2017 will be the seventh year of the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, the innovative online competition for singers. This is the only vocal competition for all of North America aimed at young singers, ages 23 and under, and one of the first legitimate competitions for music students held entirely online on YouTube.
In keeping with our founding values for the competition, there is no entry fee, making it accessible to any qualifying singer, from any location in North America (and U.S. territories), who records a video comprised of songs from the required repertoire, and then posts it on the internet in the prescribed manner by the deadline. This eliminates the commonly encountered expenses of travel to a designated destination on a specific date, as is the case in conventional music competitions.
Cash prizes are awarded to first place winners in each category, and valuable gift certificates are awarded to those singers placing second and third. Gift certificates are also possible for those named Honorable Mention. All these prizes are in the spirit of supporting further music study among talented singers.
We also very much value the sense of shared community that singers and teachers may find in watching video entries of others from all over North America.
We give an inadequate salute to all the thousands of music teachers in North America. You inspire us by keeping our musical heritage alive, passing it on to one student at a time.
Best of luck to all!
Common problems with rules and other topics
We have had to disqualify some video entries because of use of photocopies by accompanists, a clear violation of the rules. We added this strict "no photocopies" rule for the 2013 competition. Most music competitions ban photocopies. Because we are, after all, a music publisher, we must take this rule very seriously.
We have also added to this rule a ban of playing from any visible loose pages of music of any kind, whether they are photocopies or pages cut from a book, or any visible loose pages placed in any kind of binder, because the judges cannot tell that loose pages such as these are not photocopies. Singers are responsible for the accompanist's compliance with this strict rule. Pianists must play from original publications, whether this is their preference or not. The purchase of a publication does not grant the right to photocopy for rehearsal or performance with a pianist. We urge the use of page turners as necessary.
We note that many competitions have a similar rule, allowing absolutely no photocopies to be used in the performance during auditions.
SONGS MUST BE FROM THE REQUIRED REPERTOIRE LIST
Each year we are forced to disqualify a few entries because the singer sings songs that are not from the list of specified required repertoire publications for a category. This has particularly been a problem in the children's categories. Singers must sing songs from the publications listed in the required repertoire list for the category of entry. Music competitions generally have required repertoire, and the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition is no different in this regard. The publications in the required repertoire list for each category and age division have been carefully considered, and generally offer a wide array of material from which to choose. In fairness, we must insist that all entrants abide by these prescribed rules.
Each year we receive inquiries that essentially ask, "May I sing a song from a book not on the required repertoire list?" Or, "I have this Book not on your repertoire list. May I sing a song from this instead? The answer to these questions will always be no. In fairness to all entrants we must insist that the repertoire rules be followed. If you sing a song not from one of the publications in the required repertoire list, you will be disqualified.
Also, many singer entries make mistakes in listing which publication a song is from. Please accurately list in your entry form the title of the book in which your song is published.
ENTER THE APPROPRIATE AGE DIVISION AND CATEGORY
Age is defined as the entering singer's age on the deadline of February 1, 2017. Make certain that you enter the correct age division of the competition. Each year we have entries in the wrong age division or wrong category, Art Song or Musical Theatre. Also, make certain that you have chosen songs from the required repertoire publications for your age division. It is not acceptable to sing repertoire from another age division, even a higher age division. Doing so will require us to disqualify your entry.
THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRY MUST BE RESPECTED
Video entries must be submitted by 2:00 am Central time on February 2, 2017. This is 12:00 am Pacific Time.
For High School and College/Young Adult age divisions, the video entries in the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, songs must be sung in a published key that is in a publication on the required repertoire list for a category. Note that some of the publications on the required repertoire list come in more than one key (such as High Voice or Low Voice). As long as it is a published key from one of the publications on the required repertoire list, the entry is acceptable. For the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition we will not accept entries of transposed keys that are not in the required repertoire list of publications.
We have decided to allow transpositions for the Children's Voices and Early Teen Voices categories, but you must follow the specific instructions stated in the Official Rules and Guidelines.
VIDEO AND AUDIO QUALITY
While we do not expect professional quality video and audio, after hearing thousands of video auditions for the competition, we have observed that those videos with notably poor video and audio quality make a less than good impression. On some entries the audio is so distorted that it is impossible to get a good impression of the singer's voice. We urge you to do the best you can. Take acoustics and the placement of microphones into account. Please test the recording set up before recording your video. A video audition sung in a small room with dead acoustics will generally make a less flattering vocal impression than a video audition recorded in a room with more sympathetic acoustics.
