Member Handbook



Congratulations to all new and returning members of the Florida Young Artists Orchestra.  You have demonstrated your musical abilities by performing required material before a professional jury and passing a successful audition.  It is our pleasure to offer you a position in the FYAO for the upcoming concert season.

Our entire Staff, Board of Directors and Conductors eagerly look forward to working with you.  Together we will perform the greatest music ever written.  I can’t wait to get started.

Alvaro Gomez, Artistic Director


Established in 1997 by a group of music professionals, teachers, community leaders and parents, the Florida Young Artists Orchestra (FYAO) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing a high-quality orchestral experience for young musicians throughout Central Florida.

We welcome you and your families to be a part of this musical experience of a lifetime.

The FYAO is currently comprised of four orchestras:

  • The Young Artists Symphony
  • The Young Artists Philharmonic
  • The Young Artists Sinfonia
  • The Young Artists Camerata Chamber

FYAO members are admitted through a competitive audition process.

It is important to keep in mind that by joining the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, you are making a commitment to musical excellence, teamwork and to abide by the policies of the orchestra.  Your personal commitment will allow the FYAO to achieve and perform at exceptional levels.

This handbook provides important information about the organization, procedures and policies of the FYAO to performing members and their families.

Mission Statement

Established in 1997 by a group of music professionals, teachers, community leaders and parents, the Florida Young Artists Orchestra is a nonprofit organization, committed to providing a positive, enriching, and high-quality orchestral experience for young musicians in Central Florida.   The “Young Artists” part of our name emphasizes the FYAO’s commitment to artistic excellence.The Florida Young Artists Orchestra is a nonprofit organization committed to providing a high-quality orchestral experience for young musicians throughout Central Florida.

We strive to provide a nurturing, creative and educational environment that inspires young music students to develop their artistic abilities.  We offer high quality instruction in orchestral performance to achieve the best possible musical results.  We strive to provide an enriching musical experience by rehearsing and performing together a wide range of music and orchestral styles from many periods and influences.  We endeavor to strive for excellence in all respects and challenge our members to attain the highest level of musical performance.


The FYAO endeavors to provide and maintain a high quality program.  Effective communication to and among all members is critical to this objective. As a result, the FYAO communicates with it members and families through the following means:

  • The FYAO Web site at, a source for all information including concerts, events, rehearsals and the FYAO Calendar.
  • Flyers and other announcements handed out to our performing members during some rehearsals provide information on special events, changes in plan and other important information. Parents should be on the lookout for these important notices.
  • E-mail – The FYAO makes regular use of email.  Please be sure the FYAO office has your current email address, and check regularly for messages.  If you do not receive email for a period of a few weeks, please check with the FYAO office.
  • Facebook – The FYAO’s Facebook Page is a great place to connect!  Here you will find announcements, pictures and video from concerts, and other news about FYAO members and the Central Florida musical community.  “Like” the FYAO page to receive notifications of new posts, which occur frequently.  Because many FYAO members receive “push” notifications of new Facebook Posts to their mobile devices, we will send last minute important information through our Facebook page.  You can connect to the FYAO Facebook Page by searching on Facebook for “Florida Young Artists Orchestra” or by clicking on the Facebook icon which appears on the home page of our website.
  • Twitter – By subscribing to our Twitter posts, you will receive the latest information about the FYAO and other ensembles, including links to concert events and other arts opportunities in the area.  Because a growing number of people are regular Twitter users, we will send last minute important information through our Twitter page.  You can connect to the FYAO Twitter Page by searching on Twitter for the name “FYAO_Orchestras” or by clicking on the Twitter icon which appears on the home page of our website.
  • The FYAO e-mail address is
  • US mail – “Snail Mail” is used periodically to inform of special events and activities.

Please refer to the web site for more information and look for these other forms of communication.

