Monthly Email from Desert Valley Music Teachers Association
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November 16-17
Original Composition Festival
(Southeast Valley Bible Church)

December 6, 9:30 AM
(Panera, 1705 S. Stapley)

February 22
Cavalcade of Rhythm
(Mesquite High School)

April 4
Awards in Excellence Auditions
(AZ Piano)

April 11 
Awards in Excellence Recitals
(AZ Piano)

April 27
April Brunch

May 9
Achievement Day

May 11 
Awards Plus

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Teacher Spotlight

Recognizing the power of technology, we want to help YOU build your studio by featuring various DVMTA teachers on our blog! The spotlight would include a short biography and information about your unique studio.  Does your studio have it's own website, blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel?  We would love to include links as well!  This is a fabulous way for your studio to get additional publicity.  Please email a short bio and any links you would like to share to

Music Teacher Blogs:

Local Resources:

Know of any other good resources?  Please email us!  We would love to include their websites in our newsletters!

DVMTA teachers:

Does your studio have a website, blog or Facebook page?  We would love to include a link here!  It is always fun to see what other teachers are doing.  Please email us a link and we will add it right away! 
Official DVMTA Website
Facebook - connect with other DVMTA teachers
Pinterest - a great resource for ideas
Instagram - photos of DVMTA events

November 2019

President’s Message –
As I was holding extra lessons to help students finalize their compositions, scrambling to collect fees and registrations for Cavalcade and Original Composition Festival, passing out flyers and encouraging families to attend our Organ Stop Event, preparing holiday music for my students, organizing my next group lesson, preparing to direct a piece at our Cavalcade read-through, and preparing for the general meeting and board meeting all in the midst of Halloween festivities, I finally took a deep breath and accepted the fact that the holidays are once again upon us!  So much is going on both inside and outside of our organization, but fortunately, I thrive on the busy-ness!  It keeps me motivated and helps me grow as a teacher and a person.  I never cease to be grateful for the many opportunities DVMTA provides for me and my students even though at times it really has pushed me out of my comfort zone!
I can’t help but think back to about 1998 when I bravely walked into my first DVMTA meeting.  I was so worried that I would not measure up to the standards of the organization as a new, and at the time, somewhat untrained piano instructor!  Lucky for me, the people I met that first day were incredibly warm, welcoming and eager to help me understand all there was to know about our special organization!  Gradually over the first few years, I stepped out of my comfort zone and began trying out the different events.  First, it was Marathon – simple enough.  It has now traditionally become my fall recital.  Next, I tried out Cavalcade which was familiar to me having participated in a similar event in Phoenix for many years as a young piano student myself.  Achievement Day scared me to death my first year, but I put in a few students just to try it out.  It turned out to be anything but scary!  Along with Cavalcade, it is my favorite event and I require all of my students to participate in it each year!  It not only provides the perfect end-of-year thermometer to measure each students progress throughout the year, but it keeps my teaching well-rounded and educationally sound.  Eventually, I was more or less “forced” to try out Awards in Excellence and Original Composition Festival, because I had students interested in the Devoted Performer and Senior Scholarship awards!  These two events certainly took me out of my comfort zone, but they each provided me with excellent tools that absolutely made me a better teacher!
What will you do this year to step out of your comfort zone as a member of DVMTA?  I’m so proud of so many of our newest members that have embraced the organization and stepped into service positions.  For example, we have several new directors for Cavalcade which I found to be one of scariest things I ever agreed to!  I admire both their commitment and their courage!  I am also so proud of these new members who are taking advantage of all our organization has to offer by signing students up for our various events!  This is why our organization was created – to give students performance opportunities and teachers learning opportunities.  I believe we successfully do both!  If there is any way we can help you get the most out of DVMTA, let us know!  We are all happy to help, just like so many helped me many years ago!
Carolyn Rooder
DVMAT President 2018-2020

