Keyboard Collaborative Arts

Master of Music (MM), Graduate Certificate (GCRT), Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Graduate Fall Application Deadline

December 1

Looking for Spring Admission?
Click here for your requirements

Current USC Thornton Student?
Click here for additional information

Graduate Application Requirements for Fall Admission

This section is for all MM, GCRT and DMA applicants including current USC students applying to the Keyboard Collaborative Arts program for the fall semester. For applicants interested in Artist Diploma, please refer to the Artist Diploma requirements page.

All applicants are required to submit two separate application forms:

  1. USC Application for Graduate Admission
  2. Thornton’s SlideRoom application form

The total application fee is $115 ($90 for the USC Graduate Application and $25 for the SlideRoom Media/Materials upload). All required materials must be received by December 1. Application materials will not be accepted via mail or email. If both required application forms are not submitted by the appropriate deadline, your application will be removed from consideration.

Applicants experiencing hardship or extenuating circumstances due to natural disaster or public health concerns in their local area that may affect their ability to satisfy application requirements may contact the Thornton Office of Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu to explore possible accommodations. Though we cannot guarantee that accommodations/exceptions will be possible, applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office as soon as possible to allow the maximum amount of time to consider the options.

Applying For

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

Yes, 2 rounds

Questions?

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

Applicants must complete the USC Graduate Application and submit all other application materials required by the December 1st deadline.

USC Graduate Application Fee

The application fee for the USC Graduate application is $90. Application fee waivers are available to qualified applicants, and must be requested before submitting the USC Graduate Application. If you plan to apply for a waiver of the USC Graduate Application fee, please do so at least two weeks before the application deadline. The deadline will not be extended for applicants who fail to request a fee waiver in time. Details and instructions can be found here.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into the USC Graduate application. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Program Materials Section

When completing the USC Graduate application, it is important to pay special attention to the following items that you will find in the “program materials” section of the application:

  • Thornton SlideRoom portal – A link to access the Thornton SlideRoom portal will be provided in this section.
  • The Documents tab – Documents submitted in this section will not be accessible to the Thornton faculty. Thornton faculty will only be able to review documents submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom portal. In order to complete this section, you must check the box indicating that you do not wish to upload documents in this section.
  • The Questions tab – Enter your SlideRoom Confirmation number where indicated (you will receive your SlideRoom confirmation number upon submission of the SlideRoom form).
International Applicants

Click here for important additional requirements and instructions.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the December 1st deadline.

All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Program Materials” section of the USC Graduate Application.

SlideRoom Requirements

SlideRoom Application Portal

A link to the SlideRoom portal is located inside the USC Application for Graduate Admission, in the “Program Materials” Section.

The SlideRoom application fee is $25 (fee waivers are not available). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

The SlideRoom form must be submitted before the USC Application for Graduate Admission (Applicants can start both forms and work on them at the same time). Once SlideRoom is submitted, you will need to enter your SlideRoom confirmation number into the “Questions” tab, also located in the “program materials” section of the USC Graduate application.

Prescreen Recorded Audition

Applicants to Keyboard Collaborative Arts must submit a recording (audio or video) to be prescreened by the faculty. The results of this prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition on the USC campus in Los Angeles. The prescreen recording must include:

One art song and one movement of an instrumental piece performed with partners.

Résumé

The résumé should list musical, professional, and academic experience and is generally 1-2 pages in length.

Repertoire List

This list should include works studied and performed. Etudes, scale studies, arias, art songs, chamber music, solo pieces, and original compositions are all examples of what could be included in this list.

Statement of Purpose (Optional)

Graduate applicants are encouraged to prepare a brief statement of their professional goals, as well as their purpose in applying for the Keyboard Collaborative Arts program. The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into SlideRoom. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Letters of Recommendation

1-3 recommendation letters are required from graduate KCA applicants. Recommendation letters are to be submitted online through the Thornton SlideRoom portal via the “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.

Doctoral Introductory Video (DMA only)

A “Doctoral Introductory Video” must be submitted through SlideRoom by December 1st.

