Qing Zhao: A famous judge at the USMCE competition

The United States Music Certification Examination (USMCE) is a testament to the legacy of rigorous music education in North America. Developed by Dr. Scott McBride Smith, President of the MTNA Global Innovation Center, and his team, the USMCE integrates a variety of testing systems from across North America. With a history spanning 125 years, the USMCE student performance evaluation and display system focuses on the performance of prescribed music and assesses fundamental skills. It is supplemented by comprehensive skill tests such as music reading, singing, and rhythm, along with a practical understanding of music theory. This comprehensive approach makes the USMCE an internationally recognized certification exam in the piano community.

USMCE’s rigorous assessment procedures, meticulous preparation of teaching materials, and rigorous training of student examiners reflect the school’s commitment to maintaining high standards. These procedures are tailored to national conditions and the circumstances of students in various countries, ensuring that assessment is both relevant and challenging. In this context, USMCE’s appointment of Qing Zhao as a professional examiner highlights her teaching ability and proficiency in piano subjects.

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Qing Zhao’s appointment as a USMCE juror is a recognition of her achievements in the music industry. Her career has been marked by a series of successful performances at venues such as the Guangzhou Opera House, the Shanghai Steinway Theater, and the New York Steinway Theater. Furthermore, her experience as a semi-finalist juror for the Blüthner-Internationales Music Festival and the Fourth Deutsch-Carl Ronisch International Piano Competition, as well as her role as a juror for the 30th International Johannes Brahms Competition in China, underscores her expertise. This wealth of experience allows Qing Zhao to use her skills to identify the most promising candidates in piano competitions with greater precision.

Among the many awards Qing Zhao has received, the “Best Piano Art Direction Award” stands out as the most important. Reflecting on this honor, she commented, “This award is a milestone for me; it proves that my work in orchestra coaching and opera coaching is recognized by the industry. I deeply understand that music education is a profession that requires continuous learning and progress. This award has strengthened my confidence to continue moving forward, continuously improving my educational standards and teaching abilities to provide better music education to more students.”


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Qing Zhao’s role as a judge for the sixth USMCE competition was a great honor. She described the experience as both unforgettable and rewarding. Throughout the competition, she had the privilege of witnessing many incredible piano performances, with each contestant demonstrating their unique musical talent and limitless potential. “As one of the judges, I not only needed to objectively evaluate their technical level and musical expression, but also to understand the deeper stories and emotional expressions behind their music,” said Qing Zhao.

During the judging process, Qing Zhao discovered that each contestant has their own musical philosophy and style, making each performance a unique musical journey. She strives to remain fair and objective, dedicated to providing each contestant with constructive advice and feedback. Her goal is to help them develop and improve further, promoting their growth as musicians.

Qing Zhao’s contributions to the USMCE competition and the broader music education community are testament to her commitment to excellence. Her journey as a judge and educator continues to inspire many, emphasizing the importance of passion, dedication, and continuous learning in the pursuit of musical excellence.

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