Next General Meeting, Friday, November 22nd“Incorporating Technology and Games in the Music Lesson”  With so many things to cover in a half hour, many of us struggle to include things like games and technology that might really grab ahold of our students’ attention and do wonders for improving their skills!  Join us for an hour with three of our DVMTA teachers, Linda Carpenter, Carolyn Eldredge and Carolyn Rooder as they share what they have done to meet this need in their studios!  The meeting will be held at My First Piano Recital Hall, 1818 E. Southern Ave., Mesa at 9:30 am.  Hope to see you there!
Please note:  November 22nd is also the last day to turn in Cavalcade registrations!
Shop with Amazon Smile! – DVMTA is still officially signed up to receive donations from Amazon Smile!  All you need to do is visit and choose Desert Valley Music Teachers Association as your charity.  Then, if you make all future Amazon purchases through, Amazon will donate 0.5% back to DVMTA!  That doesn’t seem like a lot, but if we spread the word to all of our families, it will definitely add up!  Every penny counts!  Be on the lookout for a special email with more information on this simple, sensible way to help DVMTA fund our yearly student awards!  Thanks for your support!
Calling all pictures! – Please send Marathon pictures to Claire Westlake at for use on Facebook and other DVMTA publications.  Please make sure you have authorization forms on file for any students pictured.  Forms can be found on our website.  After logging in, from top menu, choose Events – General Documents – Other Forms to find the form.  Let’s show everyone what fun it is to be a part of DVMTA!
December BRUNCH, Friday, December 6th – Yes, you read that right!  We are trying a 9:30 am brunch this year in hopes that more of you busy teachers will be able to attend!  This is one of the best ways to connect with other teachers and get to know them better!  It is where colleagues can become friends!  The event will be held at Panera, Mesa Grand Shopping Center, 1705 S Stapley Dr., Mesa.  Come celebrate the holidays DVMTA style!

Our annual Music Marathon event, which is the primary fund-raiser for our student awards fund, took place this past Saturday at six east valley locations!  The event was well-organized and ran smoothly!  Performing at the mall is such an awesome way to show the public what DVMTA is all about and performing at retirement homes is such a wonderful community service outreach opportunity!  Congrats to all teachers and students who participated in this very special day!  Also, a warm shout out to Penny Carpenter and Tammy Shorts who both helped with details leading up to and including the day of the event! 
--Dana Rodgers, chairperson

Original Composition Festival

Nov. 16 & 17

We have 103 compositions entered this year. I am thrilled for all the hard work the students and teachers have put in.

Please plan on attending at least one of the recitals to support your students. It would mean the world to them!

Also, consider visiting a recital if you've never entered this event before. It will inspire you to try it out next year!

Hope to see you soon!

the Composition "crew"

Recitals location:

Southeast Valley Bible Church

710 E Williams Field Rd, Gilbert, 85295 

NW corner of Lindsay/Williams Field

A huge thank you to all of our directors for their preparation and a great job at the Cavalcade Read Through - and thanks to all who came and played, read, and listened! We are especially grateful to those who are directing for the first time. We look forward to working with you!

Registration is ongoing for 2020 Cavalcade! Try to get your registration in soon; the groups will fill up! Currently there are availabilities in all groups, but E is getting full! Registration closes on the day of the November meeting on November 22. Registration goes to Linda Carpenter.

We encourage all of our members to participate in Cavalcade. Whether you register 1 student or many more, it is a great opportunity for developing musicians to perform with other kids, gain valuable ensemble experience, learn some great music, and have a lot of fun! Parents that play are also welcome to register and be duet partners for their kids. Teachers are welcome too -there is plenty of space available in Groups K-N for any teachers that would like to perform.

Music for all groups is available at The Music Store. There is a special section in the middle of the piano music just for DVMTA Cavalcade! 

Registration forms and other information is on the website. Be sure to check the directors' notes - they are an important tool in preparing your students! For those registered for Groups G and H, please note that there are updated metronome markings.

If you have any questions, please contact Linda Carpenter or Jenna Hartley.

