MMTA Programs

“Challenge Award Points” are earned for participation in each Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA) program.  These points earn awards, including a ribbon, bronze star pin, silver star pin, gold star pin, and Challenge Award trophy. Monetary awards are given to students with exceptional scores for Comprehensive Piano Exams (Levels 4 and above) and Theory Exams (Level 5 and above).

Comprehensive Piano Exams

(45- or 60-min. lesson required)

These thorough exams ensure a comprehensive, thorough musical education. Students receive feedback from a judge. These exams are offered in 12 levels (Prep-11), and consist of three parts:

  1. Repertoire: Students prepare three to four pieces (depending on level) from contrasting musical time periods, selected from an extensive list of repertoire choices. The pieces are played for a judge, with fluency, technique, and interpretation evaluated. Depending on level, their ability to critically discuss terms, ideas and concepts will also be evaluated. Memorization of music is highly recommended.
  2. Keyboard Skills: Develops proficiency on pentascales or scales, chords, and arpeggios.
  3. Sightplaying: Includes note, interval, and rhythm reading, along with sightplaying of two or three short pieces.

Sightplaying Exams

(45- or 60-min. lesson required) 

The Sightplaying portion of the Comprehensive Piano Exam (above) may be taken as a separate exam at Levels Prep-6. Designed to develop proficiency in playing keyboard music at sight.

Music Theory Exams

(45- or 60-min. lesson required) 

These exams develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the “mathematics of music.” A strong foundation in music theory gives students an understanding of the “underpinnings” and building blocks of music. The skills developed in preparation for these exams have direct application to the songs they are playing. The knowledge gained benefits students in any musical pursuits that lie in their future – whether playing as a hobby, a career, or a service capacity – and in any instrument – whether piano, voice, or another instrument. These exams are offered in 8 levels, and consist of three parts:

  1. Written Theory: Includes skills such as analyzing music, notating scales and chords, and harmonizing a melody.
  2. Keyboard Skills: Including scales, sightplaying, transposing and accompanying a melody.
  3. Aural (Ear) Training: Students learn to listen and identify rhythms, intervals, chordal modes, and melodic dictation.

State Piano Contest

(45- or 60-min. lesson required) 

Over 3,300 students (age 20 and under) enter the MMTA Piano Contest annually. Preliminaries are held in each district throughout the state in late January/early February, and Piano Contest Finals are held in March of each year. Pianists with the highest scores in the Piano Contest Finals are selected to perform in ensembles at the Honors Concert (in May or June) at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This concert has grown into a gala event involving 700 young performers on 20 grand pianos. Memorization of music is required.

Ensembles Festival

Play a duet or trio with another student (playing from memory is encouraged but not required). This noncompetitive event is held in November in Eden Prairie or Edina.  Each ensemble is assigned a “recital” time with other ensembles that family can attend; expect the “recital” to last approximately 30-60 minutes.  Students receive feedback from a judge.

MusicLink Playathon

Join hundreds of other students from across the state at the Mall of America (Macy’s Court) to raise funds for the MusicLink program, which provides scholarships and other support so kids in need can benefit from music lessons. Minnesota has more MusicLink teachers and students than any other state in the country! Use your music to benefit others by performing at this exciting venue held in February each year (arrive in time for your performance time, and stay as short or as long as you’d like). Performances may be solos or ensembles (such as duets). Performers may perform one or two pieces (as desired).

  • Fee: No fee.  Participants make a (tax-deductible) donation, or collect pledges in advance from family and friends.  Donations may be made online or turned in at the Playathon.
  • Pledges are tax-deductible. A receipt will be given on the day of the Playathon at Check-Out.