Piano Pedagogy Concentration

A hand pressing a piano key is shown during a graduate music "Vocal Jazz Techniques" class July 23, 2008 in Brady Educational Center (BEC).


The Master of Arts degree with a concentration in piano pedagogy features a broad range of theoretical courses balanced by requirements that apply to piano teachers' work with students of all ages and abilities. The program places emphasis on practical aspects of teaching elementary, intermediate and advanced students to develop their musicianship and technical skills.

In this program, students will

  • Sharpen and improve personal competence in performance on the piano

  • Learn the principles of a healthy and effective technique and how to develop it in students

  • Broaden understanding of music history, theory, and historic piano performance practices

  • Develop a good working knowledge of literature for the piano, as well as specific piano teaching methods, sources, and editions available

  • Gain insights into individual learning styles and performance psychology

  • Gain pedagogical insights into the pedagogy of sight-reading, improvisation, keyboard theory, practicing, and expressive interpretation

  • Discover new applications for existing expertise

  • Expand organizational skills in areas of studio policy, goal-setting, and curriculum development

  • Discover the commonality of the goals and techniques shared by all music educators‌

Music Education Core Courses

Students with a piano pedagogy concentration are required to take the following music education core courses.

  • Dalcroze Musicianship (GMUS 651)

  • Foundations of Music Education (GMUS 608)

  • Introduction to Scholarship and Research Methods in Music Education (GMUS 600)

  • Musicianship I (GMUS 750)

  • Perspectives in Music Theory (GMUS 611)

    • Prerequisite: Passing grade on the Diagnostic Exam

  • Teaching and Learning (GMUS 601)

  • Directed Research (GMUS 876)

    • To be scheduled with advisor

  • M.A. Final Project (GMUS 890)

    • To be scheduled with advisor

Piano Pedagogy Concentration Courses

Students take thirteen required credits in the piano pedagogy field of concentration. Through the required concentration courses, students expand and refine the information needed to work successfullly with pianists of all ages.

  • Advanced Applied Piano Studies (GMUS 571)

    • Offered every semester

    • Three semesters required

    • Private study; 12, 50-minute lessons arranged with the instructor

  • Elementary Materials and Teaching Techniques (GMUS 771)

  • Intermediate Materials and Teaching Techniques (GMUS 772)

  • Supervised Teaching (GMUS 800)

Piano Pedagogy Elective Courses

Elective courses offer students opportunities to further define and hone the breadth and depth of their expertise. Students take a minimum of six elective credits.

  • Advanced Performance Studies (GMUS 571)

  • Advanced Piano Pedagogy (GMUS 773)

  • Keyboard Literature (GMUS 619)

  • Performance Practices (GMUS 615)

  • Topics in Music Education (GMUS 544-xx)

    • Advisor approval required

  • Supervised Teaching (GMUS 800)

    • One additional term

  • Other courses considered for elective credit

    • Advisor approval required

Other Piano Pedagogy Requirements

Diagnostic Examination

All students admitted to the Master of Arts in Music Education program must take and pass a diagnostic examination in music history and theory immediately following their acceptance into the program. This exam is a non-course requirement of the Master of Arts in Music Education degree and also serves as a prerequisite for courses Topics in Music History, Literature, and Theory (GMUS 612) and Musicianship I (GMUS 750).

Oral Comprehensive Examination

Students are required to pass an oral comprehensive examination at the completion of their coursework. In this one-hour examination, students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of philosophical, historical, psychological, and pedagogical foundations and contexts of music education and important issues in the field. Students are expected to synthesize ideas and information and apply this knowledge and understanding to classroom practice.

Piano Recital

  • Length – minimum of 30 minutes

  • Content – a portion of the recital may be an artistic performance of intermediate repertoire

  • When – at the completion of required piano studies; student must be taking lessons during or immediately before the semester the recital is given

  • Prerequisite – Student must satisfactorily perform the entire recital in a hearing for the piano faculty no later than one month before the planned recital date

M.A. Final Project

Concluding the coursework for the Master of Arts degree in music education, students will complete a Master of Arts (M.A.) Project chosen from one of several designs, all of which conclude with submitting four hardbound copies of a written component formatted according to Graduate Programs in Music Education (GPME) Project-Writing Guidelines. The following one- and two-semester designs are not intended to be exhaustive but rather to serve as a basis for other designs along these or other lines. Most projects will take one term to complete, and no projects will take longer than two terms to complete.

