Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)

September 29, 2020
By AdmissionSight

What is the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)?

For students who are hoping to gain acceptance to the top colleges and universities in the United States, it takes more than simply earning great grades and achieving great standardized test scores. In fact, one of the most important things that high school students who are looking to get into prestigious schools need to focus their time and energy on is their extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities can be defined by an activity that a student takes part in outside of the realm of their normal school curriculum. Overall, college admissions officers use extracurricular activities to gauge a student’s passions, interests, leadership qualities, and more. If you are a student who has a great passion for music and the musical arts, the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) may be one of the very best extracurricular activities for you!

Piano and music sheet

But what is the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA), and why is it such a great extracurricular activity for high schoolers to invest their time and energy in? Let us at AdmissionSight break down the many reasons why for you.

What is the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)?

For over 100 years, the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) has served as a valuable resource for professionals within the music-teaching field. It is a way for music teachers to connect and network with veteran educations and people who are just getting started within the industry of music teaching. Overall, the goal of the MTNA is to empower music teachers across the United States to help them become better educations primarily through networking opportunities, leadership training, mentoring, educational opportunities, and more.

After reading this, you may find yourself wondering how any of this benefits high school students who are equally passionate about learning about music and performing it. That’s where the actual competitions come in.

Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)

The MTNA National Competitions are amongst the most successful and prestigious high school student competitions in the United States!

Each and every year, thousands of students gather to compete for national recognition and top prizes in a number of different engaging and challenging competitions. Overall, the purpose of the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) is to offer highly valuable educational experiences for both students and teachers. It is also meant to recognize truly talented young artists and their teachers who are both pursuing musical excellence together.

What is the format of the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)?

In, there are three different tiers of MTNA competitions. The three tiers at Junior, Senior, and Young Artists Performance competitions. Each tier begins with state competitions and then progresses towards the national level.

Once winners/representatives are named from each and every state’s competitions, those individuals advance to a division competition which is held through a video performance. Once division winners are named, they are invited to compete in the national finals at the annual MTNA National Conference.

The state competitions are considered the primary education level and the division and national levels are meant to showcase truly outstanding performance and honoring significant and methodological achievement.

In all, competitions are available in the following focuses:

  • Brass (senior and young artist only)
  • Piano
  • Piano Duet (senior only)
  • String
  • Voice (senior and young artist only)
  • Woodwind

On top of that, the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) also offers Composition Competitions for Junior, Senior and Young Artist levels. In these competitions, the winners/representatives of each state’s competitions also advance to their respective division competition. Division winners then go on to compete in the national finals. The national winners get the incredible honor of having their compositions performed at the annual MTNA National Conference.

Finally, the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) also holds Chamber Music Competitions. While the other two types of competitions offer three tiers (as you now know), the Chamber Music Competitions only have two-tiers and include a preliminary round, and the final round with takes place live at the MTNA National Conference.

In this final type of competition, ensembles are asked to compete without regard to the state or division in which they live or take lessons. In all, seven ensembles from across the country are selected in both String and Wing categories from a nationwide pool of application to get the opportunity to take part in the final round.

Competition Guidelines

Now that you have a basic understanding of all of the different competitions that are offered by the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA), it is a good idea to break down the basic guidelines of the competitions.


piano notes

As you now know, the three-tiered Junior, Senior and Young Artists Performance Competitions first start with state competitions. While these state competitions are typically live, it is important to mention that the current coronavirus pandemic has opened up the option for states to hold their state competitions through video or live. In order to verify what type of competition your state is holding, click here.

Here is a basic breakdown of rules, regulations and more in regard to the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA).

Elementary (Composition Only)

  • Ages 5-10
  • Entry fee: $50


  • Ages 11-14
  • Competitions: Composition, Piano, String and Woodwind
  • Performance Entry Fee: $80
    • Division Video Submission Fee: $20
  • Composition Entry Fee: $70


  • Ages 15-18
  • Piano Duet (one piano/four hands) Ages 11-18 with at least one student aged 15-18
  • Performance Entry Fee: $110
    • Division Video Submission Fee: $20
  • Composition Entry Fee: $100

Young Artists

  • Agues 19-26
  • Competitions: Composition, Brass, Piano, String, Voice and Woodwind
  • Performance Entry Fee: $120
    • Division Video Submission Fee: $20
  • Composition Entry Fee: $100

Chamber Music (3-6 performers)

  • Ages 18-29
  • Competitions: String or Wind
  • Entry Fee: $120 per each ensemble
    • Video Submission Fee: $20

At current, the National Finals of the competitions are scheduled to be held in Atlanta, Georgia from March 13 to March 14, 2021. Of course, as we have seen over the past few months, these dates may very well change, or the nature of the competition itself may change in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Entrant Requirements

The following requirements must be met by each applicant before the application deadline. If each requirement is not met, the entrant will be ruled ineligible to take part in the competitions.

Each entrant must:

  • Study with a teacher who is either a member of the MTNA or pays the Nonmember Teacher Fee of $150.
  • Be a citizen of the United States or hold a United States visa or permanent non residence (green card), which is valid throughout the competition year.
  • Reside in the United States during the competition year.
  • Meet the age requirements that are stated regarding their specified competition.

It is important to note that entrants are allowed to enter any MTNA competition for which they are eligible. Entrants are allowed to enter each individual competition in only one state according to the following rules:

Solo and Composition Competitions

Entrants must enter either in the state where they have permanent residence or the state where the instruction takes place. In the case of distance learning, the state where the instruction takes place is defined by where the entrant is located during Skype, FaceTime or other video lessons.

