Monthly Email from Desert Valley Music Teachers Association
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October 28
Music Marathon
(locations posted on the website)

November 18-19
Original Composition Festival
(My First Piano)

December 1
December luncheon
(Panera located at Val Vista and Baseline)

February 24
Cavalcade of Rhythm
(Mesquite High School)

April 14 
Awards in Excellence Auditions
(AZ Piano)

April 21 
Awards in Excellence Recitals
(AZ Piano)

April 27
April Brunch
(location TBD)

May 12
Achievement Day

May 14 
Awards Plus
(Legacy Retirement Residence) 
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Click the button above to renew your DVMTA membership.  Not a member? Not a problem! DVMTA's annual membership fee is only $45 for new members and $50 for renewing members! 

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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

October 2017


Hello DVMTA Friends!
Many of us and our students are enjoying Fall Break. It’s wonderful to relax a little, but also to catch our breath and get ready for the start of our adventurous DVMTA Events season.  Music Marathon is right around the corner. Just up the ways after that is Original Composition Festival. Continue on a little further with Cavalcade of Rhythm group choices, registration and practice. And that’s all before Christmas! Students who participate in these events pour their energy into making each note and performance great, and we’re right along the journey to encourage and guide. The adventures aren’t always smooth sailing: along the way most students will hit a few peaks and valleys, climbing high, sinking low, but hopefully steadily progressing on the journey. “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” (Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own).  
We look forward to seeing you at Cavalcade Music Read Through at the next General Meeting, Oct. 27th, 9:30 a.m. at My First Piano Showroom, 1166 S Gilbert Rd Suite 113, Gilbert. Please note it’s not the same location as our other General Meetings in Mesa.
-Shannon Payne, DVMTA President

September General Meeting:
Thank you to our fabulous DVMTA members who shared their favorite tips and activities for teaching in their studios. We have fun and amazingly gifted teachers! Thank you to Hillary Bitter, Linda Carpenter, Carolyn Eldredge, Nancy McGuire and Keisha Weight. 

Library News:
Our DVMTA library items are now available to view on our website, Members will need to log in to view the items and instructions for checking items out. If you have ideas for new items for the library that would be beneficial to members please let us know!

Job Opportunity:
Greetings DVMTA teachers! My name is Catherine Choi, and I am the Director of Music at St. Stevens located in Sun Lakes. We are currently looking for a highly skilled pianist/collaborative accompanist to play for 2-3 masses every weekend. The pianist must know how to read lead charts and sight read as well as play both traditional and contemporary pieces. Proficiency in voice and familiarity with Catholic Liturgical Mass is strongly preferred. There is opportunity for extra hours in funerals (if you can sing) as well as perform admin work. The pay is $75/mass.  Please email me with your resume as well as brief description of your availability in your cover letter. 
Thank you!
Catherine Choi, MSW
Cell 480-221-4384
St. Steven's Catholic Church
24827 S Dobson Rd, Sun Lakes, Arizona, 85248


Don’t forget about Music Marathon, coming up in a few weeks, on Saturday, October 28, 2017! The schedule has been posted on the DVMTA website. There have been a few changes to the schedule, since it was first posted, so please revisit the schedule to make sure you have the current information.

Don’t forget to print out the Music Marathon invitations for your students and their families!

We are really looking forward to our student’s performances in our communities!

It’s Time to Print, Record and Hit “Send”!
Students should be finishing up their
compositions for the
2017 Original Composition Festival
Compositions and Registration Forms are due October 27
Recitals are in November at My First Piano in Mesa
Call Lori Weidemann at 480-756-2201


Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, step right up and prepare for a show that will dazzle & delight!

Registration for Cavalcade 2017 begins this month at the general meeting and continues until November 18th.  All information and registration materials are available at Note that you’ll need to turn in the registration form AND the cover sheet stating when you are available to help.  On the registration form, you’ll need the students’ ages AND heights.  This is crucial for placing the students where they can see the director best.  Please read over the forms carefully and make sure parents understand what they are committing to in February.  We suggest keeping a copy of your registration forms.  Un-partnered students will be matched up with students from other studios. You will be notified by Heidi Morris when the groups are set and she will verify the parts for students with you.  Teachers are welcome and encouraged to play in Cavalcade as well (no fees for teachers, but please include yourself on your registration forms.)

