Dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in music education, the Music Teachers’ Association of California® (MTAC) is comprised of nearly 4,000 music teachers and more than 60 self- governing  Branches across California that perpetuate quality music and music education into the world.  MTAC believes in the power of music to enhance people’s lives and aims to fuel a love and passion for music through artistic growth and achievement programs – like Certificate of Merit®.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions for  MTAC’s flagship evaluation program, Certificate of Merit®.

What is Certificate of Merit®?
Initiated in 1933 by the Music Teachers’ Association of California®, Certificate of Merit® provides a standardized music curriculum for musical excellence in performance, technique, ear training, sight reading/singing and music theory. Through a standardized curriculum, Certificate of Merit provides a uniform pathway for music student growth at each level. The Certificate of Merit program is available for piano, violin, cello, viola, flute, French horn, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, euphonium horn, trombone, trumpet, voice, harp and guitar.
How can a student register for Certificate of Merit®?
Only professional music teachers who are current members of MTAC may register students in Certificate of Merit. If you are the parent of a student wishing to participate, consult with your child’s music teacher for information regarding registration and preparation.
What are the Certificate of Merit® levels and who decides what level a student is currently at?
Each instrument has its own 10-level or 11-level syllabus, detailing a specific set of requirements. Music teachers determine the appropriate level for each student, then work with students on level- appropriate selected literature, technique elements, sight reading, theory and ear training.
Where do students get the Certificate of Merit® Syllabi and other publications to prepare for Certificate of Merit® evaluations?
All Certificate of Merit® Syllabi and other testing preparation materials are published by the Music Teachers’ Association of California® (MTAC) and are available for purchase exclusively through the MTAC Online Store.
How is my student evaluated on their progression through Certificate of Merit® Levels?
Certificate of Merit students participate in an annual Evaluation, conducted online or in-person between January and March, and receive a written musical performance assessment. Students also complete an online written theory exam which includes an ear training component. Upon successful completion of the Evaluation, students receive an official MTAC Certificate of Merit Certificate for their level.
Can my student choose to do their Evaluation in person?

Students may choose to take their Evaluation at a Regional Testing Facility or online through the MTAC Testing Portal.

Certificate of Merit is designed to be an evaluation of a student’s ability to learn and execute a specific set of skills, which can be conducted in-person or in an online setting.

Is Certificate of Merit® open to any music students?

In order to participate in Certificate of Merit® students must be age 5 or older by September 30 and be under the instruction of an MTAC member music teacher in good standing.

The aim of the Music Teachers’ Association of California has always been to be as inclusive and equitable as possible.

What are “Path B” Certificate of Merit® Evaluations?
As of June 2012, MTAC has closed down “Path B” Certificate of Merit® Evaluations. 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.
What are the deadlines to enroll in Certificate of Merit®?

MTAC members in good standing (who have paid their membership dues by July 31st) may enroll students for Certificate of Merit during the month of September.

Parents/students need to submit a payment by October 5 to complete their enrollment.

Teachers will have until December 15 to make edits to the student’s applications.

When I register my student for Certificate of Merit® why does the registration fee show up on my bank or credit card statement as “Music Teachers’ Association of California”?
The Music Teachers’ Association of California® (MTAC), incorporated in 1897, is the sponsoring association behind Certificate of Merit® and all charges associated with this program, and any others sponsored by MTAC, will appear on your payment statement as “Music Teachers’ Association of California.”