Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy (Piano)

Program Overview

The Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy is a practice-oriented degree with a focus on both named fields. Students in the program must complete a minimum of 36 approved semester credits, divided into three main areas: (1) 12 credits in performance, (2) 12 credits in pedagogy, and (3) 12 credits in history and theory.

The performance part of this degree constitutes 1/3 of the overall content. Students take two credits of individual instruction (MUSC 6630) and complete a jury each semester which assures students are making adequate progress in the program. In addition, in the fall semester of the second year, students take Collaborative Artistry (MUSC 6410) a course that helps develop the skills needed for vocal and instrumental accompaniment by addressing techniques such as score analysis, transposition, and ensemble skills. Students receive coaching from piano, voice, and instrumental faculty as part of this class. Finally, in a capstone recital (MUSC 6910) in the final semester of study students demonstrate advanced competencies in performance which prepare them for the stated objectives for the degree. Students are afforded frequent opportunities to perform and record in USU’s venues, including the award-winning Russell-Wanlass Performance Hall. Piano majors perform in annual themed piano-area recitals, guest artist masterclasses, weekly performance seminar, Youth Conservatory recitals, sophomore and senior recitals, student-led collaborations, ensemble performances, and the annual concerto competition, where selected students can perform as soloists with the USU student orchestra.

The pedagogy part of this degree also constitutes 1/3 of the overall content in keeping with NASM guidelines and is focused on the development of practice-oriented pedagogical skills.  Two semesters Special Topics in Performance and Pedagogy (MUSC 6430) consist of the pedagogy of beginning, intermediate, and advanced methods of teaching piano, as well as strategies for developing a private studio. Two semesters of Pedagogy Practicum (MUSC 6420) provide practice teaching (individual and classroom and administrative experience in organizing and producing major community events (i.e. Monster Concert, PianoFest, Achievement in Music) in the context of the USU Youth Conservatory (see I.L for more information on this relationship). Most, but not all students also serve extensive graduate teaching assistantship duties, with supervised teaching of group piano keyboard harmony (MUSC 1170, 1180, 1270), secondary applied lessons for non-majors (MUSC 1480), aural skills (MUSC 1130, 1140, 2130), and music fundamentals (MUSC 1105). Graduate students also serve as research assistants in the collaborative artistry program for a portion of their assistantship (MUSC 3410).

A two-semester piano literature sequence (MUSC 5420, MUSC 6440) provides comprehensive examination of piano literature, the history of the instrument, and performance practice, with a focus on teaching the core piano literature.. Students are also encouraged, but not required to participate participate in USU’s collegiate chapter of Music Teacher’s National Association, which was honored as the national collegiate chapter of the year in 2023 for their impact on the enterprise of piano teaching. The chapter was also awarded the state level UMTA “Collegiate Chapter of the Year” for 3 of the past 4 years.

The final 1/3 of the degree consists of other music studies intended to broaden and deepen the education of the student. These include the graduate “core” curriculum (MUSC 5980, Music Research Techniques; MUSC 6130 Music History Seminar, MUSC 6140 Music Theory Seminar) as well as a music elective chosen from the following list: MUSC 6130, MUSC 6140, MUSC 6430, MUSC 6900, or MUSC 6970.

Students in the MM Piano Performance and Pedagogy program present one (1) public recital of approximately 60 minutes of memorized music for solo piano in contrasting styles. The recital represents a culmination of four semesters of applied study. Presenting a program of this length and difficulty requires significant and effective application of music history, music analysis, aural skills, technical training, efficient practice techniques, performance practice, research and writing skills, and basic administrative skills.

Program Specifics

For specific information regarding coursework required to earn this degree, please refer to the University Catalog.

