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November 17-18  Original Composition Festival (Southeast Valley Bible Church)

December 7 – December Luncheon (Panera)

February 23 – Cavalcade of Rhythm (Mesquite High School)

April 13 – Awards in Excellence Auditions (AZ Piano)

April 20 – Awards in Excellence Recitals (AZ Piano)

May 11 – Achievement Day (MCC)

May 13 – Awards Plus (Legacy Retirement Residence)


November 2018

     Have you ever noticed that students are never short on excuses for not being prepared for piano lessons each week?  Too much homework…..relatives in town……special event at school……sport practice…….sport practice…… practice……..seriously????  Let’s face it, everyone is busy, busy and more busy these days and now we are heading into the busiest season of the whole year!  So, how do we maintain our quality teaching, prepare students for special events, promote student progress and still carve out time to take care of our own busy lives?  After all, we are guilty of being just as busy as our students!
    As we head into year-end holidays, take a deep breath and remember the sayings, “first things first” and “easy does it.”  This is a good time of year to make lots of lists, so that you can more easily take care of “first things first”!  Once the list has transferred all those racing thoughts out of your brain and onto the page, you can analyze how each item fits into your time schedule.  I usually write a deadline next to each item on my list so that they are automatically prioritized.  When I do this, I don’t waste precious time on something that doesn’t need to be done until next Friday when I have three things that need to be done by this Monday.  Once I know what items need attention first, I start on the first item whether I want to do it or not and I see it through to completion.  I then move on to the next item and work on completing that item.  I call this “easy does it” because we can often get overwhelmed even by a prioritized list.  Disciplining ourselves to work through one item at a time, step by step, makes it feel like we really only have one thing to accomplish instead of many.  Focus equals efficiency, and before we know it, we are crossing an item off the list!  A long list of crossed out items can then become quite rewarding because we have a tangible reminder of what we’ve accomplished!
    Using this technique with students can help them with busy times as well.  My students use a goal check sheet rather than a time check sheet.  They are expected to work on at least three of their goals, six days per week.  This offers them an “easy does it” on busy days, because they can accomplish goals that are less time consuming when their time is limited.  They can also prioritize goals related to performance deadlines, “first things first”, so that the most important goals are attended to first.
    I wish for you all a happy, healthy, joyful, productive season relatively free of the stress and frustration of being too busy.  Just remember to tackle “first things first” and go about things with an “easy does it” attitude!

Carolyn Rooder
DVMTA President

Next General Meeting – November 16th!  
What is one of the biggest challenges facing music instructors?  My response?  Getting students to do purposeful, consistent, regular practicing between lessons!  Lucky for us, our next general meeting will present Power Up Practice – a special workshop devoted to the subject of practice!  The workshop will be presented by our very own DVMTA teachers – Hollie Lunt, Joni Walker, Shannon Payne, Alayne Favreau and Kelli Riding!  Plan to attend!  You might just learn that one little trick that will get even your most resistant student to spend more time on the bench!

Please note:  November 16th is also the last day to turn in Cavalcade registrations

Shop with Amazon Smile! – DVMTA is now 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!  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!

Music Marathon, our biggest fund-raising event for Awards in Excellence and Awards Plus, was a huge success!  Thanks to all the teachers and students that participated.  .

Our Original Composition Festival is almost here!

If you have not entered a student before, please consider attending one of the recitals. You'll be amazed at the talent and get to see how excited the students are to play their own pieces!

Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m.

All recitals will be held at Southeast Valley Bible Church in Gilbert- 710 E. Williams Field Rd., 85295

Hope to see you there!

The Composition Team (Toni, Debbie, Jessica)


Are you getting ready for our big Road Trip?

Thanks to all who made it to our Cavalcade Read through and to our hosts at The Music Store! We appreciate all our wonderful directors and their hard work and preparation.

Registration is currently open, and closes the day of our next general meeting, November 16. All registration paperwork is available on the DVMTA website. Please turn in all registrations to Linda Carpenter. Everyone who has registered as of 11/1/18 are in. Groups E,F, and I are almost full. Call Linda before sending in registration for these groups. There are lots of openings in groups B, M, and N. All other groups are about half full. 

Groups M and N need teacher participation. Please come and play with us!

All music is available to purchase at The Music Store. Don't forget to check the directors' notes for important details so your students' can be prepared. As you are preparing your students keep in mind that memorization is not a requirement this year.

Achievement Day May 11, 2019 – 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 again take place at the Mesa Community Music Building.  (This is different from Achievement Days 2017/2018)
2.    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. 
3.    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.
4.    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.
5.    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! 

Possible Change for 2019:
Ear-Training Testing at Level 4 and 5 may return to having students test independently using CD players.  Rationale – A decision was made to purchase MP3 players to update our audio equipment, which will eliminate the equipment problems students had in the past.  If we are successful in making the transition from CD to MP3 file, we will have Level 4 and 5 test independently once again.  

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

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 (2018-2019) 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 2019. We will need teachers to help on audition day, and your service will be duly noted for Awards in Excellence 2020 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. 

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.


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

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