Performance - Piano

Piano Performance and Keyboard Studies

Piano Performance Program Overview

The Piano Performance program at California State University, Stanislaus maintains a long tradition of excellence in the study and instruction of piano and keyboard studies.  Stanislaus State piano faculty, piano majors, and alumni contribute significantly to a growing musical culture on- and off-campus, engaging frequent performances as well as fostering a passion for piano and music instruction that extends throughout the region and beyond. 

At California State University, Stanislaus, piano majors discover a stimulating environment for pianistic study, with frequent opportunities to perform, to assist at the annual Summer Music at Stanislaus Piano Camps, and to engage a variety of musical activities sponsored by both on- and off-campus organizations.  With the small student-teacher ratio, a dynamic student body, fine performing artists and ensembles, and internationally and nationally recognized faculty, students can readily excel in their musical pursuits.  Pianists receive an excellent opportunity to study with a faculty of piano professors who actively engage concert artistry on international, national, and regional stages.  Piano faculty are moreover well-experienced in competition adjudication, masterclass instruction, festival management, research scholarship and lecturing, and compositional craft, engaging important knowledge of professional experience relevant to the discipline as well as outreaching to regional, national, and international communities.

Department of Music Facilities, Keyboard Instruments, and Other Offerings

The facilities of the Department of Music include the Bernell and Flora Snider Recital Hall, an elegant, contemporary building with excellent acoustics and state-of-the-art recording technology; the Music Building, which houses rehearsal, teaching, and practice rooms of various spacing; and the Music Technology Lab, which features a ten-station Macintosh computer lab furnished with Pro Tools, Sibelius and other digital technology.  The department possesses an excellent collection of keyboard instruments, including an outstanding Steinway concert grand piano and an exquisite Dowd harpsichord housed in Snider Music Recital Hall.  Within the Music Building, instruments include newer Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, Kawai, and Boston pianos as well as a classroom lab of digital piano lab. 

Music students often enjoy the beautiful setting where the music facilities are located, finding the water-rich, tree-lined park environment of the western part of campus conducive to focused music study and artistic creativity.  Students also frequently enjoy the opportunity to experience the many fine cultural events offered locally, regionally, and nationally.  With the Stanislaus State campus situated in travel proximity to Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, and the Bay Area, students have easy access to an array of artistic offerings that further inform their educational and cultural experience of the musical arts.

Bachelor of Music (B.M) Degree Program in Piano Performance

The Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree program in Piano Performance is designed for advanced pianists for whom piano performance and teaching is the major emphasis.  Piano performance majors engage a well-rounded curriculum designed to equip them with essential advancing pianistic and musical skills useful toward a successful career in performing and teaching.  Alongside high-level training in applied piano performance, students receive a comprehensive undergraduate education in the study of keyboard literature, piano pedagogy, piano accompanying and collaborative arts.   Courses within the curriculum include weekly hour-long applied piano lessons, pedagogical instruction in studio and class piano teaching, training in accompanying methods and collaborative arts, and studies in keyboard literature from the Renaissance to the Contemporary eras.  The core program of keyboard studies is complemented with an excellent curriculum of courses in music theory, music history, music performance, and liberal arts studies.  Throughout their undergraduate years, piano performance majors gain significant opportunities to perform, present lecture-demonstrations, and engage introductory experience in pre-college piano teaching.  Intended for students concentrating on a career in solo and collaborative concert performance as well as in piano teaching, the piano performance degree program furthermore aims to prepare students for studies at the graduate level.  Prospective piano majors are encouraged to contact Dr. Sarah Chan at or (209)-667-3429 for more information.

About the Piano Performance Curriculum

In addition to intensive training in Piano Performance through weekly applied lessons, and performance and masterclass opportunities, the Bachelor of Music degree program in Piano Performance offers the piano major comprehensive development through a well-balanced curricular offering of courses in Piano Pedagogy, Collaborative Arts/Accompanying, and Piano Literature.

