NYSSMA is a professional organization that evaluates student musicians in New York state from elementary school to high school. Each spring, thousands of students register through their school music programs to attend NYSSMA Evaluation Festivals where they are adjudicated. These festivals take place at local middle and high schools within the fifteen NYSSMA zones, each of which covers an area in New York State. Usually, county high schools take turns to host the festival every few years. At each festival, students perform scales, a solo or ensemble piece of their choice from the designated NYSSMA repertoire, and a sight reading piece. The judges score and comment on the students' performances according to defined guidelines set by NYSSMA. The grade sheets are then certified and sent to the music departments at the individual schools to be distributed to the students. Instruments evaluated include voice, piano, strings, woodwinds/brasses, and percussion. NYSSMA scores and evaluators' comments are often used by music teachers as diagnostics and progress monitoring. NYSSMA Scores can also be considered in a student's application to certain academic situations.