Monthly Email from Desert Valley Music Teachers Association
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February 24 - 9:30 a.m.

General Meeting
(My First Piano)

February 25
Cavalcade of Rhythm
(Mesquite High School)

March 31 - 9:30 a.m.
General Meeting
(My First Piano)
Achievement Day registration due

April 15 
Awards in Excellence Auditions

April 22 
Awards in Excellence Recitals

April 28
April Brunch

May 13
Achievement Day

May 15 
Awards Plus 
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February 2017


Spring is in the air, and with the warmer weather and bright sunshine come our anticipation of our spring events. Cavalcade is right around the corner. Rehearsals are ongoing, last minute adjustments are happening, and our Cavalcade Committee is busy making sure no detail is overlooked.  Thank you so much to Joni Walker, Hollie Lunt, Charles Newton, Kelli Riding and Heidi Morris. They are fabulous! Also upcoming is Awards in Excellence auditions and recitals. This is such a wonderful opportunity for students to go above and beyond just learning a piece. It provides great learning opportunities, both for students and for teachers, and rewards students who excel. 
We had an outstanding General Meeting for January, and were so happy to have Dr. Russell (formerly Spoelman) present our Master Class and work with some of our students. One thing she emphasized was developing a strategy when presenting and learning new material. Tackling the most difficult parts and sections first, and letting the student guide the discussion, so they are involved in creating the solutions to succeed at overcoming those difficulties. For teachers it involves being flexible and being able to adapt our teaching to what each student needs. It also requires not being afraid to slow down a little to give more focus to the areas that need the most focus. What a great strategy for success, both in learning a new music piece, and in life as we set goals and deal with life’s challenges. Recognizing what is difficult, and developing a plan to deal with it, so that success can follow. And being okay with taking a few extra moments that matter to focus on what is most important. See you at the next General Meeting.

-Shannon Payne, DVMTA President

Music Available
We were contacted by Ede Yarter’s daughter recently, and offered all of Ede’s music. Jeanette and Gene Cline have been gracious enough to collect it and are currently storing it (all 11 boxes). Ede’s daughter would like any of our DVMTA members who could use it to have it. It will be available at the April Brunch, both before the meeting and after the meeting, in a room close to the Brunch area. Jeanette has also offered to bring some of the music to our next two general meetings and those interested can go to the trunk of her car to have a look after the meeting. Please contact Jeanette with any questions.

February ​General Meeting

Teaching Theory to the Young Student 
Location: My First Piano

​Shelle Soelberg the founder of Let's Play Music is coming to present to us from her expertise in “Teaching Theory to the Young Student” this is the perfect opportunity to be inspired in preparation for Achievement Day.
Looking forward:
Our March meeting will be on “Teaching Composition” presented by Claire Westlake. If you have students who like to compose or if you have not yet participated in our Composition Festival this is the place for the inside scoop.
At the August Bruch we want your impute! Be thinking of things that YOU would like to learn! IDEAS for next year’s membership meetings will be rewarded with PRIZES for EVERYONE willing to share.

“Magical Melodies”
Our Cavalcade performances are in full swing! If you’ve never participated in Cavalcade before, we suggest you attend one of the shows and see what fun it is. The magic all happens at Mesquite High School (500 S. McQueen Rd. in Gilbert) on Saturday, February 25 at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. 

All students were given a performance day schedule with the Saturday morning rehearsal times, performance dress requirements, ticket information, etc. Please review that with your students. It’s available at if you didn’t get one. Make sure they understand when to be there, what to wear, how they should behave, etc. The Saturday morning rehearsal is mostly logistical, making sure students know where they sit in the auditorium, how to get onstage, which piano is theirs, how to bow, and how to get back to their seats. Parents have the opportunity to see where their children will be on stage and can choose a seat during the performance accordingly. 

Students in groups A-H need to have their music completely memorized by now. Make sure they and their parents know which performance they will be in. Groups A, C, E and G will be in the 5:00 show and groups B, D, F and H will perform at 7:00. Students in groups I-N will perform in both shows. We will take them to a snack room in between performances and give them a chance to use the restroom, etc. Please make sure that parents understand that if they want to attend both shows, they will need to buy a ticket for each show. We will be checking the auditorium between shows. Also, parents of those students should not try to meet up with their children in between shows. Wait until after the 7:00 show to give congratulations. 

