All National Honor Ensembles: Why You Should Participate

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a woman holding the cello smiling at the camera

All National Honor Ensembles: Why You Should Participate

It is said that music can be a form of therapy and healing, especially in difficult times like the current year. Music can often be overlooked as a powerful tool of expression, as well as a form of art that is highly respected in the academic community. With such a high focus on STEM fields and careers in math, science, and technology, art in itself is often overlooked as a worthwhile pursuit or use of time. Find out more about All National Honor Ensembles.

students practice singing

However, if music or art is a skill or passion you have, you should definitely showcase it! Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to put on your resume or what you should focus on when it comes to your college applications. What do colleges and universities want to see in a student that will decide whether or not they want to admit them? What will be seen as a good representation of a model student?

Colleges look at a combination of factors, including test scores, academics, and GPA, as well as leadership positions, clubs, volunteer work, and other extracurriculars. If you are having a hard time figuring out where to start in this complicated process, AdmissionSight is here to be your guide with all the answers. We can assist you with the entire process from start to finish, whether it’s choosing the right extracurriculars and summer programs or writing a stellar personal statement. With years of experience and proven results in helping students gain admission to the college of their dreams, we’d love to help you succeed.

If you play an instrument and are interested in demonstrating your talent, consider participating in the All-National Honor Ensembles, hosted by the National Association for Music Education.

History of the NAFME

Originally called Music Supervisors’ National Conference, the NAFME became the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) in 1934. In 1998, the name changed to MENC: The National Association for Music Education. On September 1, 2011, the name was simplified to National Association for Music Education.

student musicians performing with their mentor

The NAFME, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAFME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century.

Since 1907, NAFME has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. NAfME’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education.

What are the All-National Honor Ensembles?

The NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) are hosted every year and represent the top-performing high school musicians in the United States. So much more than a musical showcase, the ANHE program is a comprehensive and educational experience.

The 2020 ensembles will meet at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of top conductors in the field of music education.

classical musicians zoomed in picture

As of now, NAFME is continuing to monitor the health updates, guidance and travel information provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC),  World Health Organization (WHO) and the Florida Department of Health in both Orange and Osceola Counties on Coronavirus to ensure all recommended precautions are being taken.

Based on today’s information, NAFME still plans to host the All-National Honor Ensembles as scheduled in Orlando, FL in November. The situation surrounding the virus is very dynamic, and NAfME will continue to engage health and security authorities on any planned or anticipated measures that may impact travel and our ability to host the upcoming event. Any and all updates will be posted on their website and shared widely with students, directors, parents, and sponsors.

The ensembles will be comprised of:

What are the requirements to audition for the All National Honor Ensembles?