One-Semester Designs (Register for M.A, Project GMUS 890)

Design One: Curriculum Project

  1. Includes but is not limited to the development of an extended listing of content and outcomes that may be suitable for use in a teaching studio, classroom, or school district.
  2. The anticipated outcome of this design is a document that outlines the goals, lesson plans, objectives, learning activities, assessments and/or other pertinent information related to learning.
  3. The format for the written component is left to the student in consultation with the advisor according to GPME M.A. Project-Writing Guidelines.
  4. Assessing the effect of a curriculum or lesson plans with a graduate student's students, or some other project using human subjects is not possible within this design. See Design Five for accomplishing this.

Design Two: Scholarly Paper

  1. Designed to refine skills in a new area for the student or in re-thinking and re-envisioning a previously considered idea.
  2. The topic may evolve from a previously written graduate paper or project or may be a topic of a new departure for the student.
  3. The format for the paper is left to the student in consultation with the advisor according to GPME M.A. Project-Writing Guidelines.
  4. A study involving human subjects is not possible within this design. See Design Five for accomplishing this.

Design Three: Composition and Commentary

Includes but is not limited to students composing and describing in detail a composition, or compositions they have composed and/or arranged for their students. This type of project typically consists of:

  1. Composing or arranging the composition/arrangement resulting in a full score.
  2. A detailed written description of the composition, the compositional process, and the implications that the composition may have for the music education community. It is assumed that the emphasis of this composition will have direct implications for music education.
  3. An audio recording of the composition(s)/arrangement(s).
  4. The full score of the composition with the description/commentary and an audio recording are included with the bound written element, although the format for the written component is left to the student in consultation with the advisor according to GPME M.A. Project-Writing Guidelines. The written component must include and describe pedagogical implications of the composition.
  5. Assessing the effect, impact or perceptions of the composition with a graduate student's students, or some other project using human subjects is not possible within this design. See Design Five for accomplishing this.

Two-Semester Designs
(First semester register for Directed Research, GMUS 876; Second semester register for M.A. Project, GMUS 890)

Designs four and five are the only options for doing two-semester M.A. projects involving GMUS 876 Directed Research the first semester and GMUS 890 M.A. Project the second semester. Students seeking to do either design four or five need to obtain the approval of the GPME Director two terms before the beginning of the first semester of the project.

Design Four: Lecture-Recital or Teaching Demonstration

Public presentation of lecture-recital/teaching demonstration of student's area of expertise, typically consisting of:

  1. Proposal of a couple of pages containing a working title; a brief description of the proposed lecture-recital/demonstration; proposed bibliography; and significance of the project. It is assumed that the emphasis of this lecture/recital will have a focus on music education and potential pedagogical implications.
  2. The lecture-recital/teaching demonstration will be performed as a "hearing" for the committee for its approval no later than two weeks before the scheduled public presentation.
  3. The actual public lecture-recital/demonstration (video-audio recorded) should last approximately 50 to 60 minutes. The lecture portion should comprise at least half of that duration.
  4. Four hardbound copies of the lecture portion in written form, together with a bibliography and other pertinent material (scores, etc.). This written portion may be considerably shorter than that of other projects and may simply contain a few pages of the aforementioned material and will be submitted with a video-sound recording. It is assumed that the emphasis of the written portions of the lecture will have direct implications for music education.
  5. The format for the written component is left to the student in consultation with the advisor according to GPME M.A. Project-Writing Guidelines.

Design Five: Thesis

The two-semester thesis is built along the lines of a scholarly paper but conforms to more traditional research lines of qualitative, quantitative, historical, philosophical, descriptive and mixed methodologies--or it is based on Designs One, Two, or Three with a human subjects component. Other distinctive features include:

  1. A formal thesis committee (rather than faculty readers).
  2. A formal proposal agreed upon by the committee.
  3. A formal defense involving the student, advisor and committee members.


  1. If a student is interested in doing some kind of assessment with their students or a survey or other kind of study that involves human subjects, they need to proceed through the appropriate UST Institutional Review Board (IRB). This simple act typically adds one semester to a study.
  2. An excellent introduction to research methodologies can be found in Kenneth Phillips' Exploring Research in Music Education and Music Therapy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). It is highly recommended that students review the materials pertaining to their methodology well before they begin Design Five: Thesis.
  3. The format for the written component is left to the student in consultation with the advisor according to GPME M.A. Project-Writing Guidelines.


Coming Summer 2015: Peter Mack and Friends

Summer Workshops in Piano Pedagogy

Three days of extraordinary workshops with nationally renowned presenters. Visit the Summer Workshops in Piano Pedagogy page to view presenter bios and learn about registration, housing, and cost.  

Workshop sessions are $45 each, $25 for full-time UST and ACTC students. Discounted rates for attending all three days is available. To register complete the SWPP Registration form‌. On-campus housing is available in air-conditioned apartments with private bedrooms, semi-private baths, living room and kitchen.

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