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Curriculum: Piano or Organ Undergraduates

Life isn't an audition.

Any music school can make you a better player. Our interconnected courses are built to transform you intellectually, artistically, professionally, and individually. You'll understand the roots of your music, freeing you to take it somewhere new. You'll see how your training broadens your options, rather than narrowing them. You'll find your voice. And you'll enter the world with the same confidence you bring to the stage.

Required Courses

Curriculum: Bachelor of Music in Piano or Organ
Credit Total: 127

Rec. Course #/Title Cr.
Private Instruction
1st/2nd/3rd/4th yr. PVL 100 Major Instruction 32
Musicianship and Music Theory
1st yr. MMT 102/112 Musicianship 4
1st yr. MMT 103/113 Musicianship 4
2nd yr. MMT 104/114 Musicianship 4
2nd yr. MMT 105/115 Musicianship 4
3rd yr. MMT 106 Musicianship 2
3rd yr. MMT 107 Musicianship 2
3rd yr. MMT 232/233 Keyboard Harmony 4
3rd yr. MMT 230/231 Score-Reading at the Piano (taken with MMT 232/233) 2
Performance Class
1st/2nd/3rd/4th yr. PRF 352 Piano Forum 2
Humanities and Sciences
1st yr. HMS 110/111 Approaches to College Writing 6
2nd yr. HMS 202/203 Intro to Western Civilization 6
3rd yr. HMS 302-399 (Literature) 3
4th yr. HMS 402-479 (Hist/Phil) 3
  HMS 210-599 12
Music History and Literature
2nd yr. MHL 202/203 4
3rd yr. MHL 204 2
3rd yr. MHL 312-315 Keyboard Lit 4
4th yr. MHL 400-599 or MMT 252 or 253 3
4th yr. Other MHL/MMT Courses (except MHL 202-399 and MMT 100-115) 3
Applied Practical Training / Professional Development
1st yr. PDV 200 Professional Fundamentals; PDV 202 Finance for Musicians 2
3rd yr. APP 252 Piano Pedagogy (Organ majors must fulfill this requirement by registering for IND 500 Independent Study, sponsored by their major teacher) 2
4th yr. PDV 203-599 2
Baroque Studies
3rd yr. 2 credits’ worth of the following: PRF 354 Harpsichord Class; PRF 358 Forte Piano Class; ENS 212 Continuo Playing; MHL 400 Intro to Perf. Practice (3 credits) 2
1st yr. ENS 310 Intro to Accompanying 4
3rd yr. ENS 300 Chorus or ENS 301 Chamber Choir 2
2nd/4th yr. ENS 200-599 4
Winter Term
1st yr. Project
2nd yr. Project
3rd yr. Project
Electives (5 credits total)
Courses numbered HMS 202-590, MMT 202-799, and courses in the APP, ENS, IND, MHL and PDV series that aren’t used to fulfill core curriculum or major field requirements may be used to fulfill the requirements for the elective credits listed for individual majors.
Juries and Recitals
1st yr. JRFR Freshman Jury
2nd yr. JRSO Sophomore Jury
3rd yr. JRJU Junior Jury
4th yr. JRSN Senior Jury
4th yr. JRCON Concerto Jury (piano only)  
4th yr. RCTSN Senior Recital

Historical Performance Emphasis for Keyboard (undergraduate) (total credits: 9-11)

  • ENS 210 (Conservatory Baroque Ensemble) (2 semesters, 4 credits)
  • ENS 212 (Continuo Playing) (1 semester, 2 credits) (not required if students can demonstrate prior experience)
  • MHL 400 (Introduction to Performance Practice) (1 semester, 3 credits)
  • PRF 354 (Harpsichord Class) (2 semesters, 2 credits)
  • Jury requirements as determined by Historical Performance faculty

These credits also count towards the Bachelor of Music degree.

Piano Jury and Recital Requirements

Freshman Jury

  • A prelude and fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier or another work of Bach containing a fugue
  • An entire sonata by Beethoven, Mozart, or Haydn
  • A romantic work by a nineteenth-century composer or a work by a representative French composer (Debussy, Ravel, or others)
  • A work by a twentieth-century composer genuinely representative of musical and technical concepts developed in the last 80 years

Sophomore Jury

  • Any complete partita, French suite, or English suite, or any major work such as the Italian Concerto, or five sinfonias or two preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach
  • A work from the classical period
  • A major romantic work (corresponding in importance and difficulty to a Chopin ballade or scherzo or Brahms’ Eight Piano Pieces, Op. 76)
  • An etude or prelude by Debussy
  • A 20th- or 21st century work

Junior Jury

  • A program of completely new material of not less than 60 minutes in length, to be approved by the major professor and the piano department, including etudes by two different composers (Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, etc.)

Senior Jury and Senior Recital

  • Piano majors must perform a senior jury to determine fulfillment of performance requirements. A public recital also must be performed, with repertoire approved by the major professor and the piano department.

Concerto Requirement

  • At any time during an undergraduate's residency, a one-time concerto performance requirement must be satisfied at an additional concerto jury. This requirement may be waived by permission if the residency is one year or less. Finalists in the Conservatory's annual concerto competition are also excluded from this requirement.

Organ Jury and Recital Requirements

Freshman Jury

  • A working knowledge of the organ, its design, construction, and registration
  • Trios, fughettas, and chorale preludes from the baroque period; selected works from Bach (e.g. Little Organ Book and Eight Short Preludes and Fugues)
  • Short compositions of Mendelssohn, Brahms, Vierne, etc.
  • Elements of hymn playing

Sophomore Jury

  • Selected Bach preludes and fugues
  • Works from older masters
  • At least one work each from the romantic and modern repertoire
  • Two hymns prepared on one day's notice before the examination
  • Sight-reading
  • Registration to be outlined for two works new to the performer

Junior Jury

  • A 45- to 60-minute recital demonstrating the student's command of a variety of styles, including at least one work from memory. This recital may be played publicly at the professor's discretion.

Senior Jury and Senior Recital

  • Organ majors must perform a senior jury to determine fulfillment of performance requirements. A public recital also must be performed, to include Bach works from the "mature master" period; a major French work; works by American composers; and one work in advanced style written after 1960. Ensemble music may be included. Half of this recital must be memorized.

General Repertoire Requirements

Students should play the following works by the end of their undergraduate career:

  • Bach: one trio sonata, two chorale preludes from the "Great Eighteen" or Clavierübung III (with pedal), three large preludes (toccatas, fantasies) and fugues
  • Buxtehude or other North German masters: one prelude and fugue, one chorale fantasy, three chorale preludes
  • Franck: two major works
  • Mendelssohn: a sonata or prelude and fugue
  • Brahms: four chorale preludes
  • Early Spanish or Italian: one significant work
  • French Classic Period: major portions of masses by Francois Couperin or Nicolas de Grigny
  • Modern French: two works
  • Modern German: two works
  • Modern American: two works
  • Post-1970: one work