Notice: Be sure to read rules 1, 4, 7, 9, 18, 19, 22, and 23 due to changes from prior years. Rule 2 of the New Rag contest has also changed.

For this final year of the contest rule 13 has been removed, so three-time champions are now allowed to compete.

Don’t forget to check out the piano duet contest, new for 2015!

Piano Contest

  1. The contest will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 23 & 24, 2015 in Peoria, Illinois.

  2. Contestants (18 years of age and older) must compete in the Preliminary Elimination (PE’s) on Saturday in order to advance to the Semi-Finals and Finals, which take place on Sunday. The PE’s will begin at 9:00 am on Saturday, May 23, 2015 and continue until each contestant has been heard (with a lunch break scheduled from approximately 12:00 until 1:30). The Semi-Finals will begin at 1:00 pm on Sunday, May 24, 2015 including up to ten (10) Regular Division contestants who have advanced from the PE’s.

  3. The Semi-Finals will narrow the field of contestants to the final five (5), who will then compete immediately in the Finals to determine the winner and other finishing places. The winner will receive $1350, a golden medallion and possession of the contest’s “Traveling Trophy” for one year. Second place will receive $800 and a silver medallion. Third place will receive $550 and a bronze medallion. Fourth and fifth places will be awarded cash prizes of $400 and $250 respectively, and receive bronze medallions. Each Contestant receives one annual membership in OMPA.

  4. Contestants need to prepare six different selections written no later than 1939 (no medleys allowed) one of which must be a ballad, standard popular song, not a piano rag. The music must be memorized. Two selections are played in the PE’s. Each player who advances into the Semi-Finals will play two more selections that meet contest requirements. Contestants must provide the title, composer, and year written for all selections to be played on their official entry blank, and must be prepared to document composition’s age if challenged. Contestants may change their selections up until the entry deadline which is May 15, 2015. Selections must be finalized by this date. Contestants must then play the selections indicated or be disqualified.

  5. Point totals are cumulative. Point totals from the PE’s determine contestants for the Semi-Finals. Point totals from the Semi-Finals will be added to the point totals from the PE’s to determine the top five (5) players who then advance to the Finals.

  6. Judges will award points in each round based on technique, style and interpretation, showmanship and costume. In the event of a tie in points for any place, that contestant with the higher point total in technique will prevail, with the order of other tie-breaking categories to be: style and interpretation, showmanship, and costume.

  7. Contestants who advance to the Finals will play two (2) additional selections, one of which shall contain the name of a food or beverage in the title. The judges will then combine the points from the PE’s, Semi-Finals and Finals to determine the winner and other places.

  8. For the PE’s, Semi-Finals and Finals, a total of eight (8) minutes playing time is allowed for each contestant’s performance of both tunes (not including time for audience applause, interview time with the emcee, etc.). Contestants exceeding the time limits will be penalized five (5) points for each fifteen (15) seconds or fraction thereof, of overtime.

  9. No religious or patriotic selections are allowed and vocal or instrumental accompaniment is prohibited. For the purpose of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, the following definition of “old-time” music will apply: The style of piano playing found primarily in public venues of performance between 1890 and 1939, particularly in bars and piano competitions, consisting of popular songs and instrumentals of that era, including ragtime, traditional jazz, novelty, stride, and boogie, but excluding advanced chord progressions more commonly found 1940 or later in symphonic, modern jazz and be-bop music forms. Selections may also include music idiomatic to solo piano performance and popular dance styles.

  10. Contestants must report to the green room at 7:30 am on Saturday prior to the PE’s. Lots will be drawn for order of play, and important instructions will be given at this time. Any contestant not reporting at this time will be eliminated from the contest. If the contestant is not on hand when the playing position is called in any competition, the contestant will be disqualified. Order of play for the Semi-Finals and Finals will be drawn on stage as soon as practical after completion of judging.

  11. Each entry form must be accompanied by a $30 entry fee which is not refundable unless the contest is canceled.

  12. The use of alcohol or other controlled substances prior to or during competitions may result in disqualification.

  13. Any contestant selected champion for three (3) consecutive years will retire as undefeated and may not compete again.

  14. Costumes are required, and the judges will award points based on their old-time appearance or authenticity in the PE’s, Semi-Finals and Finals. Contestants will declare on the entry form whether their costumes are to be judged as authentic period dress (actual or replica) or theatrical performance-type, and they will be judged accordingly.

  15. On stage, contestants need provide only the title and composer of their selections prior to their playing although additional information may be requested by the contest M.C. during their on-stage interview. Composer names must appear on each entry.

