How to Prepare for NYSSMA

How to Prepare for NYSSMA

NYSSMA is a professional organization that evaluates elementary to high school-aged student musicians in New York. Participating students have the option to perform scales, a solo piece, or an ensemble piece of their choice, as long as it’s from the designated NYSSMA repertoire. The best way to achieve a high score is to prepare as much as you can, so use these tips to ace your NYSSMA piece.

Start Early

The earlier you start looking at your performance piece, the more time you’ll have to learn it inside out. It’s no surprise that students that choose their piece way in advance usually get higher scores, so begin practicing several months before your performance date.

Know Your Scales

One of the easiest ways to get points during your performance is by knowing your major scales. Most instruments will have to know these, so brush up on them beforehand to be ready.

Perform for Others

If you get nervous performing in front of other people, perform for family and friends before your actual NYSSMA performance. The more you perform for other people, the more comfortable you will be performing for the NYSSMA adjudicator.

Sight Read as Much as Possible

Part of your performance score comes from sight reading, so make sure you’re ready. Even when it’s not NYSSMA season, it’s always a good idea to include sight reading as part of your daily instrument or vocal practice.

Arrive on Time

Being late can set a bad tone for your performance. It not only annoys your adjudicator but also deprives you of time that you could use to settle your nerves. Arrive with enough time to calm yourself and ensure your instrument is tuned if need be.


Remember that NYSSMA doesn’t allow photocopies, so you must bring the appropriate books. If you need an accompanist, aim to find one no later than a month before your performance.

Another good resource to have when preparing for your NYSSMA performance is the guidance of a music teacher. Grace Music School is a sponsoring member of NYSSMA and helps prepare students for their performance through private instruction and free Master Classes and NYSSMA recitals. To learn more or to schedule lessons for your child, please call us at 631-239-6169 (Fort Salonga) or 631-470-9705 (Melville).

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