Music Teachers' Association of California
San Mateo County Branch

Certificate of Merit

The Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) sponsors an evaluation program entitled Certificate of Merit (CM). Initiated in 1933, this prestigious program now involves over 27,000 students annually statewide. There are study guides and performance opportunities for students of piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, voice and organ. Teachers Registering Students for CM can go to the CM page on the state site for information and forms under the “Information” tab. For information regarding our local branch, go to CM Information .

The Goals of the Program

  • To provide a systematic and comprehensive plan developing practical goals to help students maintain a steady and focused approach to their musical studies in:
    1. Music theory
    2. Performance skills
    3. Technique
    4. Ear training
    5. Sight-reading
  • Encouraging students to strive for musical excellence.
  • Creating opportunities where students can share their music with others.

Students who are enrolled in Certificate of Merit participate in an annual evaluation held from late February through the month of March. Experienced evaluators hear students perform selected literature, technique elements and sight-reading. Students also complete a written exam, which includes ear-training. The fees for participation range from $30 to $65, depending on the level.

Participation and Evaluation Requirements for CM

  • Any teacher who is an active member of MTAC may enroll students in the Certificate of Merit program.
  • Enrollment is limited to teachers in good standing who are California residents and who are affiliated with a local branch of MTAC.
  • Students are evaluated on an assigned date at a site determined by the local branch of MTAC. These evaluations are administered by state-appointed evaluators.
  • The elements of the CM program include: performance, technique, ear training, sight reading and written theory tests.

 Each Student Receives

  • An annual evaluation covering performance, technique, ear training, sight reading, and written theory evaluation from the adjudicators
  • A certificate for successfully completing all phases of the exams
  • Senior medallions are awarded to qualifying high school seniors
  • Requirements for State Honors Seal (the gold sticker for the certificate):
    1. All levels and all students are automatically eligible
    2. No State Honors Recital score needed
    3. Excellent or Good in Sight Reading, Technique and Repertoire
    4. All solo pieces must be memorized
    5. Theory score must be 80% or higher
  • State Honors Recital Requirements (Click on this link to see requirements for Piano, Strings, Voice and Wind)
  • Application for State Honors Recitals:  Students that achieve Honors standing at their CM evaluations may apply for State Honors Recital (Click on link for application form)
  • Convention program performances
  • Convention Honors programs for Advanced-Panel students: Panel Honors Recitals, Master Classes and Young Artist Guild

Parents please contact your MTAC teacher for further information about the Certificate of Merit Program.

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