Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P.) offers recognition, prizes for student composers in Missouri

Is the next George Gershwin, Duke Ellington or John Williams in a school in St. Joseph, a practice room in Poplar Bluff, a rehearsal hall in Rolla, or somewhere else in the Show-Me State? If so, the Mizzou New Music Initiative’s Creating Original Music Project (C.O.M.P) wants to find that young composer.

Sponsored by the University of Missouri School of Music; the Department of Learning, Teaching & Curriculum; and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, C.O.M.P. is an annual statewide competition that recognizes Missouri students in grades K-12 who compose original works in a variety of musical styles.

Now in its sixth year, C.O.M.P. mailed information last month to music teachers across the state inviting students to participate in the 2010 competition. The winning composers and their schools will be awarded cash prizes, and the winning compositions will be performed at the Creating Original Music Project’s New Music Festival on Saturday, April 23, 2011 at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Students in grades K-5 may submit compositions in the categories of Vocal Music or Instrumental Music. For grades 6-8, the categories are Fine Art Music or Popular Music; and for grades 9-12, they are Fine Art Music, Popular Music, Jazz, Folk Music, Sacred Music, or other styles. All entries must be original music written by the student, and only one entry per student is allowed. Arrangements of previously composed pieces or improvisation based on composed pieces will not be accepted.

Mentors and teachers are encouraged to offer support and critiques, though the submissions must be the students’ own original compositions. Music teachers and/or mentors may assist students in notating or recording the pieces, and each student who applies must have the signature and sponsorship of their school’s music teacher. Only three submissions per category per school are allowed. It is the responsibility of the school music teacher(s) to decide which three pieces per category will be entered in the contest. The postmark deadline for submission of all compositions is January 3, 2011.

For more information about the Creating Original Music Program and an application for the 2010 competition, please visit the C.O.M.P website at

For students looking for additional guidance or feedback on their work, the Mizzou New Music Initiative also offers Composer Connection, a distance-learning program that gives aspiring composers a chance to talk with and receive instruction from a graduate student in composition at MU. Students can e-mail works in progress and ask questions about composing, and receive suggestions and answers directly from the composer on call. The composer on call for the 2010-11 academic year is Michael Strausbaugh, who can be reached by email at

Video: The trailer for Genius Among Us, a 2009 documentary film about C.O.M.P. by Randy Sinquefield.