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What can it do for you?

One day, many years ago in a supermarket parking lot, I ran into an old high school classmate who was then a prominent dentist in our community. He greeted me with, "Hi, Barry, how are you? Are you still teaching piano?" I instinctively replied, "I'm fine thanks, and you? Are you still pulling teeth?" As his face flushed with embarrassment, he took one foot out of his mouth to replace it with the other, saying, "Of course! Why should I consider your profession any less important than mine." It was shortly after this encounter that I became certification chairperson for the New York State MTA.

I've heard many concerns about certification, and the need for certification. To answer some of these concerns, we should first look at a definition of "certification." Literally, it means "to make certain, to attest to one's competency in any occupation." When it has been attested to, and when enough of us have achieved certification, then, and only then, can we regard ourselves as recognized professionals. Until that time, we each exist in our own small sphere of professionalism, respected only by those who speak our language and share our knowledge. To the general public, who most need our services, we remain isolated, unidentifiable people, who, for some reason or another, teach music. For me that is not enough. I want the respect for my profession to be in direct proportion to the dedication I have given it and to reflect the education I have provided myself with. Through the unity of standards reached, we demonstrate our competence in our profession and will earn the respect of peers and the public alike.

Let's not stumble into the pitfall of comparing private music teaching with other professions. Doctors have internship programs after they have received their degrees, and lawyers must pass the law boards after they have graduated law schools. Only then are these professionals allowed to practice. Many professions require continued study to retain the right to practice. To this date, anyone can call themselves a private music teacher, with or without formal training and without any kind of attestation.

United in certification, we stand as proud professionals in our chosen field. Divided, we function individually without public respect or recognition, and allow and promote the practice of our profession by people who are doing a disservice to our young potential musicians, as well as ourselves. I believe we, and our profession, deserve more.

Barry Weinberg, NCTM

Boca Raton, Florida

Barry Weinberg, NCTM, is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, and an internationally known lecturer, clinician and adjudicator. He is the president of the Palm Beach County (Florida) MTA, and former vice president of the New York State MTA.
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Title Annotation:Professional Certification
Author:Weinberg, Barry
Publication:American Music Teacher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:455
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