Desert Valley Music Teachers Association Newsletter
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September 2018

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”  (Bill Copeland)  An appropriate quote for the onset of football season, this quote also addresses what is currently at the forefront of educational philosophy today – goal setting.  Classrooms across the country are now sporting daily goals for each subject, and students are trained to monitor their achievement of the posted goals continually throughout the day.  Why?  Because, goals give purpose.  Goals breed success.  In my latter years as a public school teacher, the hottest goal lingo was “S.M.A.R.T. goals” – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.  No longer was it adequate to say that my students would learn how to play the recorder.  My new S.M.A.R.T. goal had to sound more like this – “My students will play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder with 3 or less errors by September 23rd”.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal makes it pretty clear to both students and teacher exactly what is to be accomplished and also, helps them know when it has been accomplished.
Lucky for all of us who have become members of DVMTA, we have a variety of events that provide built-in S.M.A.R.T goals for students to achieve.  Each event has specific performance expectations for students to meet by a specific date.  Student success can be measured by the strength of the performance as well as by written critiques in some cases.  Motivation to practice naturally increases as students work to achieve their goals, and students receive intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards for successfully achieving those goals. One such event is right around the corner – Music Marathon!  I love this event, because all of my students have something to work toward right from the beginning of the piano year!  In addition, our Original Composition Festival is another fall event that provides a S.M.A.R.T. goal for students who wish to write their own compositions.  Worried about the time it will take to prepare?  See the website for a new document just added for helping the beginning composer – a fabulous resource for those of you who aren’t sure how to get started!  
    I firmly believe that students who lack opportunities to use their piano skills quickly tire of their lessons and soon suspect the futility of learning all those pieces week after week.  Don’t let your students run aimlessly up and down the field.  Give them a chance to score by providing them with the performance goals that will keep them interested and focused on their music education for years to come!
    Read more about our various events below and please feel free to contact me or any of the event chairs for more information.  Hope to see you all at Marathon!

Carolyn Rooder
DVMTA President 2018-19


Organ Stop and Amazon Smile Fundraiser News – Be on the lookout for the Organ Stop Fundraiser event coming up in November!  A digital flyer will be sent to you via email for you to print out and distribute to your piano families. Start talking it up!  This special event will support our student awards fund!  

In addition, we will be distributing information about the Amazon Smile program in the near future by email.  This is an opportunity for our families to support our organization with their purchases from Amazon.  We receive 0.5% back on all eligible purchases, which can contribute to our awards fund as well! 

September General Meeting - Looking for a simple, straightforward way for kids to learn to improvise and use lead sheets?  Look no further!  Our very own Toni Tetreau will be conducting a workshop on Lead Sheets, Chord Charts and Improvisation at the September 28th General Meeting!  The meeting will be held at 9:30 AM at the My First Piano Recital Hall, 1818 E. Southern Ave., Mesa.  You won’t want to miss it!

The “Member Events and Calendar” page on now contains an updated Google Calendar for the year, showing all our meetings and events, and details for each event. Check it out and copy events you’re interested in to your Google Calendar! 

The “Find a Teacher” page has been updated showing current members who indicated they'd like to participate in the online teacher referral. Please visit the page, and make sure you weren't missed, and that all your contact and bio information is accurate. Remember, you can add a link to your studio website and even a picture if you’d like. If there are any changes or if you’d like to add anything please email Shannon Payne at or Tammy Shorts at

Member Only File Access - Just a reminder that certain files will be password protected for current members only.  If you are looking for event documents, the easiest way to do so is to log in on the Home Page, choose Member Documents in the My Accounts window and choose the event folder.  ALL documents for each event are located here.  No need to look in other places!

Social Media Forms - Just a reminder to make sure each student has a current Social Media Form filled out for the year in case his/her picture is taken at a DVMTA event.  If students do not wish to have pictures published on the website, blog, facebook or other publications, it is your responsibility to make sure to check these places frequently and inform Shannon Payne or Claire Westlake if something needs to be removed.

Janeen Noble Contributions - It’s not too late to contribute to the Janeen Noble Scholarship Fund!  Funds are currently needed to award our annual $200 scholarship in honor of this amazing lady who meant so much to our organization.  Look for a special donation jar at our general meetings!

Voice Lesson Open House:  Hit the high notes!  Sept 25, 6:00-8:00
Do you know someone who loves to sing? Please invite them to a Voice Lesson Open House; guaranteed to increase their singing range!  Corinne Walker - Master's in Vocal Performance, 1913 N Shelby, Mesa, AZ  85207,(480) 310-7206 

Would you like to meet the Piano Guy’s Tech, Craig Knudsen and learn more about how this amazing group does what they do?  My First Piano is hosting special events on September 28th and 29th to do just that!  The event includes food and some amazing giveaways as well!  Call 480-970-5222 for more information.
Looking for some great free music?  Check out for Mayron Cole’s Piano Method series now offered free as Mayron’s retirement gift to you!

August Brunch
We had a wonderful time at the August Brunch! Good food, fun friendships, and great presentations from each of our events for the year. A HUGE thank you to everyone who pitched in to help set up, decorate, bring food, and clean up afterwards. Truly, every little drop working together makes for a powerful ocean!

