So... What is FOA?

"FOA" stands for the Florida Orchestra Association, which is comprised of string teachers in the state of Florida. The membership is broken into districts based mostly on geographical area. Each area has their own district chairperson who represents the members in that district on the state Executive Board.

FOA Mission:
Support, promote and expand school orchestra programs throughout the State of Florida.
Provide support and training for members in teaching, leadership, and advocacy.
Empower members through mentoring and continuing education.

This page will cover a basic guide to the Florida Orchestra Association (FOA). If you are a director from another state, welcome! I hope you enjoy the advice and resources on this site. However, I do strongly recommend you contact your state's orchestra association for guidance, as procedures likely vary from state to state.

FOA Membership: How to Join
(and Do I Really Have To?)

If you teach school orchestra in a public or private school and plan on providing your students the opportunity to audition for All State, perform at Solo & Ensemble, or participate in MPA (see below for further explanation on these events) then
YES, you really do need to join FOA.
Membership Options:
Active - $55 (as of 12/1/2018)
required in order to have students participate in FOA events throughout the year
Associate - $25 (as of 12/1/2018)
suitable if you only plan on having students audition for All State (this is most often applicable for directors with one small class of strings as the program is getting started)
How to Join:
It is best to join FOA in the same transaction as when you activate or renew your membership for FMEA & NAfME and any other component memberships necessary for your position (namely, FBA or FVA). 

  1. Go to
  2. Click the " Join or Renew Your Membership " button
  3. Follow the prompts on each page as applicable to your situation.
  4. Be sure to check the component box for your appropriate FOA membership.
  5. Pay your invoice

You're in! Welcome to the organization!
Event timing varies from district to district, so be sure to check with your District Chairperson to be clear on when your area's events are held and when paperwork deadlines are set!​ Here is a sample timeline of events.
Bear in mind, most district events around the state are held on weekends.
  1. September
    All State Auditions
    Pre-registered students (who have prepared material released since May) audition for the FOA All State Orchestra according to their grade level. Results are released in November.
  2. November
    Solo & Ensemble (District Level)
    Pre-registered solo and ensemble groups perform a prepared classical piece of their choosing for a guest judge, who assigns a rating (Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor) and provides feedback on their performance.
  3. February/March
    Concert MPA (District Level)
    Orchestras perform 3 pieces on stage for a panel of 3 judges. The orchestra moves to a different room to perform for a fourth judge, this time on a piece they have not seen before (sight-reading). Every judge provides feedback as well as a rating, the 4 of which are averaged for the orchestra's overall score.
  4. Early April
    State Solo & Ensemble (HS only)
    High school soloists or ensembles who scored a Superior at District Solo & Ensemble are eligible to register and participate in State Solo & Ensemble.
  5. Late April
    State Concert MPA (HS Only)
    High school orchestras who scored an overall Superior at District Concert MPA are eligible to register and participate in State Concert MPA.
  6. January
    Winter Meeting
    Membership gathers to debrief and discuss the year so far, and to gear up for remaining events to come. Also is the place to make motions and, most importantly, enjoy fellowship with people who understand what you do!
  7. August
    Fall Meeting
    Membership gathers to learn and discuss of any news from the summer board meeting, district budget, and calendar of events. Also is the place to make motions and, most importantly, enjoy fellowship with people who understand what you do!
  8. May
    Spring Meeting
    Membership gathers to debrief and discuss the year, and to gear up for next year. This is the last opportunity to make motions to the Board and, most importantly, enjoy fellowship with people who understand what you do!
Guide to: All-State - Paperwork
The first big event full of applications and with a SUPER fast turn around (I'm talking deadline within the first week or so of the school year... as if you don't already have enough to do!)

This simplified guide will hopefully make the complex All State paperwork process a breeze!
Note: This guide does not address home-schooled students. If you have a home-school student who would like to audition for All State, be sure to contact your District Chairperson (right now) and work through that process together.

Let your students know:
"All State Audition sign up deadline is ___!"  
(Have your program due date before the end of the first week.)

