OFFICIAL A.C.E. STATEMENT OF ACCEPTABLE MUSIC FOR
STUDENT CONVENTION COMPETITION
A.C.E. 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 apply his musical talents to Christian values. A.C.E. encourages all students to aspire
to reach their highest potential; maximizing the gifts God has given them.
Please note: A.C.E. fully supports the authority of the local church and does not ask churches or
Christian schools to adopt these music guidelines as their ministry standard. Furthermore, such
standards are not given to imply greater spirituality. It is our privilege to minister to a very
diverse group from various denominations, each having a particular distinctive in musical
standards. In an effort to show deference to those attending, A.C.E. has set specific standards for
our competition. We respectfully ask that all sponsors and students maintain good Christian
character and graciousness at all times, especially in adhering to and respecting the standards set
forth for convention.
Competition arrangements are to be Christian or patriotic rather than secular. Classical
instrumental music is allowed as long as it is non-offensive to Christian values or good taste.
Music sung or played with a jumpy, sensual, or worldly style is not acceptable. Contemporary
Christian, jazz, gospel rock, or gospel country music are not acceptable. In our music guidelines,
“contemporary” refers to a style of music, not the date on which a piece was written. Music must
be appropriate for a typical conservative fundamental church service (musical arrangement, text,
and presentation). In Vocal and Instrumental Music categories, contestants are not permitted to
use the musical score (except small and large instrumental ensembles). Narration and/or
dramatic dialogue are not allowed.
An analysis of music, text, and performance techniques are essential in determining whether a
song/performance is suitable. Music is appropriate only when the lyrics, musical style, and
presentation are consistent with Biblical principles.
A.C.E. requests that ALL VOCAL ENTRIES be presented in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
We apologize that we are not able to grant any exceptions.
Gentlemen: Dress shirts, ties, and jackets should be worn for all music performances with the
1. School uniforms
2. A tuxedo with either a vest or cummerbund without a jacket
Ladies: Nice church outfits should be worn for all music performances with the following
1. School uniforms
2. Formal attire that meets the modesty requirements for convention
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 acceptable. The rhythm must not overtake the melody,
harmony, message, or overall flow of a song. Avoid musical compositions with excessive
repetition of a melodic phrase, harmonic pattern, rhythmic pattern, or any combination of these
three. Music with continuous syncopation, dominant beat, highly accented backbeat, and/or
break beat is not acceptable.
Worldly Identification—The message carried by a musical style does not change by simply
adding religious or Scriptural lyrics.
A musical composition should have a definite beginning, build to a climax point, and
communicate a definite sense of conclusion. The musical sound must not detract from the
message of the words.
Accuracy—Good lyrics must be Biblically accurate in both definition and associative meaning.
The key to a truthful presentation of text is balance and careful examination under the Holy
Spirit’s direction that the words are “pure.”
Implications—Any implied ideas must be examined to make sure that nothing unacceptable is
implied and that the intent of Scriptural teaching and principle is satisfied. A wise performer will
always check the implied communication of a song’s message to verify its total accuracy.
Crossover Songs—The lyrics must CLEARLY state at some point Whom the song is about.
Avoid songs that have no direct reference to the Lord and others that are written to reference
only “He” or “Him” whenever God’s name is mentioned—“crossover songs.” (Such songs are
acceptable in both the secular and Christian communities, as the song could easily be sung in the
content of a secular love song.) The attributes of God should be maintained in the highest regard
any time He is addressed.
Message—Good lyrics say something of value. Not every song needs to be as profound as our
richest hymns, but good lyrics never include trite phrases just for the sake of rhyme. Such
phrases are designed 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.
Presentation—Give careful attention that the musical presentation does not reflect secular styles
(breathy, sensual, and so on). “Crooning,” “sliding,” “sagging,” or other such terms are vocal
crutches and should be avoided. Use caution that the presentation is not done in an
“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 (avoiding breathy tones, sagging and sliding pitches, and/or
7. Is the music easily identifiable as a Christ-honoring piece as opposed to a “new sound” as
in secular or entertainment styles?