The music is already at The Music Store if you’d like to go down now and take a look prior to registering your students.  You can also attend our October 28th meeting and actually play through the songs!  

*Please note that this meeting will be held at the new My First Piano showroom:
1166 S Gilbert Rd Suite 113, Gilbert, AZ 85296 (near Bounce U and the Regal Gilbert Stadium Theater)

Remember that the goal is to help the students be successful in an ensemble experience, not to play in the highest group possible.  They must be able to play their songs well, listen to the group, and follow the director.  Please read the directors’ notes before teaching the songs to the students.  Some add introductions or repeats, and we don’t want the students to be confused.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Joni Walker or Hollie Lunt.  Don’t get left out, wishing you were part of the Cavalcade fun.  Join us for some “Sounds of the Circus!”


Good Question! It is a piano competition – complete with WINNERS and CASH PRIZES and all kinds of great stuff! Students must memorize 2 piano pieces of differing styles or musical eras chosen from the DVMTA Repertoire List. They compete in front of one judge in a small room. The judges give awesome feedback to every participant.

Right Now is the perfect time to start thinking about Awards in Excellence! The competition takes place next April 14, 2018 and the Winner’s Recital is April 21, 2018.

Achievement Day – May 12, 2018 – Preparing for Ear-Training and Sight-Reading

By now, I am sure you are settled into your teaching routine.  This means you are already in the process of preparing students for Achievement Day whether you are aware of it or not!  Last month, I shared some hints for helping your students prepare for the technique requirement for this event.  In addition to technique, two other skills that are important to emphasize on a regular basis are ear-training and sight-reading which are two of the options available at Achievement Day.  Unfortunately, we are not present during our students’ practice sessions.  Therefore, we need to help our students develop the reading skills necessary for figuring out new pieces and the listening skills necessary for recognizing and correcting mistakes along the way.  Many method book series contain sight-reading and ear-training exercises, there are a few series devoted solely to sight-reading instruction or ear-training instruction and there are many apps and on-line resources as well.   However, as good as many of these resources are, they don’t necessarily correlate 100% with our AD requirements.  For example, you could have a student complete a whole book on ear-training throughout the year only to have the student fail his test on Achievement Day!  Therefore, in regards to preparation for the ear-training test, I find it most beneficial to teach directly to each of the five or six required objectives listed for each student’s level.  I improvise many of the ear-training exercises I use with the students, and when needed, I pull a lot of examples from the Alfred Ear-Training books or other sources.  For example, to prepare students at the Primer Level, I improvise segments for students to identify high/low, going up/going down/repeating, steps/skips, and piano/forte.  Then I use select exercises from an ear-training book that has students choose the correct rhythm from two examples to practice the rhythm objective.  With these few simple activities, I have covered all five of the objectives that the student will be tested on!  Of course, it gets a little more difficult to find comparable exercises for some of the higher-level skills, but with a little effort and creativity, it can be done.  For example, when I had a Level Nine student that needed to be able to draw missing notes to complete a melody, I Xeroxed a few lines from a sight-singing book and whited out two or three notes when I couldn’t find a suitable published exercise.

Preparing for the sight-reading option is mostly a matter of helping students to develop a method for approaching new material and then using this method as often as possible with short musical segments – preferably about two levels below the student’s current level of study.  Students need to be trained to identify key signature, time signature, starting hand position, accidentals, tricky rhythms, dynamics and articulation of the selection before attempting to play it .  They should be encouraged to play slowly keeping a steady beat.  I also have students “ghost” play, or “play” without sound in order to locate sharps or flats, tricky intervals, or accidentals before playing aloud.   

The key to solid preparation in ear-training and sight-reading is frequent, distributed practice!  In other words, practice it often throughout the year!  Since lesson time is short, I designate weeks as sight-reading weeks or ear-training weeks so that I intentionally practice both skills on a regular basis with all of my students.  This keeps me from trying to cram all the skills into the students’ heads in March and April!  

Next month, I will focus on Theory preparation. Questions?  Contact Carolyn Rooder at

Now that registration for DVMTA events has begun, remember to track your students’ participation. I keep a copy of all my registration forms, but also keep a spreadsheet, a master list if you will, of participation. Whether you keep one 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. 

This 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.

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