Music Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, October 20. Start your studio off strong this year with the PERFECT first recital/performance opportunity! Not only does this event get students having measurable progress early on, it also funds our amazing piano competition (Awards in Excellence) held in the spring. Last year, 39 teachers and 584 students participated! With SIX locations this year, teachers can choose just the right venue to showcase their students and share music with our community. Families and friends are welcome to attend student performances at any of the venues. 
Towerpoint Resort (Mesa), Brookdale - Park Regency (Chandler), Generations of Agritopia (Gilbert), and Legacy Retirment (Mesa) are active living/retirement-type communities, where residents can also attend the performances. They will come and go throughout the day and will be an appreciative audience. For those who would like a more traditional recital atmosphere, please consider AZ Piano. And for a fun and more casual experience, the Superstition Springs Mall is a great option. Join us for this incredible “marathon” recital!! 

ALL registration (and fees) are due on or before Friday, September 28th. Online registration is not available for this event.


Are you packing up and getting ready for our Cavalcade Road Trip? Cavalcade is DVMTA's ensemble event,  involving hundreds of players on fifteen pianos! We are looking forward to our Cavalcade read-though at the October 26 general meeting. This year, the read-through will be at The Music Store, in their new rehearsal room- at 2630 W Baseline Rd, Mesa, AZ 85202. Registration also opens that day, and you can purchase music right there at The Music Store! 
Cavalcade Performances will be on February 23, 2019 at Mesquite High School in Gilbert.

Rehearsals begin February 4, 2019 and will also take place at the Music Store in Mesa.
Be sure to check out the Cavalcade documents on for more info!

See you on the highway!

Being a DVMTA member grants many benefits. Along with the student events, the general meetings, and the camaraderie with fellow teachers, one huge benefit is access to the Awards in Excellence repertoire list. With so much music available today, it can be difficult to know what pieces are the best that we can offer our students. The repertoire list is an amazing resource, whether you’re new to teaching or have 30 years of experience. From level 1 to level 14, there are great pieces in many different styles and from different periods of keyboard music history. All music has been carefully selected as pedagogically correct and worthy of study. If you’re looking to purchase some new music, many books show up on the repertoire list repeatedly, so you know those would be a good investment. 
Whether you participate in Awards in Excellence or not, I encourage you to check out the repertoire list. If you’re like me, you have a stable of favorite composers and favorite pieces you’ve taught before. Breaking out of that comfort zone can be difficult, but challenge yourself to try some new pieces with students. If you prefer Romantic and Contemporary music, try teaching a Baroque piece for a change. You may find they love a style you didn’t expect. If they love the relative predictability of a Classical sonatina, try a Contemporary piece with unexpected harmonies or time signatures. Many of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic pieces can be found for free at  I am working to include all the proper historical catalogue numbers on the repertoire list so you can easily find them. Rather than wondering which Prelude in C by Bach it is, it will clearly be listed with BWV 939 as well, and any computer search will yield the proper piece. If you have any questions, please contact Lorri McHardy. 
Enjoy one of the great benefits of DVMTA membership—the Awards in Excellence repertoire list! 

Original Composition Festival

Original Composition

It's not too late to get a composition ready for the Original Composition Festival!

There is a document online to help you get started with those beginners, if you need some ideas to get your students started!

1. Aug/Sep- finish writing and learning those compositions. ( is a great tool- free and easy!) or write by hand.

2. Sep/Oct- Record the piece for the judge 

3. Submit your entry by October 26th (or earlier)

4. Play for the festival on Nov. 17 or Nov. 18 (does NOT have to be memorized)

If you need any help, please don't hesitate to contact me (Toni Tetreau)

602-614-2374 or


Achievement Day  -  May 11, 2019    Preparation Topic: Tackling Technique 

Achievement Day may be more than nine months away, but the wise teacher knows that preparation should start now!  A mandatory component of the Achievement Day evaluation for students at all levels is Technique.  Even though few students are fans of practicing scales, it is important for us to spend some time on technique exercises at every lesson.   One way to help insure that students spend some time on technique at home is to ask the student to demonstrate a scale, arpeggio, chord progression, etc. at the very beginning of every lesson.  Students will come to expect this routine.   There are many ways to make learning and performing scales more interesting.  The following ideas were suggested by Lorri McHardy in a past newsletter and I thought I’d have them reprinted this month to help you stock up your teaching tool box!
•    Start at the top and go down first, then come back up
•    Play with hands two octaves apart
•    Play one hand forte, the other hand piano; switch
•    Play one hand staccato, the other hand legato; switch
•    Play in double staccatos, playing each note twice
•    Crescendo as you ascend, diminuendo as you descend
•    Play with eyes closed
•    Start low on piano, playing one octave in slow quarter notes, then go right into two octaves in eighth notes, then three octaves in triplets, then four octaves in sixteenth notes
•    Play two octaves ascending, then two octaves in contrary motion out and back, then two octaves descending (simplified Russian style)
•    Russian style: two octaves ascending, two octaves contrary motion, two octaves parallel motion, two octaves contrary motion, two octaves descending
•    Play however many octaves you desire but repeat the top octave four times before descending
•    Play several octaves at a fast tempo, but pause at each tonic
•    Play in a swing rhythm
•    Choose one note to omit from the scale in every octave—really taxes the brain!
•    Play with hands crossed

There are specific requirements for Technique performance at each level for Achievement Day.  These requirements can be found in the Achievement Day Requirements Packet at . Read the requirements carefully.  They specify the skills to teach, whether or not students may perform scales hands separately and suggested tempo markings for performance. 

