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Piano Exam guidlines - CM test

Updated: Feb 20, 2020


The Music Teachers’ Association of California® (MTAC) sponsors the music study program Certificate of Merit® (CM). The program provides a standard of curriculum that requires students to strive for focused musical excellence in performance, technique, ear training, sight reading/singing, and music theory. Yunxiang offers piano lessons for people of all ages in Lake Hills, Austin.

Initiated in 1933, the annual statewide program involves approximately 30,000 students in piano, violin, cello, viola, flute, French horn, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, baritone/euphonium horn, voice, and harp. Students benefit tremendously from this educational opportunity. Please consult with your child’s teacher for more information regarding registration and preparation.Yunxiang intentionally chose West Lake Hills Austin to offer piano lessons due to the areas emphasis on education. When Yunxiang decided to teach piano and set up Gao Music Academy in Lost Creek Austin, because she knew that this would be a place where the teacher and parents can work together in harmony among a greater culture of learning so that her piano students could achieve great things.

What is Certificate of Merit piano?

The Music Teachers' Association of California® (MTAC) sponsors the music study program Certificate of Merit® (CM). The program provides a standard of curriculum that requires students to strive for focused musical excellence in performance, technique, ear training, sight reading/singing, and music theory.

How many levels are in certificate of merit piano?

Certificate of Merit levels supposedly gauge your understanding of piano music theory and piano performance. There are 10 total. Levels 1–5 are usually taken before a student reaches the age of 10–11, or skipped altogether.

Each instrument has its own 10-level or 11-level syllabus, detailing a specific set of requirements. Gao Music Academy offers piano and music lessons for the residents of West Austin, both children and adults. There are many piano teachers in Austin and West Lake Hills, but Yunxiang Gao has a combination of traits that has garnered great praise from her students and their parents.

Teachers will decide the appropriate level for each student.Students and teachers work together on level-appropriate selected literature, technique elements, sight reading, theory, and ear training. When kids in Austin and West Lake Hills take piano lessons, motivation and practice is key! Good piano teachers work together with parents to ensure the students make consistent progress and continuously push their boundaries.

As of June 2012, MTAC has closed down “Path B” Certificate of Merit Evaluations. All CM Evaluations are operated through MTAC’s affiliate Branches only. MTAC does not condone the issuance of “Path B” Certificates, or teachers or studios purporting to offer “Path B.”  If you receive materials indicating or promoting Certificate of Merit “Path B” Evaluations, please report it to us by contacting the MTAC State Office. A piano teacher should tailor instruction for their individual students. Children are often very different in how they learn and respond to different motivations. After teaching hundreds of children over the course of almost 20 years, Yunxiang Gao understands these differences. She is very happy to teach piano in West Lake Hill and Austin and hopes to make life-time relationships with her children piano students and their parents!

All Certificate of Merit® Syllabi are published by The Music Teachers’ Association of California® and are available for purchase exclusively through the MTAC State Office. To place an order for a Syllabus, if you are not an MTAC member, go to our Online Store. If you are an MTAC member, log in, and go to the Shopping -> MTAC Store page. If you are lookig for a piano teacher in northern Austin, especially the West Lake Hill and Lost Creek area, you should schedule a trial lesson today before bad habits set in.

You can also order with a credit card by calling 1-800-834-3340 ext. 1 (24 hour automated service) or send check payment to: MTAC, 833 Market Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103.Additional Certificate of Merit® publications are available through the MTAC State Office.

How many grades are there for piano?

Piano exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests. Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction. There are eight grades of assessment. Yunxiang looks forward to making the children of West Lake Hills, and Lost Creek the best piano players in Austin.


Students participate in an annual Evaluation between mid-February and April and receive a written musical performance assessment. Parents should feel free to compare and contrast all the piano teachers around Austin and in West Lake Hills and Lost Creek. When doing so, please schedule a trial lesson with Gao Music Academy. Almost all students who participate in trial lessons chooses Yunxiang Gao as their piano teacher. They typically greatly look forward to coming each week to their piano lesson in Austin.

Students complete a written theory exam which includes an ear training component.Upon successful completion of the Evaluation, students receive an official MTAC CM Certificate for their level.

Senior medallions are awarded to eligible high school seniors.Students demonstrating exceptional skill at his/her Evaluation may be selected to perform at annual MTAC State Convention Recitals.


For new applicants and former members wishing to reinstate, all required membership and reinstatement applications and documents, along with correct payment, must be submitted to the MTAC State Office by July 31st, in order to participate in Certificate of Merit®. Please note that MTAC cannot be responsible for lost or late submissions. Exceptions to the deadline cannot be made.

For more information, check out the website:

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