NYSSMA Help and Info

If you have any additional questions or concerns please make an appointment to speak with your child's music teacher.

What is NYSSMA?
NYSSMA is actually an acronym that stands for New York State School Music Association. Their website homepage is www.nyssma.org. NYSSMA is the parent organization of SCMEA (Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association)

What is a NYSSMA festival?
NYSSMA sponsors approximately 145 solo & small ensemble and major ensemble festivals in New York State each spring. At solo and small ensemble festivals, students are given a performance evaluation that involves playing a graded solo from the NYSSMA Manual, playing scales and sight reading. At major ensemble festivals, school bands, choruses and orchestras are evaluated.

How do I register my child?
All NYSSMA registration is done through the student’s school music program. Information regarding scheduling times and appropriate materials should be received from the school music teacher. Central Islip is a NYSSMA Member school district and authorized to send students to NYSSMA

Can I register directly as an individual or through my child’s private music teacher or studio?
No. Registration is only done through the music teacher at the school which the student attends.

Is this a competition?
NYSSMA festivals (other than for All-State) are evaluations, not competitions. Students may compete with themselves from year to year, but NYSSMA does not view festivals as competitive.

What music can be played?
Students who desire a rating must choose a graded solo from the NYSSMA Manual. Student who desire comments only can perform any music and are not required to play scales or sight read.

Where can I see a manual?
All music teachers at all Central Islip schools have a copy of the NYSSMA manual. It can also be found at many public libraries. The manual contains rules and regulations as well as the extensive solo lists. It should be noted, however, that the manual is designed for use by music teachers and is not intended as a student or parent publication.

Who are the adjudicators?
NYSSMA adjudicators are professional teacher/musicians who have received instruction on the NYSSMA adjudication system.

What does NYSSMA do?

Go to NYSSMA’s website and click on “Information” and then “About Us” to read their mission statement and learn all about what they do.

What is a NYSSMA solo/ensemble festival?
A NYSSMA solo/ensemble festival is a performance venue that provides students with an opportunity to be assessed by a NYSSMA certified adjudicator on solo or ensemble music they have prepared. The purpose of this assessment is to provide the student(s) with positive feedback and constrictive criticism in an effort to help improve performance.

What happens at a NYSSMA solo/ensemble festival?
The soloist or ensemble enters a specified room to perform for an individual adjudicator. In addition to the prepared literature, soloists performing for a grade will be asked to perform a specified number of major scales (see NYSSMA manual or speak to your teacher) and a short (approximately 8 measures) sight-reading example. Ensembles are only required to perform the prepared literature.

What is the difference between a solo and an ensemble?
A solo is an individual performance. An ensemble can be anywhere from two (duet) up to sixteen (16) musicians, depending on the requirement of the repertoire. Anything above sixteen (16) players is considered a “major ensemble” and must perform at a NYSSMA “Majors” Ensemble Festival.

How long does the adjudication take?
The entire process takes approximately ten (10) minutes for a level 1-4 adjudication and fifteen (15) minutes for a level 5-6 or All-State adjudication.

Can the adjudication be recorded?
No, NYSSMA does not allow any audio or video recording devices in the adjudication room.

How does a student select his/her NYSSMA solo/ensemble to prepare?
Typically, the students’ teacher or private teacher will help them select the appropriate music to prepare, based on the ability of the student or students performing it. The music must be listed in the current NYSSMA manual in order to be evaluated. Every teacher in the school district and most music stores have access to this manual. Presently, the manual is not offered online. In Central Islip the students music teacher is usually the primary source for a student to select and prepare a NYSSMA Solo. If a Central Islip student studies privately the Central Islip music staff will help as a resource but usually leave the preparation for the solo to the private teacher.

How does a student prepare for an adjudication and who can help?
Preparing a NYSSMA solo or ensemble properly requires a lot of time and practice. It is up to each individual student to practice diligently and to prepare his/her music. The repertoire is above and beyond the regular in-school lesson program requirement. One-on-one tutoring is highly effective and may be necessary in preparing for the adjudication. Depending on availability and scheduling, the school music teacher may or may not have time to assist in the preparation of the music. For Level VI and All-State Auditions, it is advisable and beneficial to secure a private instructor for this purpose if financially possible. If private instruction is not feasible our music staff will do all they can to help our students as long as the student fulfills their end of diligent and regular home practice.

What are the rewards/benefits of preparing a NYSSMA solo?
Preparing any piece of music has a variety of aesthetic rewards and technical benefits. Students who practice diligently and do well will experience a wonderful sense of satisfaction while becoming better overall musicians on his or her instrument/voice. Adjudicators are trained to provide not only positive feedback but also constructive criticism designed to help students become better musicians.

How are NYSSMA solos/ensembles rated in difficulty?
The NYSSMA rating scale for all solos and ensembles starts at level 1 (easiest) up to level 6 (hardest). All-State soloists must perform literature selected from the level 6 category.