Florida Young Artists Orchestra Concerto Competition

The FYAO Concerto Competition is an annual event which provides an opportunity for FYAO members to demonstrate their exceptional talent as soloists.  FYAO competitors perform with an accompanist before a panel of judges, from memory, their solo work.  Winners ultimately perform with the Symphony before a live audience in the Virtuoso Concert.  The competition is typically held early in the season, which begins in August each year.  Schedule details are published as dates are firmed up during the season.  Competitors must perform one movement of a recognized work for their instrument from the standard repertoire, which piece has been written for that instrument and orchestra accompaniment.  Competitors must obtain advance approval from the Artistic Director for their solo pieces in order to be eligible to compete.

Florida Young Artists Orchestra Summer Camp

Each summer the FYAO sponsors an orchestra camp that provides concentrated music education, practice and performance for all abilities.  Staffed by FYAO artistic personnel and other trained music professionals, “campers” further develop and hone their musical and orchestral performance skills.  Students benefit from formal orchestral and small group playing instruction as well as master classes.  Each weeklong camp runs a full day schedule, Monday through Friday.  A student performance is given at week’s end, with additional performance opportunities during the week.  The Summer Orchestra camp is open to both members and nonmembers.  Details of the Summer Orchestra Camp program and cost are provided in the spring each year.

Workshops and Tours

Every other year the FYAO organizes and offers a group tour for members to visit far away lands rich in classical music culture, tradition and history. The FYAO has traveled to a variety of European countries and to New York City (performing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall), visiting historic sites and performing for enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.  Travel is scheduled during the summer months and further information concerning upcoming tours will be provided during the season preceding the trip.

NOTE:  The FYAO orchestras and programs are subject to change depending on membership, funding from grants and donations and make-up of the organization in any given year. The FYAO will make every effort to fully support all programs.

Orchestra Operation


Rehearsals are held each weekend throughout the season (excluding holidays) at the following times (all rehearsals are held on Sunday afternoons at Trinity Preparatory School, 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park, FL 32792):

  • Symphony rehearses from 1:00 – 3:30 pm
  • Sinfonia rehearses from 1:30 – 3:30 pm
  • Camerata Chamber rehearses from 3:45 – 5:45 pm
  • Philharmonic rehearses from 3:45 – 5:45 pm

Trinity Preparatory School (rehearsal location)

All rehearsals are held at Trinity Preparatory School in the Education Building, located at 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park, FL 32792.  Please park in designated parking spaces which are not marked as reserved for Trinity faculty and staff.  The FYAO is a “guest” of Trinity Prep, who generously offer rehearsal space and a concert venue at a discounted cost, so please treat the facility with care.  From time to time, our rehearsals are concurrent with other events held in the auditorium.  When that occurs, we will let you know any special instructions regarding our rehearsals.

Major Concerts and Other Performances

Generally, four to five major concerts are scheduled for each season and may include, but are not limited to, concerts in October, November, February, March, April and May.  Some or all of the FYAO orchestras may perform during each of these concerts.  Other performances for the individual orchestras or ensemble groups may be scheduled at the discretion of the Artistic Director.

Season Schedule

A season schedule for all rehearsals, performances and events will be provided to performing members at the beginning of each season. The FYAO web site provides an up to date season calendar with detailed event information – check it frequently.


Members are supervised during rehearsals by the artistic staff, orchestra managers and assistants and other FYAO volunteers.  It is important that members follow all directions of these adults and abide by FYAO policies at all times to assure the proper functioning of the orchestras.

Orchestra Audition and Placement

Refer to the “Join Us” menu tab on the FYAO website for detailed information concerning the audition process.

