Close this search box.

Competition Rules

The Bowen Young Musicians Festival Philosophy

To offer a high-quality musical growth experience
In the comfort of small-town friendliness

Young Musicians Festival

All Festival participants have the option to compete within their Performance Bracket and Division.  The festival routine is the same for competitors and non-competitors, as they are mixed in Performance Groups. 

Opting in or out of the competition takes place during registration, but competitor status can be updated through email or phone communication if needed. 

There are two types of awards given as part of the competition:

  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons:  Are awarded to the top scorers in each Performance Bracket in each Division (including adults).  The total score on the evaluation form is the determiner.
  • Cash Prizes: Are awarded to the overall top three scorers in each Division.  The total score on the evaluation form is the determiner.  (The Adult Bracket will not compete for division prizes.)
    • 1st place – $100
    • 2nd place – $50
    • 3rd place – $25

Note:   Superior rank pins are an individual honor and are awarded to both competitors and non-competitors.  Recommendation to the Honors Concert is also an honor given to any festival participant, regardless of competitor status. 

Qualifications & Enrollment

  • All Festival participants, including adults, are eligible to compete in Performances in the following Divisions: Piano, Vocal, Band, Strings.
  • In order to compete, participants must enroll by selecting the competition option on the registration form.  Selecting this option includes an implicit agreement for the participant and the parents to act with good sportsmanship.
  • A participant who registers for more than one event will choose independently whether or not to compete in each one, as separate registration forms are required for multiple registrations.
  • Choosing whether to compete or not should not affect the performance routine for anyone. Competitors and non-competitors are mixed in Performance Groups, use the same evaluation form, and receive the same level of attention from the adjudicator.
  • Within each Division, all participants have an assigned Age Bracket, based on their grade in school when the Festival begins:  Grades 5 and under; Grades 6-8; Grades 9-12; Adult
  • Competitors will only compete against those in their Bracket who have chosen to compete.


  • Each Bracket is scheduled to perform in one or more Performance Groups.  Occasionally, multiple Brackets will be assigned to the same Performance Group, but performers will still be grouped with their Bracket and will only compete within their Bracket.
  • Small ensembles perform and compete in the Bracket of the member in the highest grade. Accompanists don’t count as ensemble members.  So, their grade level does not affect the Bracket designation.
  • Accompanists should not register.  They are not adjudicated.  Their role is to facilitate a complete performance for a soloist, duet, or another small ensemble.
    • Accompanists may play any instrument, including, but not limited to the piano.
    • An accompanist may be a vocalist.
    • It must be clear to the audience and adjudicators when participants are merely accompanying to fill out the ensemble.
  • Performances are scored in three general categories: Technique, Interpretation, and Performance. Each category is worth 24 points, with the rankings defined as Superior (17-24), Excellent (9-16), and Good (1-8) for the first two categories and Advanced (17-24), Intermediate (9-16), and Beginning (1-8) for the third category.  All three scores and bonus points (see below) are added together to reach a Total Score.
  • Bonus points can be earned in all four Divisions for memorization during performances.  0-5 bonus points are assigned depending on the degree of memorization.
    • If music is used, 0 points will be awarded.
    • If no music is used & nearly no mistakes, 5 points will be awarded.
    • Performances with no music but more than a few mistakes will earn 1-4 bonus points, based subjectively on the frequency of mistakes.

Place Ribbons & Superior Ranks

  • In each Bracket, the competitor with the highest Total Score is ranked 1st Place, and so forth for both 2nd & 3rd Places.
    • In cases of a tie in Total Score, scores in individual categories are the tiebreakers in this order: Technique, Interpretation, Performance.
  • Superior Rankings:
    • Piano and Vocal: All performers who receive a Superior score in the first two categories, and who performed their music memorized, are ranked Superior.
    • Band and Strings: All performers who receive a Superior score in the first two categories, whether the music is performed memorized or not, are ranked Superior.
    • These differences in Division standards correlate to the expectations for solo and recital performances in Wyoming schools, including at the high school and college levels.
  • Non-competitors will receive a certificate for their scrapbook. If they are ranked Superior they will also receive a pin.
  • Competitors will also receive a certificate. Their Total Score determines whether they will also receive a place ribbon. If they are ranked Superior they will also receive a pin.
  • A total of three (3) place ribbons will be awarded per Bracket in each Division.
    • Exceptions could occur in situations involving one or more ties.