AMPLIFICATION AND SOUND ENHANCEMENT
There must be no amplification of the voice, no added reverb, or any sound enhancement added to the voice. Carefully read rules 15 and 16. Each year we have to disqualify singers who violate this rule. This must be an acoustic audition. If you choose to record in a recording studio (which is completely unnecessary), the sound engineer must not mix the sound, balance the voice and piano, multi-track record the voice and piano, add reverb, or alter in any way the acoustic sound of the voice. There should just be microphones for recording set up in the live room in the recording studio. Please do not make the mistake of overproducing this video audition regarding sound engineering. Also, a live performance with a microphone that is amplified through speakers is not allowed.
Judging will be by a qualified panel selected by Hal Leonard. Decisions made will be final. Criteria for judging will be most importantly voice quality and overall vocal talent. Additionally, judges will consider clarity of voice, diction, musicianship, musicality and expression, the singer's choice of repertoire, communication, presentation, and the performing personality of the singer.
We remind you that this is a singing competition. We urge performers to refrain from choreography in the musical video entries, however, we want lively, theatrical singing. Classical singers with good voices singing theatre repertoire need to sing in an appropriate theatre style, with persuasive acting and expression. Bland classical performances of theatre songs will not likely get a good judging result. Judging will be by a qualified panel selected by Hal Leonard. Decisions made will be final. Criteria for judging singing actors will be voice quality and overall vocal talent combined with theatrically persuasive ability to communicate. Additionally, judges will consider acting ability, clarity of voice, diction, musicianship, musicality, and expression, the singer's choice of repertoire, communication and presentation, and the performing personality of the singer.
OFFICIAL RULES AND GUIDELINES
In the spirit of fairness to all entries, these rules must be followed explicitly, without exception. It simply would not be fair to all other entrants if we allow an entry that does not follow all the rules.
THE RULES AND GUIDELINES APPLY TO BOTH CATEGORIES,
ART SONG AND MUSICAL THEATRE.
Official Entry Forms may be accessed at the end of the Required Repertoire for each age division within a category.
- Entrants must be legal residents of the United States and its territories, or legal residents of Canada.
- Deadline for entry: Video entries must be submitted by 2:00 am Central time on February 2, 2017. Any entries after that strict deadline will be disqualified. No entries will be allowed after the deadline for any reason.
- Designated winners will be asked to provide proof of age before the dispensation of prizes.
- Results will be announced to entrants via email and on www.halleonard.com/vocalcomp by May 1, 2017. We have added an optional field for teacher's email address to the official entry form; if the teacher's email address is entered, the teacher will also receive notification of results.
- An entrant may only win a first place cash prize once per age division within a category (art song or musical theatre). For instance, if you win first place in the Early Teen Voices Art Song category at age 14, you cannot enter again in that category the next year at age 15. Second Place, Third Place and Honorable Mentions are free to re-enter in the same age division.
- In the interest of fairness, employees of Hal Leonard, Hal Leonard published composers, editors, arrangers or authors, or members of their immediate families, or their students, are not allowed to enter the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition.
- Each entry must be via video posted at www.youtube.com, with the link provided on the entry form. For information on posting videos we recommend exploring the Help section found on the YouTube homepage.
- You must follow the repertoire guidelines. Music competitions generally have required repertoire, and the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition is no different in this regard. The publications in the required repertoire list for each category and age division have been carefully considered, and generally offer a variety of material from which to choose. In fairness, we must insist that all entrants abide by these prescribed rules.
In the past, especially for the Children's Voices and Early Teens Voices categories, we have received inquiries that essentially ask, "May I sing a song from a book not on the required repertoire list?" Or, "My daughter has this book not on your repertoire list. May she sing a song from this instead?" The answer to these questions will always be no. In fairness to all entrants we must insist that the repertoire rules be followed. If you sing a song not from one of the publications in the required repertoire list, your entry will be disqualified. This has happened, unfortunately. It's especially upsetting to us when a young student has not received proper advice from their teacher about the repertoire for the category, and we must disqualify the entry.