USC Thornton recognizes that DMA and PhD graduates are expected not only to be elite performers and scholarly experts in their fields, but also exceptional and versatile teachers, inspiring and innovative leaders, and consummate musicians with strong complementary skills. This is a tall order, and it necessitates a well-honed individualized academic portfolio. To this end, USC Thornton requires every Doctoral student to declare, in addition to the major field, an academic field and two elective fields, one of which may be a field outside of music. The purpose of this multidisciplinary approach is to support each student’s personal and artistic development in a way that will be well-aligned with her/his professional goals.

As a reflection of the individualized nature of the USC Thornton Doctoral programs, DMA and PhD applicants are required to submit a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than four minutes, including a brief personal introduction, a description of professional goals, and an explanation of how pursuing a DMA or PhD at USC Thornton will support the pursuit of those goals.

Perform Audition if Invited

The results of the prescreen will determine whether an applicant will be invited to perform a live audition. Notice of the results of the prescreen audition will be sent to applicants via email in late December.

Applicants who are invited to perform a live audition will receive their prescreen decision and audition appointment details in the same email, in late December. Live auditions typically occur in late January and early February. Please do not make travel plans to audition at USC Thornton until you have received confirmation of your audition appointment.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit our campus and live audition events can be the ideal opportunity for this kind of visit. We therefore encourage applicants to perform their live auditions in person on the USC campus. Applicants who live more than 100 miles from the USC campus and are unable to travel to Los Angeles for their live audition can indicate their preference for an online audition on their Thornton application in SlideRoom. Applicants who live within a 100 mile radius of the USC campus are required to perform their live audition in-person.

It is expected that pianists who live within a 100-mile radius of Los Angeles will provide their own partners for their audition. However, for pianists who come from further away or are new to the area, the faculty hearing the auditions will be happy to play instrumental parts on a second piano and are willing to sing vocal selections with auditioning collaborative pianists.

For auditioning pianists that come from far away, there are a number of very talented USC students, singers, and instrumentalists in the area who sometimes are willing to participate in the audition process as performing partners. They do this for a fee that is set by them (the KCA department does not become involved in the setting or payment of fees) and some of them are willing to rehearse beforehand. Most would only rehearse on the day of the audition or perhaps the day before, though you may find someone who is willing to rehearse with you on a longer-term basis. If you would like a list of potential partners that you could contact yourself, please contact the Keyboard Studies Department regarding the repertoire you would like to offer for your audition and we will make some recommendations for persons you might wish to contact. You can reach the Keyboard Studies Department at (213) 740-7703. There is no guarantee that we will be able to identify partners available at the time of your audition or that we will be able to identify partners to perform every piece. We do this only as a courtesy and not as a required service on our part.

Any questions in regard to collaborative repertoire may be directed to the Keyboard Collaborative Arts office by calling (213) 740-7703.

Live Audition Requirements

For the live audition, applicants must submit a complete list of repertoire including: songs, arias, sonatas/multi-movement works, concerti, character pieces, complete operas; solo, choral, and ballet repertoire. Audition requirements consist of:

  1. Two piano solos from contrasting stylistic periods, performed by memory. The selections need not be long and may be, for instance, individual movements from multi-movement works, such as a single movement from a three- or four-movement sonata or suite.
  2. Two complete, contrasting instrumental sonatas
  3. Four songs representing stylistic and linguistic variety
  4. One aria
  5. A demonstration of sight-reading ability
  6. A demonstration of skills in diction and translation directly related to the texts of the songs and aria prepared for the audition. You may be asked to read the text aloud in the original language and may be asked to give the text translation in English.
  7. During the live audition, you might be asked some of the following:
    • Why do you wish to pursue a degree or certificate in Keyboard Collaborative Arts?
    • Why would you like to study at USC Thornton?
    • What sort of repertoire might you like to focus on in your studies at USC Thornton?
    • The faculty will be happy to entertain questions from you as well.

The Keyboard Collaborative Arts faculty welcomes and encourages repertoire composed by marginalized and/or under-represented groups, including but not limited to, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women. The Keyboard Department has compiled a list of works composed by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.

