The College of Arts and Architecture

Piano Study

Piano study is available to non-major students at all levels.

Group Piano for Beginning Students

Beginners or students with very limited background should register for Music 50 or 51. This is a group lesson experience meeting twice a week for one credit using electronic keyboards. Register for these courses directly on LionPATH. Due to the limited number of keyboards available for the class, there is no possibility of overriding the enrollment limit. Music 50 is for absolute beginners at the piano; no previous music background is required. Music 51 is the sequel to Music 50 and uses the same texts: “Keyboard Musicianship for the Adult Beginner” by Frances Clark and “Class Piano for Adult Beginners,” by Squire and Shafer. If you have questions about your suitability for Music 51, look at the text in the bookstore beginning at Chapter 10. This is where Music 51 begins; we generally get to around Chapter 18 by the end of the semester. If you feel your skills are beyond Music 51, you should apply for private lessons (Keyboard 100 or 110; see below). The fee for Music 50 is $100 (no extra fee for Music 51). Contact Professor Timothy Shafer at tps1@psu.edu for further information.girl playing the piano in a practice room

Private Lessons

THE DEADLINE FOR PRIVATE LESSON APPLICATION SUBMISSION IS 5:00 P.M. ON THE FIRST DAY OF EVERY FALL AND SPRING SEMESTER.

Private lessons are designed for more advanced students. Keyboard 100 is a one half-hour lesson per week offered for one credit. These lessons are generally taught by graduate assistants. Keyboard 110, for two credits, is a weekly one-hour lesson generally taught by a faculty member. These courses may be repeated for additional credits, with faculty permission.

To apply for any level of private lessons, please complete the online application form every semester you wish to register for lessons. These courses are faculty controlled and registration is done by the faculty only. An audition is required for the first semester of all private piano study. Auditions take place during the first week of the semester. Sightreading and some scales may be required in the audition. Repertoire requirements for auditions for the 100 and 110 level private lesson courses are as follows:

Keyboard 100: one or two repertoire selections of your choice, representing your most recent study. These repertoire selections should be from classical music styles (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th, 21st century) since that is the focus of all applied study in piano at Penn State. Keyboard 100 is a half-hour lesson per week, non-juried course for one credit.

Keyboard 110: three repertoire selections, one of which should be memorized. These repertoire selections must come from the standard performance repertoire of classical repertoire (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th, 21st century).  One of these pieces must be a contrapuntal work by J. S. Bach (two or three-part invention, prelude and fugue, toccata, or movements from a suite). The others may be works of your choice from other standard performance practice eras. Keyboard 110 is a one hour lesson per week, non-juried course for two credits.

Major-level, jury-track piano study at the 100-, 200-, 300- and 400-levels is also open to non-majors by audition. This requires a more extensive audition in front of a faculty jury. (Audition requirements can be found on the piano undergraduate audition requirements page.) Students studying at the major level prepare a juried examination at the end of each semester of study.

Enrollment and Teacher Assignment

Complete the online application form before 5:00 p.m. on the first day of classes every Fall and Spring semester you wish to register. This application must be completed every semester you wish to register in order to be assigned a teacher. 

Upon completion of the application, you will be contacted by email regarding any necessary auditions and potential teacher preferences. Although repeating students must complete the application form each semester, repeated auditions are not required for those who have previously earned a C or better in an applied piano course.

After the auditions for new applicants have taken place during the first week of each semester, teacher assignments will be posted in the hallway outside of the main music office in Music Building I. This posting usually takes place late in the first week of the semester. Each applicant must consult this posting to learn of his/her teacher assignment. It is the student’s responsibility to make contact by email with the assigned teacher immediately to establish a mutually convenient lesson time. 

Lessons begin in the second week of each Fall and Spring semester. Lessons are not offered during the Summer sessions.