2021 Festival Rules and Guidelines


February 11, 2021: Registration is now closed

To all Competitors, Conductors and/or Teachers

  • Participants will be eligible to compete at the Alberta Provincial Music Festival. The 2021 Provincial Festival will be 100% virtual.
  • For the 2021 Festival year, we are offering the classes for these disciplines:
    • Piano
    • Musical Theatre
    • Speech
    • Vocal
    • Strings
    • Classical Guitar/Ukulele
  • All selection of music is expected to be of a serious (“classical”) nature (excluding Musical Theatre and Pop in Vocal entries).
  • Read through 2021 Festival Rules and Guidelines.
  • Be familiar with the meanings of terms contained in the Glossary.
  • The 2021 ARFPA Festival will be 100% virtual. No in-person sessions. No exemptions or special accommodations will be allowed. 

To all Participants


February 11, 2021: Registration is now closed

For all past entrants:

  • An email was sent to your parent and/or teacher. Your login information was included in this email.

NEW FOR 2021: 

  • All users must complete a Photo/Video Release form before registering for any classes. For any performers 18 years of age or under, your teacher or parent will be the one to complete this release form. You will NOT be able to register for 2021 until this has been completed. It is very easy to do.
  • Log in to register on musicfestivalsuite.com. You must complete this form before you can even proceed to register.   

For all NEW USERS:

  • Please go to musicfestivalsuite.com and register under the Airdrie Rotary Festival of Performing Arts User Login section. 
  • The date of birth for each soloist and each member of a duet or trio MUST BE ACCURATELY ENTERED online
  • The age of a participant is established as of DECEMBER 31st of the preceding year.
  • A profile for teacher, parent and student must be created during the registration process.  Email addresses must be included on all profile registration forms for contact purposes.  
  • In fairness to ALL participants, we cannot accommodate individual requests.
  • Scheduling will be based on the performance time stated on the entry form. Please be as accurate as possible when completing your online registration.
  •  No entry will be accepted without the appropriate entry fee.
  • All solo selections must be memorized in order to qualify for a scholarship.
  • Unless otherwise noted, the performance time limit in each class is 20 minutes.
  • The Airdrie Rotary Festival of Performing Arts reserves the right to refuse any entry.
  • The closing dates for entries must be strictly observed. No late entries.

About Fees

Registration fees cover only 1/3 of the costs required to run the Festival. Financial support from the community helps to cover remaining costs.

What do fees cover?

  • Awards / Scholarships
  • Adjudicator expenses
  • Printed materials and online subscription services 
  • Staging (when required: N/A for 2021)
  • Computer services
  • Office
  • Provincial fees

Where does money come from to supplement the entry fee?

The Festival relies on generous donations from businesses, service groups and individuals from our community to supplement entry fees.
View more information on sponsoring »

Fees for Solos and Small Groups [2021]:

12 years & under as of Dec. 31, 2020 $25
13 to 20 years as of Dec. 31, 2020 $25
21 years & over as of Dec. 31, 2020 $25
Concert / Recital classes $40
Duets $40
Trio / Quartet / Quintet
(2 to 5 persons)
Ensembles (6 to 12 persons)  
  1 Selection $50
  Concert / Recital Classes $55
  Ensembles (13 or more) $60

Fees for Larger Groups [2021]:

There will be no Choral or Band session in 2021 (School or Community)


  • The term “selection” in this Syllabus is defined as “a single movement composition or one or more movements of a multi-movement composition.” A song cycle is considered a multi-movement work. In some cases, more than one movement is required to satisfy the grade level.
  • No one is permitted to replace any selection listed in the Syllabus without the approval of the Festival Coordinator.
  • Names of publishers are included for guidance only. Any standard edition of a selection may be used.
  • A competitor may perform a selection only once using the same solo instrument during a given festival.
  • Selections MUST BE MEMORIZED. Selections NOT MEMORIZED will receive adjudication only.
  • To be eligible to receive scholarships or awards, performers MUST enter a minimum of 2 classes using the same instrument (Musical Theatre not included).
  • No medleys, collections or song cycles are permitted.
  • All duets must enter the higher age level or grade level of the 2 performers.
  • Piano / Vocal / Choral / Band Instrumental & Strings classes:
    A published copy or a certified copy of each selection MUST be supplied to the adjudicator. A 2nd original copy is NOT required. Photocopies will be accepted. Each selection should be clearly marked with the class and competitor number.
  • Each bar at the beginning of each line in the music score given to the adjudicator must be numbered.
  • Participants may enter either PLAN I or PLAN II PIANO CLASSES AS LISTED IN THE SYLLABUS. Do not choose classes from both plans.