FYAO Membership

The General Membership of the FYAO consists of three membership categories:

  1. Performing Member (student musicians)
  2. Participating Member (parents and legal guardians of Performing Members)
  3. Supporting Member (community members)

Performing Members

You become a Performing Member of the Florida Young Artists Orchestra when you have:

  1. Completed and returned the Application for Audition and Membership Form
  2. Passed the audition requirements
  3. Paid the membership fee

Participating Members

Membership in the Florida Young Artists Orchestra is a commitment for parents and families as well as the Performing Members.  A Performing Member and his/her associated Participating Member(s) make up a “family unit”.  Each family unit is allowed one vote per Performing Member at General and Special Membership Meetings where a vote is required.  Before a family unit will be allowed to vote, all membership fees for the current year must be paid or be subject to an approved payment plan.

Supporting Members

A Supporting Member is defined as a member of the community who subscribes to the purpose and goals of the FYAO and has been accepted into membership by the Board of Directors.  Membership fees are determined by the Board of Directors.  Before a Supporting Member will be allowed to vote, all membership fees must be paid.

Special Notes for Performing Members (Students)

An orchestra performance is a team effort with each member depending and relying on the others for the full and luscious sound created. Like any other team effort, all positions must be filled to win the game. As a result, your membership in the FYAO is both a privilege and a commitment having many dimensions, so please observe the following guidelines:

  • Stay informed. Frequently check the FYAO website and your email, reading all FYAO materials and make note of any verbal or written communication provided during rehearsals, including flyers.
  • Be prepared.  Come to rehearsals prepared, having practiced your music in advance.  Bring your instrument, all accessories (such as rosin, extra reeds, mutes, etc.) and your music, with a pencil to mark your music as needed.
  • Practice at home.  Practice makes better performances!  Practice your FYAO music at home and with your private teacher.  Orchestra rehearsal time is not the best place to work out how to play individual parts; rather, full orchestra rehearsal is the place to put together all of the individually practiced parts to make beautiful music.
  • Be focused. When you are at rehearsals, spend all of your emotional and intellectual energy in working with your fellow musicians to make beautiful music.  Talking with friends, text messaging on your phone, gum chewing (which is not permitted on the Trinity campus), sitting with bad playing position, and anything else that takes away your focus from the rehearsal is not appropriate.  Even when you are not playing (such as when you have a long rest in a piece), you can learn a lot from observing and listening.
  • Have a great time.  Making great music makes for great fun.  Great music performances are both passionate and prepared well.  You are a part of a great organization, and will be playing difficult and challenging music that sounds wonderful.  You, along with your fellow ensemble members, will be preparing music for performance for enthusiastic parents, teachers and the community.  Enjoy yourself!
  • Communicate.  If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your Conductor, or the Executive Director or any Board Member.  We are all here to help!

Special Notes for Participating Members (Parents and Legal Guardians)

  • Stay informed of FYAO activities by frequently checking the FYAO website and your email, reading all FYAO materials and by asking your child to share with you any verbal or written communication provided during rehearsals, including flyers.
  • Ensure that your child arrives at and departs from rehearsals and performances promptly.
  • Ensure that your child brings their instrument, related accessories and their music to rehearsals and concerts, maintains their music in good condition and returns all music when required.
  • Ensure home practice of FYAO music. Encourage your child to work on FYAO music with their private music teacher.  Orchestra rehearsal time is not the best place to work out how to play individual parts; rather, full orchestra rehearsal is the place to put together all of the individually practiced parts to make beautiful music.
  • Attend rehearsals with your child is encouraged, especially for the younger members.  Please keep in mind that talking, entering and exiting the rehearsal room and the noise and movement of young siblings can be a distraction to the conductor and the orchestra members.
  • Attend all FYAO performances and special events with your entire and extended family, providing encouragement to your child.
  • Participate in and vote at FYAO Membership meetings.
  • Openly communicate with the Staff, Orchestra Managers and Board Members regarding concerns, questions and ideas.
  • Volunteer to support committees and assist with the operation of the FYAO, enhancing your child’s experience (and your own!) in the FYAO

Payment Policies

Information about membership and audition fees for the FYAO is provided in our audition materials, on the FYAO website or by calling the FYAO office.