Although the auditions are in April, teachers should be planning ahead. There are many decisions to make right now, such as:
1. How many students am I going to enter in the competition?
                Not every student wants to compete, or has the work ethic and persistence to truly perfect their pieces. But for those who you think would benefit from the experience, you can be talking now with parents and making sure you have entered enough students in Marathon and Cavalcade. Remember, you need to enter at least twice as many students in any combination of Marathon and Cavalcade as you plan to enter in Awards in Excellence. Cavalcade registration will close November 16, so plan ahead. Students who won last year may not compete; Honorable Mention winners may compete either at the same or a higher level as last year.
2. What pieces would be best?
                All repertoire must be chosen from the current (2019-2020) repertoire list available to members on our website. Each student plays two contrasting pieces, and for those in Level 4 and above, the pieces must be from two different musical time periods. To me, choosing the right pieces is the hardest part. The students need to love the songs enough to put in the practice time, and the songs should show off the student at their best. I have many students who adore Romantic music, yet the thought of a Baroque dance fills them with fear. Others prefer the order of a Classical sonatina and dislike the contemporary harmonies of Bartok or Muczynski. Choose two pieces that you know they can play well, and trust that they will grow to love them with time and understanding. Students may not compete in lower levels in future years, so choose wisely.
3. Am I fulfilling my responsibilities to DVMTA?
                Do you sign in at every meeting you attend? Attendance records will be closely checked. Have you helped out with Marathon or Original Composition, or do you have plans to help with Cavalcade? Service hours are easy to come by and must be completed by February 2020. We will need teachers to help on audition day, and your service will be duly noted for Awards in Excellence 2021 registration.
Awards in Excellence will help not only your students’ growth, but yours as a teacher as well. The judges’ comments along with the in-depth preparation you and your students do together will be enlightening. Winning of course feels good, but expanding your knowledge as a teacher, and seeing growth in your students is the true reward. If you have any questions about Awards in Excellence, please contact Lorri McHardy.

Achievement Day May 9, 2020 – Review of Changes
Based on teacher feedback and some of my own ideas as well, I decided to try a few changes last year for Achievement Day.   I am republishing those changes for anyone who may have participated in the past but missed last year.

  1. The event will take place at the Mesa Community College Music Building! 
  2. Fees for 2019:  $8.00 for Standard and $10.00 for Expanded Option. 
  3. Students are now able to choose Sight-Reading OR Ear-Training for their required option for Expanded.  Rationale - Primer and Level One students typically struggle with Sight-Reading due to inexperience with rhythm and note reading, however, ear-training is quite manageable for students at these levels.  Note:  Many teachers sign their students up for both of these options regardless of requirements.
  4. Sight-Reading selections for Achievement Day testing were revised.  Rationale – Lower level selections needed to be simplified for inexperienced students who still choose Sight-Reading as an option.  Changes were made for Levels Primer through Two.
  5. The Sight-Reading evaluation form is now a rubric.  Students need to perform at 75% accuracy or above in 2 out of the 3 areas of proficiency (Note Accuracy, Rhythm Accuracy and Observation of Musical Details) in order to pass their sight-reading evaluation.  Rationale – The former evaluation sheet required a lot of extra writing which was cumbersome for evaluators and there were no standard criteria for student success making the form too subjective in nature.
  6. Evaluators can now add an “Honors” sticker to student certificates when a student presents an all-around outstanding performance for the evaluator.  Rationale – Adding a little something to a student’s certificate helps give special commendation to those students who have taken the time to prepare thoroughly and really dazzle their evaluators!  This worked exceptionally well last year.  Evaluators awarded 32 stickers to the 215 students entered in the event.  I know that my student who received a sticker was extremely proud, and it really boosted her overall confidence.  On the other hand, a student who did not get a sticker wanted to know what she could do differently to get one this year!

If you have checked the website recently, you will have noticed that there is a new tool, Planning Sheets – Levels P – 10, which can be quite useful in helping to plan for Achievement Day.  Requirements for each level have been compiled into a simple document that can be kept in a student’s notebook and used as a check sheet to prepare for the event.  I am also hoping to add Ear Training Practice documents in the near future.  Happy planning!
Questions?  Contact Buffie Meeker at

If you have students that may be eligible for the Devoted Performer or Senior Scholar awards next spring, remember a letter of intent is due by December 1. A simple email will suffice (; nothing formal is required. This just helps us to plan and prepare. 

Now that registration for three of our five events is done, remember to keep track of what students participated this year. Good record-keeping is vital in our studios.

If you have any questions about Awards Plus, please contact Carolyn Eldredge.


Just a reminder to make sure that you are registered for the 2019-2020 year so your students are able to participate in the great events that are coming up. Certain documents can now only be accessed by current members. Registering is easy! It includes filling out the registration form and making your payment. You may fill out the form and pay directly from the website at, or the form can also be printed from the website and mailed in with a check. Dues are $50 for renewing members and $45 for new members. Your feedback, ideas, and suggestions on the registration form help us improve our organization and have great General Meetings.
December Luncheon 2019
1705 S. Stapley Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85204
December 6th, 9:30am
Come join us for a special Christmas gathering.
Get to know your fellow teachers and come
enjoy some food! We look forward to seeing
Please RSVP with Lacy Range
See you all there!

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Desert Valley Music Teachers Association · 123 N Centennial Way #105 · Mesa, AZ 85201 · USA

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