Keyboard Studies (Classical Piano)

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

If you are planning to apply to the Artist Diploma program please follow the audition requirements on the Artist Diploma page.

Applicants to programs in Piano must submit an audition recording (video only) to be evaluated by the faculty as part of the first round of consideration. The results of the first round will determine whether an applicant will advance to the second round of consideration.

Audition recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program. Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall SlideRoom portal” by the December 1st deadline. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

  • UNDERGRADUATE APPLICANTS– For instructions on how to access the SlideRoom portal to submit your recording click HERE
  • GRADUATE APPLICANTS– For instructions on how to access the SlideRoom portal to submit your recording click HERE

Important notes:

    • DMA applicants are required to submit a “Doctoral Introductory Video” as part of their SlideRoom Portfolio. For detailed instructions click here.
    • Current Thornton students who are completing a degree in Piano Performance and applying for the MM or GCRT programs are eligible for modified and/or reduced audition requirements. Please refer to the Keyboard Studies handbook for more information or contact the department coordinator at shafiee@usc.edu. Please note that all applicants, including current Thornton students, must submit a SlideRoom application. Please refer to the Special Application Instructions for Current Thornton students, and contact the Keyboard Studies Department for details BEFORE you submit the SlideRoom form to determine what is possible in your case.  Be aware that all applicants must submit an audition recording by the December 1 deadline, unless other arrangements have been made.
    • Applicants are encouraged but not required to consider submitting repertoire by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) composers. The Keyboard Studies Department has compiled a list of works composed by BIPOC composers as a resource for musicians. To view the list, please click here.

First Round of Consideration

The audition recording must be a video, as audio recordings will not be accepted. Each movement of each piece submitted must be uploaded as a separate file (e.g., a Bach prelude and fugue must be uploaded separately, each movement of a Beethoven sonata must be uploaded separately). Each uploaded file must also be labeled to indicate the composer, title, and movement (if applicable). This labeling must be done in the designated “TITLE” field in the SlideRoom portal.

Please note that your audition recording must be an unedited, single-camera video of the entire program performed as a recital in one sitting. No separate takes of individual pieces/movements or edits of any kind (including changes in camera angle) are allowed. However, please also note that individual pieces and movements of multi-movement works must each be uploaded into SlideRoom as separate tracks and appropriately labeled. All works should be performed entirely from memory.

Bachelor of Music

  1. Baroque – a Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach from The Well-Tempered Clavier
  2. Classical – a complete multi-movement sonata by a classical composer, up to and including Schubert, but excluding Beethoven opp. 49 and 79
  3. One piece from the Romantic, Impressionistic or Contemporary repertoire
  4. An etude

Master of Music and Graduate Certificate

  1. A Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach from The Well-Tempered Clavier
  2. A complete sonata by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, or Beethoven, excluding Beethoven opp. 49 and 79
  3. A complete work of a 19th-century composer
  4. One piece or single movement of contemporary, modern or impressionist style
  5. An etude of virtuosity at the level of those by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky or Ligeti

Doctor of Musical Arts

  • Applicants must prepare a full-length (60 minute minimum), memorized recital, which includes works from at least four contrasting style periods, including a work that is either contemporary, modern or impressionist. In addition, pianists must present from memory an etude of virtuosity at the level of those by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky or Ligeti.

Second Round of Consideration

Details regarding the second round of consideration for this program will be sent in late December via email to applicants who are advanced from the first round of consideration. DMA applicants who advance to the second round of consideration will be required to interview (online) with the faculty.

Additional information

  • All applicants should carefully note that no concerti will be accepted as audition pieces and that all audition pieces MUST be memorized. Persons failing to prepare the full audition program following the guidelines described above, will not be permitted to advance to the second round of consideration nor offered admission to the program.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships in Keyboard Studies are available. TA duties include teaching Group Piano classes and individual lessons. A separate TA Application form is required, and can be on the Teaching Assistantships website.

With the TA Application form, TA Applicants must submit a teaching video of 10-15 minutes in length. The video must be a single take (i.e. unedited) showing group or private piano instruction, in person or online. Additionally, be sure to include all relevant prior teaching experience on your résumé, and that one of your letters of recommendation directly addresses your abilities as a teacher. Complete details and requirements can be found on the Teaching Assistantships website.

Important notes for spring:

  • For admission to the Spring semester, all applications and supporting materials must be submitted by the October 1st deadline. Any application not complete by October 1 may be removed from consideration.
  • Applicants for spring admission, including current USC piano students, are required to submit an audition recording for the first round of consideration.
  • Undergraduate applications are not accepted for Spring admission to this program unless the applicant is already enrolled at USC.
  • Spring applicants will be notified via email regarding the results of the first round of consideration.

Harpsichord

Applicants wishing to study harpsichord should refer to the early music program requirements for information regarding entrance requirements.