The Foundation for Music Education is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the support and advancement of music education.


The Mark of Excellence project seeks to recognize and award outstanding achievement in performance by high school, middle school, and youth orchestras. The project will gather entries from throughout the United States and provide valuable feedback for all entrants. A unique competitive environment is created which allows orchestras to compare their performance quality to other outstanding ensembles from across the country.


Directors upload a WAV file of their ensemble from the current 2023-24 school year. The adjudicator will listen to entries and provide detailed recorded comments and brief written comments. All entrants will receive a compilation recording of the winning orchestra performances. Winners will also be recognized in regional and/or national publications and at national and regional conventions. National winners and commended winners will receive a trophy and commended winners will receive a plaque. It is hoped the critiques and the compilation recordings will prove helpful in improving performances in high school, middle school, and youth orchestras.


1. Upload a WAV file containing both selections, mail one set of scores of the two (2) selections. These selections may be of any level or source, but higher consideration will be given to serious works of appropriate difficulty for the school classification.
2. The adjudicator will listen to recordings and record a live critique commentary, as well as brief written comments.
3. The level one adjudicator will select the top 50% to advance to level two. If there are nine (9) or less entries in a classification, the level one adjudicator will make the final selection of winners.
4. The level two adjudicator will select the top 25% (half of those advanced) as the National Winners. National winners will be recognized in regional and/or national publications, at national and regional conferences, and will receive a trophy. The second 25% will receive commended status, be recognized in national publications, and receive a trophy. Level two adjudicators will also provide recorded and written critique.
5. The adjudicator will pick selections for inclusion in the compilation recording of the winners which is provided to all entrants.
6. If you wish for your students to be considered for an outstanding soloist award, please list their names and instruments in the ‘Music selection Information’ box of the registration form.


June 5, 2024 (Results announced September 15, 2024)


• High School Full Orchestra
• High School String Orchestra
• Middle School Full Orchestra
• Middle School String Orchestra
• Youth Orchestra – community or regional based group


The audio submission should be in compliance with the Mark of Excellence guidelines and not engineered, edited, or tampered with in any way except:
• Editing to eliminate excess time between movements of a multi-movement work.
• Editing to eliminate audience applause or announcements
• Combining multiple tracks of a multi-movement work into a single audio file for submission.
• Matching of volume from track to track. Recorded selections must have been recorded at a live concert during the current school year

There should be no announcements or any verbal identification on the recordings submitted.

Verification of unethical recording practices is grounds for disqualification. Examples of unethical practices are:
• Private recording sessions
• 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. – an exception is made for jazz entries.
• Multiple recordings of the same selection during a concert
• Any engineering, editing, or tampering with the recording after the performance in any way.
• Splicing within a single composition
• Any other practice which could be construed as being unprofessional, unethical, or in violation of the spirit of the competition.


After submitting the form online application, print a copy and include with the entry materials.
• Copy of the online application
• One set of scores with the school name deleted
• $375.00 application fee (Check payable to The Foundation for Music Education/Mark Of Excellence)
• Postmark Deadline is June 5, 2024

Mail to:

Rick Yancey
Mark of Excellence Registrations
39 Travis Park Dr.
Sugar Land, TX 77479


Will my scores and materials be returned?

How will I receive my compilation recording?
You will receive a download code to download the recording from Mark Custom Recording.


If you wish your students to be considered for outstanding soloist awards, please list their names in the Music Selection section of the Registration Form.
Example: Spring Breezes
Violin, Toni Wu
Harp, Mary Smith

What if I only have a video recording of my ensemble?
Please contact your local recording professional to extract a WAV audio file.  If that is a problem or too expensive, please contact us for assistance.

>>> Click to Register <<<