Considered a first of its kind in North Carolina, the North Carolina Music Contest was a competition for high school music students. The first contest was on May 7th, 1920. The idea for the festival originated from Wade R. Brown, who was the head of the Music Department at the State Normal and Industrial College (later UNCG) from 1912 to 1934. He believed that festival would be a great way of informing the public about the importance of music education in schools. Originally the contest only featured pianists since it was the only instrument being taught in the public-school system at the time. However, as the scope and size of the contest grew, other instruments were added and vocal groups.