Cal Plan is a four-year independent study professional education program of the Music Teachers’ Association of California® (“MTAC”). The Cal Plan curriculum is designed to establish a standard of knowledge in teaching music in order to provide an alternative pathway for music teachers to become qualified as an Active Member of the Music Teachers’ Association of California that does not require a university music degree. Cal Plan includes academic and practical requirements, which provide Cal Plan Members with a fundamental understanding of music theory, history, and pedagogy, to prepare enrollees for the profession of teaching music.


Eligibility for the Cal Plan program is open to high school graduates 18 years and older, who demonstrate proficiency in their instrument at an advanced level equivalent to MTAC Certificate of Merit® Level 9 or higher, and who have had 2 years of active teaching experience and a current roster of students. Proficiency is determined by MTAC through a mandatory Audition that applicants must pass before entering the Cal Plan program.

Cal Plan Program of Study

A Cal Plan Member can become an Active Member of MTAC upon successful completion of the following requirements:

  • Pass 6 written music knowledge examinations
  • Take 36 hours of private lessons with a qualified music teacher
  • Enroll 2 students in the Certificate of Merit program over two consecutive years for which they both must pass each year
  • Enroll 2 students in one Branch-sponsored recital or performance Attend 2 MTAC Annual Conventions, for 8 hours at each Convention (with minimum of 3 required master-classes or lectures)
  • Attend 20 hours of music education through workshops, classes, seminars, master-classes, pedagogy at Convention or outside of Convention

Application and Audition Process

  1. Submit a Cal Plan Membership Application and pay any applicable fees. The application period is from September 1 through September 30 only. Applicants who miss the September 30 deadline must wait until the following September to reapply.
  2. After submitting an application, you must apply for an audition. All Cal Plan applicants must first pass a performance audition in the applicant’s listed instrument. Information on how to schedule an audition is included in the Cal Plan application. Audition applications must be submitted no later than November 30.
  3. Complete the audition. All auditions take place between May 1 – 14 every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if Cal Plan is right for me or if I’m qualified?
    Here are the basic criteria for Cal Plan:
  • You do not have a Bachelor’s Degree (or higher) in Music
  • You do not have enough points to join MTAC as a Provisional Member
  • You are unable to provide qualifying documentation for your musical training
  • You are currently teaching music in your preferred instrument
Are there courses to take?
No; all study is done by the individual.
Are there deadlines for application?
    Yes, you must meet the following deadlines:
  • September 30 – Submission of the Cal Plan Membership Application
  • November 30 – Submission of the Cal Plan Audition Application
  • May 14 – Successful completion of the Cal Plan Audition
What are the Program expenses?
After you are approved for Cal Plan membership, in addition to annual State and Branch Dues, each exam is $75.00. Other expenses include textbooks, which may be purchased new or used, and attendance at two MTAC Annual Conventions (Cal Plan Members receive discounted registration rates). Syllabi and other Certificate of Merit® materials are offered at the online store at for a discounted member rate through the Teacher Portal.

Apply for Cal Plan Membership

For assistance with Cal Plan membership applications, contact