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Certificate of Merit Info

- CM Home

I. The CM Program

A. Path A: Students are evaluated on an assigned date at a site determined by the local branch of MTAC.
The evaluations are administered by state appointed evaluators. The evaluation includes all elements of
the CM program. Path “A” students are eligible for various state recitals and programs if they have a good
or excellent rating for Technique and Sight Reading, a theory score of 80% or above, and a performance rating 5- or above. Requirements for the Branch Honors Festival are the same with the exception that the student must be in at least Grade 7 and CM Level 5.

B. Path B: Students are evaluated in their home studio by their teacher at a time determined by the teacher after Path “A” evaluations are completed statewide. It includes all elements of the CM program. Path B students are not eligible for any Branch or Convention programs.

C. Panel: Applicants are adjudicated in preliminary evaluations by regional panel evaluators. Panel consideration is reserved for the most accomplished students. Panel students must be in grades 10-12 for piano and winds, 9-12 for strings, and grade 11-age 25 for voice. CM level requirements are Adv. (V-VII for voice). Panel teachers should check the MTAC Website to learn more about Panel.

D. Young Artist Guild (YAG) is a semi-professional group made up of the most gifted students. YAG students must prepare a 45 minute program from which adjudicators will listen to 20-24 minutes. Students must be in grades 11-12 (grade 11-25 years for voice) and at the Adv. level (VII for voice).

II. Tools for Getting Started

A. All CM Syllabi are available through the MTAC State Office. Along with the syllabus, you should also receive an errata list, which is also available on the MTAC website. If you do not have the errata list and cannot find it online, please contact your CM chair. Read your syllabus carefully. It will tell you the technique, theory, and repertoire requirements for each level.

B. Newsletters. Each month there will be a CM article in the branch newsletter. Read it carefully as it contains deadline information as well as other information you will want to consider. When considering deadlines, remember they are just that— the last day by which something may be turned in.

C. CM Registration is early (Sep.15- Nov.15). Think ahead as to at what levels your student should be evaluated. Remember all elements for which they will be evaluated when considering their level. As their teacher you will want this to be a positive experience for them. Consult your syllabus for level requirements. Collect your students' money before registration. Registration is done online. Follow the online registration instructions and make calculations carefully. Remember, any mistakes you make mean lots of work for someone else. You will want to get your registration in on time as there is no late registration after the deadline.

D. Branch Website. Check current information under Certificate of Merit. During the months of CM, updated information will be posted on the Branch Website at

III. Preparing Your Students

A. Performance. See repertoire requirements listed in the syllabus. Remember at least one selection must be taken from the syllabus list at the level entered, and all pieces must reflect the difficulty of the student's level at the level entered or above.

B. Theory. Information needed for each level is listed in the syllabus. 70% is considered passing (80% for panel students). Students at the Advanced or Panel level are considered exempt the following year(s) if the theory score is 90% or higher. Students are eligible for Branch Honors and State Convention Programs if the Theory Score is 80% or higher for all levels. The theory information in the test is cumulative so check information necessary for lower levels also. Theory tests from previous years are available from the State Office to aid in teaching the theory requirements.

C. Technique. Technique charts in the syllabus are helpful in preparing students for this element of CM. Many teachers have found it valuable to copy the technique charts from the syllabus for each student, which allows them and you to stay on track in preparing for this element of the evaluation. Technique has to be good or excellent in order to be eligible for the Branch Honors Festival or the State Convention Programs. Teachers must follow the technique requirements in the current syllabus in order for the student to pass this part of the exam.

D. Ear Training. Requirements for ear training are listed in the syllabus. Examples of old ear training tests are included in theory exams from past years should you choose to purchase a set.

E. Sight Reading. Requirements are listed in the syllabus. Examples of old sight reading tests are available for purchase from the MTAC State Office. “Keyboard Sight Reading Exercises” by Eugene Kuo for all levels is available through the State Office.

