New York
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Junior Festival


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What is the Junior Festival? The National Federation of Music Club's Junior festival is a musical event held every year in spring as a means to foster musical education and development among students of music of all ages. The festival is held in many locations all over the nation. Students prepare musical pieces which are performed before a judge. The judge issues each participant a written critique to help them improve and grow as musicians. In addition to providing a valuable educational opportunity in a non-competitive setting, students can earn gold cup trophies and certificates for their participation.

Why Should You Enroll Your Students?
With so many other contests and festivals vying for your student's time, you might wonder what makes the NYFMC Junior Festival so unique and worthwhile. First, the NYFMC junior festivals fall at a good time in the school year. Festivals are typically held from the first weekend in February until Mid-March which means that the majority of students will be working on their pieces during December and January, which can be a difficult time to motivate students to work. Knowing that they have a deadline to face, students will be more apt to work diligently during the winter months.

The NYFMC Junior Festival also offers students an opportunity to receive a critique from someone other than their teacher. Some students have heard the same message from us as teachers so many times that they have come to politely listen during lessons, but don't take our advice to heart. Sometimes hearing this same advice from a judge is exactly what's needed.

As students advance through the many levels of repertoire from the Federation's Bulletin, they can see their progress in lessons. The Federation awards certificates and Gold Cup Trophies to students who participate, which provides another source of public recognition of student's musical accomplishments.

Entering Students in Junior Festival
To enter your students in your local Junior Festival, you must first contact your Junior Festival Chairman. You need to inform him or her that you are interested to enroll your students and you need to get the date when forms and dues are due, and the date of the festival.

Next, you need a rating sheet for each student. Your local festival chairperson can provide you with enough copies for all of your students, or you can download a copy at the bottom of this page and then print them as needed. You will need to compile all of your students' information on a single form called the Application.

You will need to collect dues and entry fees from all of your students, and then submit a single check to your local festival chairperson.

Students are assessed an entry fee per event they enter. This fee may also change from year to year, so be sure to check with your district festival chair. Example: a student who participates in the Violin Solo and Theory/Musicianship events would thus pay two event fees, one for each event entered plus a single junior club membership fee.

If you are not a member of a senior club, you must pay for an individual senior membership. Presently, the fee for an individual senior membership is $50.00 but this fee is subject to change, so be sure to consult your local chairperson. Many teachers divide this fee amongst the students who are entering, and simply add a small amount on to each student! s membership fees. In this way, your participation in NYFMC Junior Festival costs you nothing.

Junior Festival Bulletin
The Junior Festival Bulletin is a bound and printed volume which lists the specific rules for each event as well as the required repertoire, theory/musicianship requirements, gold cup plan specifics and a lot of other crucial information about Junior Festivals. The Junior Festival Bulletin is only available from the National Headquarters of NFMC. You can order a copy for a nominal fee by calling 317-882-4003 or by writing to The Junior Festival bulletin is updated once every four years.

It is required that all teachers who enter students in Junior Festivals purchase their own copy of the Junior Festival bulletin and peruse it regularly as it is an authoritative guide and introduction to Junior Festivals. The bulletin was last published in 7/1/2016 and will change again in 6/30/2020. In some events, every single piece will change, while others will see only minor changes with each new bulletin.

Gold Cups and Certificates
Students participating in NYFMCs junior festival receive a rating sheet with a judge's critique of their performance and a certificate of participation, indicating the event they participated in (e.g. flute solo, piano duet, theory/musicianship, etc.) the location and date of the festival they participated in, and the rating they received from their judge. Each rating is worth a certain number of Gold Cup points. The five ratings judges may give are as follows:

SUPERIOR (5 Gold Cup Points) An outstanding performance which is consistently musical, stylistically correct, and accurate. Attention is given to dynamics, phrasing and musical expression. Memorization is secure with rapid recovery from minor slips. Errors do not detract from the participant's interpretation. A complete performance.

EXCELLENT (4 Gold Cup Points) A strong performance that is musical and stylistically correct. The performance shows accomplishment and very good potential, but there are discrepancies in rhythm, dynamics, phrasing, and/or interpretation. Hesitation and/or memory slips detract from the participant's presentation. A promising performance.

SATISFACTORY (3 Gold Cup Points) Shows accomplishment; however, numerous errors occur. Additional work in one or more areas needed in order to achieve a convincing presentation.

FAIR (2 Gold Cup Points) Some commendable aspects in performance and preparation are present, but severe deficiencies in fundamentals (for example, rhythm, notes, memory, etc.) are also apparent. Not fully ready for performance.

The participant is obviously poorly prepared and appears unconcerned with the performance.

As students continue to participate year after year in the NFMC Junior festivals, they will amass more and more points in the events in which they participate. When students earn a certain number of points, they earn Gold Cup Trophies. With only a few exceptions, points from different events may not be combined, For example a student who plays a flute solo may not combine her flute solo gold cup points with points she earned in the Theory/Musicianship event. When the student has earned enough gold cup points, individual trophies will be awarded for each event in which the, student participated.

First Gold Cup: 6" tall - 15 Gold Cup Points
Second Gold Cup: 8" tall - 30 Gold Cup Points
Third Gold Cup: 10" tall - 45 Gold Cup Points
Fourth Gold Cup: 12" tall - 60 Gold Cup Points
Grand Gold Cup: 14" tall - 75 Gold Cup Points
President's Cup: 16" tall - 90 Gold Cup Points

In addition to small certificates of participation and Gold Cup trophies, students who have earned multiple consecutive Superior ratings in any given event are also eligible to receive large certificates indicating the number of consecutive years they have attained a superior rating in an event.

The theory/musicianship event is held every year at Junior Festivals and is worth mentioning because it is an event which is appropriate for all students of music regardless of which instrument they play. The theory/musicianship event is a written examination which tests students' knowledge of music theory, history, notation, and instrumentation. The specific information students are required to master at each level is documented carefully in your Junior Festivals Bulletin.

Theory tests are rated in the same way solos are rated, and gold cup points may be earned in the theory/musicianship area. While points from the theory/musicianship event may not be combined with points from any other event to earn larger gold cups sooner, students will eam gold cups in theory as well as in their solo event.

Students may take as long as they wish to complete the test. There is no time limit. Most students are able to complete the test in 15-20 minutes, however. Theory tests are given at twelve levels numbered one through twelve. The usual rule about students having to advance when they earn a Superior rating applies, so teachers are encouraged to be conservative when selecting a level for students entering Junior Festivals for the first time.

Practice tests with answer guides are available for free from the National Headquarters You can download and print as many photocopies of the theory-tests as you require for your students use. These tests are highly recommended since the details of how the information is presented may cause some students difficulty. The actual theory test is also available for free 2 weeks before your festival date. Contact Sheri Neilsen at 585-747-9885 or for the level you require.

Assigning practice tests to students two to three months before the Junior Festival is advisable, because some students will invariably forget to do them, or will lose them, so you will want a little extra time to help to prepare your students for this event.

Adult Students
One of the best parts about Junior Festival is that you can enter your adult students. The rules which govern adult students are slightly different from those which govern junior participants, but generally speaking, the rules are a bit more relaxed (e.g. some events don't require memorization). Be sure to consult your copy of the bulletin for more specific information about how the rules differ for adult entrants.

Rather than earning Gold Cups, Adult students earn Silver cups.

For further directives for conducting festivals visit the National Federation of Music Clubs website at