Youth Orchestra and CMEA Enrollment/Good Standing Compliance Practices

Most outside music organizations require students to be “in good standing” with their school’s music program.  Such policies exist to protect the symbiotic relationship between school music programs and extra-curricular music groups.  CMEA events and Youth Orchestras are meant to be supplements to a comprehensive music education, not substitutes.  As such, they create these policies to protect that relationship.  On our end, we encourage our advanced students to participate in these organizations as a means of supplementing the education they receive in school.  

These organizations may require a teacher and/or administrator’s signature. At RHS, we define “good standing” to mean you are enrolled in a performance ensemble at RHS.  If you are not enrolled in a performance ensemble course at RHS, we will not sign a form saying you are in good standing.  Enrolling in ensembles do not include clubs such as Pep Band, Chamber Orchestra, or Symphonic Winds.  

Exceptions are made if a student was a past participant in an RHS performance ensemble but CAN’T work out an alternative to a scheduling alternative:

  • A drop or increase in course level would be the only alternative against a required singleton and tracked course (i.e. a student wishing to take AP English as a senior would instead have to take English Honors because AP English meets at the only time the other class does)

    • Note:  this does not apply to a 4th year of courses (except English) as these are optional courses in terms of graduation requirements.

  • A student is auditing a music course.  Course audits are approved by the director on a case by case basis and consider the student’s musical ability and prior achievement as well as sense of personal responsibility.  

  • Sometimes there are other anomalies; these are just the most common.  Exceptions are handled on a case by case basis and at the sole discretion of the director.  Decisions made in this regard do not establish precedents of any kind.

Exceptions are NOT made for the following circumstances:

  • A student elects to double another core course in the same year, such as taking two sciences or maths, or taking a second world language. These are matters of choice.

  • A student chooses a different elective for “career” reasons or “college entry” advantages.  Colleges do not require elective courses in high school as prerequisites for admittance into their programs, and it doesn’t necessarily give students an edge.  There are plenty of opportunities to take such full year courses in junior/senior year, and a half credit course sophomore year, in addition to music.

 Western Regionals/All State

These events are festivals for serious music students.  Students are expected to be enrolled in their school program, taking private lessons, and must audition for participation.  

A student is only eligible to audition for All State if they pass a Western Regional audition and participate in the festival.  

The events are run by the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA), which is a professional organization for music teachers and their students.  Therefore, students must be in good standing with their sponsoring school music teacher.  Students can only register for the festival through their school teacher.

Youth Orchestras

Youth Orchestras are privately run groups that require auditions for membership.  It allows for homogeneous grouping of serious music students in a regional capacity.  They typically rehearse once a week and do around 3 concert cycles a year.   

The RHS music program receives an active list of participants from all surrounding youth orchestras in Fairfield and Westchester County, including Norwalk, Greenwich, GBYO, and WCYO.  If a student is found to be on a Youth Orchestra roster and not enrolled in the RHS music program, this will be reported to the Youth Orchestra.  Your membership in that group may be terminated.  

Directors’ Note

Youth Orchestras and organizations like CMEA are dependent on school music programs for a number of reasons, and school music programs greatly value the contributions these organizations make to our own students.  School programs offer most kids’ first exposure to learning their instrument.  Schools also focus on theory, technique, exercises, and build the ensemble skills for students that a Youth Orchestra will later capitalize upon once a student reaches an advanced enough level.  They also rely on school programs for advertising and getting the word out so they can draw their clientele.  Many times, it is because a music teacher recommends a kid join a more advanced group at school, take private lessons, audition for festivals, or join a youth orchestra that students become parts of these addition to providing the quality music education that helped them to become the players they are.  To strip the school music programs of their leading players only would undermine the programs where they get their students, and offer a disincentive to music teachers encouraging students to participate in these types of organizations.  As a result, you will find that most organizations have a policy that students must participate in or be in good standing with their school program.  We all benefit when we collaborate rather than compete, and we work together to enforce those policies and help one another.  

We may all agree that student choices are limited due to the recent update in graduation requirements imposed by the state, the Wellness requirement unique to Ridgefield, and the short supply of available open credits for students within our schedule.  I agree that it is unfortunate that sometimes students have to choose...but they do have to choose.  Sometimes that choice is between music and other things, and those choices have consequences.  The unfortunate nature of the choice is brought on by things out of the control of Ridgefield High School as they are Ridgefield Board of Education or state requirements.  This is not a situation where you can control your options; you must choose between being in good standing or not being in good standing.  You simply have to do what is right for you, but we must be consistent with our application of these procedures and our definition of “good standing.”

RHS’ stance on this important and sometimes divisive issue has been thoroughly discussed with administration and consensus has been reached on how we treat eligibility as a school, resulting in these procedures.