On the website, you will also find a folder of Technique examples for each level.  These examples provide a good visual interpretation of the individual requirements as an aid for teaching the skills.
In addition, you can view the Technique Evaluation form which is also available on the website.  Although students will potentially prepare many scales according to their level, please note that evaluators will select a smaller number of scales to be heard from the student’s scale list.  From Level Two on, students choose the keys they wish to include in their list.  There is no particular order for scale mastery.  In addition to the scales, students should be able to do all the exercises required in their chosen keys at their level.  Make sure your students understand the terminology for each exercise.  An evaluator may ask for the chord progressions in one key and the arpeggios in another key.  Students need to understand what they are being asked to perform. 

Regular technique practice and performance will take a lot of stress off of the students on Achievement Day because doing scales and chords will come as easy to them as doing jumping jacks and leg lunges before a big race!  Contact Buffie Meeker if you have any questions about Achievement Day.

Now that registration for DVMTA events is beginning, remember to track your students’ participation. Whether you keep a chart for the entire studio for the year, or individual lists in each student’s notebook, it’s essential to keep a record of event participation. The Devoted Performer award is given to any student who participates in 4 annual DVMTA events for three years. While you may not think you’ll ever do that many events, it’s still best to keep records. The Senior Scholar award is based on DVMTA participation as well, whether they have earned the Devoted Performer award or not. 

A simple form is available on our website, or you can make a spreadsheet or some other tracking method. The goal is to be consistent and thorough. Over the years you might begin to see trends in your studio. You may find ways to improve your teaching or to better motivate your students. Tracking participation across your studio will pay off in the long run.

If you have any questions, please email me at

September 2018 - Membership
Remember to register for the year if you haven’t already!  Your membership will allow you to interact and network with other teachers as well as help you continue to learn and grow.  DVMTA events will also give your students great opportunities to learn, practice and perform to help them become their very best.  

Membership is $50 for RETURNING members and $45 for new members and will go through July 31st.  Registration includes filling out a registration form and making payment.  **If you haven’t completed both steps, please take the time to do so.  You may register at or by downloading the form and mailing it with a check.  You may also pay using the DVMTA PayPal account:  

We had a great time at our August brunch getting to know new teachers Randi Buell, Becca Barnes, and Lori Sprague.  We also welcomed Steffani Chamberlain, Zoe Simmons, and Sam Luttenberger, and we will get to know them at the September Meeting.  These new members are great teachers and wonderful people that you will want to get to know.

Since our August brunch, we also would like to welcome new members Autum Hunt and Margaret Manning.  We are excited to get to know you both and we’re glad you have joined DVMTA.  

August Brunch Spotlights:

Randi Buell has lived in Arizona for 32 years and currently lives in San Tan Valley.  She has been married 26 years, has 6 kids, and her youngest is 7.  She has taught piano for 20 years with a little time off while her children were young.  She currently has 26 students.  She loves watching the excitement of a student when they understand a new concept and introducing them to new music and composers.  She has played the piano since she was 9, and she majored in English.  Now that her children are all in school, she enjoys reading more, being in a book club, going to lunch with friends and getting some alone time at home.  She also enjoys Italian food.  

 Lori Sprague was born and raised in Mesa.  She moved to Oregon for a couple of years with her husband and is now happy to be back in Arizona.  She has been teaching for 10 years and is building her studio since moving back.  She is married to Evan and they have a 3-year old son names Noah.  She began private lessons when she was 6 and studied with her teacher through high school.  She participated in the AZ Study Program and accompanied orchestras, bands, choirs and joined in piano ensembles.  She plays the violin and sings and currently accompanies and helps with the music at her church.  She belongs to a crafter group and she loves to crochet and cross stitch…which keeps her hands busy!  She is also an avid reader.  She loves watching students gain confidence as they develop skills.  She loves it when students can play songs they recognize and be able to showoff to grandparents.

Becca Barnes grew up in Arizona and attended high school in Thatcher.  She moved out of state for a while, but she is now back in Arizona living in Gilbert.  She also plays the violin and organ.  She was able to play the violin in a college orchestra and chamber group while in high school.  She also taught piano for 2 years.  She was a student of Janeen Noble from the age of 7 to 10, then was taught by her sister, and then by a teacher at the college who got her involved in the AZ Study Program.  She minored in General Music at BYU and took organ classes.  She has 4 children…ages 7 to 1 and is currently teaching her oldest daughter and son.  She loves to read, and she loves food that she doesn’t have to prepare!  She also enjoys sharing her love of music with children.  



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

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