TC291: UME Piano Exams with Michelle Madder

We’re all about the exam game. Today’s episode is all about the Universal Music Exam program, which is founded by Michelle Madder. In this episode, she shares the story behind how she started UME, what sets its methodologies apart from others, and what to expect when you choose to take one of their exams. We’ll also be unpacking everything you need to know about UME piano exams program, from what it is, to how it works, and why you’d want to check it out.

  • The story of how Michelle started Australian Music School.
  • Finding the right person to work with her on the AMS methodology.
  • How she started building the Universal Music Exam.
  • What sets Universal Music Exam apart from other exams.
  • The instruments they are offering at UME.
  • Michelle shares the flexible exam requirements for students. 
  • Pieces and repertoire that are allowed in the exams.
  • Types of teachers who are using UME.
  • The UME events they’ve launched since it started.
  • The recognition of students who take UME piano exams.
  • Details of how to take their exams, the costs, and who can take it.
  • Michelle’s future goals for UME.

Guest Links

Today’s Guest

UME Piano Exams

Michelle is an Australian pianist, composer and teacher with over 30 years’ experience. As a young person, Michelle was well recognised as a pianist and composer, winning the ABC Young Composer’s Competition and several prestigious piano awards. Michelle studied composition with Peter Sculthorpe at Sydney University and graduated with Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Composition. She then went on to further study of Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium.

She founded Australian Music Schools in 1993 and over the ensuing years expanded to offer quality music education in locations across Sydney. As director of AMS Michelle designed a piano exam system which proved successful over many years of operation. She further developed the syllabus and established UME – a quality music examination system focused on the needs of students and teachers. As head piano examiner of UME, Michelle brings experience, empathy and musical expertise to what can be a stressful time for students and their parents. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Michelle now mentors teachers around the globe.

Today’s Sponsor

Musicnotes for Education

Teachers and students everywhere deserve a sheet music experience that impresses, and that’s precisely what you get from, the largest online retailer of quality sheet music!

Musicnotes has built a special Pro membership exclusively for teachers and students.

With Musicnotes Pro for Education, teachers and students will get exclusive discounts on every sheet music purchase and in-app benefits to keep their sheet music library organized and at their fingertips so they can play anywhere – all without a membership fee.

Teachers and students can apply for a free Pro for Education membership today and bring the benefits of Musicnotes to every lesson!

Join free today at

P.S an exclusive for our Top Music listeners, Musicnotes are offering 25% off e-Gift cards for a limited time! Visit to claim this exclusive offer!

Thank you for tuning in!

Consider implementing the ideas from this podcast by writing several actionable steps for your teaching practice if it’s inspired you.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, which helps other teachers find our show.

Stay updated by subscribing to this show, and get automatic delivery to your device every time a new episode goes live! We publish on Fridays weekly.

Your ultimate teaching resource

subscribe to the
Integrated music teaching podcast

Are you ready to revolutionise your teaching?

Join the world's largest
creative music teaching membership

contact us

Reach out to learn more about our multi-teacher memberships