Audition fees are not refundable and cover the costs associated with auditions. Audition fees must be paid prior to the scheduling of an audition.

Membership fees cover only a small portion of the cost of FYAO operation. Grants, fundraisers, ticket sales, donations and other means cover the remainder of the cost of membership.

Membership fees are due and payable immediately upon acceptance into the FYAO.  Your prompt payment is greatly appreciated and will ensure your placement within the orchestra is reserved!

Deferred Payment Plans and Scholarships:

The FYAO offers deferred payment plans for membership fees.  In general, deferred payment plans are structured to allow equal monthly payments with the full membership fee paid by an agreed-upon date. All payment plans must be discussed with and approved in advance by the FYAO Executive Director.  A limited number of partial or full scholarships for qualifying applicants are available for annual tuition fees due to financial hardship, subject to submittal and favorable review of a financial scholarship application.  Note also that there is a tuition discount for additional young musicians in the same family – check with the Executive Director for more information.

Late Payment Policy:

All members must be current in fee payments to retain active membership. Except in the case of an approved payment plan or scholarship awards, if membership fees are not received in full by October 15, membership may be terminated and the student member will not be allowed to participate in any further FYAO eventsUnder an FYAO approved deferred payment plan if any monthly payment becomes more than 45 days past due, membership may be terminated.

Withdrawal from the FYAO:

If, for any reason, you and your child decide to withdraw from FYAO membership before the date of the first rehearsal, all moneys paid to the FYAO, except the audition fee, will be refunded.  No money will be refunded after rehearsals begin.  In the event of an unusual and uncontrollable situation that occurs after rehearsals begin, the Board of Directors will review any requests for partial or full refunds.


Attendance by all members is critical to the success and amazing levels of performance that can be achieved by our orchestras. When a particular musician is absent, it can make it difficult to rehearse the music and improve performance.  An orchestra is truly a team effort – don’t let your team members down!

All absences and anticipated late arrivals must be telephoned to the Orchestra Manager for your orchestra no later than two hours prior to any scheduled rehearsal or performance. If the Orchestra Manager cannot be reached, the Executive Director should be notified.  Phone numbers are listed on the front cover of your music notebook.

Although absences are discouraged except for sickness or family emergency, there may be times when circumstances prevent your attendance at rehearsals.  If you have more than three (3) unexcused absences during a season, your membership may be terminated without refund.  If absences are to be excused, they must be reported to the Orchestra Manager prior to the absence or documented by submitting a completed FYAO Absence Form to the Orchestra Manager no later than one week after the absence.  A copy of this form is available for download from the FYAO website in under the “My FYAO” tab on the home page.  The Orchestra Manager may excuse absences if the absence occurred due to school music or religious obligations or for reasons beyond a member’s control, as in the case of illness, an accident, or a family emergency.

Termination of membership may be appealed to Board of Directors of the FYAO in extenuating circumstances.

Arrival Time and Late Arrival

Performing Members should arrive promptly and preferably 15 minutes before scheduled rehearsals to help set up chairs and stands, get seated with instrument and to warm up.  Late arrivals and early departures by members are disruptive to rehearsals and are unacceptable at performances.

Arrival call times for performances will vary based on rehearsal and space needs and will be established by the Artistic Director the week prior to a performance. Call times will be posted on the FYAO website in the calendar section.  It is imperative to arrive no later than the time specified by the Artistic Director.

You are considered late when you are not seated and ready to play at the scheduled start of rehearsals and following breaks.

Should you arrive late and rehearsal or performance is underway, please wait for the Conductor to give permission for you to take your position so as not to disrupt others.  In the event players have moved up to fill open chairs, you may need to take a seat at the back of your section.

In the event a Performing Member is consistently late to rehearsals, they may be asked to sit out the next concert performance or in a different seat within the section in the event the Conductor determines (by audition) that the member may not be adequately prepared to perform.