Thanks again to all our directors and volunteers who have been and will be helping, and to My First Piano for all their help. You’ve helped to make this year’s Cavalcade a magical success!
Time for another DVMTA giveaway! We want to see your Cavalcade videos.
Here's how to enter:
1- like us on Facebook and follow @dvmta on Instagram
2- post a video of your cavalcade song (rehearsal videos are great!) to Facebook or Instagram.
3- tag the Desert Valley Music Teachers Association on Facebook (use the @ sign before our name so it tags us) or @DVMTA on Instagram.
4- tag your post with the following hashtags: #dvmta #dvmtacavalcade2017
5- encourage your friends to like and share your post. You will receive double the points for each share and one for each like. 
Contest will be open through 2/25 (performance day) and the winners will be chosen on 3/4.

Achievement Day – Determining Levels and Options

All of my students prepare for Achievement Day, even if student schedules prevent them from participating in the actual event.  To me, Achievement Day is like a “final exam” for the year.  It celebrates nearly every aspect of a student’s piano education – performance, memorization, technique, theory, sight-reading, ear training, music history, ensemble playing and composition.  It holds me, as the teacher, accountable for addressing each of these areas in some way throughout the year to assure that I am offering my students a well-rounded piano curriculum.  

At this point in the year, I examine each of my students’ progress to determine their Achievement Day levels.  I encourage students who are ready to pass a level to prepare the Expanded Requirements.  Occasionally, I have students who have difficultly getting three pieces memorized in time.   It is very easy to change a student’s requirements to Standard all the way up to Achievement Day.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to prepare the evaluation forms and check sheets that the student takes to Achievement Day, so changing a student’s requirements is simply a matter of filling out the paperwork accordingly.  Sometimes students do not adequately cover a full level from the year before, and are therefore not ready to test at a higher level.  In this case, I allow students to have a review year in which they prepare the Standard Requirements at the previous year’s level.   In this way, I am able to include all students and keep them accountable for the skills they are learning.

Once I have determined each student’s Achievement Day level for the year, I help them choose repertoire, which was the focus of last month’s news article, and I help them choose their options.  The options and skill requirements for each level are clearly spelled out in the Achievement Day Requirements Packet which can be found on the website – 
A summary of the optional categories is listed below:
    Categories required of ALL students:
Technique –Students perform a sampling of prepared scales, cadences, etc. requested by the evaluator during their performance evaluation  
    Theory – Students complete a one-page paper and pencil test on the skills listed for their particular level
    Categories to choose from for the Required Expanded Option:
     Sight-Reading – Students perform a short, unknown piece of music at a level approximately two years below the student’s actual performance level. This option is completed at the time of a student’s performance evaluation.
    Ear Training – Students complete a one-page paper and pencil test on the skills listed for their particular level.  At level primer through level five, the test will be conducted by a teacher who will perform the listening samples live, and at the higher levels, students will listen to the test samples on a CD player and complete the test independently.
    Note:  When choosing the required option for your students’ expanded program, it may be helpful to consider a student’s level.  Typically, sight-reading is more difficult for less advanced students, and ear training is easier.  It can be just the opposite for more advanced students! 
    Categories for Optional Choices: At least one of the following must be chosen for both Standard and Expanded requirements.  
    Sight-Reading – See above
    Ear Training – See above
    Duets – Students prepare one part of a duet (can be a Cavalcade duet as long as the student did not actually play it for Cavalcade).  Memory is not required.  A teacher will play the opposite part while another teacher evaluates the student’s performance.
    Original Composition – Students compose a piece (cannot be a piece that was already submitted in the Original Composition Festival).  They bring their hand-written or computer-generated copy and perform the piece for an evaluator.  Memory is not required.
    Composers – Students learn and recite, for memory, facts learned about different composers.  See Requirements Packet for specific guidelines.
    Written Report – Students orally summarize a more in-depth music report that they have written.  See Requirements Packet for specific guidelines.

Achievement Day may seem a bit overwhelming, however, it is usually a very rewarding experience for the students who have been well prepared.  Evaluators are instructed to give mostly positive feedback, and I guarantee that the students will pass their theory and ear training tests as long as they know the handful of objectives listed for their level.  If I can help you in any way, please let me know!
Carolyn Rooder – 602-527-1721 or 

Next month is the application deadline for Awards Plus. All Devoted Performer and Senior Scholarship Award applications need to be turned in to Lorri McHardy by March 31, the same day that Achievement Day registrations are due. Forms are available on our website. All participation will be carefully checked against our records to ensure accuracy. 

The Senior Scholarship application also requires a list of all DVMTA events participated in over the years. Students receive 2 points for each event and need a minimum of 24 points to even be considered. Students must also show additional musical commitment such as orchestra, band or choir. Students will need to write a letter to the Awards Plus committee asking for their consideration in be selected and giving reasons why. Letters of recommendation from other teachers or music directors may be included with the application. Do not wait until late March to begin this application!

If you have any questions about Awards Plus, please contact Lorri McHardy.


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