Parent Handbook


Benefits of Studying Music
Choosing the Right Teacher
Role of Parents
High School Accreditation


Benefits of Studying Music

Were you aware that the study of music has many other intellectual benefits that will help your child in his school studies and on into adult life?

  • One group of 3 year olds received weekly piano lessons and participated in group singing. Another group did not. After a year, the musically trained children scored 80% higher on tests of spatial and temporal reasoning, an ability that underlies many kinds of mathematics and engineering skills. Playing music can increase the creation of neural pathways.
  • In neurological research papers it has shown that when groups studying either piano or computers were compared, students in the piano program showed 34% higher scores in these important areas.
  • Listening for 10 minutes to Mozart Piano Sonatas temporarily raised college students’ IQ by as much as nine points.
  • Comparing the brains of 30 musicians it was discovered that music activates and enhances the cognitive processes involved in language and reasoning.
  • When several American schools integrated music and poetry into their curriculum they found attendance up and behavior problems down.
  • Research shows that 80% – 90% of the brain’s motor-control capabilities is devoted to the hands, mouth and throat. By developing the highly refined control in those areas a child is stimulating a large portion of the brain and that increased intelligence is therefore helped by participation in music.
  • Remember that the root of the word “music” is “muse”, meaning to think, ponder or stimulate thought. We as music teachers are helping to develop the mind of a child! We must never forget that Music (arts) students continue to score higher academically.

Choosing the right teacher

Choosing the right teacher for your child is an important decision. While it is similar to choosing a dentist, or doctor for your family, there are factors that can make it more complex.

You can find a teacher through word-of-mouth from friends, neighbours, or school teachers, or use our Find a Teacher Directory for a listing of members. In order to become full members of the Association, teachers must have completed a diploma or degree in music. This entitles them to put the designation RMT next to their names. If you choose a registered teacher, you are assured that the teacher is qualified. A professional teacher will be happy to inform you of their qualifications and teaching experience.

Once you have made the initial contact with the teacher, probably over the telephone, it is a good idea to arrange an interview for yourself and your child. Many teachers will suggest this, but if not, then you can suggest it. This will allow the teacher to meet your child and assess him/her, but more importantly for you, it will allow you to see where your child will have their lessons, and to observe how the teacher interacts with the child. The teacher’s studio should allow for the lesson to be private and uninterrupted by family members or other waiting students.

How do I handle the interview?
What kinds of questions should I ask?

First of all you should determine with your child the type of program you and your child are interested in.

Do you want to do exams, music festivals, pop music, strictly classical or a mixture of everything. What do you and your child hope to achieve with these music lessons. Long term goals should be discussed. Make sure that you both are in agreement with the kind of program that you are looking for. If you have determined this with your child then at the interview discuss the teacher’s views on your expectations and desires. This is a very important step to a successful relationship that could last over many years. Once you have done this then you are ready to go to the interview.

The following is a short check list of important items to help you in the interview.


Does the teacher hold a recognized degree or diploma in music? If not, are they studying with someone who is qualified to supervise their teaching?
Are they professionally active? Do they perform accompany, belong to a teacher association, attend workshops, etc.?
Do you get the impression that the teacher enjoys her work?
What kind of program do they teach?
What are the cancellation policies?
What are the expectations for daily practicing?

Ask about The Royal Conservatory and Conservatory Canada music programs. Have the teacher explain the grading systems of these programs and the high school credits that can be earned through private music lessons. that can be earned through private music lessons.

Outside of time spent with family, music lessons are one of the very few one-to-one situations for today’s youngsters. In later years the music student may not remember the specifics of the early lessons, but they will remember the personality and style of the teacher, so it is important to ask your child’s opinion of the teacher after the interview. Once you are assured of the teacher’s qualifications, use your instincts as a parent, and choose the teacher that you feel suits your child the best.

