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MTAC Certificate of Merit logo

Certificate of Merit




To Parents and Students,
The Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) sponsors a music study program entitled Certificate of Merit (CM). Initiated in 1933, the CM Program now involves approximately 30,000 students annually statewide. There are evaluation opportunities for students of Piano, Violin, Cello, Viola, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Horn, Voice and Harp.

Goals of Certificate of Merit:

How the CM Program Works:
A detailed CM Syllabus has been created and designed for each of the above-mentioned instruments. There are specific set requirements for each of the eleven CM levels. Your child’s teacher will decide on the level that is appropriate.

Student Registration takes place from October 1 - 31. Your child’s teacher will register your child through a secure online database. Students must be age 5 or older as of October 31 (the CM Registration Deadline) to participate in the CM Program.

Students work with their teachers on selected literature, technique elements, sight reading, theory and ear training for their enrolled level.

Registered students participate in an annual evaluation held from mid-February through April.

From the evaluation, students receive a written assessment.

Students will also complete a written theory exam, which includes an ear training component.

Upon successful completion of all segments of the evaluation, students receive an official MTAC CM Certificate.

Senior medallions will be awarded to eligible high school seniors.

Students who demonstrate exceptional skill at his/her evaluation may be selected to perform at annual MTAC State Convention Recitals.

Your child(ren) will benefit tremendously from this wonderful educational opportunity and experience. Please consult with your child’s teacher for more information regarding registration and preparation.

General Information:
Any teacher who is an active, provisional, Cal Plan or student 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.  Evaluations include all elements of the CM program: performance, technique, ear training, sight reading and written theory tests.  The branch fee for participation is $12.

The Certificate of Merit Syllabi are published by The Music Teachers' Association of California and is available for purchase exclusively through the MTAC State Office. To place an order for a Syllabus, go to MTAC's Online Store. You can also order with a credit card by calling 1-800-834-3340 extension 1 (24 hour automated service) or send check payment to: MTAC, 833 Market Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103. Member and non-member prices are listed for each Instrument Syllabus.

Syllabi for other instruments and additional Certificate of Merit publications are also available through the MTAC State Office.


  CM News:

Certificate of Merit Newsletter - September 2020



Teachers' Work Agreement 2019-2020

Welcome Letter to CM Parents from State Chair


2020-2021 Dates:



2020-2021 CM Evaluations
-will be taking place during the month of March - exact dates TBD


Winds Evaluation Date - March TBD, 2021
-Chairs- TBD
Registration Oct.1-31
Fees paid by Nov.5, 2020


Voice Evaluation Date - March TBA 2021
-Chairs- TBD
Registration Oct.1-31
Fees paid by Nov.5, 2020


Piano Evaluation Dates - March TBD 2021
- Chairs- Sharon Shaheed & TBD
Registration Oct.1-31
Fees paid by Nov.5, 2020


Strings Evaluation Date - March TBD, 2021
Chairs- TBD
Registration Oct. 1-31
Fees paid by Nov.5, 2020


Certificate of Merit Honors Festival:

The 2021 CM Honors Festival will take place on TBD
Chairs - TBD
1st Registration Deadline: TBD
2nd Registration Deadline: TBD

The Festival is for students who were awarded honors in the Certificate of Merit program. There is no enrollment fee for participation in this festival.

To be eligible, students must be Level IV or higher, pass the theory exam (70% or better), receive average, good or excellent in sight reading, receive good or excellent in technique, and receive a 5+, 5 or 5- for the chosen piece that must be memorized. (Keyboard only).




Student registration for state programs must be completed on the state website. To register, please go to new.mtac.org and log in using your teacher ID and password.

Link to MTAC State Website


Certifcate of Merit Newsletters:

CM Newsletter September 2020

CM Newsletter September 2019

CM Newsletter March 2019

CM Newsletter December 2018 - CM Events 2019

CM Newsletter August 2018 - Welcome to Certificate of Merit 2018-2019

CM Newsletter December 2016

CM Newsletter August 2016

CM Newsletter December 2015