Keyboard Studies

The USC Thornton Keyboard Studies Department seeks to enhance the artistic and technical development of aspiring pianists through comprehensive mentorship, study and performances of solo pianists and collaborative artists. Courses offered by the department include guidance in solo performance, keyboard literature, piano pedagogy, piano four-hands and duo repertoire, as well as collaborative performance with singers and other instrumentalists and harpsichord. Keyboard studies faculty welcomes and encourages repertoire composed by marginalized and/or under-represented groups, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women.

Keyboard studies faculty are among the nation’s most prominent. These acclaimed and devoted teachers are internationally regarded as soloists, recitalists, adjudicators and teachers of masterclasses and workshops. Although there is no provision for a major in piano pedagogy, faculty specialists offer students interested in teaching careers ample opportunity for intensive study in that field.

Pianist on stage in concert attire, playing at Bovard Auditorium.

Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Music

Piano Performance

4 years | 132 units

The BM in piano performance is a four-year, 132-unit program consisting of course work in the major (individual instruction, piano literature, functional skills, piano pedagogy, interpretation of baroque music), core music studies (theory, aural skills, music history, conducting, large ensemble) and USC’s general education and writing program. A senior recital is required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate & Doctoral Programs

Master of Music

Piano Performance

2 years | 30 units

The MM in piano performance is a two-year, 30-unit program consisting of individual piano instruction, piano pedagogy, piano literature, ensemble, music history and electives. Two graduate recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Doctor of Musical Arts

Piano Performance

65 units

The DMA in piano requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major, an academic field and two elective fields. Four doctoral recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate Certificate & Artist Diplomas

Graduate Certificate


2 years | 16 units

The Graduate Certificate in performance is a two-year, 16-unit program consisting of individual instruction, studio class, and two ensembles, or the equivalent thereof, each semester. This graduate-level program is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate education in music, or its equivalent, and intend to concentrate their energies on the full-time development of their discipline.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Artist Diploma


2-3 years | 16 units

This program is designed for young artists of exceptional ability and musical sensitivity who plan careers as solo performers. The Artist Diploma Program provides young artists with the opportunity to devote their full time to concentrated study and practice for the duration of their assigned programs. A minimum of 16 units at the 754 level (from MPEM, MPGU, MPKS, MPST, MPVA or MPWP) and four full-length recitals are required. This program typically requires two to three consecutive years of study for completion.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Minors & Electives

Minor in Musical Studies


18 units

The Musical Studies minor is for students who already have a background in music performance and want to continue to develop their skills. Musical Studies minors have the opportunity to study their instrument in private lessons and participate in ensembles, as well as study music theory and music history. Through the electives, students may explore their own unique musical interests. Students may apply on virtually any instrument, including voice.

Contact

Alan L. Smith, Chair
Kyle Shafiee, Department Coordinator

Department of Keyboard Studies
USC Thornton School of Music
Los Angeles, California 90089-0851
(213) 740-7399
classical@usc.edu