the Festival and destroyed after the performance.

Adjudication and awards

  • Eligibility: Trophies and other prizes will not normally be given to entrants who do not achieve a Very Good or Outstanding grade on their performance.
  • Festival Young Musician Competition: Performers in certain Open classes may be eligible for inclusion in the final competitive concert, so long as they receive an award of Outstanding or Very Good for their performance. Eligibility is at the discretion of the adjudicators and where possible successful performers will be notified on the morning of Thursday 10th June 2021. Winning an Open class does not automatically qualify a performer for inclusion in the final competition which will usually be restricted to a maximum of 8 performers.
  • Election for Non-competitive basis: Performers may take part in any competitive class on a non competitive basis and receive an adjudication.



Performers are responsible for ensuring that they do not infringe copyright law. This affects works by living composers, by those who have died within the last 70 years, or from an edition published less than 25 years ago. For all such works, both the performer(s) and accompanist must use a printed copy for their performance.

Where copies of chosen works are required for the adjudicator, these should be a printed copy, not a photocopy, unless the copyright-holder is a member of the Music Publishers Association.  If this applies, a photocopy may be supplied, and this will be destroyed by the Festival after use.  Works in the public domain should have the name of any arranger supplied, and again, performers should check for compliance.


It is the policy of the Festival Association to inform and involve parents, guardians, carers, teachers and volunteers to ensure the smooth running of the Festival in partnership, to create as far as is reasonably practicable, an environment in which everyone feels safe, comfortable and respected.

Responsibility for the supervision of children and vulnerable adults attending the Festival in any capacity lies with parents/guardians/carers who should ensure that those under their charge are accompanied and supervised by responsible adults acting on their behalf at all times.


The personal data of performers and applicants provided when an entry is submitted, updated or amended will be used for making and communicating the arrangements necessary for performance at the Festival, for Programme preparation and publication, and if applicable, for results dissemination. The Festival Privacy Notice is available on the website and explains in detail what data is collected and for what purpose.