All sonatas are to be performed with an instrumentalist; all songs and arias with a singer. The auditionee normally is expected to supply both instrumentalists and singers. Should this not be possible, the KCA department faculty will be happy to play and sing with the auditionee. It is customary to perform instrumental and vocal literature with scores. Audition repertoire may be selected from but is not limited to the following suggested list:

Instrumental Repertoire List

Violin:

Beethoven

  • Sonata in F major, Op. 24, “Spring”
  • Sonata in c minor, Op. 30, No. 2
  • Sonata in G major, Op. 30, No. 3

Brahms

  • Sonata in G major, Op. 78
  • Sonata in A major, Op. 100
  • Sonata in d minor, Op. 108

Mozart

  • Sonata in A major, K. 305
  • Sonata in B-flat major, K. 454
Viola:

Bloch

  • Suite for Viola and Piano

Brahms

  • Sonata in f minor, Op. 120, No. 1
  • Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 120, No. 2

Britten

  • Lachrymae, Op. 48

Hindemith

  • Sonata in F major, Op. 11, No. 4
Cello:

Beethoven

  • Sonata in g minor, Op. 5, No. 2
  • Sonata in A major, Op. 69

Brahms

  • Sonata in e minor, Op. 38

Debussy

  • Sonata in d minor

Mendelssohn

  • Sonata in D major, Op. 58

Vocal Repertoire List

German:

Brahms

  • Botschaft
  • Meine Liebe ist grün

Schubert

  • Der Wanderer
  • Die Forelle
  • Liebesbotschaft

Schumann

  • Frühlingsnacht
  • Mondnacht
  • Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden

Strauss

  • Allerseelen
  • Ständchen

Wolf

  • Auf einer Wanderung
  • In dem Schatten meiner Locken
French:

Debussy

  • from Ariettes Oubliées

Duparc

  • L’invitation au voyage
  • Phidylé

Fauré

  • En sourdine
  • Nôtre amour
English:

Barber

  • from Hermit Songs
  • I Hear an Army

Britten

  • from On This Island
  • Copland
  • from Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson
Arias

Mozart

  • Martern aller Arten

Strauss

  • Composer’s Aria

Stravinsky

  • Anne Truelove’s Recitative/Aria/Cabaletta
Graduate Academic Admission Examination (DMA only)


DMA applicants to Keyboard Collaborative Arts must take Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination. The examination will be administered via an online platform on January 15, 2022 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Applicants will receive materials to be reviewed in preparation for the exam about two weeks prior to the exam date. Additional details will be sent in mid-December to those applicants who are required to take the exam.

This written examination reflects the types of critical inquiry with which graduate-level courses at USC Thornton engage. The examination will be assessed by academic faculty as a measure of an applicant’s readiness for the academic rigors and multi-disciplinary structure of Thornton graduate programs. This assessment will be one of several important components considered by the faculty in order to reach a final admission decision for each applicant.

The examination will be administered in two sequential sections:

  1. Conceptual Essay: Applicants will be given an essay prompt about an issue or issues in the music profession today. Applicants will be asked to write a short essay exploring various aspects of the topic(s) introduced by the prompt, responding to specific questions and drawing on their own experience, knowledge, and opinions as appropriate.
  2. Analytical Essay: Applicants will be given a scholarly/literary text on a music-related topic. Applicants will be asked to respond in essay form to a series of analytical questions relating to the text provided. The analytical issues may concern basic music theory (possibly with reference to a short example in musical notation), music history, and/or aesthetics.

It is important to note that Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination is not an examination for which students are generally able to study or prepare. It is not designed to examine factual knowledge, but rather the ability to think analytically and express critical thought in academic language, as this is the type of work that is required for graduate-level academic courses at USC Thornton. While the content of Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination may be drawn from a wide range of scholarly sources, it may be helpful to refer to the following publications by our own faculty:

  • Barrett, Janet & Peter Webster: The Musical Experience: Rethinking Music Teaching and Learning.
  • Brown, Bruce: W. A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Cambridge Opera Handbook)
  • Demers, Joanna: Anatomy of Thought-Fiction: CHS Report, April 2214
  • Foster, Kenneth J: Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice
  • Gordon, Stewart: Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas: A Handbook for Performers
  • Nye, Sean. “Sprockets + Autobahn: Kraftwerk Parodies, German Electronic Music, and Retro Dreams in Amerika.” In Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor. Neil Gregor and Thomas Irvine, eds.
  • Page, Tim: On Music: Views and Reviews
  • Simms, Bryan: The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923
  • Sloan, Nate. Switched on Pop (blog with Charlie Harding). http://www.switchedonpop.com.