January Student Page

2019 Composition Contest and Rules

Complete instructions at the bottom of this page.

Coming in March: Amy Beach, Johannes Brahms, Relaxing Tension While Playing

100-day Challenge

Keep working on your practice charts. You can still do this challenge.
Start at any time! Download this chart or make your own.

100 Day Challenge PDF

Students who have completed the 100-day practice chart

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Composer of the month

Johann Christian Bach


Sonata for piano 4-hands, Op. 18, No. 6 in F major

(performed by Aglika Genova & Liuben Dimitrov)

Symphony in D major, Op. 18, No. 4

Overture to Endimione (an opera by J.C. Bach first performed in London in 1772.)

Quintet in D Major for flute, oboe, violin, cello and harpsichord played by the Croatian Baroque Ensemble.

Viola da Gamba

Differences between the viola da gamba and the cello.

Carl Friedrich Abel’s Arpeggio for Viola da Gamba played by Petr Wagner.


While many etudes are written to help musicians improve their playing, some composers wrote difficult and beautiful etudes that are also performed at recitals. Here are a few famous ones:

Frédéric Chopin, 12 Etudes, Op. 10, played by Vladimir Ashkenazy. These are beautiful but difficult etudes!

Claude Debusy, Twelve Etudes, played by Mitsuko Uchida.

Franz Liszt wrote Six Etudes after Paganini, or etudes based on violin works by the famous virtuoso Nicolo Paganini. This is Etude No. 4, played by Nicolai Petrov.

Franz Liszt, Two Concert Etudes, played by Klára Würtz.


Listen to the octaves at the very end of Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso. (Listen to the whole thing but the octaves can be heard in the final 30-40 seconds.)

Here is the same work but you can see the pianist’s hands. (Played by Jan Lisiecki)

2019 Composition Contest

The 2019 Composition Contest Theme is Pets

Deadline: March 8, 2019

Write a composition about your pet. You could tell a story or describe your pet with music. If you do not have a pet, you could write about a pet you would like to have, a friend’s pet, or just an animal that interests you. Be sure to write a few sentences to describe your composition and draw a picture too. Entries will be put into two divisions: ages 10 and under and 11 and up. Results will be announced in the May/June issue. You must subscribe to Piano Explorer to enter the contest. Check the rules below carefully. Good luck!

Contest Rules

1. You or your teacher must subscribe to Piano Explorer. (If your teacher subscribes, he or she must have as many subscriptions as students who have entered.) Students must be 18 years or younger.

2. Only solo piano music will be considered for prizes.

3. Write your name, age, address, phone number, and teacher’s name on the back of the music.

4. All compositions must be written by students. Parents and teachers may help write down the notes.

5. Do not quote other pieces of music in your compositions. We cannot print such pieces due to copyright laws. You must also include a signed statement to participate. PDF of required statement

6. Keep a copy for yourself. We cannot return music.

7. All submissions must be postmarked or faxed by the deadline, March 8, 2019. We are not responsible for pieces that are delayed in the mail.

8. Last year’s first-prize winners may not enter this year.

9. Drawings are encouraged, but not required.

10. Fax or mail entries only. Please no emails!

11. Make sure to compose music specifically to the topic. Don’t just add a fitting title to a composition you already have.

12. You must include a description of the piece. This is NOT optional. If you want your piece considered for a prize, you must write a few sentences about how your music represents the topic.

Send your compositions to

Composition Contest
Piano Explorer
1838 Techny Court
Northbrook, IL 60062

Fax: 847-446-6263

Do not send via email.
(If outside the U.S., please check with us about exceptions to this rule – [email protected])

Winning Pieces will be printed in the magazine. Be sure to draw a picture to go with your music.