How does the scoring system work for the assessment?
Level 1-4 music is rated as “Outstanding, “Excellent”, “Good”, etc. on a scale of 1-28 with 28 being a perfect score. Level 5-6 music is rated as A+, A, A-, B+, B, etc. on a scale of 1- 100 with 100 being a perfect score. Points are given in major categories such as tone, intonation, technique, accuracy, interpretation, scales and sight-reading. Narrative comments are also written by the adjudicator to provide positive feedback, constructive criticism and to explain any point deductions.

Does NYSSMA accommodate students with disabilities?
Yes, if a student has a disability that requires more time or has impaired vision and needs the sight-reading materials enlarged or any other type of disability, your school music teacher can provide a “Student with Disabilities” form to be filled out and signed by the teacher, parent and school principal. This form will be kept confidential and given to the adjudicator prior to the adjudication. CLICK HERE for the NYSSMA students with disabilities form. 

What is the financial commitment involved?
Each solo or ensemble time slot must be purchased by the student. The current fees are as follows:
Regular solo/ensemble level 1-4 - $16.00
Regular solo/ensemble level 5-6 - $24.00
Piano solo/ensemble level 1-4 - $22.00
Piano solo/ensemble level 5-6 - $30.00
Any All-State solo - $30.00
NOTE: Fees are as of Spring 2017 and subject to change as per NYSSMA.
Fees are Non-Refundable for any reason.

Are there any Accompanist or Additional Fees?
In addition to the above fees, students must also pay for any piano accompanist fee that is not covered by the school district. If one of our music teachers or any Central Islip Music Staff there will be ZERO additional costs to the student. If the student (and parent) choose to use an outside accompanist who agrees to the terms of the Central Islip remuneration we might be able to pay for the accompanist. If the student (and parent) choose to procure an accompanist who charges more or does not agree to the Central Islip payment terms it is 100% the responsibility of the student/parent. Also note that the district does NOT provide any transportation to the NYSSMA Solo Festival. If the district is to pay an accompanist they must adhere to the contractual timeline and complete the necessary paperwork prior to the deadline.  Please speak to your music teacher for additional information. 
CLICK HERE for an informative letter about accompanists including a list of local professional pianists. 

What will the student receive after the adjudication is over?
Within approximately 2-3 weeks of the festival, each participating student will receive the original adjudication form back, completed by the adjudicator. The Central Islip music department will also provide each student with an official NYSSMA corresponding medal of accomplishment. Medals are usually distributed sometime shortly after the festival and before the end of the school year, depending on availability.

Is a piano accompanist required?
No. Pianos are available for accompanists in All-State rooms and vocal rooms only. Pianos are not available in regular level 1-6 brass, string, woodwind and percussion adjudication rooms. All-State soloists must provide accompaniment if the literature they are performing has an accompaniment part.  When providing a recorded or computerized accompaniment, the student must also provide his/her own audio playback equipment. Students may use a live or recorded accompaniment. 
CLICK HERE for an informative letter about accompanists including a list of local professional pianists. 

What does it mean to go for “Comments Only”?
When a student or teacher requests a “Comments Only” rating, the performer(s) will receive the same narrative comments from the adjudicator, without any numerical grades or score.

Why would a student choose to go “Comments Only”?
There are several reasons why a student may choose to go “Comments Only”:
     1. High school seniors who are graduating and no longer eligible for the All-State program often opt to go “Festival”, as the grades are no longer relevant but they still wish to receive narrative comments from an adjudicator.
     2. Students who did not prepare the music well enough may also request a “Comments Only” rating to avoid a poor grade.
     3. Students who have accidentally prepared a piece of literature that is not listed in the NYSSMA manual cannot be adjudicated for a grade but are allowed to go ”Comments Only” for narrative comments only.

Can a student prepare more than one solo?
Yes, but it is not advisable due to the rigor and commitment involved in preparing for an adjudication. However, students are not allowed to perform the same solo twice in the same year on the same instrument or voice.

Can photocopies of music be used for the adjudication?
NO! Absolutely not. Photocopied music is illegal. Students who arrive with photocopied music will be asked to leave the site.

Must a student have two (2) originals of the music, one for the judge?
It is advisable, but not mandatory to have a legal copy (original) for the adjudicator to look at during the performance and one for the piano accompanist (if applicable). If only one legal copy is available, the adjudicator may have to look over the shoulder of the performer.

Can music downloaded from a website be used for the adjudication?
Yes, providing the student also has a receipt from the website the music was purchased from.

Can students request a specific time for their adjudication?
Yes and No. The registration form asks for time preferences, but there is no guarantee a specific time request can be granted. Students should make the NYSSMA festival a priority by making themselves available for the duration of the festival until a time confirmation is received.

When should the student receive confirmation of the adjudication time?
Finalized schedules are confirmed and distributed to teachers approximately 7-10 school days before the festival.

What if a student cannot perform on the scheduled date of the festival?
Students must attend the festival that is assigned to Central Islip. NYSSMA does not provide a means of scheduling students elsewhere. Under extenuating circumstances, Mr. Voigt can attempt to schedule a student at another festival at the mercy and discretion of the site host. Consequently, there are no guarantees. All-State adjudications must receive a site variance approval letter from NYSSMA before being scheduled elsewhere, and only under extreme, extenuating circumstances will this be done.
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