Skip to main content

Certificate of Merit

Certificate of Merit (CM) is a systematic music study program involving approximately 30,000 music students in annual evaluations throughout California. Sponsored by The Music Teachers’ Association of California ® (MTAC), this program is designed to develop the typical student, while simultaneously offering challenging opportunities for the advanced level student. Students who participate in CM benefit from a higher level educational opportunity by increasing musical aptitude, gaining self-confidence, and attaining advanced levels of musical achievement.

The MTAC online system supports students’ musical endeavors in CM through a variety of tools and resources. Using web-based portals, teachers are able to efficiently manage their student roster and applications, while parents are able to view up-to-date information on their child’s application and progress.

The Certificate of Merit phase of the online system launched in the late summer of 2016.

// Important CM Dates for 2023-2024

  • Sept. 1-Sept. 30 – CM Application Period

  • Sept. 1-Oct. 5 – Payment Period

  • Oct. 5 – Grade/Level Change Requests Close

  • January 15 – Change of Teacher deadline

  • January 15 – Last day to add repertoire

  • March 1 – Deadline for evaluation media submissions

Branch Recitals

Branch recitals are public performance opportunities open to students of branch member teachers. Students should be at about CM Level 2 or above. Recitals are free and open to the public. The fee of $5.00 per performer supports venue rental and program printing costs.

Opus One Recital

Opus One provides an informal home performance opportunity for students with little or no recital experience. It is offered to students of all ages/instruments at CM Prep Level through Level 2 or equivalent, who will feel more comfortable performing in a home-like environment. These recitals are held in the homes of member teachers. Watch the newsletter for dates and locations. All guidelines for the standard MTAC Performances apply. The fee of $5 per performer supports program printing costs and reception supplies. At the discretion of the host, an informal reception may follow the performance. Teachers and families are encouraged to donate refreshments.

// Student Recital Dates for 2023-2024 have not been set.

Celebrate Piano Ensemble (CPE)

Celebrate Piano Ensemble offers pianists an avenue to explore literature for one or two pianos, four or eight hands. The annual February concert, this year Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 at 4pm at Peace United Church, is a fund-raiser for the Talent Bank scholarships. Meetings during the year are open to all interested members and instruments, friends and students. Check the newsletter for event and meeting dates.

Munching with Mozart – Free concerts at the Public Library

‘MunchMo’ is a series of informal concerts in the meeting room of the Central Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library. Concerts are co-sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Music Teachers and the FSCPL (Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries). These free concerts happen monthly on the 3rd Friday and begin at 12:10 p.m. Performers are children and adult amateurs, as well as professional musicians. The only requirement is that the performances be at a level that will be enjoyed by a general audience. The attendance ranges from 45 to 60 people. Musicians donate their performances. For more information contact Carol Panofsky at

Performance Dress Guidelines

// Preferred Dress


Hair should be arranged so that it does not fall into the face while performing.

Black concert attire is appropriate.


  • Dresses or skirts knee length or longer, or dressy slacks. (Skirts shorter than knee length should be accompanied by tights.)
  • Blouses or shirts completely covering midriff when performing.
  • Dress shoes (no athletic shoes or flip-flops).
  • Pianists: Try out shoes with piano pedals beforehand.


  • Collared dress shirt, dress slacks and nice shoes. Coat and tie welcome.
  • No athletic shoes or flip-flops.

**Dress guidelines apply to all Santa Cruz County Branch performances, including Certificate of Merit events.

// Not allowed

T-shirts, shorts, athletic team jerseys, jeans, bare midriffs, exposed underwear, form fitting camisoles or tank tops, sloppy slide-on shoes including flip-flops.

We reserve the right to ask inappropriately dressed students not to perform.

Concert Etiquette

  • Plan to arrive a little early – allow more than enough time to find parking.
  • Sit quietly while others perform.
  • Performers should acknowledge the audience’s applause with a bow and smile before and after performing.
  • PLAN TO STAY FOR THE ENTIRE RECITAL — if you must leave early, sit near the exit and leave between pieces.

  • Parents, be prepared to take noisy younger siblings outside.

Other State Programs