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 A.C.E. for review/approval. Out of love and respect
for the students competing, A.C.E. 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
For review/approval, selections must be submitted to A.C.E. no later than February 1. Please
allow two to three weeks for the review process. Selections, musical score, and lyrics should be
Shipping Address: Mailing Address:
A.C.E. STUDENT CONVENTIONS A.C.E. STUDENT CONVENTIONS
610 West Due West Avenue P.O. Box 160509
Madison, TN 37115 Nashville, TN 37216
Submitted selections will be returned with the A.C.E. seal of approval or an explanation as to
why the piece is not appropriate for this competition.
NOTE: Any student performing a selection that violates the music standards presented in these
guidelines (in musical content, text, or presentation) will not place in competition. Please give
careful attention to the musical selection and ensure that it meets the standards set forth in these
GENERAL PERFORMANCE GUIDELINES
IMPORTANT!!!! All copies of music, tapes, judging forms, and photos must be CLEARLY
LABELED with the contestant’s name, school name, customer number, 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 contestant’s name, school name, customer number, telephone number, complete school
address, and the category.
2. Contestants may sing a cappella; be accompanied by an adult or student (of convention age)
playing a piano; or use an accompaniment tape/CD (piano only). Record only one song per
cassette/CD. Tapes/CDs should be CLEARLY LABELED with the contestant’s name,
school name, customer number, telephone number, complete school address, and the
category. Please indicate if a Dolby recording is used in order to avoid confusion if asked to
perform at a rally. Other sound tracks are not permissible. 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.
3. Contestants must submit a color photo (snapshot or Polaroid) 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 the contestant’s name, school name, customer
number, telephone number, complete school address, and the category.
4. At International Student Convention, contestants must perform the same selection performed
in Regional Student competition. A student may not use the same song two years
consecutively in the same event if he/she (or a group) placed in the top six at International
Student Convention the previous year with that song in the same event. In addition, the same
selection is not to be used by multiple groups from the same school in the same year.
5. VERY IMPORTANT—See page IX-1 of Platform Competition Division for poise and
6. All vocal and instrumental music is to be memorized (exception –Small and Large
7. There should be a preselected spokesperson for each group who will introduce the group, the
school represented, and the title of the song to be performed. (This is not counted against
8. Personal amplification equipment for competition is not allowed.
9. Musical competition time limit is 5 minutes. If 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 in a clear plastic page
protector with the contestant’s name, school name, customer number, telephone number,
complete school address, and the category CLEARLY VISIBLE on the FRONT of each
2. Photo: Submit a color photo (snapshot or Polaroid) simulating the performance wearing the
outfit in which the student will perform. VERY IMPORTANT: CLEARLY LABEL the
BACK of the photo with the contestant’s name, school name, customer number, telephone
number, school address, and the category.
3. Judge's Forms: Submit three (3) copies, properly filled out. (These forms are available on
the School Registration program.)
4. Cassette player or CD player (if applicable): If using a cassette or CD for accompaniment,
each contestant must provide his or her own playback device.
5. 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,
Solo (1 contestant) Time limit: 5 minutes
There are two different entries available in the solo category: male or female.
Duet (2 contestants) Time limit: 5 minutes
There are three different entries available in the duet category: male, female, or mixed.
Trio (3 contestants) Time limit: 5 minutes
There are three different entries available in the trio category: male, female, or mixed.
Quartet (4 contestants) Time limit: 5 minutes
There are three different entries available in the quartet category: male, female, or mixed.
Small Ensemble (5-15 contestants*) Time limit: 5 minutes
There may be only one school entry under the designation "Small Ensemble." Your ensemble
may be male, female, or mixed, but it will be judged with all the other Small Ensembles. It may
have an adult directing. If a student plays accompaniment, he is not included in the 15 total
allowable contestants. (*The adult director is not considered a contestant.)
Large Ensemble (16 + contestants*) Time limit: 5 minutes
There may be only one school entry under the designation "Large Ensemble." Your ensemble
may be male, female, or mixed, but it will be judged with all other Large Ensembles. It may
have an adult directing. (*The adult director is not considered a contestant.)
In ALL music categories, male and female contestants are judged together.