Make sure you've added those students to MPAOnline 
("Step 2: Students" on the
director home page)

Student Paperwork
1) Click on the "All State Auditions" event link in MPAOnline

2) Click "All-State Audition Entries (Add/Edit/View)" link (the first one)

3) Add your applicable students

4) Once all students are added, go back to the All State Auditions event page you came from

5) PRINT "All-State Participant Contracts"
These are pre-filled with student information and an assigned barcode. DO NOT give your students blank contracts to fill in their own information. ONLY give your students these pre-filled contracts to sign once you've entered them in MPAOnline!

6) PRINT "FOA Parental Agreement"
for each student applicant (link below)

7) Give the forms to your students to sign and return while you process the school-application paperwork. (See next step)

5th and Finally
Mail, courier, or hand deliver your completed application packed to your district chairperson before the deadline.​

Your completed packet must include:
1) Pre-filled, barcoded, and signed 
Participant Contract for each student

2) Signed FOA Parental agreement 
for each student

3) The school's All State Application signed by both principal and director

4) The school's Invoice/Assessment Form

5) The check to satisfy the amount due indicated on the invoice/assessment form.

Please note: You, the director, must sign EVERYTHING except the invoice and check. This includes every student form, as well as the school's All State application.
​School Paperwork
1) From the All State Auditions event page on MPAOnline,
PRINT "All-State Applications"
This is the principal and director signature page.

2) PRINT "All-State Audition Invoice/Assessment Form"
I recommend you print two (2) copies. Submit one with your PO to the bookkeeper ASAP to have the school cut a check for the audition fee. This is the  longest part of the paperwork process.*

3) Once you submit the above paperwork to your principal and bookkeeper, it's time to wait. But be sure to remind them and ask about the status every couple of days! Follow up on your own paperwork.

*If your principal and/or bookkeeper get your paperwork back to you in less than three days, THANK THEM PROFUSELY.
Common turn-around time for checks and signatures is 1-2 weeks.
Plan accordingly.
Go to MPAOnline
What's Next?
The audition schedule will be posted by your district chairperson soon.
Auditions take place in September.
Audition tapes are judged by teachers around the state (it's quite the process!)
Results are released traditionally during the first week of November.
Music is sent out in the first week of December.
The big event is at the FMEA Conference in January, held in Tampa, FL!
FOA Parental Agreement
Guide to: Solo & Ensemble - Rules & Paperwork
Solo pieces which have accompaniments written are required to be performed WITH the accompaniment.
This may be live or recorded, but either way it must be played.

Solos must be less than 8 minutes in length. If longer, have the student choose a stopping place.

Every measure in every part MUST be numbered.

Soloist, accompanist, and judge MUST each be provided 
an original part or score.
**Talk to your district chair directly to understand policies & practices regarding original music.

If the piece is public domain, include general information page with judge copy.
At Solo & Ensemble MPA, students have the opportunity to perform for a guest adjudicator for a rating which they may use on their own performance resumes when applying to All State Honors, youth orchestras, or colleges.

Soloists and ensemble groups must perform music that is classical in nature in order to recieve a rating. Pop tunes, movie or video game music, and broadway show tunes are not considered classical, but may be performed for feedback only without a rating ("comments only") -- updated 6/30/18.

Depending on your district, high school and middle school Solo & Ensemble MPA may be held as the same event or on separate occasions.

There are different philosophies about S&E preparation, but the most successful student performances have had some teacher feedback before the event. Be sure to find a moment to listen to your students before their solo & ensemble performance.
Ensembles MUST be performed as scored. Every part must be played. If you're unsure, it's better to just choose something else.

Every measure in every part MUST be numbered.

Every music stand MUST have an original part or score.
**Talk to your district chair directly to understand policies & practices regarding original music.

The judge needs an original score (with all measures numbered) to evaluate the performance.

