Certificate of Merit® is a popular statewide program administered by the Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC), which attracts well over 20,000 students each year in California. This sequential music study program includes 10 levels, each requiring a year of study. During each year students receive a formal instrumental performance evaluation and a written music theory exam.
As a conservatory-style music education program, Certificate of Merit®, requires the following: a memorized instrumental performance of level-appropriate repertoire selections as guided by the syllabus; techniques such as scales, arpeggios and chord progressions; sight-reading; ear-training; and a written theory test which also covers history of the common practice period music from 1600 to 1900. In a typical school year, CM enrollment deadline is October, and the evaluations and exams take place in the spring of the following year.
Students who have completed, or those who are currently enrolled in CM level 10, may also take AP® Music Theory, to strengthen their theoretical understanding and develop skills in harmonic analysis, figured bass realization and 4-part SATB writing, which will prepare them to take the AP Music Theory Exam. The successful completion of this exam may provide advanced college placement in music theory, depending on the college’s AP policies.