TMEA Home Divisions & Regions Orchestra Honor Orchestra Rules & Entry
Honor Orchestra Rules, Procedures, Guidelines, and Forms E-mail

The responsibility for the Honor Orchestra Competition lies solely within the domain of the Orchestra Division Chair.

Revised 3/30/2012


Based on entries and judging results, up to four Honor Orchestras perform at the TMEA Clinic/Convention the year following their selection:

  • HS Full Orchestra
  • HS String Orchestra
  • JH/MS Full Orchestra
  • JH/MS String Orchestra

1. The winning Honor Orchestra of one category cannot apply for that same category the following year.

2. The winning HS Full Orchestra cannot apply in the HS String Orchestra competition in that same year.

3. At least five entries must be received to select a JH/MS Full Honor Orchestra.

4. If a JH/MS has entries in the final rounds of both Full and String Honor Orchestra contests and is named the winner of the first contest judged, that school's entry will be removed from the final round of the second contest prior to judging. The JH/MS Full Orchestra final round will be judged first.

5. An orchestra is not eligible if there is a change of directors between the time of the CD performance and the time of the TMEA performance. The director must notify the Contest Chair if a change occurs.

6. No composite groups will be considered (i.e. groups with students combined from two or more schools). Orchestras from fine arts magnet schools (that are not also “neighborhood schools”) will not be allowed to compete.

7. An orchestra may be disqualified from Honor Orchestra competition based on verification of unacceptable practices (including unethical recording practices detailed in Recording Requirements Rule #8). Information concerning unethical practices must be filed in writing using the TMEA Appeals Process.

Entry Requirements

1. The Competition Intent, Director’s Clinician Report, and Application must be completed online by their deadlines.

2. The following entry materials must be mailed in the same package to the Contest Chair, postmarked by the postmark deadline, and must be mailed using a track-able mail delivery service:

  • CD#1 (see Recording Requirements)
  • CD#2 (see Recording Requirements)
  • Superintendent letter (Rule #3)
  • Music scores (Rule #4)
  • Entry fee (Rule #5)

3. The letter from the school district superintendent must state the orchestra will be able to perform at the following TMEA Clinic/Convention.

4. At least three scores of each selection must be included (Five scores preferred). Observe all copyright laws. School names on the scores must be removed and scores should be cleaned of any critical markings from previous judging.

5. A non-refundable fee of $200.00 payable to TMEA is required for each Honor Orchestra entry.

Recording Requirements

1. CD selections must have been recorded at a live concert during the current school year and this fact must be verified on Form C by the signature of the school principal.

2. All music must have been from the same concert performance. Material from two or more concerts is not acceptable. The order of selections on the CD can differ from the performance order.

3. Full Orchestra CDs should only contain full orchestra selections. String Orchestra CDs should only contain string orchestra selections.

4. All announcements and any verbal identification on the CD submitted. Identification of the school or group name is grounds for disqualification.

5. Each entry must include two CDs labeled #1 and #2 with selection titles and composers listed on each CD.

CD #1: Director’s choice CD. This CD is used for Round 1 if there are more than 15 High School entries, or more than 22 JH/MS entries.
Must submit the maximum number of complete selections that stay within the time limits for each level.
HS String Orchestra: 15 minutes, or longer only if recording is one continuous selection
HS Full Orchestra: 20 minutes, or longer only if recording is one continuous selection
JH/MS: 10 minutes, or longer only if recording is one continuous selection

CD #2: Complete Program CD. This CD is used if the entry is selected for the final round or when CD #1 is not played because of the number of entries.
Recorded program on the CD must not exceed these time limits:
HS: 30 minutes
JH/MS: 20 minutes

Exception: Two copies of the same CD must be submitted if the complete program is no longer than the time allotted for CD #1.

6. For optimum sound, all CDs should be recorded in stereo. Any deviation from this standard may result in a loss of sound quality. Do not use any type of enhancement technique to change the quality of the live performance.

7. No excerpts of pieces may be submitted in any Honor Orchestra competition. The piece or movement must be submitted in its entirety (no fade in and fade out). Pieces must begin at measure one and end at the conclusion of the selection or movement.

8. Verification of unethical recording practices is grounds for disqualification. Examples of unethical practices are:

a. Private recording sessions
b. Recording in a recording studio or under studio conditions (i.e. use of microphones for individuals or small groups, or multiple microphones placed within the ensemble)
c. Multiple recordings of the same selection during a concert
d. Any engineering, editing, or tampering with the recording after the performance in any way. Note: The only allowable technical alteration to a recording is adjustment of the master volume.


1. If more than 10 CDs are submitted to the Contest Chair in any category, an elimination round will be held for JH/MS String, Full, and High School Full Orchestras prior to July 1 and at least one day before the final round of High School String Honor Orchestra.

2. The order of CDs will be determined not by the contest hosts, but by the State Chair through the use of either a random draw or a random sort through Filemaker Pro.

3. The TMEA playback equipment will be used for every round of judging.

4. CDs played at the auditions will be started at the beginning and played, non-stop, only for the amount of time allotted. Those running longer will be stopped at the maximum time. (See Recording Requirements, Rule #5).

5. Five-member judging panels will be utilized. Rankings will be assigned using the Olympic scoring system. The number of finalists certified to the final round of judging will be based on the number of entries:

Up to 24 entries: 6 finalists
25-29 entries: 8 finalists
30 or more entries: 10 finalists

6. Finalists will be announced in alphabetical order by school. All participating directors will be notified of the finalists. A different panel of judges will then hear and rank the finalists CDs in Round 2.

7. If three of the five judges declare that no orchestra is qualified to perform as Honor Orchestra at the TMEA Clinic/Convention, the ranking of the groups will not be made available to the public.

8. Individual judges' rankings will be available to each director involved in the competition, but not made available to the general public. The judges' rankings will be documented from low to high score so as to maintain the judges’ anonymity.

9. Final round orchestra rankings will be announced after the final round is complete, or a winner determined.

Honor Orchestra and Finalist Acknowledgment

All finalists will receive a certificate from TMEA acknowledging their placement in the rankings. The Honor Orchestra director and group will receive a plaque in acknowledgement of their achievement.

HS Full, JH/MS Full, and JH/MS String Orchestras
Part A must be completed by May 1.
Part B & C and recordings must be completed, printed and submitted by June 1.

HS String Orchestra
Part A must be completed by September 15.
Part B & C and recordings must be completed, printed and submitted by October 15.

Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 11:15