  • No refunds will be given due to cancellations.
  • The Festival Committee determines the order of performance in each class.
  • If last-minute changes need to be made, they need to be approved by the Festival Coordinator and a fee of $25 will be charged to the participant.
  • Accompanists are permitted to play from photocopies to ease page turning, provided the original is with the adjudicator.
  • At no time may a teacher, parent or performer engage the adjudicator in conversation prior to, during, or after any performance. Doing so may result in the competitor’s disqualification.
  • Complaints or protests will not receive official consideration unless made in writing directly to the Festival committee within three days of the close of the Festival, accompanied by a fee of $30. Under no circumstances are such complaints or protests to be made to the adjudicator.
  • The adjudicator shall have discretionary power to stop any performance at any time and/or to instruct the omission of repeats.
  • A competitor must be present and ready to perform 15 minutes before a class is scheduled to begin. The Airdrie Rotary Festival of Performing Arts reserves the right to disqualify any competitor who is not ready to perform when called.
  • Since this is a teaching/learning Festival, it is requested that performers stay to the end of their class adjudication, which could last an hour or more.
  • No person off-stage or in the audience may augment or coach a performance.
  • The use of recording devices will be permitted to record your family member ONLY, provided the user remains stationary and unobtrusive. Adjudicators’ comments may not be recorded. Please turn off flash. The Airdrie Rotary Festival of Performing Arts reserves the right to restrict the amount and type of recording equipment.


  • Each Festival is managed by a committee. Questions concerning a festival should be directed to the local contact person. Decisions of the committee are final.
  • Each Festival reserves the right to delete classes or to add classes upon request.
  • Adjudicators’ decisions regarding performance are final.
  • At no time may a teacher or competitor engage the adjudicator in conversation prior to or during any performance for that adjudicator. Such an approach may result in the competitor’s disqualification.
  • A protest can be considered only if it is made in accordance with regulations established by the Festival.

Grading System

Distinction 90% and over Gold Seal
First Class Honours 85% to 89% No seal
Honours 80% to 84% No seal
Good 75% to 79% No seal
Participant Below 75% No seal
  • Memorization is required for Distinction awards.
  • Numerical grades will not appear on adjudication comment sheets.
  • All participants will receive certificates along with adjudication sheets by email within 2 weeks of the conclusion of the 2021 Festival.

Award Policy

  • If there is only one entrant in an award category, the award will be granted if the adjudicator determines that the standard of performance is at a suitable level.
  • The Festival committee will determine the value of each award. The number of awards may vary from year to year according to the number of Festival entries and budgetary considerations.
  • The Festival Committee, on the basis of Adjudicators’ decisions, will grant all awards.

Guidelines for Festival Dress


  • Buttoned-up, tucked-in shirts
  • Dress pants (no khakis or jeans)
  • Dress shoes (no runners)
  • Ties and jackets are optional


  • Skirts and dresses are appropriate for any festival performance.
  • Dress pants (no khakis or jeans) are acceptable for instrumental performances.
  • Skirt lengths should be at or below the knee.
  • Dress shoes (no runners or flip-flops)
  • Pantyhose, tights or dress socks (no sport socks)
  • Check necklines, slits in skirts, no bare midriffs — make sure your clothing is appropriate whether you stand or sit to perform.

NOTE: If you are singing in an opera class, you must wear Concert Dress.


  • Unless otherwise stated, competitions are open to ‘amateurs’ only. The Glossary defines ‘amateur’ as: “A person whose principal means of livelihood is not obtained from musical services in the particular discipline in which he or she is competing.”
  • A member of a duet or ensemble may enter more than once in a class, provided that he or she performs a different part or plays a different instrument.
  • If a solo competitor is unable to perform, no one may take his or her place.
  • Participants may not enter the same class in any subsequent year unless he/she was the only entrant in the class and their age follows the Festival guidelines (exception: 19 years and over classes).