How to Handle Your Sheet Music

Music is the lifeblood of the orchestra. Without music, the orchestra has no instructions, and cannot perform together as a team. Orchestra music is special and should be treated accordingly.

At the beginning of the season you will be provided with a binder and sheet music for the pieces you will be learning and performing.  New sheet music also will be distributed during the season.  All FYAO music should be kept together and secured in your music notebook.  If sheet music or binders are lost or damaged, a $20.00 fee will be charged for replacement.

Your name and telephone number must appear on the inside of the binder. Always bring your binder, music, and a pencil to all rehearsals and performances.  Having the music that has been assigned to you helps to make better use of limited rehearsal time and allows you to make performance notes on the music.

You are expected to practice all music at home and with your private music teacher to become intimately familiar with each piece before coming to rehearsal. Thoroughly knowing your music will allow for faster progress, better performance and more fun for all members. Members arriving unprepared may be asked to sit out and practice the piece on their own so as not to slow the progress of the Orchestra.

All sheet music is the property of the Florida Young Artists Orchestra and may be protected by copyright laws. It is your responsibility to care for it by:

  1. Keeping it protected in your binder or folder when not in use
  2. Marking notations lightly in pencil only.
  3. Turning in the music (and the binder) at the end of the season (final concert) or at the request of the Conductor or Orchestra Manager. Please erase all pencil marks and repair tears with clear tape before returning.

It is very important that you bring your FYAO music to every rehearsal and performance. This allows each member to rehearse and perform with excellence.  It is particularly important to have your music with you if you have made notes on the music concerning performance.

In the event a member forgets their music, the FYAO may have “loaner” music available that can be used that day.  However, depending on the number of pieces of music needed, loaner music may not always be available.  In such cases, sharing music with your stand partner will be necessary.  We strongly suggest that you bring your own music.

Behavior during Rehearsals and Concerts

Performing Members of the FYAO are expected to behave respectfully and politely toward one another, the Conductors and Orchestra Managers at rehearsals, performances, and other orchestra activities.

Except for breaks, members are expected to stay seated for the duration of the rehearsal. Departure during a rehearsal is disruptive to other members and should be avoided.

No gum, food or drink is allowed in rehearsal halls, sectional rooms or performance venues.  Capped bottles of water, however, are permitted at rehearsals.

No alcohol, tobacco, or controlled substance is permitted at any time.

Please remember that we are guests at Trinity Prepartory School and at our performance venues.  We must leave the spaces that we borrow as neat as, or neater than we found them.

Performing Members who demonstrate disruptive or disrespectful behavior or fail to comply with any part of these policies may be subject to disciplinary action at the discretion of the Conductor or Orchestra Manager. This may include sitting out of rehearsals and/or performances, or reassignment of seating placement within your section.

Be on Your Best Behavior

Be supportive and help others who may have a difficult time with some aspect of the music.  Perform as a team.

Always listen to and follow the directions of the Conductor and Orchestra Manager.

Help with set up and clean up when needed or requested.

Be sure you are picked up promptly at the end of all rehearsals.

Wear appropriate clothing to rehearsals and concert dress to all performances.

Concert Dress

FYAO approved Concert dress is required at all performances.

Concert Dress for the Performing Members includes the following:

Concert Dress – Young Ladies:

  • Black blouse: elbow-length sleeve or longer, modest, loose-fitting; dressy and in good taste.  No spaghetti straps, plunging necklines or see-through fabric
  • Black ankle-length flared skirt (no tight and/or slit skirts) or black tuxedo pants


  • Black one-piece ankle length dress: elbow-length sleeve or longer, modest, loose fitting; dressy and in good taste.  No revealing slits in skirt, no spaghetti straps, plunging necklines or see-through fabric.


