September 2022 Newsletter

I received a text a week ago that warmed my heart and made me smile. It was from a piano student that recently graduated from high school and just completed his first two weeks of college at ASU. He was coming home for the weekend and asked if I could meet him at the church and teach him how to play the organ. Of course, I emphatically replied, “Yes!” I have been his teacher since he came to me at level two and part of his journey was learning to play hymns.

As we sat on the organ bench together, more as friends now, I was able to hear about his transition to college life. We laughed as he told me that he fit his digital piano in his dorm-room. He was shy and introverted in high-school, and it was so apparent to me in that moment what a blessing music is in his life - it has given him a voice and a passion.

We explored the incredible sounds and capabilities of the organ and how it works. He played hymn after hymn getting used to the different touch, and he commented that he now understood why I told him fingering and legato playing is important to transition to the organ. He was even brave enough to play with the foot pedals. It was rewarding to watch him smile as he enjoyed the sounds he was creating and to realize he will be able to play the piano and organ throughout his life.

Don’t ever forget that what you do as a music teacher is important and really matters in the lives of your students. I heard a quote this week from Wendy Stevens that really touched and inspired me.

“You teach the most beautiful language in the world to the most beautiful of all creations.”

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the August Brunch, and I look forward to our September General Meeting where we will learn from each other how DVMTA events can help us meet our studio goals. Make it a goal to attend so you can learn and grow as a teacher.

Tammy Shorts
DVMTA President 2022-2024

Upcoming General Meeting

Glorious Goals

How does a teacher set goals for their students? How can we help them achieve "small" goals, as well as long-term success?

During our September meeting (Sep. 30), some of our event chairpersons will share how our DVMTA events can help you meet your studio goals. Maybe you haven't participated in any events yet, or are considering trying one event out this year, and wondering which one you could start with? Maybe you are a long-time member who has had much experience and would like to share how certain events have impacted your students.

If you have some specific questions that we could answer, please shoot me an email ahead of time, if you can think of it (, or just come to the meeting!

We'll listen to some helpful info, and those who want to ask questions or share will have some time to do that during our Teacher Talk time!

See you soon!

Toni Tetreau
DVMTA Vice-President

August Brunch Recap

Thank you so much to all of you who helped with the August Brunch this year! It would not have been a success without your help.

We were excited to see so many of you there. It was a great introduction to the 2022-2023 year of DVMTA.

May we remember to be and to help create lifelong musicians.

Thanks ladies!

Wendi Heslop, Chair


THANK YOU to all of our members who have completed their annual membership renewal! The deadline has passed BUT if you've forgotten to do it, you can still renew at any time to reactivate your membership status on the website and have full access to member documents for our upcoming events.

WELCOME to our newest members, Jenni Caddy and Anna Phelps!

We would love to see an increase in our membership this year, so please reach out to your music teacher friends and tell them what YOU love about membership in DVMTA. I first joined ten years ago after I'd heard about it from my friend Buffie Meeker who is a long-time DVMTA member. My favorite part about my membership has been getting to know so many of you and making new friends, as well as learning from each other and sharing ideas on how to be better teachers. I am thankful for each of you!

Sara Pratt, Membership Chair

Annual Organ Stop Pizza Fundraising Event

Please help DVMTA benefit from the EASIEST FUNDRAISER EVER!

On Monday, September 26th, Organ Stop will give back a whopping 20% of their pre-tax kitchen food sales to DVMTA.

You will be receiving a flyer for the event by email. All you have to do is send a digital or paper copy of the flyer to all your piano families and encourage them to take the family out for pizza at Organ Stop on September 26th between 4:00 and 8:00 pm.

If each person/family shows the paper or digital flyer to the cashier when ordering, DVMTA will get credit for those orders.

It’s a win-win! Your families have to eat anyway, and why not get some amazing entertainment from the mighty Wurlitzer as well while benefitting our organization!

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! This is a simple, sensible way to help DVMTA fund our yearly student awards!

Thanks for your support!

Music Marathon

September greetings!

It’s time to be selecting the place and time for your students to join in the Music Marathon recital opportunity Saturday, October 22!

Find the location that works best for your families as you fill out your registration. We have some GREAT locations this year!

This is a terrific performance opportunity for your students. It can be a casual, fun recital and some teachers like to choose a theme for their students. Performers (and teachers) can come in costume if they want, and most of all this all day recital will bring joy to the people listening. The residents at the assisted living homes love seeing the children perform. Be creative and enthusiastic when preparing your students! It also brings awareness of DVMTA to the community. Participation in this event is VERY important, raising the funds for Cavalcade and other DVMTA student events.

The virtual option will be available for Marathon again this year. Claire Westlake has created a Facebook group for DVMTA Music marathon 2022. Teachers will upload student videos and for the students’ safety only parents can join in on the virtual recital.

This year we will be guests at:

Superstition Springs Mall (Dillard’s Mall Access- level 1)Mesa

Emerald Groves Central (Assisted Living) 2759 N. Val Vista Dr (SE Corner Val Vista & McDowell)

Emerald Glen (Assisted Living) 3558 E McDowell Mesa (NW Corner Val Vista & McDowell)

Southeast Valley Bible Church (710 E. Williams Field Road) Gilbert

Serenade Assisted Living (25403 S. 154th St) Gilbert

Copper Springs Retirement Community (3303 E. Gary Way) Gilbert

The registration fee is $8.00 for each student, even for the virtual option. Completed registration forms and fees are due Friday, September 30, 2022 to Sharon Vance. Registration forms and fees will be accepted by mail, or dropped off to 4282 E. Estrella Ct. Gilbert, AZ 85296 (602) 292-2846 or emailed to

Further teacher information for the event can be found on the website.

