Global Youth Conference Music Guidelines

Click here to download a pdf version of the Music Guidelines.

Music  Division 




GCEA desires to have the highest quality music competition possible. Such competition is intended to demonstrate a student’s instrumental and vocal music skills, while encouraging a student to use his musical talents to glorify God. GCEA encourages all students to aspire to reach their highest potential; maximizing the gifts God has given them. 

Competition arrangements are to be Christian, patriotic, and/or classical in nature.  In Vocal and Instrumental Music categories, contestants are not permitted to use the musical score (except instrumental ensembles). Narration and/or dramatic dialogue are not allowed.  All vocal entries must be presented in the English language. (We apologize that we are not able to grant any exceptions.)

APPEARANCE Gentlemen: Dress shirts, ties, and jackets should be worn for all music performances with the following exceptions: 1. School uniforms 2. A tuxedo with either a vest or cummerbund without a jacket.

Ladies: Professional/church outfits should be worn for all music performances with the following exceptions: 1. School uniforms 2. Formal attire that meets the modesty requirements for conference.

When selecting a musical piece, please consider the following: 

ELEMENTS OF MUSIC Melody—A good melody has a definite high place near its conclusion so that there is a sense of climax and resolution. Harmony—Harmony should support the melody and play a subservient role. Rhythm—The rhythm of a song has much to do with the overall integrity of the piece. A subtle rhythm or sense of pulsation with a balance of regular accent patterns and occasional syncopation for variety and interest is preferred. The rhythm should not overtake the melody, harmony, message, or overall flow of a song. Musical compositions with excessive repetition of a melodic phrase, harmonic pattern, rhythmic pattern, or any combination of these three should be avoided.

A musical composition should have a definite beginning, build to a climax point, and communicate a definite sense of conclusion. The musical sound should not detract from the message of the words. 


Message—Good lyrics say something of value. Not every song needs to be as profound as our richest hymns, but good lyrics rarely include trite phrases just for the sake of rhyme. Such phrases are many times designed more for entertainment rather than edification. Good lyrics fulfill a definite purpose. If the text is sung as a hymn, it should express some Godly attribute that helps us worship the Lord. If the text is sung as a gospel song, it should be a message that encourages us. The message should also be simple enough that almost anyone can easily understand it, relate to it, and apply it. 

PERFORMANCE TECHNIQUES Presentation—Give careful attention that the musical presentation does not solely reflect secular styles (breathy, sensual, and so on). “Crooning,” “sliding,” “sagging, etc.,” should only be used wisely and purposely. Use caution that the presentation is not done in a purely “entertainment” attitude or style. Movement—No choreography, planned or unnecessary bodily movement (including hand clapping, foot stomping, deaf signing, finger snapping, etc.), will be permitted. Occasional movement of the hands/arms for dramatic effect (i.e., placing hand to heart, raising hand toward Heaven) is permitted but should be used sparingly. Competitors should stand erect; bend knees slightly to relax rigid leg muscles, with arms and shoulders relaxed and thumbs resting at the side-seam of clothing. 

Questions to evaluate musical selections/performances: 

  1. Does the music glorify God, not the performer or composer? 
  2. Does the music reflect Biblical doctrine and Godly living? 
  3. Is the rhythm a subservient feature that does not dominate the music? 
  4. Does the background music play a subservient role to the lyrics and not distract the listener from the message? 
  5. Are the lyrics Biblically accurate? 
  6. Is the performance a straightforward presentation, focusing on vocal technique that employs proper breathing (only occasional, purposeful breathy tones, sagging and sliding pitches)? 
  7. Is the music easily identifiable as a Christ-honoring piece? 
  8. Does the music invoke positive responses? 
  9. Does the selection draw the listener closer to God and uplift his/her spirit? 
  10. Does the music praise the Lord, focus on God, or deliver a clear spiritual message? 

When evaluating musical selections, an appropriate piece will always yield a “YES” response to all of the questions given. If there is ANY doubt regarding the appropriateness of a piece and to avoid conflict, please submit the selection to GCEA for review/approval. Out of love and respect for the students competing, GCEA would never desire a student to invest time and energy preparing a selection, only to be marked down because the selection does not meet the guidelines. 


For review/approval, selections must be submitted to GCEA no later than February 1. Please allow two to three weeks for the review process. Selections, musical score, and lyrics should be submitted to: 

Shipping Address: Mailing Address: GCEA YOUTH CONFERENCES 5472 Plum Street, Coloma, MI 49038 

Submitted selections will be returned with the GCEA seal of approval or an explanation as to why the piece is not appropriate for this competition. 

GENERAL PERFORMANCE GUIDELINES IMPORTANT!!!! All copies of music, CDs, and photos must be CLEARLY LABELED with the student’s name, school name, school telephone number, complete school address, and category. 

  1. Three copies of the arrangement, as performed, must be given to the judges before a 

performance. Music must be performed exactly as it appears on the score. For example, if chords are changed, music should be rewritten to reflect the changes. Submitted copies must include the musical score, numbered measures, and the lyrics. The judges must receive copies of the corrected/changed scores. Copies must be CLEARLY LABELED with the student’s name, school name, school telephone number, complete school address, and the category. 

  1. Contestants may sing a cappella; be accompanied by an adult or student (of conference age) playing a piano or acoustic guitar; or use an accompaniment recording (piano or acoustic guitar only).   Note: Contestants are to make sure the recording is of the best possible sound quality. Poise and presentation are part of the judging criteria; thus contestants are not to provide their own accompaniment (with the exception of the self-accompaniment solo category). 
  2. Contestants must submit a color photo  of themselves, with faces clearly visible. They must be in the same outfit they will be wearing for that event. Photos should be clearly labeled with student’s name, school name, school telephone number, complete school address, and the category. 
  3. All vocal and instrumental music is to be memorized (exception: Instrumental Ensembles).
  4. There should be a preselected spokesperson for each group who will introduce the group, the school or homeschool represented, and the title of the song to be performed. (This is not counted against performance time.)
  5. Personal amplification equipment for competition is not allowed.
  6. Musical competition time limit is 5 minutes. If the competition piece exceeds the 5-minute time limit, the contestant will receive a .5-point deduction for any portion of thirty (30) second increments. (For example, a piece timed at 5:12 would receive a half-point deduction from the total score. A piece at 5:42 would receive a deduction of a full point from the total score.) 

Checklist for Music: 

  1. Copies of music: Three (3) copies must be brought to convention. Submitted copies must include the musical score and the lyrics. All copies are to be inserted in a clear, gallon-sized, zippered plastic bag with the student’s name, school name, school address, and school telephone number clearly visible on the front of EACH copy. 
  2. Photo: Submit a color photo simulating the performance wearing the outfit in which the student will perform. VERY IMPORTANT: CLEARLY LABEL the BACK of the photo with the student’s name, school name, school telephone number, school address, and the category. 
  3. If using a recordedaccompaniment, each contestant must provide his or her own playback device.

4. When selecting music for vocal music competition, careful attention should be given to level of difficulty. Songs with too much unison or lack of distinct, individual parts do not usually place well. All members (duet, trio, quartet, etc.) or sections (ensemble) should demonstrate an ability to “carry” their individual parts with proper pitch, tone, and blend.

Click here for Vocal Guidelines

Click here for Instrumental Guidelines

Click here for Music Hints and Tips