If the piece is public domain, include general information page with judge copy.
Read this for complete rules.
(See pages 18-22 for S&E)

A Concise and Comprehensive Guide

#1: Registering

  • Input all of your students on MPAOnline

  • Register the ensemble(s) you will be taking
    • Attach student names & instruments to the orchestra(s)

  • You may enter UP TO  TWO  ENSEMBLES at the ES, DS, DF, CS, CF, BS, and BF classifications. Only one ensemble per school is allowed to enter as AS or AF (though you may have one of each).
    • There is no stated limit as to how many ensembles you may register (though technically, 16 would be the limit... but don't do that to yourself).

  • Choose the pieces you will be playing 

    • Suggestion: Just choose three pieces from the list  < for your classification until you're more comfortable with the process & rules).

  • Print your entry form

    • You & principal sign

  • Print 2 copies of your assessment form

    • #1: You & principal sign

    • #2: Give to bookkeeper with PO for check

  • Submit signed entry & assessment forms and check to your District Chair by the deadline.

#2: Performance Day

The biggest part of any performance is the preparation. Congratulations, you made it! Now for the fun part. Here is a brief overview of what to expect:

  • Plan to arrive at least 45 minutes before your performance time. Why? Warm up is 30 minutes before your scheduled stage time.

  • When you arrive, check in to the FOA office. Here you will turn in your judge packets, stage set up, and anything else your district requires.

  • 30 minutes before your stage time, warm up. This is a time to tune, focus attention, and warm up ensemble sound. This is not extra rehearsal time. By all means, start and end your pieces and hit transitions/select spots if you'd like, but the focus here should be setting your students up to play confidently and successfully on stage.

  • A couple of minutes before your performance time, you'll go to the stage. Have fun & play your heart out! **NOTE: You're only required to give the judges 45 seconds between pieces but, unless you have over 20 minutes of music, it's recommended you wait until the center judge gives you a signal that they're ready. Usually this will be a thumbs up or a wave.

  • After your final piece, you will move to sight reading. (see #3 below)

  • #4: When sightreading is finished, you're done! 
    Check out with the FOA office. They'll have your scores and judge packets to return to you. Recorded feedback is uploaded to MPAOnline, written feedback is handed back same day.

  • Celebrate! You made it!

Get Ready to Get Ready

As you prepare for the big day, make sure of the following details...

  • inform parents and students in writing  of your performance day or performance window... as far ahead as the first day of school! Send multiple reminders.

  • ensure you have 3 extra ORIGINAL scores of each piece your ensemble(s) is/are performing (failure to do so will result in disqualification)

  • compile your judges packets with said scores: label with school name, director name, ensemble name, classification, and performance time.

  • number all measures in every judge's score (failure to do so will result in a lowered final rating)

  • practice sight reading using a strategic method of your choosing. Teach this method to your kids months in advance, and review it frequently.

  • draw your stage set up to hand in when you check in

  • order a bus to take you to & from MPA

  • distribute & collect permission slips, if required, for your trip

  • consult this super helpful document for more details, tips, and tricks for the big day! (below)

#3: Sight Reading

Sightreading is the final element in the MPA process. Here's what to expect:
  • When you get to the room, the sightreading judge will welcome your students and talk to them briefly to get them settled and ready for sightreading.

  • While the judge is talking, you will be handed the director's score to start looking at and making a mental plan.

  • When everyone is settled, the judge will instruct the students to take the music out from manilla envelopes.

  • You will have 5 minutes to work through the music WITHOUT making any sound on the instruments. You MAY: talk, sing, clap, count, sizzle, shadow bow, do anything that does not elicit sound from the instruments. You  may use a timer of your own  to help you keep track of time!

  • At the end of 5 minutes, you are to conduct your group straight through the piece. You may only communicate silently during the sightreading performance. You may not talk, shout, clap, or otherwise make any noise to aide your students through performance.

  • At the end of the performance, you're done! Breathe a sigh of relief. The judge will briefly provide feedback and maybe even work with your group for a few minutes. 

  • That's it! Go pack up, check out, and go home.
THE BIG DAY! Checklist & Tips
Sight-Reading Music Rubric: What to Expect
Page Contributors:

Florida Orchestra Association Website
Michael Parks, former OCPS Music Supervisor
Brian Hellhake, former OCPS Music Resource Teacher
David Olsen, OCPS Instrumental Music Resource Teacher