  • Black dress shoes – flats are preferred, no sandals.
  • Black hose with skirts or black knee-high hose or slack socks with pants
  • Hair accessories (bows, clips, etc.) must be black

Concert Dress – Young Men:

  • White wing-collar shirt with black studs (buttons) and black button cover (no bow tie)
  • Black tuxedo pants
  • Black full vest
  • Black dress shoes with black socks (no athletic shoes, loafers, two-toned shoes, boat shoes, etc.)

Hair should be groomed away from the face. No excessive perfumes, colognes or fragrances, please!

Obtaining Concert Dress

Ordering information for young lady’s or men’s concert dress items can be obtained from the FYAO office.  Performing members may acquire these items from sources other than recommended by the FYAO, but all clothing must conform to the guidelines outlined above. At the Classical Jam, members will be given the opportunity to order concert dress through an FYAO-recommended vendor.


During each season, the FYAO needs volunteers to help support the activities of the orchestra. You can truly enhance your child’s experience in the orchestra by volunteering to help one or more of the very important committees (teams) needed to keep this organization running smoothly. While we do request that all parents try to volunteer in some way, volunteers may choose the level of participation that suits their schedule and interests. As little as a few hours can make a tremendous difference!

Committees (teams) are typically led by either a Director, Executive Staff member or experienced Participating Member.  Training and information will also be provided to all volunteers as needed.

For more information, refer to the “Volunteer Opportunities” section of the FYAO website (found under the “My FYAO” tab on the home page).

Concert Receptions

For most of our formal concerts, each family is requested to bring one of the following so that we can provide a special celebration following the concert for our great performers!

  1. Homemade cookies
  2. Brownies
  3. Fruit tray
  4. One 2-Liter bottle of soda

Please bring your items on a disposable tray or plate.  Families will be divided alphabetically and the food will be assigned on a rotating basis, which will be announced to members prior to the concerts.

Florida Young Artists Orchestra Staff and Leadership

Artistic Director

The Artistic Director is responsible for the development and implementation of the FYAO’s musical education program in accordance with the stated goals and mission of the organization.  As Artistic Director, Alvaro Gomez is also responsible for music and performance standards, managing the auditions process, seating of all orchestras, the staffing of ensembles and the approval of all performance venues.

Associate Conductor

Associate conductor  Mauricio Cespedes will join Dr. Gomez in conducting the orchestras throughout the season.  This unique collaboration allows the students to gain valuable musical perspectives from each conductor that will enhance their overall musical experience.

Executive Director

The Executive Director is responsible for the business dealings of the FYAO and reports to the Officers of the Board of Directors. The Executive Director should be your first contact for questions concerning orchestra business.

Board of Directors and Governance

The FYAO is governed and heavily supported by a Board of Directors elected from among Participating Members (parents or legal guardians of the Performing Members) and Supporting Members.  Each member of the Board is elected for a term of two (2) years, with roughly one-half of the board turning over each year.  Non-voting Advisory Members may be appointed to the Board as appropriate.  Board members become actively involved in helping the FYAO meet its objectives.  Refer to the Bylaws for specific information about the Board, its structure and responsibilities.  A copy of the Bylaws is available by contacting the FYAO office.

Board of Directors Meetings

Meetings of the Board of Directors are usually held the second Sunday of each month at 4:00 PM.  Board meetings are open to all Participating and Supporting Members of the FYAO.  Agendas will provide opportunity for member participation.  Check the FYAO website calendar for notices regarding upcoming meetings.

Membership Meetings

A General Membership Meeting is held at the beginning of the season (generally at the Classical Jam in August) to elect members of the Board of Directors and at the beginning of the season to report/conduct FYAO business.  Special Membership meetings may be called by the Board of Directors at any time or at the request of the membership.  All members are strongly encouraged to attend the Membership Meetings.

Business Office

Business office address and phone numbers are as follows:

Florida Young Artists Orchestra
P.O. Box 521947, Longwood, FL 32752-1947

Office Phone and Executive Director: (407) 257-8886
Fax: (407) 772-2555