  • In every class photocopies may be used ONLY if one original or certified copy of the piece has bee given to the adjudicator.
  • A photocopy of an accompaniment may be used to ease page turning provided the original or certified copy has been provided to the adjudicator.
  • Photocopied selections from anthologies are accepted to be used by the performer if an original or certified copy has been supplied to the adjudicator.
  • A photocopy of any “Own Choice” selection which is required to be used by the performed is permitted only if a published copy is available for the adjudicator.
  • To qualify for awards and scholarships, competitors must perform from memory. Competitors performing with music will receive adjudication and will also be awarded with fair grade based on the level of performance.
  • Accompaniments must be played as written (exceptions: Folk Song classes, Musical Theatre classes).
  • Recorded accompaniments will not be allowed.
  • Any transposition is permitted.

Rules for Group Classes

  • ARFPA will not be offering Group Choral or Band in 2021 due to current COVID-19 restrictions as outlined by Alberta Health Services.

Glossary of Terms

Accompaniment – A subordinate part for instruments, voices, or ensembles — usually piano; although, one or more instruments are allowed in some classes.

Action Song – A song having definite actions that all the children are expected to perform.

Adult – Of legal age in Alberta.

Alberta Excellence Class/es – The Alberta Excellence (AE) Classes are competitive classes for advanced performers who desire competition greater than what is offered in other classes. The AE Classes require additional repertoire (as well as repertoire of a higher level) to be performed at both the Local and Provincial Festival. Competitors may enter both the AE Class and other classes in the same discipline (i.e. a pianist may enter classes in a Piano Plan class as well as entering the AE Piano Class). To go on to the Provincial Festival in an AE Class, a competitor must receive a Local recommendation in an AE Class (just like the other classes).

Amateur – A person whose principal means of livelihood is not obtained from the performance of music in the particular discipline in which he or she is competing. This stipulation does not, however, preclude such a person having occasionally received remuneration for musical services rendered, even in the area in which he or she is competing.

Aria – An elaborate, accompanied, vocal solo from an opera, operetta or cantata.

Art song – The Art Song was a creation of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and continues into the 20th and 21st centuries. These songs were written for voice with piano accompaniment. Composers such as Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Britten, Quilter, Barber, Bernstein, Rorem, Coulthard, Fleming, etc. were inspired to write music to enhance existing poetry. NOTE: The language of the song, if other than English, determines the class to be entered.

Associate Standard – Refers to a selection of advanced difficulty that must be of at least post-Grade/post-Level 10 or equivalent level/standard. Lists are available in the RCM and Conservatory Canada syllabi.

Bach String Solo – A composition written for unaccompanied solo string.

Ballad – (as used in Musical Theatre) – Music with a slower tempo, often of a serious nature. See Up-Tempo →

Ballad / Traditional Air – A narrative poem, often of unknown origin and written in short stanzas. Was originally sung to a repeated tune.

Baroque music – Music composed in or around the Baroque period; circa 1600-1760.

Canadian Composer / Author – A person born in Canada, one who has resided in Canada for at least five years, or a naturalized citizen.

Canadian Poetry – Published poetry written by a Canadian author (including those works that are in books printed at direct cost to the author).

Chamber Music – A term that originally referred to music not intended for the church, the theatre, or public concert hall. It no longer implies a place of performance, but refers to music written for three, four, or more instruments played with one instrument to a “part”, all the parts having equal importance. See Ensemble →

Choir / Chorus – A group of 13 or more members performing as a single unit.

Choral Speech – Is the speaking of a piece of literature by a speech choir. It differs from Choric Drama in that the prime emphasis is on telling the story, rather than acting it out. The focus is on the language and the speaking of the text. There is no movement around the stage, but gestures and simple in-place movements may be used. Variety may be provided through the division of voices, use of solo voices, the physical arrangement of the choir, use of props, and the suggestion of a simple costume.