We look forward to many DVMTA teachers and students participating!

Diana Palmer, Marathon Committee

Original Composition

Calling all Creative Composers!!!

This event is coming up quick so get those creative ideas down on paper and get ready for our Original Composition Festival.

Registration is due on or before the general meeting, Friday Oct. 28, 2022.

The recitals will be held November 19-20, 2022 at Southeast Valley Bible Church, 710 E. Williams Field Rd., Gilbert, AZ 85295.

For any questions, feel free to call/text/email!

Buffie Meeker, Chair
(480) 274-5743

December Brunch

Our December Brunch this year will be December 2nd at 9:30 at Sassy's Bakery and Café in Mesa.

Address: 4210 E. Main Street Mesa

It will be a great time to get to know each other better.

We hope to see you there!

Kelli Riding, Chair

Cavalcade of Rhythm

Yo ho, me hearties! It's time to get ready for CAVALCADE 2023: Pirate Partners! Check the website for this year's song list; it is a treasure trove of fun! We will get to play and hear all the music at our annual read-through, October 28th 9:30am at The Music Store. That is also the day that registration opens for this event.

We are still working on the location for rehearsals but our performance will be at Skyline High School (845 S. Crimson Rd) in Mesa. It is further east than we've had it in the past but other locations were not available on the dates we need. The registration documents will be available as soon as we have the rehearsal location.

We will need all hands on deck so start thinking about how you can help. If you are willing to direct one of the groups, please reach out to one of the committee members. Start talking to your students about this year's fun music lineup! Let's each try to get some new students involved who have not been in Cavalcade before and we'll make it an incredible event!

Carolyn Eldredge, Cavalcade Captain

Crewmates: Lisa Hunt, Sara Pratt, Charles Newton

Awards in Excellence

It's time to start preparing for recitals and competitions. I saw this article and thought I would share it with you all.

4 Top Tips for Preparing for a Piano Competition

Editor’s note: At age 18, Christopher Richardson is a veteran of piano competitions, having competed in more than 50. His wins include: 2017 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition (ages 18 to 30) Audience Favorite Award; 2016 Music Teachers National Association National Competition Senior Division First Prize and Best Performance of Chopin Prize; and the 2012 and 2013 Russian Music International Piano Competitions (now the San Jose International Piano Competition) 1st Prize.

by Christopher Richardson

When preparing for a piano competition, one naturally wants to be as ready as possible, but time is a limited resource. Priorities must be set. Here are a few skills I have found exceedingly useful to focus on in preparing for competitions:

  1. VISUALIZATION: I find that I can best express myself and tell a story with music when I can bring to mind images and ideas pertaining to each part of a piece. Often, going beyond the average performance is a matter of thought. Thinking of how a phrase sounds and how it is analogous to a place or feeling can lead to an instinctual change that captures said feeling while performing. Judges are experienced, and can see when a performer truly understands the music being played; visualization is a method that can help develop and demonstrate this understanding.

  2. STAGE PRESENCE: At the end of the day, musicians are creatures of the stage, and how one conducts oneself (hurray for music puns) can and will subtly influence the audience’s enjoyment of the performance. Giving a practice recital for friends and family can help ease stage fright. Any feedback they give is likely to help the performer learn to diminish stage fright. Competitions are, no surprise, competitive, so one needs to display more than amazing playing when everyone plays amazingly.

  3. ACCURACY: This one is obvious, but I feel the need to include this to avoid giving the impression that this is unimportant by not including it. Minor slips in a performance are acceptable and even expected, but always strive to play as technically perfect as possible while retaining musicality.

  4. MEMORIZATION: Few things in a performance are worse than having a major memory slip, and needing to restart from an earlier point. At competitions, this is nearly always an instant path to loss.

Claire Westlake, Chair

Achievement Day

If you’ve never entered students in Achievement Day, this would be a great year to give it a try! Achievement Day is not only a wonderful way to recognize students for their hard work during the year, but also a magnificent opportunity to hold us, as teachers, accountable for making sure that students are becoming well-rounded musicians! It is also a great way to prove to parents that their children are progressing year to year. This year’s event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 13, 2023 at Mesa Community College.

On Achievement Day, students of all levels have the opportunity to show their skills in many areas including performance, technique, sight-reading, and ear training in order to earn a certificate, a ribbon and an optional trophy. If you look at the list of requirements, which can be found on our website, you will see that much of what you are already doing prepares students for this event. In addition, it is important to note that at each level, there are only about 6 – 8 objectives students need to know for a theory or ear training test. The website contains several resources in the member documents section to help you in your preparation such as technique examples and theory practice tests. These items allow you to see exactly what is expected of students at each level. In addition, there are sample planning sheets from Primer to Level 10. These sheets can be placed in student assignment folders to help you keep track of each student’s skills in the weeks or months leading up to Achievement Day.

If you have any questions about the event, contact Carolyn Rooder or 602-527-1721 and she will help you.

Carolyn Rooder, chair

Awards Plus

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 out of 5 years. The Senior Scholar award is also based on DVMTA participation, whether they have earned the Devoted Performer award or not.

A simple form is available on the website, or you can make a spreadsheet or some other tracking method of your choosing. 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!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Jenna Hartley, Chair

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