Cash Prizes

  • Three cash prizes will be awarded within each Division (Piano, Vocal, Band, Strings):
    • $100 cash
    • $50 cash
    • $25 cash
  • Soloists in all Brackets, except Adults, are eligible.
  • Small ensembles are not eligible.
  • The competitor with the overall highest Total Score in each Division will receive the first prize and so forth for both 2nd & 3rd Places.
    • In cases of a tie in Total Score, scores in individual categories will be the tiebreakers in this order: Technique, Interpretation, Performance.
  • If a competitor qualifies to receive a prize in more than one Division, they will be awarded all prizes earned.

People's Choice

  • Audience members may vote for the top performance of the Honor’s Concert
    • All voting will be completed by ballot, on-site, directly after the event.
    • The top three winners will be recognized on the Young Musicians Festival website.

Honors Concert

  • Some outstanding soloists and ensembles during the Performances will be honored with an invitation to play at an Honors Concert for the public. Since the Honors Concert is not officially a part of the Competition, non-competing performers may be selected to participate.
  • The Honors Concert is a recognition of achievement not directly related to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Places awarded during Performances. Participants are those who, in addition to having great technical proficiency during their performance, set themselves apart in non-musical ways or who excelled musically more than other performers.  They are those who have the best total performance package in the opinions of the adjudicators.
  • Each adjudicator will recommend performers for the Honors Concert.  This process is completely subjective. The adjudicators will recommend only those performers that they feel are ready to give a solid performance in front of a large audience.
  • The goal is to facilitate performances that the audience can respect and appreciate.  So, the adjudicators will look at the total performance package of each performer when making recommendations.  They may consider such things as memorization, stage presence, length of the piece, and choice of literature.  Adjudicators are not required to explicitly consider Total Score or Superior ranking.
  • Performers who wish to be chosen for the concert should also consider the factors listed above when choosing their performance piece and while practicing their presentation.  Their goal should be to create the best total performance package that they can. 
  • Consider these examples of how an adjudicator might evaluate already stellar performances.
    • A pianist who chooses an audience favorite, but doesn’t memorize the piece and who lacks stage presence. Versus a pianist who chose a piece unfamiliar to the audience, but who memorized the piece well & made a greater connection to the audience.  Which one might the adjudicator choose for the Honors Concert?  
    • A string player who plays an unfamiliar, slightly boring piece with passion and enthusiasm as well as great poise and audience rapport versus a player who plays a familiar piece with no emotional commitment.
  • Adjudicators weigh the various performance factors based on personal taste and professional experience.  The  Festival Committee does not micromanage the selection process.
  • Using the recommendations, the Festival Committee creates an Honors Concert Final List, choosing from among different Brackets in every Division.  If a Bracket has no recommended participants, it will not be represented at the Concert.
  • The Honors Concert Final List will be posted at the registration desk and online around 4:30 p.m. Invitees not present to accept the invitation in person will be contacted.  It is the responsibility of the invitees to check the posted lists and accept or decline the invitation.
    • All Invitees must accept or decline the invitation by 4:45 p.m (in-person, phone, or email).  Those who fail to contact the front desk will most likely be eliminated from the concert.
    • Alternates may be invited to perform when the original Invitees decline the invitation or cannot be reached to accept it.
  • Decisions of the Festival Committee regarding concert performers are final.  Students or parents exhibiting unsportsmanlike conduct may be disqualified from further participation in future Bowen Young Musicians Festivals.
  • Festival Committee members with family members who performed solos or small ensembles will not be involved in creating the Honors Concert Final List.
enhancing individuals, families
& communities through the arts

Stay in Touch