Choric Drama – Is distinguished from Choral Speech in that the choir enacts the story, as opposed to just telling the story through language. The choir may use theatrical elements such as dialogue, characterization and movement around the stage. Solo voices are featured and blocking (grouping) of individual speakers may be incorporated. Other theatrical elements such as scenery, costumes, and props may be used.

Class – Each discipline is divided into sub-categories by instrument, and/or by age, and/or by grade level. Each is identified by a 5-digit number. Each is labeled a “Class.” With few exceptions, students may enter only one class in a group of classes.
See list of 2021 List of Local Classes for guidelines regarding groups of local classes.

Classical Guitar – A plucked stringed instrument originating in Spain.

Classical – Refers to music of a serious nature, NOT pop, movie, TV, or musical theatre. Not limited to the “Classical period.”

Classical Period – Music composed approximately between 1750 and 1830.

Classroom Music – Music designed to portray the many facets of the elementary school program. Singing is the main emphasis, but some movement/creative dance, and limited use of simple instruments is required. Costumes and stage props may be used.

Community Band/Choir/Chorus – A group of instrumentalists or singers performing as a unit. The term also refers to a group whose members come from 2 or more schools and who have been selected on the basis of performing ability.

Concert Band – A group of musicians playing woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments under the direction of a conductor.

Concerted Work – Any composition originally written for solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment. In festivals, a piano provides the orchestral part.

Concerto – A composition written in several movements usually for solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment.

Contemporary / Modern – In music, a work written from 1900 to the present. In Speech Solo Scenes, works written after 1950.

Composition, Music – Music composed by the competitor.

Creative Story Telling – The story may be either an original work by the performer, or a traditional story, folk tale, family tale, legend, fable, or myth. Entrants submit a brief plot outline to the adjudicator. Appropriate sounds, props, or movement may be incorporated into the performance provided there is no disruption of the smooth delivery of the story. The performance MUST be in the teller’s own words.

Discipline – AMFA defines six disciplines for administrative purposes: Band/Orchestra, Music Composition, Instrumental, Piano, Speech, and Voice.

Domicile – Refers to the family home.

Dramatic Improvisation – The unified presentation of an idea or theme through action and dialogue. It must be spontaneous, unscripted and have clarity and purpose.

Duet – Two individuals performing different parts as a unit.

Duologue – A speech selection for 2 individuals performing different parts.

Ensemble – A small group, the required size of which depends upon the class entered. In Choral: 8 – 12 singers; in Chamber: 3 – 6 performers.

Family Music – Music performed by a group all of whom, including the accompanist, are members of the same family.

Finger-style Guitar – Describes a manner of playing in which the fingertips are used to pluck the strings.

Flamenco Guitar – Describes accompaniments used in gypsy folk songs and dances of Spanish music.

Folk Guitar – Describes accompaniments of folk songs employing simple chords and arpeggios.

Folk song – Music which has entered into the heritage of the people and which can usually be assigned to no composer, school, or period. It has been fashioned and refashioned through many generations by countless individuals and was usually passed on orally.

Full Orchestra – A large group of musicians performing as a unit and using string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

General Classes – Syllabus classes NOT identified as “school classes.” General classes are intended for students receiving private lessons. In a choral context, non-school choral groups or school groups from 2 or more schools selected on the basis of ability. See School Classes→

Gesture – Movement of the hands and arms, that clarifies or emphasizes the meaning and emotional content of a performance.

Group Competitor – Two or more individuals performing as a unit.

Group of Classes – A competitor may enter only one class in a given Group of Classes. A Group of Classes consists of those classes listed beside each entry on the Local Festival Classes pages.
See Rules Governing Local Festivals
See list of 2021 List of Local Classes for guidelines regarding groups of local classes

Group Study – A method of teaching a group collectively rather than teaching each person individually.

Handbell – A musically tuned bell with a handle made of leather or plastic that allows it to be held in the hand.

Handchime/Tonechime – A metal tube slotted and cut to produce a musical sound.

Impressionism / Impressionistic Idiom – The style of music composed at the time of Debussy and continued by his followers. It conveys moods and emotions aroused by the subject rather than portraying a detailed tone poem.

