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Electric Piano


 TMTA Theory Test 

In the Fall and Spring, the Texas Music Teachers Association ( administers a theory test to evaluate students’ musical knowledge of and the ability to apply theory, aural, and musicianship concepts across a broad musical spectrum.


The goal is to take the theory test on grade level, but not everyone has to! If you started your journey in theory at age 5, of course you will most likely be on grade level. But if you didn’t have the privilege of starting lessons until you were in 9th grade, there is no way I’d sign you up for the 9th grade test – it’s hard. In many cases, you might start at the 4th grade level, or at the very least two grades below your current grade level. We have options. The students will either take the test in a classroom setting at HEP or in my studio. 

 TMTA World of Music Test

The purpose of the World of Music is to introduce students to music history through the study of composer’s music, their life, and composition styles. To participate in this activity, World of Music books are available to purchase for levels 1-12.  The books and testing information have been created so that students may enter at any time in their current grade level. Registered students are tested in the spring semester over the information in their World of Music and those who receive a 90% or higher will receive a gold medal.

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 Gold Cup 

What is Gold Cup, and who is it sponsored by?

One of the most popular events for student pianists is the Gold Cup program, which is hosted by local organizations affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC). Since its inception in 1888, “NFMC has become the largest nonprofit organization in America to promote and support American music, performers and music education.” Amazingly, there are more than 135,000 student members who participate in NFMC events throughout the US every year!

Every state has its own state-level NFMC organization – for example, the Texas Federation of Music Clubs – and within each state, there are multiple geographical districts, which are then broken into multiple local associations, known as “clubs”. I am a member of the San Jacinto Music Teachers  (SJMT), whose member teachers hail from all over the Houston area, but most notably the Clear Lake, Friendswood, and Pearland areas. There are a number of other clubs in the Houston area.

Our local Gold Cup festival is non-competitive; however, students who score a Superior or Superior Plus are eligible to attend the competitive state-level festival at Texas State University in San Marcos or the SJMT Music Festival.


When does it take place?

The SJMT Gold Cup takes place over the course of two Saturdays in mid-February. Students who miss their audition due to unforeseen circumstances will be provided with a make-up date in March.


What happens at the festival?

After checking in at the registration desk, students and parents wait in a designated space until the student’s performance time is called.  A moderator will then take the students to their assigned judging rooms (please note: parents are not allowed to sit in on their children’s auditions). The student will perform their warm-up, then their assigned pieces for the judge. As soon as the audition is over, the student and family are free to go. Students will not receive judges’ comments otherwise, until after the festival day has concluded. Critiques are provided directly to the teacher.


Gold Cup Festival is meant to be a positive, affirming event!  A superior rating is a huge accomplishment and should be celebrated!

What types of repertoire can a student perform?

There are multiple performance events at Gold Cup, with the most popular being Piano Solo.  Students also may select from a number of events, including American Patriotic, hymns, sacred solos, and ensembles (duets, trios, etc.). For each event, there is a defined list of pieces, from which each participant must choose one; this is called their "required piece". Each student must perform a second "choice piece." For students participating in levels Elementary I and above, the choice piece cannot have been written by an American composer.


Do students have to be advanced to participate?

No - this festival is for students of all ages and levels! Students with basic note reading skills (e.g. Alfred’s Level 1A or Keyboard Kickoff) can perform in the Pre-Primary or Primary 1 level. It is not unusual for a student to start in Pre-Primary and, over the years, advance to the Musically Advanced level, which includes professional-level works by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Grieg, etc.

How do we get a Gold Cup?

Gold Cup trophies are available after students have scored 15 points towards the particular performance event. Students earn 5 points per Superior, 4 points per Excellent, 3 points per Fair, etc. I'll get the trophy from the event chair and give it to you following the festival.

Please note: points do not apply across events.  If a student scores a Superior in Piano Solo the first year, then in Hymns the next two years, s/he will not be eligible for the cup until s/he has reached 15 points for either Piano Solo or for Hymns.

 SJMT Music Festival 

The SJMT Music Festival in March will provide an opportunity for all students who achieve a Superior or Superior Plus ranking in any judged event in any category (except Theory) since the previous September to play their required piece OR, with festival chair approval, their choice piece before a distinguished judge.

Similar to other judged events, each qualified student will play their one piece per event in a non-competitive setting. Every student will be judged on their own merit. At the judge's discretion, students with an exceptionally outstanding performance will be awarded a plaque and an opportunity to play in the Lydia Rodriguez Honor Recital. The other performers will receive ribbons based on rankings.

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