  16. Challenges to a contestant’s selection must be made within five (5) minutes after the playing of the selection has been completed. Other contestants, contest officials and judges may challenge selections for age or other reasons. In the event that a selection does not qualify after it is challenged, the person playing it will be disqualified.

  17. The World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest is not responsible for the cost of travel, meals, lodging or other expenses incurred while competing. The contest will provide each contestant with one (1) complimentary all-events tickets for their use. Contestants should advise when entering if a ticket is needed.

  18. The total number of contestants is limited to the first 26 paid entries. Entry form must have the song titles listed in correct order with NO changes made AFTER deadline of entry date of May 15, 2015. Entries will be accepted from up to 16 Regular contestants, and 10 Junior contestants. After the deadline, any remaining slots will be filled from the waiting list on a first-come basis without regard to Regular or Junior Divisions. No entry will be considered received unless accompanied by the appropriate entry fee.

  19. Entries may be sent to the Contest via U.S. Mail to the Contest’s official address:

    World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest
    108 E Garwood, Champaign, IL 61820

    Entries may also be e-mailed to Contest Coordinator Faye Ballard at

    Entries are not “valid” until contest entry fee is received.

    Entries will be accepted until 7:30 am on Saturday, May 23, 2015 and/or the limit of 26 contestants has been reached. A late fee of an additional $30 shall apply to entries received after the deadline of May 15, 2015.

  20. By competing in the contest, participants agree to allow the use of their photographs and recorded performances on tape to promote the event.

  21. Disputes arising from the competitions or judging will be resolved by the contest judges, who will make the final decision.

  22. By entering the competition, the contestant agrees to supply his/her social security number if necessary to comply with United States tax laws.

  23. Additional Provisions Applicable Only to the Junior Division

  24. Junior contestants (17 years of age and younger on day of competition) do not advance beyond the first round (Preliminary Elimination). Following the Preliminary Elimination, the Junior Champion is named, is awarded a prize of $250, and a permanent trophy. A second place prize of $125, third place prize of $100, fourth place prize of $60 and a fifth place prize of $40 will be awarded. The champion is invited to make a special appearance the following day to entertain on stage.

  25. The entry fee of the Junior Division is $10, except for any late entry penalty as provided in the Regular Division rules above.

  26. The penalty for playing in excess of the time limits prescribed is five (5) points for each 30 seconds, or fraction thereof, of overtime.

  27. Contestants in the Junior Division must have their entry blank signed by a parent or guardian.

  28. Any Junior contestant winning the division a total of three (3) times (not necessarily in consecutive years) may no longer compete in the Junior Division. However, the age requirement will be waived and he or she may compete in the Regular Division.

New Rag Contest

  1. The prize for the New Rag Contest shall be $100, a remarkably small trophy, plus any honors the contest can bestow (like performance time during the weekend).

  2. Competitor may play or designate a piano player to play his or her composition in public beginning at 7:00 pm on Friday, May 22, 2015, in a room designated by the sponsors. The competition will continue until all have been heard, with the winner being announced following the close of the competition.

  3. To qualify, the composition entered must be an original rag, with three or more themes, that has not been previously published, recorded for sale, or previously played in this contest. Composers are limited to one entry.

  4. Contestants will be allowed a maximum of one minute for a verbal introduction to their piece.

  5. OMPA will supply qualified judges familiar with the music and capable of judging the composer’s success in producing ragtime music. One judge may be a member of the general audience.

  6. Composition will be judge on originality, musicality, and audience appeal. Written score of the music is not required by the judges.

  7. Prospective competitors must complete the entry blank and submit it along with $10.00 judging fee to:

    World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest
    108 E Garwood, Champaign, IL 61820

    Entries may also be e-mailed to Contest Coordinator Faye Ballard at

    Entries are not “valid” until contest entry fee is received.

    The New Rag Contest is limited to a total of ten (10) competitors. Walk-on entries will be allowed provided there are fewer than 10 advance entries. Walk-on entry fee shall be $20.00.

Duet Contest

  1. Entry fee is $10 for two players.

  2. Any individual may only play in one pairing.

  3. Five-minute time limit on tune played.

  4. Tune must be written in 1939 or before.

  5. Spectators may purchase only one official ballot for $2.00. No judges for this event; audience picks the winner.

  6. Limit is 10 pairings for this contest.

  7. One winning pairing will receive 50% of the money paid for ballots and have their entry fee refunded ($10.00).

  8. Entries will be accepted up to the start of this event if not all 10 pairings have been received in advance.

Oxford, Mississippi
May 26–30, 2016