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New Directions Composition Prize

The New Directions Composition Prize aims to share the joy of music by encouraging young people to create their own original composition. The competition is run by Robinson College, University of Cambridge. 

The competition is an opportunity to compose a piece of your own music, no longer than 4 minutes long, based on one of the images, poems or quotations provided. Your composition will be listened to and marked by Dr Jeremy Thurlow, Director of Studies in Music at Robinson College. The prize is open to anyone, regardless of your musical experience. 

The competition operates in three different age categories: 

  • Ages 10-13 
  • Ages 14-16 (up to Year 11 / S4 / Year 12 NI)
  • Ages 16-18 

There will be winners and highly commended entrants in each category.

Click here to view the stimulus prompts for the competition, as well as the guidance on entries. 

To submit your composition, please click here.

 

Guidelines for Entrants

New Directions Composition Prize aims to share the joy of music by encouraging young people to create their own original composition. The competition is run by Robinson College, University of Cambridge.

The competition operates in three different age categories: 

  • Ages 10-13 
  • Ages 14-16 (up to Year 11 / S4 / Year 12 NI)
  • Ages 16-18 

There will be winners and highly commended entrants in each category.

On the New Directions Google Drive, you will find some prompts or stimuli to inspire your composition. These prompts include pictures, poems and quotations. 
You can choose one of the prompts that inspires you, or that you feel a connection with, to base your composition around. 
Starting a composition can feel overwhelming. To help you get inspired, you might want to: 

  • Listen to lots of music – see what you like, and don’t like! 
  • Ask for advice – from your friends, family, and teachers at your school or music centre
  • If you play an instrument or sing, try out tunes, melodies or rhythms, to see what they sound like
  • Once you've chosen one of the five stimulus prompts, have a think about the mood and sound that you want to create and the ideas that you want to explore. Then challenge yourself to just start writing or playing – see what comes out, and work with it!  
  • Your composition should have a run time of 4 minutes or under.
  • You should send in your composition as an MP3 sound file. You're not required to send in a score (though you are welcome to send as score as well as the MP3, if you composed your piece in score rather than by using studio-style techniques). 
  • You can submit your composition by going to: https://cambridge.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ewFKzC5xyI8hdDU 
  • In the Google Drive, you will also find a cover sheet to include alongside your composition. Please don’t forget to submit this too!

Don’t worry! This composition prize is all about exploring music and composition, whether you’re already a passionate musician, or you’re exploring music for the first time.

You can use any kind of software, or sit at the piano or with a guitar or other instrument, or record yourself singing, or write a score, or any combination of these.  In the end you must make an mp3 of your music - and if it feels appropriate to the way you wrote your music to send in a score as well, you're welcome to do so.

Winners will receive a £50 voucher, and will also be invited to a workshop day at Robinson College, Cambridge, later in the year. This will be a chance to explore the College and the University, and do a range of musical activities across the day.

If you have questions or uncertainties, please email outreach@robinson.cam.ac.uk, and we’ll help you out!