The Challenge: to orchestrate an excerpt from the piano piece “The Seamstress” by Modest Mussorgsky.

Participation: open to all Patreon supporters and Orchestration Online website subscribers (website subscription is entirely free of charge).

After the deadline, Thomas Goss will release a public video featuring in-depth analysis of his own orchestration of the Mussorgsky piece.


  • arrange for orchestra of maximum size and similar instrumentation to Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition: 3333 4331 timpani, 3 percussion, 2 harps, strings. Smaller orchestral sizes are fine, and may work better.
  • Restriction 1: No Harp Concertos! Filigree, decoration, support only.
  • Restriction 2: Standard woodwind auxiliaries only if needed – piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet or E-flat clarinet, and contrabassoon.
  • Restriction 3: NO SEPARATE STAVES for individual brass and wind instruments. Double/triple up winds and brass like a standard published score, unless some parts are too complex. When you give me a separate staff for all three flutes, all three oboes, etc. then it makes your staff size tiny and very hard to demonstrate on screen to other entrants.
  • USE REHEARSAL MARKS IN THE AUDIO/SCORE VIDEO AND TEMPLATES (if you are supporting on Patreon and going past bar 13)!
  • Suggestion: don’t feel limited to transcribing every note at the exact same pitch/register as the piano score. Adapt as needed.
  • Format: Screen dimensions very welcome, as your entry will be evaluated on-screen. 747mm W X 420 H (29.41” X 16.54” in.) is perfect. Minimum staff size should be 5.1mm (.20” in.). Very small staff sizes are hard to evaluate and impossible for viewers to read.
  • Use the official Orchestration Challenge Entry Form to submit your entry. Sibelius users should submit .sib files. All other notation platforms submit a PDF and an audio mockup mp3. Landscape format to screen dimensions very welcome. See the form for more details.
  • Submittal Deadline: MIDNIGHT PDT, AUGUST 19, 2019 FIRM.

Website Subscriber Entries:

  • Entrants must be subscribers to the Orchestration Online website, which includes a newsletter announcing releases of videos, blog posts, and courses. There is no charge for subscribing.
  • Entries may be any length for your own improvement of craft, but website subscriber evaluations will only be given up to the end of bar 13.
  • Participants may share entries at any time on social media for community feedback, but Thomas’s feedback period closes after 31 August 2019.
  • Entries will be archived on the website as a playlist for future reference, as with previous orchestration challenges.

Patreon Supporter Entries:

  • Sibelius/MusicXML orchestral template with embedded piano part for copying/pasting/rearranging.
  • Patreon-only video evaluations posted for each individual entry by late August according to the categories below…
  • Minim Level: evaluations offered up to the end of bar 13 (before Figure A).
  • Semibreve Level: evaluations offered up to the end of bar 29 (before Figure B).
  • Breve Level: evaluations offered up to the end of bar 45 (before Figure C).
  • Dotted Breve & Longa Levels: evaluations offered for the entire movement.
  • Video evaluations may be publicly released and/or archived on the Orchestration Online website with permission of entrants (see form).


The Seamstress score
The Seamstress music with score
Orchestration Online on Facebook
Orchestration Online on Patreon