  1. Be in grades 9, 10, or 11 during the 2019-2020 school year.
  2. Attend school in one of the fifty states of the United States, the District of Columbia, or a Department of Defense School.
  3. Be a member of their school’s choral, string, guitar, or instrumental ensemble during the 2020-2021 school year corresponding with the ensemble for which they are applying.
  4. Be sponsored by a school ensemble director who is a current, active member of NAfME (cannot be an associate or retired member). Member ID will be required for the 2020 ANHE Application.
  5. Be accepted to their state’s 2019-2020 All-State Festival. If a state’s 2019-2020 All-State Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19, please contact the state Music Education Association (MEA) for questions regarding eligibility.
    • In the case of the Guitar Ensemble, students who play guitar in their school’s music program are permitted to apply.
    • In the case of Modern Band, students are permitted to apply as long as they are sponsored by a NAfME member and participate in a school-sponsored ensemble.
    • If an All-State Festival is not held during the 2019-2020 academic year, the 2019-2020 Division Festival will be acceptable (i.e. Northwest Division).
    • If your state Music Education Association (MEA) does not sponsor the All-State Festival, the state MEA will determine which students are eligible to apply.
  6. Students may only audition for the part and ensemble for which they were accepted in their 2019-2020 All-State Festival.
    • Students who were accepted for multiple All-State ensembles may apply for multiple ANHE ensembles, however, they must submit separate applications for each.
    • Students whose vocal range has changed following their All-State Festival may apply for the part that best suits their voice.
    • Any student who was accepted for a voice part, regardless of the ensemble, may audition for the Mixed Choir – i.e. if a student was accepted for a Vocal Jazz Ensemble, they are eligible to apply for Mixed Choir.
    • Any student who was accepted for percussion, regardless of the ensemble, may audition for the Symphony Orchestra or Concert Band – i.e. if a student was accepted for a Percussion Ensemble, they are eligible to apply.
    • Students who are auditioning for guitar may apply for Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, or Modern Band. However, they must submit separate applications if they opt to apply for multiple ensembles.
    • Students who are auditioning on the drumset may apply for Jazz Ensemble or Modern Band. However, they must submit separate applications if they opt to apply for both ensembles.
  7. The final determination of eligibility for the All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) program is made by the student’s state Music Education Association (MEA). Please reach out to your state MEA with eligibility questions.
    • Some states may require that students are both selected AND performing their All-State. Students must follow the directive of their individual state MEA with regard to participation.
    • Students who fail to comply with their individual state requirements will not be eligible to participate in the NAFME All-National Honor Ensembles program.
    • In the event that a state MEA cannot determine eligibility due to that state not offering or sponsoring a particular ensemble (ex. All-State Guitar or All-State Modern Band), students will be permitted to apply as long as they are sponsored by an NAFME member.
  8. If a student transfers schools, they will remain eligible if they meet the above-listed requirements at their new school.
    • Students must notify NAFME immediately and provide the new school’s name, address, and name of the director who is sponsoring the student.

Application Guidelines for the All National Honor Ensembles

  1. You are required to upload an unedited and unaccompanied video performing the required repertoire for your instrument or voice part.
    • Jazz and Modern Band students may use a backing track for their audition unless otherwise specified.
    • Students who are auditioning on percussion for Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra should upload as many sections of the audition repertoire as possible, but are not required to submit all three solos.
  2. This must be a VIDEO audition with a clock or stopwatch visible.
  3. The following video files are accepted — MP4, MOV, AVI, MPG, 3GP, FLV, WEBM, WMV, MKV, and M4V.
    • Please note, the total size of video files submitted cannot exceed 8GB. If your video audition file is too large, please upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. List the link in the File Upload URL section.
  4. There is an option to upload an additional 2-minute video for Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Mixed Choir. This may be a piece of your choosing and may be accompanied or unaccompanied. A clock or stopwatch must be visible. You could use this opportunity to demonstrate proficiency on your instrument. This second video is not required.
  5. There is an option for Piccoloists, Flutists, Oboists, Clarinetists, and Bassoonists to submit a video demonstrating their proficiency on Flute, Piccolo, English Horn, Eb Clarinet, and Contrabassoon.
  6. Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion are automatically considered for both Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra.

What are the selection criteria I will be judged on when auditioning for the All National Honor Ensembles?

  1. Each state will receive a quota-based upon the number of active NAFME members in their state.This quota must be filled first unless a particular state does not provide enough student applications for each ensemble.
  2. If your state Music Education Association (MEA) does not sponsor a particular All-State Festival, the state MEA will determine which students are eligible to receive an invitation to apply.
  3. Each state will provide the NAFME Staff and the ANHE General Chair a ranking (by instrument and/or voice part) of their students who have applied. These rankings must be followed during the selection process (i.e.: the selection committee cannot select a 3rd ranked clarinet from MA over the 1st ranked clarinet from MA.). If All-State rankings are not available as the primary ranking criteria, the state MEA may use students’ audition media to determine rank.
  4. Each student applicant will submit an audition to be used for part assignments and/or to fill any seats that are vacant due to a lack of applications from a particular state. The auditions will not supersede the state quotas or the state rankings.
  5. All woodwinds, brass, and percussion applications are considered for both band and orchestra. Harp and Piano auditions may be considered for band and/or orchestra based upon repertoire requirements.

