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What is "Achievement in Music"?



The Illinois State Music Teacher Association has developed a recommended syllabus (course of study) for piano instruction. It covers piano repertoire, theory, rhythm, ear training, sight-reading and technique, and it is divided into twelve levels, each of which requires approximately a year to complete. Standardized Achievement in Music (A.I.M.) exams are a way for the student and teacher to check their progress in learning. A passing score is 65 or above. Students who participate are to be congratulated for the challenging standards they set for themselves.



The exams are given to more than 3,000 students throughout the State. Each student is examined one-on-one by a teacher/judge (other than his/her own teacher). The teachers are volunteers; they receive no pay for this service.

Only students of teachers who are members of both ISMTA and MTNA are eligible to participate in the examinations.  All teachers, who enter students in the exams, are expected to work at the local center.  They are required to judge, help with monitoring halls, or help with grading exams for a half day in both the Theory and the Performance Exams. Teachers entering more than eight students will be required to judge more than a half day.


When & Where

Theory Exams are held in February (Levels 3-12) and Performance Exams are held in April (all levels). Examinations are conducted at Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville), and S.I.U.E. in Edwardsville.



Entry fees range from $20.00 (for levels 1 – 2) to $25.00 (for levels 3 – 12).  The students pay all fees to the teacher, who then writes one check to the Gateway Arch East Chapter ISMTA Student Foundation.  All entry fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.



Achievement in Music planning meetings are held during monthly meetings of GAE. If you would like more information, or if you have questions about A.I.M., please contact our AIM chairperson: Gill Cerbin,

Hints for a Successful AIM Experience


It really helps if teachers:


Pay registration fees

Send the Enrollment Fee Form by the set deadline to the current Gateway Arch East MTA treasurer, Joan Witte, for theory and performance testing. $20.00 @ for levels 1 - 2, and $25.00 @ for levels 3 and up (levels 3 and up only pay once at theory registration).


Sign up to judge and/or monitor

Send the Teacher Judging Form to the appropriate person by the set deadline.  Be sure to fill in the number of students you have enrolled, levels you prefer to judge, if you would prefer to be a monitor, and the potential dates and times you are able to judge.


Register students

Send the Student Enrollment Form to the appropriate person by the set deadline, with all information accurately filled out. The fewer changes there are, the smoother everything runs.


Performance Repertoire

Send the Repertoire Sheets for performance testing only to the appropriate person by the set deadline. Be specific and detailed as to the composition, composer, source, syllabus level, and page number. See the Sample Repertoire Sheets if you need more help.



We need all of the help we can get! Arriving at the judging site before the actual judging time begins really helps. Technology takes time, especially if there is new equipment (CD players for Aural exams). It also takes time to set up rooms for testing. Staying on time while judging is difficult, but important because students and parents get more nervous every minute they wait. Please read your schedules and notice the areas when more than one student are taking portions of their test “together.” Help students be more at ease by giving them some choices in the activity they would like to start (as long as you follow the printed schedule). If you are relaxed and cheerful, the student will do a better job on the exam.


Give us feedback

Tell us what you would like to see improved in AIM. Both the local and state chairmen need your input to help improve the AIM program for ISMTA.


It really helps if students:


Are on time for exams

Help them out with web sites and written directions:

  • Mapquest

  • Southwestern Illinois College

  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


Bring all needed materials to exams

They actually have to bring it into the building and not just have it in the car. Remind them to not have any photocopies (they are illegal).

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