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2022 National Youth Jazz Ensemble of Distinction

2022 National Youth Jazz Ensemble of Distinction

2020 National Youth Jazz Ensemble of Distinction


Global Initiative for Talented Students (GIFTS) in collaboration with Perform America – TX, LLC is excited to offer a new educational opportunity for middle and high school band, choir and orchestra programs. Introducing Medal of Distinction, a unique recording submission process designed to celebrate excellence in performance while simultaneously offering practical and exciting opportunities of growth for both students and directors. All participants will have access to a wealth of knowledge from evaluators with a variety of musical backgrounds. The Medal of Distinction program serves as a means to bring together a community of musicians and educators striving to better themselves, their programs and the art of music-making.


Ensemble recordings are evaluated by a judging panel(s) composed of nationally recognized educators and conductors.  After the initial listening in the ‘Premier Performance’ round, the top ensembles in this group will earn the ‘Maestro’s Circle Award’ and the opportunity to have a Medal of Distinction evaluator make a personal visit to their program for a clinic. This in-person interaction with a master teacher is what makes Medal of Distinction a truly educational experience!

How does it work?

Jazz Ensembles (Main/Varsity):
    • Recordings are distributed to evaluator(s) whom will offer both audio and written feedback.  The top 15% of ensembles entered will be named National Winners of the Maestro Award.  National Winners of the Maestro Award will receive the honor of having a clinic from a Medal of Distinction evaluator; a personal visit catered to you and your students’ needs. (Clinic is based on clinician availability.)  The second 25% will be named ‘Performance of Distinction Winners’.


Non-Varsity Jazz Ensembles:

    • Non-Varsity Ensembles will be listened to and receive feedback from the Evaluator with the top 25% Non-Varsity performing ensembles will be recognized as Medal of Distinction National Winners with the second 25% recognized as Performance of Distinction Winners


Extra perks for participants:

All competition participants will have exclusive access to an online forum where both directors and contest evaluators can share discussions about rehearsal procedures, performance considerations, programming, and other questions and topics that arise along the performance preparation and educational journey.

Maestro Award ensemble winners will receive the honor of having a clinic from a Medal of Distinction evaluator; a personal visit catered to you and your students’ needs.  Clinician’s honorarium, travel and accommodations will be covered.  All we ask is that meals/social gathering are taken care of by the Director/Program.  (Clinic is based on clinician availability)

*INTERNATIONAL Ensembles if participating can earn recognition in the Encore Circle or as National Winner of the Maestro Award, but are not eligible for an in person clinic at this time.*

Who can enter?

Medal of Distinction is open to all varsity ensembles:

National Youth Jazz Ensemble of Distinction

    • Middle School Jazz Ensemble
    • High School Jazz Ensemble
    • International Ensembles in any of the above categories*


Each ensemble will submit the following:
  1. Digital performance recordings of two different pieces.
  2. One set of scores. (PDFs preferred)

In an effort to keep the contest judging anonymous, please remove any markings that would reveal the identity of the program or director.

Recording Considerations

    • Recordings must be from the 2021-2022 school year
    • Recordings must be edited to remove any mention of the school’s name to ensure anonymity. Other acceptable edits include eliminating applause, combining tracks of multi-movement works, and shortening excess time between movements. 
    • Refrain from unethical editing practices such as modifying, altering, or splicing the recordings. Please use your best professional judgment.
    • MP3 format is preferred


March 1st – Entry registration opens (please print registration form)
June 5th – Payment of $350 for Non-Varsity ensembles & Payment of $375 for all other ensembles (made out to GIFTS), copy of entry registration form, recordings (submitted electronically through form), and pdf of scores are due to if you do not have pdfs they can mailed to the following addresses:

Medal of Distinction
2316 Kristen Ln.
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Recordings should be submitted through the registration form. If having trouble, please email with school/director information.
Checks can be made out to: Global Initiative for Talented Students or GIFTS