Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Edinburgh Music Competition Festival?

The Festival is an annual event for amateur musicians of all ages. We offer competitive and non-competitive classes for instrumentalists, singers and ensembles to perform their pieces in a friendly environment. All our classes are overseen by a specialist adjudicator who provides supportive feedback on the performance.

The Festival was started in 1920 and has been held every year since then with only two exceptions.

Is the Festival competitive?

We offer a mix of competitive and non-competitive classes. At the competitive classes a winner is selected, and some classes award a special medal or trophy. At the non-competitive classes the emphasis is on enjoying the performances and learning from the experience.

Who can take part?

We have classes for all ages and abilities. For most classes the performers must be amateurs (defined as not having previously received more than travel expenses for performing). There are some classes where teachers can perform alongside pupils and so this rule does not apply (see Regulation 1 in the Syllabus).

We have classes for most classical and traditional instrumentalists playing as soloists, or in duets or ensembles. We also have classes for singers, guitarists, drum kit players, percussionists, composers, choirs, orchestras and bands. We have special classes for show tunes. We also have a creative performance class which is a flexible, non-competitive class for the performance of tune, story or poem using any combination of instruments, speakers or singers.

Who adjudicates the classes?

We have specialist adjudicators for all of our classes. We invite adjudicators who are skilled at providing encouraging feedback as well as being experts in their area. You can read their biographies at the back of the Syllabus.

What level of class should I enter?

The classes are divided into levels, which are based on the performer’s current level of study:

  • Level 1 is for musicians playing at Grades 1-2 standard

  • Level 2 is for musicians playing at Grades 3-4 standard

  • Level 3 is for musicians playing at Grades 5-6 standard

  • Level 4 is for musicians playing at Grades 7-8 standard

  • Those performing at a standard beyond Grade 8 should enter Open classes.

I’m an adult soloist - which class should I enter?

In general, if you are performing at above Grade 8 level, you should enter the Open class for your instrument or singing category.

For piano, strings and guitar, there are non-competitive classes for adults which are open to all levels of player. Please contact us if you unsure about which class to enter

Can I come and watch a class?

Yes, please do come along and support the performers. All our classes are free for audience members, apart from the final concert.

What is the Concerto Class?

The Concerto class is a unique and special part of our Festival, providing the opportunity for soloists to perform a movement from a concerto with a full orchestral accompaniment.

The competition is in two parts. At the end of January, there is a preliminary round with piano accompaniment. From this round, four finalists will be selected to perform with full orchestra at the final concert in the Queen's Hall, when the winner will be selected.

Please read the requirements for this class in the Syllabus carefully – in particular please note that the choice of concerto is subject to approval and that works with large or complex orchestrations, or for which the availability of orchestral parts has not been clearly established, will not be accepted.

What is the final concert?

The Festival ends with a celebratory concert at the Queen’s Hall. The first half consists of invited highlights selected from the main Festival. The second half is the final round of the Concerto class.

Who runs the Festival?

The Festival is run by the Edinburgh Competition Festival Association, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). The objective of the Association is to advance education in the arts, in particular the arts of Music, Speech and Drama. It does this primarily by the holding an annual Festival of competitive and non-competitive classes.