The first piece I submitted was a little song for children called "Live By the Light of His Love." It won the Award of Distinction in the Children's Song category that year. However, after hearing the children struggle to sing it on the Church Music Festival concert, I decided that it was a little long for a children's song, but seemed to work well as a song for the Young Women. A couple of years later it was published in a collection of Sacred Songs for Solo Voice from Jackman Music, The Praiseworthy Singer, Volume 15.
Over the years, many of my songs and arrangements have been fortunate to win awards in the Church Music Submissions. I made it sort of a game to enter a piece in a different category each year. Occasionally, I was even able to attend the Festival concerts to hear them sung and interpreted sans my input. That was also a new experience for me. Usually, if I wrote the song, I also had to figure out a way for it to be performed. As long as I had a choir or small ensemble at my disposal, I got to hear my pieces performed. Situations change with time, though. My stack of musical offerings began to grow faster than I found opportunities to get them performed. Now, I am gratified whenever I learn of one of my pieces being performed somewhere, even when I don't actually get to hear the performance.
About three years ago, I began posting some of my pieces on a free LDS sheet music web site. They saw enough traffic to give me confidence to create my own web site and blog. It is a great thing to be able to put your music out there and get feedback. That is one big reason why composers choose to enter contests. Once they have given "birth" to their creation, it needs to be allowed to have a life of its own. What a joy it is to get thoughtful comments from people who discover your music. What a boost to your confidence!
Last year I was asked to judge a songwriting contest for the freeldssheetmusic.org web site. I hope I was able to give some useful feedback and encouragement. That is what I needed to give me the confidence to get started with my writing. This year, that same web site is sponsoring another songwriting contest in February 2014.
Check it out at: http://freeldssheetmusic.org/about/sheet-music-competition
It will be a great opportunity to launch some new music and get some useful feedback. I wish all of the entries success!