Festival Rules

Ensembles that do not adhere to the following ground rules are subject to disqualification from competition. Disqualified groups are not eligible to win ensemble awards, including scholarships. Student musicianship awards may still be given to students in a disqualified group at the discretion of the festival committee. Berklee is not responsible for any lost music, instruments, equipment, etc. 

Ensemble Criteria

  • All members of each competing ensemble must attend the same high school program.
  • “All-star bands,” such as community schools composed of members from various high schools, may only participate in noncompeting classes.
  • Large ensembles must have 10 or more instrumentalists with predominantly standard jazz band instrumentation.
  • Combos must have three to nine instrumentalists with mixed instrumentation.
  • Vocal ensembles must have at least four vocalists and may have a rhythm section.
  • If a school has more than one large ensemble, combo, or vocal group performing, student performers must be completely different unless they are not playing the same instrument or the festival committee grants permission.

Music Selection

Music selection is at the discretion of the director, but a jazz influence must be clearly evident. Four copies for each arrangement must be provided to the adjudicators on the day of the festival before the groups performance. Original music is not required. The maximum number of selections is limited only by the allotted 18 minutes of stage time.

Setup Time

Each ensemble will be allowed 25 minutes to set up and warm up prior to its scheduled performance time. Ensembles are not permitted to set up, enter the stage area, or play in the performance room prior to the designated setup time.

Stage Time and Breakdown

The official stage time for an ensemble is clocked by stopwatch from the first note of the first selection to the cutoff of the last note of the final selection. The total stage time permitted is 18 minutes per ensemble. Noncompeting groups are also expected to adhere to this time limitation. Exceeding this time limit will result in automatic disqualification from the competition. To maximize this time, we suggest directors announce musical selections, soloists, etc. prior to playing. After performances and closing comments, each ensemble must remove its equipment from the stage within five minutes.

Directors Performing with a Group

  • Directors of competing instrumental ensembles are not permitted to perform with their students.
  • Directors of noncompeting ensembles may perform with their groups. However, this practice is not encouraged.
  • Vocal directors may accompany or perform with their ensemble strictly in a supporting role. No solos or singing by the director will be permitted. The ensemble will be disqualified if the director participates in more than a supporting role.


It is important that you notify us immediately if you cannot attend the festival so that we can offer your performance time to another band.

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          January 26, 2019