Role of Parents

Parents play a vital role in their child’s musical growth, both because they initiate the lessons and choose the teacher and because only they can create and maintain the atmosphere of interest and encouragement at home so necessary to real pleasure and progress in music study.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Provide a good instrument. Keep it well tuned and in good repair.
  • The instrument should be placed in an area free of distractions and good lighting should be provided.
  • Find a qualified teacher and set up an interview with the teacher to be sure that your child’s needs will be met.
  • See that your child arrives on time for lessons and with all the necessary books or materials.
  • Keep and open mind if the teacher you have chosen teaches differently from the way you were taught or uses material with a different look.
  • Help the child arrange a regular practice time and supervise the practice of a very young child.
  • Take time to listen to your child regularly and encourage their playing for family and friends. Every opportunity to play for others will increase your child self-confidence, poise and enjoyment of music study.
  • Listen to music together whether it be attending music recitals or concerts. This is a wonderful way to introduce the world of music to your child and to encourage goals. It is also a lot of fun and a terrific family activity that will be remembered for your whole lives.

High School Accreditation (Updated January 2017)

Did you know that students can receive high school credits for their music studies?

In April 1, 2015, a revised Alberta Transcript of High School Achievement was put in in place that included a new section for other credits awarded for courses not taken in an Alberta accredited school. To support greater accuracy, consistency and comparability in reporting, only marks awarded by Alberta’s provincially accredited schools were reported on the Alberta Transcript. In 2016, ARMTA was able to work with Alberta Education to establish a new “Private Music Evaluations” section of the transcript which does include marks earned by The Royal Conservatory and Conservatory Canada so that these credits include a percentage mark.  This change will be applied retroactively to the 2015–2016 school year.

The following information is taken from the updated Alberta Education Guide to Education 2016, p. 62-63:

When a student requests music credits for private study, in voice or an instrument, a principal may grant 5 credits for each of:

  • Choral Music 10 for voice or Instrumental Music 10 for an instrument
  • Choral Music 20 for voice or Instrumental Music 20 for an instrument
  • Choral Music 30 for voice or Instrumental Music 30 for an instrument.

In addition to awarding course credit, principals will recommend a percentage mark earned by the student through private music study.

Principals are to recommend credits and a percentage mark only on the basis of official transcripts issued by Conservatory Canada or the Royal Conservatory of Music. Diplomas, photocopies of diplomas or photocopies of transcripts will not be accepted for evaluation purposes.

To obtain course credit and have the course mark reported, students are to have passed both the practical and theory components listed in the chart for that course level. Marks submitted by schools to Alberta Education should be calculated for each course as follows:

  • Practical Component – 70% of mark submitted
  • Other Components (Theory) – 30% of mark submitted.

A student may receive a maximum of 5 credits per course (or a maximum of 15 credits total in instrumental music and a maximum of 15 credits in choral music). Students may not receive credit for participation in private music study and Alberta coursework.

Upon entrance to senior high school, credits and percentage marks for work completed in previous years within private music study can be applied to Instrumental or Choral Music 10, 20 and/or 30 following prerequisite course procedures. For example, if a student provides transcripts with both practical and theory exam marks for Grades/Levels 6, 7 and 8, they will be awarded with credit as well as a percentage mark based upon the 70%/30% calculation.

Students who present a transcript for Grade/Level 8 but not for previous grades would receive waived prerequisite credits for Instrumental Music (or Choral Music) 10 and 20 but will not receive a percentage mark.

The mark determined by the principal for each music course is to be submitted into PASI.