Piano Duet Competitions

Entrants can enter either in the state where at least on member of the duet team has permanent residence or in the state where the instruction takes place. In the case of distance learning, the state where the instruction takes place is defined by where the entrant is located during Skype, FaceTime or other video lessons.

stage and a grand piano

Teacher Requirements

Just like there are some clear requirements for students who are interested in participating in the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA), there are also a number of requirements for the teachers of those students. They are as follows:

  • Teachers must be aware of the entrant requirements.
  • The teacher listed on the application is the teacher of record and shall remain so during the competition year. In the event the entrant changes teachers during the competition year, both teachers, past and present, will be listed as the teachers of record. Any exception is at the sole discretion of the MTNA Director of Competitions in consultation with the Competitions Committee, but in no event will the entrant be disqualified as a result of a teacher change.
  • The teacher and the entrant may not be the same individual.
  • Teachers must reside in the U.S. during the competition year.

MTNA Member Teachers

If the teacher working with an entrant is an MTNA member, they must make sure that their membership is active and that all current dues have been paid. Beyond that, an MTNA collegiate member must pay active membership dues to enter students.

A woman playing piano

Nonmember Teachers

If the teacher working with students are not MTNA members, they are asked to either pay current active membership dues for MTNA or they will be assessed the $!50 Nonmember Teacher fee at the time of the application.


After reading through all of these competition deadlines for students and teachers alike, chances are good you are quite curious about the dates related to the competition this upcoming year. Application deadlines and competition dates are as follows:

  • Applications for Chamber Music String and Chamber Music Wind will be available Nov. 4, 2020
  • Deadline for Chamber Music application and video submission will be accepted on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. They must be turned in by 3:00 p.m. EST for all competitors.
  • MTNA active membership dues must be paid before submission of an application. A $15 nonmember teacher fee will be assessed if the entrant’s teacher has not paid active membership dues for the 2020-21 year of membership.
  • Application deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. EST for all competitors.

Now that that is out of the way, here is a breakdown of the different dates for competitions amongst every tier.

Dates for competitions

Why Students Should Engage in Extra Curriculars Like the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA)?

Finally, you are probably quite curious about what extra curriculars such as the MTNA really offers students who take part. It is part of our philosophy that extracurriculars are a great way to set yourself apart.

There truly is no doubt that taking part in extracurricular activities is an important thing for any top high school student to think long and hard about. Remember, it is considered far better to invest your time and energy heavily in a 2-3 extracurriculars rather than spread your time out amongst 5 or more.

College admissions officers are not looking for students who get bored easily and lose their determination to succeed just to switch to a new focus. They want to see students who are able to dedicate themselves substantially to a given goal and interest.

Ideally, over the course of your high school years, you will be able to earn roles of meaningful leadership in the groups, clubs or teams that you are involved in. College admissions counselors want to see what you bring to the table as a member of any given community.

If they believe that you will serve as a positive force on their university campus, chances are good that they will give your application extra emphasis when they are choosing between students who get in and students who sadly do not get in.

Here are a number of other reasons why you should invest your time and energy in meaningful extracurriculars during your high school years.


For many extracurriculars and clubs, students who are awarded and recognized for their mastery of a given topic or focus are offered merit-based scholarships. These scholarships can help students expand their education, pay for new experiences such as travel and classes, and can even help them pay for college. Given the fact that university continues to be one of the largest expenses of a young person’s life, seeking out educational scholarships through extracurriculars is certainly worth your time.

Gain important leadership skills

As previously mentioned, high school students who gain leadership skills in the extracurricular clubs, teams or program that they take part in will very likely see their applications rise to the top of the list of their dream schools. Not only does gaining a leadership role in a extracurricular show a college admissions counselor that you are able and willing to take on great responsibility, it also shows that you have the determination and personal strength to stick to something and have a lasting impact on.

Make sure that if you do gain a role of prominence and leadership that you make a point to mention that role either in your personal statement essays (if you choose or are asked to write about your extracurricular activities), or simply as you list your extracurriculars. The same can be said for any personal or group recognition/awards you earn in any club, team or group that you are a part of.

You want to make to sure that all that effort and hard work pays off for you not only in experience, but also in helping you get into the schools of your dreams.

Networking opportunities

This major benefit of many extracurricular activities in high school should not be overlooked in any way! Consider who you will be competing against and meeting at your Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA), for example.

There is no doubt that if you make it to the national level, you will be competing against and meeting with some of the most talented young musicians in the entire United States. If your plan is to pursue a career as a professional musician, you may very well get the chance to meet fellow musicians, composers, and more who you will one day be studying with at university, or even working alongside after that.

Remember, while getting into the school of your dreams may be one of the primary goals in your life right now, there are many more challenges you will meet and goals you will accomplish in the future. Having a fantastic network of people whom you are invested in and who are invested in you is a great way to make the chances of you accomplishing all of your long-term goals greater!

No one succeeds alone, and the network that you start building through your extracurriculars in high school may be what helps you earn the success and recognition that you plan to spend much of your life trying to achieve.

Here at AdmissionSight, we know the incredible importance of extracurriculars when it comes to college admissions and beyond. Hopefully, this in-depth breakdown of the Music Teachers National Association Competitions (MTNA) has helped you to better understand whether or not it is the right extracurricular activity for you.






Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.