Admissions

Master of Music (MM) Application 

All applications are submitted online through the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants for the Master of Music degree must complete the following:

  1. Official College Transcripts - To qualify for admission to the MM program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Official transcripts must be sent directly from previous institutions to USU.
  2. (NOT REQUIRED) GRE or MAT Scores - The GRE or MAT is optional for applicants to the Master of Music degree programs. However, applicants should be advised that the GRE/MAT is a requirement for some tuition waivers and scholarships available through the School of Graduate Studies.
  3. Letters of Recommendation – Three satisfactory letters of recommendation must be sent directly by the recommenders through the application server. Applicants are highly encouraged to seek a recommendation from a primary applied teacher and one academic music faculty (theory, history, etc.). 
  4. Writing Sample - Applicants must upload a 500–1000 word (1-2 pages, single-spaced) personal statement on one of the following topics: 
    • Topic 1: Describe a moment or experience in your musical education that convinced you to pursue higher education in music.
    • Topic 2: How do you hope your music career will make an impact on today’s musical culture?
    • Topic 3: Why does/should music matter to individuals or society today?
    An academic research paper on a musical subject may also be accepted at the discretion of the Graduate Music Committee. The writing sample will be evaluated by the Music Department Graduate Committee and all full-time faculty in the applicant’s primary area of emphasis. Applicant essays will be evaluated in part on the quality of writing, including organization, concision, and clarity.
  5. International Student Requirements - In addition to the General Admissions Requirements, International students must meet the language, degree, and funding requirements of the USU School of Graduate Studies.
  6. Audition/Interview - Applicants must complete a successful live or recorded entrance audition/interview. To schedule an audition, submit an Audition Application. If travel distance or schedule conflicts prevent applicants from auditioning live, they may select the recorded audition option on their application and submit a video recording of their audition. Those who select the recorded audition option on their application will receive submission information via email.
  7. Overall Graduate GPA at least 3.0 and no grades of C- or lower - Graduate students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA for degree-program courses. Grades of C- or lower will not be accepted for a graduate degree.
  8. Matriculation Start Semester - A master’s degree must be completed within six years of entering the degree program. Additional time may be requested by the student’s committee and submitted to the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies for review.

Pre-Screening Videos

Admission to the M.M. degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy is granted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Applicants seeking priority scholarship consideration should submit a prescreening video by December 15th, and audition on or before February 27th. Applicants’ Pre-screen Video must contain at least 30 minutes of memorized repertoire including the following:

  1. A sonata-allegro movement from a classical sonata, preferably by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert
  2. A Romantic work
  3. 1 or 2 additional pieces of applicant’s choice, from any style or period
    • Include a list of significant repertoire studied with prescreening submission.

Audition

Auditions will take place in the Russell/Wanless Performance Hall on the audition dates posted on the Music Department website. If another time needs to be arranged, or if you would prefer to audition by video, contact Dr. Kevin Olson at kevin.olson@usu.edu.

For the M.M. degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, students should prepare the following for the audition:

  1. A polyphonic work by J.S. Bach
  2. A full classical sonata, preferably by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert
  3. A Romantic, Impressionist, modern, or contemporary work
  4. One other freely chosen work of the applicant’s choice
  5. Applicants will receive a short “Independent Study Piece” 2-3 weeks before the audition and will perform the piece in the audition. Memory is not required, and applicants are welcome to bring their own scores with notes.
  6. Applicants who wish to be considered for collaborative piano stipends may be asked to sight-read.

A list of significant repertoire studied should be brought to your audition.

Piano area scholarships are awarded only to applicants who intend to pursue a piano degree. Limited graduate assistantships are available for students entering the M.M. degree program in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. These assistantships cover up to full tuition plus a salary stipend.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Cahill Smith.

Faculty

Sasha Kasman Laude

Sasha Kasman Laude

Assistant Professor

Music (Piano)

Phone: 435-797-3257
Office Location: FAC 203
Kevin Olson

Kevin Olson

Piano Area Coordinator & Professor

Music (Piano)

Phone: (435) 797-3033
Office Location: FA 101
Cahill Smith

Cahill Smith

Director of Graduate Studies & Associate Professor

Music (Piano)

Office Location: FA 201