    10-level Courses 20-level Courses 30-level Courses
Conservatory Canada Voice, Piano, Guitar (Classical) Grade 6 + Theory II Grade 7 + Theory III Grade 8 (or higher) + Theory IV
  Voice, Piano, Guitar (Contemporary Idioms) Level 6 + Theory II Level 7 + Theory III Level 8 (or higher) + Theory IV
  Trumpet, Clarinet, Flute, Violin, Organ Grade 6 + Theory II Grade/Level 7 + Theory III Grade 8 (or higher) + Theory IV
Royal Conservatory of Music Voice Grade 6 + Intermediate Rudiments Grade 7 + Advanced Rudiments Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments
  Strings, Accordion, Guitar Grade 6 + Intermediate Rudiments Grade 7 + Advanced Rudiments Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments
  Piano Level 6 + Intermediate Rudiments Level 7 + Advanced Rudiments Level 8 (or higher)  + Advanced Rudiments
  Organ N/A Grade 7 + Advanced Rudiments Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments
  Harpsichord N/A N/A Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments
  Flute, Saxophone, Trumpet, Clarinet Grade 6 + Intermediate Rudiments Grade 7 + Advanced Rudiments Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments
  Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Recorder, Harp Grade 4+ Intermediate Rudiments Grade 6 + Intermediate Rudiments Grade 8 (or higher) + Advanced Rudiments


  • All voice courses count as Choral Music 10–20–30 respectively for senior high school credits. All other courses are to be used for Instrumental Music 10–20–30 respectively.
  • Conservatory Canada has two syllabi for voice, piano and guitar that are recognized for senior high school credit, Classical and Contemporary Idioms. The Contemporary Idioms syllabus uses the term “Level” in place of “Grade.”
  • Royal Conservatory of Music strings includes violin, viola, violoncello and double bass only.
  • Royal Conservatory of Music piano syllabus uses the term “Level” in place of “Grade.”
  • Royal Conservatory of Music organ 10-level courses are not available.
  • Royal Conservatory of Music harpsichord 10-level and 20-level courses are not available.
  • Royal Conservatory of Music woodwind includes oboe and bassoon only.
  • Royal Conservatory of Music brass includes horn (French horn), trombone, euphonium and tuba only.

Note: The Royal Conservatory of Music is in the process of adding new syllabi. This chart reflects the syllabi available for 2015–2016.


What is a Registered Music Teacher?

THE ALBERTA REGISTERED MUSIC TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION (ARMTA) is an organiz, ation representing and serving approximately 400 music teachers across the province. The organization began in 1932 as a group of music teachers who were interested in enhancing the quality of life by promoting the love and knowledge of music through teaching and by providing cultural events of a high standard in the community. These became our stated goals and objectives when we became a Registered Professional Association in 1982.

A professional organization is an important and positive influence in raising the standards of music teaching. 

The designation RMT (Registered Music Teacher) is an assurance to the public that the teacher has met specified educational standards. Our full members all hold degrees/diplomas from universities, colleges, and/or music conservatories.  

ARMTA teachers prepare candidates for all recognized examinations, festivals and competitions, but our principal aim as an organization is to educate musicians and music lovers.

ARMTA HAS AN ENORMOUS IMPACT on the communities in our province. At an average rate of 30 students per member, the ARMTA teachers directly touch the lives and serve the needs of over 12,000 Albertans.

ARMTA sponsors various educational programs such as the Student Composer Competition, Canada Music Week activities, concerto competitions and a wide assortment of concerts and workshops. ARMTA participates in the largest music conference in the country, Music Conference Alberta. ARMTA is also involved in local and provincial music festivals and offers a number of scholarships.

ENCOURAGING OUR YOUTH to achieve their highest musical potential is central to the heart of ARMTA.

LOCAL BRANCHES exist in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Red Deer. These branches cater to the regional needs of teachers and offer a wide variety of professional development opportunities to their members and students.

ARMTA is also affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations (CFMTA), a national organization of private music teachers with over 3,600 members.

ARMTA IS ALSO COMMITTED to providing continuing education opportunities for those in remote and/ rural areas.

THE SUCCESS of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association is attributed to the fine teachers which comprise its membership. As and active leader in the musical community for more than 50 years, ARMTA has become intrinsically woven into the cultural fabric of our province.

BEHIND EVERY GREAT MUSICIAN emerging from our homes, there is a great teacher…. most often a Registered Music Teacher of ARMTA.