Guidance & Regulations

Deadline for entries:

Piano - Friday 28th April 2023      Strings - Friday 5th May

Please enter online here.

Late entries will be accepted up to 10th May with a 50% surcharge applied.  Any application received after that date may not be accepted if the timetable has been finalised.

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

Viewing classes: The Festival is open to the public and all are welcome to provide a supportive audience to participants. All audience members require to pay for admission to finance the running costs of the week.  Tickets will be available online.

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.  Alternatively a message can be left on phone 07437 962351 and someone will respond promptly.


  • 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, but before 10th May 2023, will be subject to a 50% surcharge.  Entries arriving after 10th May are unlikely to be processed due to the much shorter time available for timetabling.
  • Age: The operative date for reckoning the age of the performer is the first day of the Festival, i.e. Monday 5th June 2023.
  • 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:
    • allowing any one instrument, a performer can only enter a maximum of two classes, which must be in adjacent age groups or grade levels.
    • allowing 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 make sure you enable your email to receive messages from Ballot slips will be sent to that email address.  (Be aware that many work place mail boxes do not accept mail from the Festival.)
  • Performance times: Ballot slips with class dates, times and venues will be issued mid-May.  Applicants are asked to check them carefully and advise the Secretary promptly of any mistakes. 
  • Refunds: Entry monies cannot normally be refunded. 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 20th May for the adjudicator and/or accompanist. Unfortunately, entries which are not complete cannot be processed without all the necessary details including titles/copies. 

    Programme details for Competitive classes:

      Full particulars of each Own Choice marked with an “X” must be given with the entry, unless otherwise stated in the syllabus.  Exceptions include solo classes up to Grade 4 and classes for primary age. The details required are:

      • Title of the work
      • Where applicable, a note of movements, chapter, page, or any 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 Performance classes.

          Copies of works performed are required for the Adjudicator on the day, unless the syllabus states otherwise. 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.
                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.
                  Time limits: The duration of each Own Choice piece(s) 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.  These classes offer an alternative for those who are unable to take an exam set by one of the professional bodies

                      Change of programme when titles are required with entry: 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 programme goes to print. Where a change occurs after that time 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 under "Performing"


                            • Offical Accompanist

                                The Association engages Official Accompanist(s) (O.A.) for the purposes of accompanying set pieces, and own choice pieces up to and including grade 7 level.

                                See below for exceptions.  Performers should confirm their need of the O.A. with their entry and should advise the Secretary if there is any change to their requirements. Performers are able to use their own accompanist, or perform unaccompanied, but the use of backing tracks is not allowed other than in the “Together Again” classes.

                                Where the (O.A.) is required, a printed copy of the full piano accompaniment, not a photocopy, must be submitted by 19th May 2023 to NESPA, c/o EPM, 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. An original must be provided on the day for the performance.

                                • Own choice exceptions: The Official Accompanist will not be provided for the following classes, and performers must arrange their own accompanist for:
                                  • Open classes in all sections
                                  • Adult Performance section
                                  • Recital classes

                                Anyone encountering difficulty with this should contact the Festival as soon as possible.

                                • 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 participant presents themselves on stage.
                                • 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 or if implicitly required.
                                • 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, they may still perform competitively if they arrive before the class ends and the adjudication begins. Should anything prevent the performer from attending the class, please contact the Festival Office so that the section can be advised. Tel. 07437 962351
                                  • 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 timetabled start of their 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 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 Closing Competition: Subject to there being sufficient entries in 2023.  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 8th June 2023. 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.