When is the deadline to apply?

The application deadline is May 15, 2020, at 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

How do I apply?

Submit your application here, using Submittable.com.

If you experience technical difficulties while uploading your video, please contact [email protected].

May I be considered for both ANHE Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra?

Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion are automatically considered for both Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra. Harp, Piano, and Double Bass are automatically considered for both Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra.

zoomed in picture of people playing the cello and violins

Am I allowed to apply more than once using a different instrument?

Yes, but you must have been accepted to your All-State event on all instruments/voice parts and must submit separate applications for each instrument/voice part.

I would like to apply, but my director is not a member of NAFME. May I still apply?

The school ensemble director supporting/sponsoring your audition must be a current, active member of NAfME for you to apply. Please direct all questions regarding membership to [email protected] or 703-860-4000.

Does my parent, guardian, or director need to attend with me?

We encourage you to attend with either your parent/guardian or director – however, it is NOT mandatory.

What are the fees associated with the 2020 ANHE Program?

The application fee is $40.00. This is paid when you apply. The charge will appear on your credit card statement as Submittable Holdings, LLC. Disputed charges will have their applications withdrawn if not settled with Submittable within 30 days of dispute notification. The cost to participate, once accepted, is $899. Students are also responsible for their own airfare. Bus transportation to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) will be provided by NAFME on Thursday, November 5.

What does the $899 Student Registration Fee include?

3 night’s accommodations at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. (November 5 – 8, 2020). ALL rooms are double occupancy. 2 students, 2 beds. Ground transportation to the Gaylord Palms Resort on Thursday, November 5. Evening theme park passes for Friday, November 6. Meals are included.

Is the fee refundable?

If students cancel 60+ days in advance of the event they will receive a full refund ($899) minus a $50 admin processing fee. If students cancel 30-60 days in advance of the event, they will receive a partial refund of $350. If students cancel less than 30 days in advance of the event, they will not receive a refund unless there is a death in the immediate family (parent, sibling, or grandparent) or a documented medical emergency, in which case NAFME will provide partial reimbursement of $300.

Am I required to bring my own instrument? What do I do if my instrument is too large to transport?

Students are required to supply their own instruments and accessories (reeds, strings, mutes, cello floorboards, etc.). Students must make arrangements to transport or rent an instrument at their own expense. NAFME will ONLY supply larger percussion instruments and pianos.

people playing the violin

The National Association for Music Education also provides a number of scholarship and grant opportunities are available to high school and college students involved in music education and music performance.

  • School Band & Orchestra Magazine Essay Scholarship: This scholarship offers prize money to students who write an essay of 250 words or less on a music theme. Selected students win a $1,000 scholarship and music products for their school music program. Public and private school students in grades 4–12 are eligible.
  • Davidson Fellows: The Davidson Fellowship is open to students who can demonstrate noteworthy achievements through the creation of a “significant piece of work” aimed at improving the lives of others in several subject areas, including music. A “significant piece of work” in music would be an exemplary performance and/or another demonstration of extraordinary accomplishment.

Awards are granted in the amount of $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000. Applicants must be under the age of 18 to be eligible for this award.

  • National YoungArts Foundation: YoungArts accepts applications from young artists in the categories of Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice, and Writing for its national competition. Artists age 15-18 or in grades 10-12 may apply to win cash awards and scholarships and the chance to be named a U. S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Individual awards of up to $10,000 are available.

Art such as music is something that should be continually valued in today’s society, as one of the main human outlets for expression. If music is something that inspires you, we encourage you to pursue it outside of academics and demonstrate your prowess in whatever instrument you play.

No matter what your academic journey is like, AdmissionSight believes in giving you the tools you need to succeed. We can guide you through every part of the process and work closely with you to build an Ivy League caliber academic and extracurricular profile, and present a powerful application to get that acceptance letter. Our strategies have proven results, and we’d love to help you succeed.


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