Where to find score calls and competitions

It’s the final day of score call month at Composer’s Toolbox!  To give you a rundown of the topics covered regarding score calls and competitions:

Score calls and competitions

Score calls and competitions: ASCAP and BMI

Popular and Competitive Competitions

General Thoughts on Score Calls and Competitions

Rejection – the “Downside” of Competitions

References in Professional Development

This last post will provide one more resource lightly touched upon in the other posts: where to find score calls and competitions.

Where to find score calls and competitions

There are a few places to find score calls and competitions.

Society/organization websites and publications

These would include ASCAP, BMI, SEAMUS, American Composers Forum, and other professional societies and trade organizations.  Go to their websites and dig around for opportunities.  These may come in the form of grants, special programs, site-specific or event-specific programming, programming for under-served populations of composers or audiences, or simply score calls and competitions.

Ensemble and festival websites and publications

Find your favorite ensemble, record label, festival, or conference and see if they have a score call.  This may open you up to Ensemble Mise-en, North/South Consonance, MATA Festival, or other opportunities.  Even if you don’t know the ensemble, label, festival, or conference, take a listen to the featured works on their website and see if you love the music.  At the very least, think on whether your music might jive with the general ideas posited online (or whether your music might push them in a new direction!).

College, university, and conservatory score calls

Most colleges, universities, and conservatories with composition departments offer score calls for their students.  If you are a student, I advise you to apply to each and every opportunity you can possibly do.  If you don’t have the skill set for something (eg. large ensemble, MAX/MSP, or choral writing) work until you acquire that skill for future collegiate and professional opportunities.

Some of these institutions offer score calls and competitions to the public.  These may be for their large performing ensembles, their music festivals, their conferences, or for their alumni.  Be on the lookout for these!

General websites that feature score calls

The Composer’s Site is the go-to place for composer opportunities nowadays:


The Walden School is also a great resource:


The American Composers Forum has opportunities for its members:


New Music USA has a vast amount of grant opportunities:


Even though our current president does not value the arts in his attempts to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA does have grants available like usual (until further notice):


Be sure to check out the score calls in my previous posts, too:

Score calls and competitions: ASCAP and BMI

Popular and Competitive Competitions

Creating your own score calls and competitions–i.e. getting commissions

A commission is a score call/competition that you win in many ways:

  1. You get to write a new work
  2. You (hopefully) will get paid
  3. You will develop a close relationship with a performer, who may perform your work multiple times, commission more work, perform other pre-composed works by you, spread your music to new audiences and other performers, and help you network (e.g. your socialization with other musicians at the after-party)

One idea to consider is that if your work is good enough to be enjoyed by many similar performers, they may want to create a consortium–i.e. a group of them will pool their financial resources to have exclusive access to a new work by you.

For example, if eight trombonists love your work, they may each pitch in $200.00 to commission a solo trombone work from you (for $1,600.00) that only those eight can play, or that only they can play for the first 2 years following its premiere.

The end to this month’s journey… for now

In the end, score calls and competitions are really hard to win.  If you do win, pat yourself on the back.  If you don’t win, that’s okay too; just keep getting better and keep applying.  You are not a bad composer if you are not a recipient of a score call or competition.

To hearken back to the point about commissions: commissions and organic networking with your fellow performers, ensembles, organizations, and other composers are your best bet to success.  Networks built one relationship at a time work best for continued success.  Make friends!  Go to their concerts!  Enjoy their presence!  And come away with something you cherish, both musically and socially.  As an extreme introvert, as much as people drain me I know I can find fulfillment in others (even if I have to recharge soon thereafter).

Enjoy the process, relish the moment, and make great music.  Even if you win, music making without enjoyment is not worth the trouble.

Live musically,


Like this post?  Check out other resources on Composer’s Toolbox:

Recording, mixing, mastering, and more

Best Music Notation Software

Composer Cat

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