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The Kennedy Center

VSA International Young Soloists Competition
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How old do you have to be to enter?

A: You must be between 14 and 25 years old at the time of the application deadline to be eligible for the VSA International Young Soloists Competition.

Q: Do you have to have a disability to enter?

A: Yes, unless you are a member of a musical ensemble, in which case at least one member of the ensemble must have a disability.

Q: What qualifies as a disability?

A: As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating; additionally major life activities include the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Q: What type of music do you accept?

A: We accept music of all genres, including—but not limited to— classical, jazz, hip-hop/rap, rock/alt rock, pop, indie, bluegrass, folk, country, R&B/blues, Latin, and World.

Q: I’m in a band, does that count?

A: Yes! Any musical ensemble, including bands, of two to five members can enter so long as all members meet the age requirements and at least one member of the ensemble has a disability.

Q: When are winners announced?

A: Exact timing varies from year to year, but we do our best to announce the winners of the competition in late March.

Q: What type of musical selections should I submit?

A: We suggest the following guidelines for selecting musical submissions:

  • Video files are suggested, but not required. Please note that while the quality of your media submissions should be high, it is not necessary to have your video or audio professionally recorded.
  • Each uploaded file should be a recording of one piece only (multiple movements for a piece are fine).
  • Each recording should be 10 minutes or less in length.
  • Please upload your most proficient piece into Selection #1.
  • Selected pieces should represent your current musicianship and repertoire. Therefore recordings should be relatively recent (no more than 1-2 years old).
  • If chosen, winners will not be permitted to use recorded music in their performance. Therefore, if you will be using accompaniment on your recordings it must be live accompaniment.
  • The application accepts files in the following formats: Audio (MP3, MP4) and Video (mp4, YouTube, Vimeo)

Q: I play more than one instrument. Can I submit a recording that features me playing a different instrument on each of the three tracks?

A: Applicants may only apply on one instrument. Even if you are talented on multiple instruments, please pick the one on which you feel you are most proficient and send us recordings showcasing that instrument only.

Q: I need more information. How do I contact VSA?

A: For more information or to receive a hard copy of the application and guidelines, please feel free to contact the Office of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We can be reached at 202-416-8898 (voice) or via e-mail at