F. Put CM dates on your calendar NOW. Our branch holds CM piano evaluations two weekends each year. Students with a sibling, carpool needs, ensemble performance or a conflicting schedule with school events can make a special request. If your student has to request one date over another, you need to enter those requests on the Student’s Evaluation Information page when you complete your register online after January 2, 2011. Woodwinds, strings, and voice evaluations are held one day only. Contact your respective chair for special requests.

G. Improvisation. Optional part of CM Evaluation for piano students. Materials can be ordered from the State Office: “The Improvisation Syllabus and Guide,” and “Games and Activities for Improvisation”

IV. Teacher Responsibilities.

Teachers are required to work in order for their students to participate in CM. We need teachers to help with student registration, theory grading, theory room monitor, evaluation door monitor, food, and office work. Student exams and evaluation forms will be withheld from any teacher who fails to do so.

There are three options from which you may choose.

1. BE THERE. Your time is our most valuable resource. This program only works when people volunteer. Mark the dates on your calendar ASAP. Teachers are required to work ½ day. Exception: A teacher may send another MTAC teacher to work in their place. This requirement is not covered by the non-involvement fee.

2. Pay. Any teacher who is unable to be at CM or send a student volunteer in his place must pay a non-involvement fee for the balance of their required hours. Fee: $300 full day, $150 half day.

3. Student Involvement. High school students may be sent in place of teachers for the balance of the required hours. You may choose to pay your student or he may work for “free” as several high schools in the area have community service hour requirements. Your students may request a “Community Service Fulfillment” form from the CM chair upon completion of service.

V. After CM

A. Pick up Envelopes. Check the March newsletter as to location for teacher envelope pick-up after CM. Evaluation forms will most likely be available one week after completion of branch evaluations. Theory exams will not be available for pick-up until after April 3 when all evaluations are complete throughout the state.

B. Branch Honors Festival is for students who have performed with excellence and have been selected to play in the Branch Honors Festival after CM. These students will have been recommended by the evaluator to play a specific piece. The piece must be no longer than the allotted time. Requirements for honors eligibility are CM levels V-Adv, school grades 7-12. Remember, this is a branch event and may be done in addition to a convention recital. Fill out the Honors Festival Form immediately if your student was recommended and send it in before the deadline marked on the form.

• Path “A” students, in grade 7 or above, and level 5 or above, are eligible for Branch Honors Festival if they have good or excellent rating for Technique and Sight Reading, a theory score of 80%, or above and a performance rating of 4+ or above. Students must have all pieces memorized. Woodwinds are not required to memorize their pieces.

C. Convention Recital

1. New Materials Recital is performance of recently published works. The piece must have been published within the last 10 years and have not been played at a convention recital within the last 4 years. The piece may or may not be listed in the syllabus. Students may be in levels I-Adv. 5 minute time limit.

2. Festival Recital is a recital in which students are recognized for their excellence in performance of a CM piece. Festival recital music must be in the syllabus at the level in which the student is registered. Students may be in levels III-Adv. (piano) and I-Adv. (all others).

3. Theme Recitals are recitals, the theme of which is chosen by the state. The theme may be a form, period, composer, etc. The theme for 2011-2012 is “Composers Born in Russia”. Students must be in CM level III- Adv.

4. Ensemble Recitals may be a duet, duo or other instrumental ensemble. Students may be in levels III-Adv. and may be registered at different levels within the ensemble group. Memorization is not required. Transcriptions are accepted. Pop tunes, improvisation and prepared piano are not accepted.

5. Junior Recital. Juniors who participate in the CM program are invited to play in a Junior Recital if they have successfully completed level VI or higher. This is a Branch event.

6. Senior Recital. Seniors who participate in the CM program are invited to play at the Senior Awards Banquet. To be eligible for a Sr. Award, a student must be at level VII and must have passed 3 of the last 4 consecutive years of CM Evaluation, including his senior year. Only Path A students are eligible for Sr. Awards. Seniors who plan to major in music may also be eligible for scholarship money.


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