Guidance & Regulations


  1. 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.
  2. Age: The operative date for reckoning the age of the performer is the first day of the Festival, i.e. 1st June 2020.
  3. Amateur status: All entrants, other than conductors, must be amateurs. If you consider yourself to be a Professional, then you are very welcome to take part, but your performance will be on a non-competitive basis.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Ballot slips will be sent to that email address. Please make sure you enable your email to receive messages from
  6. Performance times: Ballot slips with class dates, times and venues will be issued in early May. Applicants are asked to check them carefully and advise the Secretary promptly of any mistakes.
  7. Refunds: Entry monies cannot normally be refunded.

Own choice classes

Please read the syllabus carefully to check what information and paperwork is required at time of entry, and on the day of performance. Unfortunately, entries which are not complete cannot be processed without all the necessary titles/copies.

1. Programme details for Competitive classes:
Full particulars of each Own Choice must be given the entry, unless otherwise stated in the syllabus. Exceptions include solo classes up to Grade 4 or primary age, for which this information is helpful but not mandatory. 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

2. 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.
3. Where required, on the day of the performance
Copies of own choice pieces must be provided on the day of the performance for the adjudicator.  

  • 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 shown 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 retained by the Festival after the performance and destroyed.

6. 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 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.
7. 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” below.
8. Repertoire and Recital classes: Entrants should perform at least two contrasting pieces by different composers.
9. 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 before the final draft of the programme is completed. Where a change occurs after the programme goes to print the entrant is still welcome to perform and receive an adjudication but the performance will be treated as non-competitive.
10. Use of Official Accompanist: Where the Official Accompanist is required a printed copy of the full piano accompaniment must be submitted by 1st May 2020to NESPA, c/o Edinburgh Print Makers, 4th Floor, H1 Building, Hill of Rubislaw, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen AB15 6BL.  Music should be clearly labelled with the name of entrant and class number. These copies are forwarded to the accompanists to enable them to prepare for the performance. Originals must be provided for the accompanist on the day. See also below under Performing.


1. 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 bring their own accompanist.
  • Classes for grade 4 & below, no titles or music required with entry, but are helpful for programming and adjudication
  • Classes for grade 5 & above, titles are required with entry, and music for accompanist if own choice not taken from a set book.
2. Accompaniment: All set piece music with an accompaniment should be performed with that accompaniment, unless otherwise stated.
3. Pre-recorded accompaniments are not acceptable.
4. Transposition: Where required a transposed copy for the accompanist should be sent to NESPA, c/o Edinburgh Print Makers, 4th Floor, H1 Building, Hill of Rubislaw, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen AB15 6BL. 
5. Own choice exceptions: The Official Accompanist will not be provided for the following classes, and performers must arrange to bring their own accompanist:
- Open classes
- Non-competitive classes Grade 5 and above
- Any performances in the Challenge Recital
- Adult classes
- Recital classes above grade 5 standard

Please contact the Secretary promptly if help with finding an accompanist is required.
6. 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 competitor arrives on stage.
7. 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.
8. Repeats: In all classes, apart from those in Traditional Music,  no repeats should be played, other than Da Capos, unless specified.
9. Substituting performers: In ensemble or group performances, substitutes can be made if a performer has to withdraw.
10. Late arrivals: Where an entrant is unable to attend at their balloted time, they may be allowed to perform competitively if they arrive before the class ends and the adjudication begins.
11. 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.
12. Photocopies: Performers are reminded that it is illegal to copy works which are copyright, without the written permission of the copyright holder. See “Copyright” below. 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

1. 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.
2. Festival Young Musician Competition: Performers in certain Open classes may be eligible for inclusion in the final Challenge recital, so long as they receive an award of Outstanding or Very Good for their performance. Eligibility is at the discretion of the adjudicators and successful performers will be notified on the morning of Thursday morning 4th June 2020. 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.
3. Time limits: Performers in Open Piano classes or Violin Open Repertoire class should be aware that if they are selected to play in the Challenge Recital, they must restrict their programme to the set time limit for this competition, i.e. to 10 minutes. 
4. Election for Non-competitive basis: Performers may take part in any competitive class on a non competitive basis and receive an adjudication.


Legal requirements

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.

The use of recording equipment and cameras of any kind, (including those in mobile phones, I-pads, tablets, etc.) is not permitted in any Festival venue. This is because of copyright and other legal restrictions, but also to avoid disturbing both performers and other audience members. Festival volunteers may ask any person not complying to leave the venue.

The Festival Association does reserve the right to authorise recordings during the Festival, the copyright of which performances so recorded shall be the property of the Association. Private photographs taken after Festival performances may be possible, but guidance should be taken from the Stewards at the venue.

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 the performance at the Festive, for Programme preparation and publication, and if applicable, for results dissemination.  The Festival Privacy Notice explains in detail what data is collected and for what purpose.