Exam Preparation

The goals and learning styles of our students are varied as the students themselves. For those who are motivated by exams that award level certification, they may take optional exams offered by the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC) and National Guild.

Extracurricular Credit: College admissions look favorably upon the completion of top levels for both tests as successful completion demonstrates motivation outside of school work (per conversation with UCLA admissions, 2012)

We have successfully prepared many students for all levels of testing. One or both exams may be taken for motivated students.


Consultation with Private Instructor and ISM Director. Minimum practice time: 45 minutes, 5-6 days for lower levels; 1 hour, 6 days a week for middle levels; 2 hours, 6 days a week for upper levels. For young students (grade 8 and below), the completion of weekly assignments is the co-responsibility of both student and parent.

Recommended start age: 7

About the MTAC Certificate of Merit: the most popular gradient exam in California for private music students, this is an annual exam that awards certificates for the completion of each of its 11 levels. Testing is in four disciplines: Technique, theory, ear- training, and a program of 2-5 pieces.

About the National Guild Piano-playing Auditions: This is an annual, national exam for piano students. No theory is tested, but there is special emphasis on performance, as up to 15 pieces may be programmed each year. Certificates are awarded for the completion of each of its 15 levels.

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