Instrumental – Generally refers to the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion families, but includes the singing voice and the speaking voice as separate instruments. It also has a more specialized meaning as one of the Disciplines.

Lieder – A distinctive type of German vocal solo composition that was an outcome of the Romantic Movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In Lieder, the quality of the verse is very important. The piano part is more than an accompaniment and, as does the vocal part, demands artistic interpretation.

Light Opera/Operetta – A type of comic or light-hearted opera containing spoken dialogue.

Lyric Poetry – Is distinguished by its intense personal feeling and unified by the poet’s consistent response to an incident or idea. Lyric poetry frequently exhibits a graceful, fluid rhythm and an evocative pattern of sound. It is reflective poetry, and although a lyric may relate an incident or episode, the story element is of secondary importance. Movement and gesture, if any, should be restrained and should never draw attention away from the language. See Narrative/Dramatic Poetry →

Madrigal – A composition for several voices, performed unaccompanied. The texts of a madrigal are usually secular.

Medley – A piece composed from parts of existing pieces, played one after another, sometimes overlapping.

Mime – Is a silent art form that uses body and face as instruments of communication. The art of mime is based on careful and sensitive observation, and the translation of that observation, along with thoughts and emotion into movement and expression so as to express a mood or present a scenario. The performer must communicate character, story line, location and emotion clearly. Skills such as economy of movement, eye focus, the ability to position objects and maintain consistency of distance are vital. While classical mime skills may be incorporated into the mime work, the focus is on the piece as an artistic whole — as a scene driven by personal communication.

Mixed Choir / Chorus – A group of female and male singers performing as a unit.

Modern / Contemporary – See Contemporary / Modern →

Musical Theatre / Broadway Musical – A staged production, recognized revue, or movie musical that incorporates the elements of acting, song and movement. See Revue →

Narrative / Dramatic Poetry – Is poetry that tells a story and stresses plot and action. It often contains dialogue, characterization, and conflict. Although narrative/dramatic poetry may contain lyrical or descriptive passages, it usually minimizes or ignores the poet’s expression of personal feelings. Movement and gestures should flow naturally from the text and the performer’s interpretation. See Lyric Poetry →

Obbligato – An accompaniment that has a distinct character and independence providing special or unusual effects, and is an integral part of the composition.

Operatic Solo – See Aria

Oratorio – Drama which may be sacred or secular and set to music. It contains all the elements of an opera, but is seldom staged.

Partner Song – Two different songs that have a similar harmonic structure and length, so they may be sung together.

Piano Quick Study – A class in which a competitor performs a selection within 24 hours of receiving the music.

Plectrum Guitar – Describes a manner of playing in which a small piece of plastic is used to strum the strings.

Popular Vocal – Is non-classical in style and includes: Movie/TV/Pop, vocal jazz, country and western, and contemporary gospel music. Does NOT include Musical Theatre.

Prescribed Selection – A test piece that is listed in the current syllabus for a specific class.

Private Lessons – Regular scheduled instruction on a continuing basis under the guidance of a recognized instructor receiving compensation for such instruction.

Production Number – A vocal presentation assisted by a background ensemble.

Professional – A person whose principal means of livelihood is obtained from the practice of music in the particular category in which he or she is competing.

Props – Objects used to enhance a presentation usually in musical theatre, some solo speech classes, choral speech, and choric drama. They may be hand-held (a purse, a glass, a mop) or be stage props (a doorway, a stool, a table and chair). Stage props are set up before the performance begins. In all cases, props should be simple, limited in number, and an integral part of the performance.

Prose Solo – A prose selection may be fiction or non-fiction from a published story, essay, novel, or the like.

Public Domain – Means the author has been dead for at least 50 years and therefore the work is out of copyright.

Quartet – Four individuals performing different parts as a unit.

Quintet – Five individuals performing different parts as a unit.

Readers Theatre – Is a form of group interpretation that can represent the staging of all kinds of literature. It is a presentational, non-realistic form of production that includes the audience’s imaginative participation as a scripting and staging principle. It emphasizes the experience in the text and appeals to the audience’s ability to imagine. The actors may be seated, movement is limited, and scripts may be used as props.

