Illinois Music Association (IMA) was incorporated in 1960 as a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public interest in music and elevating music education standards. The IMA sponsors an annual competition that attracts hundreds of music students from the Chicago area, and surrounding north-eastern Illinois. In the spring of each year, our contest will host about 1,500 to 2,000 contestants, and will provide competition for keyboard, stringed, wind, percussion and vocal students.
The IMA was instituted out of a need to provide a suitable competition for the music students of private music teachers and studios in north-eastern Illinois. In the beginning, our early contests were for very specific keyboard instruments, and the first few contests attracted less than 100 entries.
Over the past few decades, as musical interests change from year to year, our contest has also evolved to accommodate the needs of the present, and more instruments have been added to our competition. The size of the contest varies yearly, but usually accommodates 1,500 to 2,000 students.
The contest is divided into many different levels and classes. Contestants are first categorized by instrument, then by experience based in the music performed (elementary, junior, intermedia, senior) and then finally by age. A typical class for the younger student is limited to about 10 contestants or less, and the class would limit the age variation in each class to + or - one year. The philosophy of keeping each class size small is to allow the contestants a greater chance of winning a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place trophy.
In recent years, the IMA has established a scholarship foundation. The IMA does not solicit or receive any government grants, and our scholarship foundation is solely dependent on donations from the private sector. The scholarship foundation is a separate activity independent from the annual contest, and has already awarded many scholarships to college-level music students.