- We have received inquiries about transpositions from some voice teachers. For the Children's Voices and Early Teens Voices categories only, we will allow transposition if the voice teacher feels this solves a vocal problem for the singer. If you wish to transpose a song, it is required that you seek permission for each song that you wish to transpose. Permissions must be sought via email to email@example.com.
Transpositions are allowed only to address vocal issues common to children and voices going through puberty. Transpositions will not be allowed for the high school and college categories.
- Each year a few teachers of young students ask questions that require stating that this audition is a complete performance of a song as published. Complete introductions, interludes, etc., must be performed. All repeats must be performed. If a singer is uncomfortable with a song which has a long introduction or interlude, choose a different song!
- Tasteful, stylistic ornamentation is allowed for Baroque selections in the art song category.
- For musical theatre selections, it is within the style for the singer to take a few interpretive liberties, but these should be deliberately chosen stylistic choices, not musical inaccuracies. The style of singing remains musical theatre, and should not venture into pop/rock/jazz improvisation. The taste and interpretive choices a singer makes will be part of what is judged. If the judges believe the singer has strayed too far away from the song as written, or from the way it is traditionally performed, it could impact the judging. Some teachers seem to think that if a singer does not sing exactly the notes and rhythms that are on the page, that the student audition should not be judged positively. It's up to the judges to decide what is acceptable within the style, and what is not.
- Accompanists are forbidden to use photocopies. Pianists accompanying singers must play from original publications. Entries with visible photocopies or visible loose pages of any kind will be automatically disqualified. Photocopying music is illegal. The purchase of a publication does not grant the right to photocopy for rehearsal or performance with a pianist. We have also added a ban of playing from any visible loose pages of music of any kind, whether they are photocopies or pages cut from a Book, or visible loose pages of any kind in any kind of binder, because the judges cannot tell that loose pages cut from publications such as these are not photocopies.
Singers are responsible for the accompanist's compliance with this strict rule. We cannot make any exceptions.Pianists must play from original publications, whether this is their preference or not. There is no other choice for this competition. We urge the use of page turners as necessary. We also note that many competitions have a similar rule, allowing absolutely no photocopies to be used in the performance during auditions.
- Audio and video quality impact the impression your video makes to a degree. The picture and sound should be as clear as possible. Audio distortion is greatly detrimental to the vocal quality of the singing. While we urge you to take care to create the best audio and video quality possible, professional level production values are not necessary. Many videos made simply in homes or schools have been very good in quality of recording. We urge you to view the top placing videos in past competitions to get a sense of acceptable standards of video and audio quality. Make sure the volume is adequate in your recording. In some entries in the past the volume of the recording is so quiet that we struggle to hear the singing. If possible, record in an acoustically flattering room. Experiment with camera and microphone placement for best results. (For general tips, we recommend clicking on Help on the YouTube homepage, then seeking further information at the General Help Center.) Your YouTube video posting must be titled as follows.
- The performance recorded for the video entry must be acoustic and not amplified. The only microphone(s) involved should be for recording, and your voice must not be amplified. Each year we have entries that are disqualified because they are using amplification and/or enhancement and mixing on the vocal microphone.
- No mixing or sound enhancement is allowed through any kind of soundboard, including at a recording studio. No reverb can be added to the recording. The recording must be honest and acoustic. As closely as possible, it needs to be as if we were in the room listening to you perform live. You must sing live on the video. No audio dubbing over your video is allowed. Be aware that if your video entry sounds as if you have added reverb or enhanced the sound in any way, even if this is not the case, the judges will question and possibly disqualify your entry. If you are recording your video in a professional recording studio (which is completely unnecessary and possibly unwise for this competition), the sound engineer must not add reverb, sound enhancement or sound mixing in any way. We need to hear a live, acoustic, unenhanced voice.
We have attempted to thoroughly address all issues in these rules and guidelines. We repeat that, in fairness to all entrants, the official rules must be followed explicitly, without exception. The repertoire requirements must be strictly followed. If you write to us asking us to make an exception for you regarding required repertoire, or asking to submit a video entry to the competition after the stated deadline, we will simply write back stating the rules we must enforce.
We believe questions about topics beyond those covered should be very rare. If they arise, they may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information click "Further official information' below.
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