Revue – A topical, satirical theatrical entertainment consisting of a series of scenes having a central theme, but no plot. See Musical Theatre / Broadway Musical →

Rhythm Band – A group of performers playing very simple instruments, usually percussive. A component of the elementary school program.

Romantic Music – Music composed between 1830 and 1900.

Sacred – A selection using a religious theme or a religious text set to music. It should be “classical” in style, but NOT an oratorio.

Sacred Reading – The oral communication, in English, of a passage taken from any faith’s holy text.

School Band / Choir / Chorus – A group of at least 13 performers, usually from one school, performing as a unit. See Rules Governing the Provincial Festival.

School Classes – Are so identified in the 2021 Syllabus. They are intended for students receiving musical or speech instruction in a classroom setting. That does not preclude receiving extra coaching from their school teacher. Students receiving private lessons may not enter classes identified as “school classes” unless part of a group entry. See Private Lessons

Sea Shanty – A song originally sung by sailors. Similar in origins to a folk song.

Selected Voice Choir / Chorus – A choir or chorus whose members are selected or “hand-picked.” The standard of performance is higher than that which is expected of an unselected choir.


  • A stand-alone piece of music.
  • One, and only one, portion of a song cycle (NOTE: exception allowed in Provincial National Vocal class)
  • One, and only one, piece from a collection of pieces, or as prescribed as a requirement in either the Royal Conservatory of Music, Conservatory Canada, or other recognized syllabus.
  • One or more movements of a multi-movement composition: e.g. sonata, concerto, or concerted work.
  • Piano Plan I – 1 (one) or more movement(s) of a Multi-movement Piano Selection may be used as ONE selection as long as they keep within the allotted time limit.
  • Piano Plan II – 1 (one) or more movement(s) of a Multi-movement Piano Selection may be used as ONE selection, but MUST keep to the grade/level standards as put forth by any of the recognized Conservatory Syllabi, and be within the allotted time limit.

Senior – Usually refers to the level of achievement. In Provincial classes, refers to those 17 years and over.

Sight Singing/Reading/Playing – The performance of a selection by a competitor who has had only a few minutes of preparation.

Sonata – A composition usually written in three or four movements for solo instrument with or without piano accompaniment. The solo instrument and accompaniment are of equal importance; although, generally, only the soloist is adjudicated.

Sonnet Sequence – Two sonnets with a similar theme, not necessarily by the same author.

Special Study – Classes for competitors who are in the beginning stages of study.

Story Telling – See Creative Story Telling →

String Orchestra – A group of musicians using only string instruments, and performing as a unit.

Traditional Air / Ballad – See Ballad / Traditional Air →

Transcription – The arrangement of a composition originally written for one instrument but adapted for another.

Trio – Three individuals performing different parts as a unit.

Ukulele – A ukulele is an instrument that looks like a mini guitar. This instrument is a small four-stringed guitar of Hawaiian origin. The ukulele, or uke, as it’s frequently called for short, comes in four standard sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.  The larger the uke, the deeper and louder its sound. Some ukuleles are even double-strung, with a total of eight strings. A good ukulele player's fingers move extremely fast, which explains its name, which means “leaping flea” in Hawaiian.

Unaccompanied – A selection written for solo or group, and performed without instrumental assistance.

Unchanged voice – Refers to a singer, usually male, whose voice has not yet “broken”; changed from an adolescent to an adult sound.

Up-Tempo – An Up-Tempo selection contains comedic or deft lyrics and may feature complaint or self-pity. Up-Tempo may feature a lively dance break. Music is often of a quicker tempo. The majority of the selection will generally feature tempo markings such as fast, lively, allegro, etc. See Ballad

Alberta Music Festival Association

2021 AMFA Complete Syllabus

Changes to 2021 Syllabus

2021 Registration

2021 Festival Rules, Guidelines, Glossary

2021 Adjudicators

2021 Adjudication Schedule

2021 Festival Fees

2021 Boundary Map

2019 Scholarship Winners


Festival Coordinator

JEN HARBOUR | jt.harbs@gmail.com

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