The Piano Pedagogy sequence—comprised of Piano Pedagogy I, MUS 4450, and Piano Pedagogy II, MUS 4451—offers comprehensive training in the instruction of piano students at beginning through intermediate levels.  The courses include study of both the theoretical aspects of teaching—including educational learning theories—and the practical aspects of merging knowledge with understanding and practice.  Topics include the study of international educational learning theories and approaches; age-appropriate instructional methods; teaching through effective reading and technical perspectives; tone production and sound projection at the piano; ear-training, improvisation, and composition; technique and etude study; developing student musicianship and artistry; preparing students for studio classes, recitals, and competitions; caring for the business aspects of developing and maintaining a studio, including preparing well-considered studio policies, budgeting, marketing, and tax issues; and incorporating Web-based and software technologies to enhance pupil success.  Courses include opportunities to observe studio and class piano teachers as well as engage hands-on teaching of beginning and intermediate students.  Through pedagogy study at CSU Stanislaus, piano majors will develop a thoughtful teaching philosophy informed by understanding and practical experience, and will  furthermore be equipped with a solid foundation upon which to start independent studio teaching.

The Collaborative Piano/Accompanying sequence—Collaborative Piano/Accompanying I, MUS 3620 and Collaborative Piano/Accompanying II, MUS 3621—prepares the piano major with a foundation of skills and understanding vital to the role of piano accompaniment and collaborative artistry.  Topics are tailored to each course and class, with beginning courses focused on choral and congregational accompanying and music leadership (focusing on SATB chorale four-part open-/closed- score reading, and diverse matters of performance preparation); keyboard improvisation and composition; and accompanying for opera, ballet, and/or musical theatre.   Advanced courses incorporate topics such as reading simple figured bass, open chamber and orchestral scores; collaborative performance of vocal art song and instrumental chamber music; collaborative performance of four-hand and/or two-piano works.  Courses are taught as a hybrid of practicum workshop and lecture style classes that address intermediate and advanced issues of collaborative playing.  Students will have the opportunity to engage their practice through internal and external performance opportunities. 

The Piano Literature sequence—comprised of Piano Literature I, MUS 4452, and Piano Literature II, MUS 4453—offers a study on the development of Western keyboard music through the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary periods.  Students will also study important works from the major keyboard repertoire to develop their understanding of significant compositional procedures, trends, and styles specific to major keyboard composers.  Other topics studied include instrumental technology and tuning, perspectives in historical performance practice, and issues of interpretive performance artistry in analysis and practice.

Entrance-Scholarship Audition Information

Students interested in majoring in piano performance should demonstrate a substantially advanced level of pianistic training before considering the piano performance track.  A limited number of merit-based scholarships are available to the most outstanding pianists intent on majoring in piano performance, with scholarship consideration administered through entrance-scholarship auditions.  (Senior high school students who win the Sylvia M. Ghiglieri Piano Competition can automatically qualify for scholarship consideration if applying for University admission as piano performance majors for the subsequent academic year.  See  Scholarships are given as four-year awards for entering freshmen, and two- to three-year awards for transfer students.  

Piano auditions occur in the Spring semester of each academic year.  Pianists interested in applying for a performance scholarship should audition in the Spring prior to the intended year of academic enrollment.  Prospective students should schedule an audition time with the Music Recruitment Coordinator at or (209) 667-3844 and are expected to have applied for University admission prior to auditioning with the Department of Music.  Guidelines to University application and Department of Music audition procedures:

University Admissions Deadlines and Procedures

Department of Music Entrance-Scholarship Auditions

  • Audition dates are posted on the "Entrance and Scholarship Audition Information" webpage.  Prospective students need to contact the Music Recruitment Coordinator to set up a specific time and date for their audition.  International students living abroad at the time of application and for whom overseas travel presents an extenuated difficulty may send a video recording of a live performance either by weblink or by DVD; please contact the Music Recruitment Coordinator for more information.
  • Piano Audition Requirements: Please refer to the Piano Audition Requirements document for a full description of repertoire and sightreading requirements.  The audition comprises a 10-minute performance of two solo pieces in contrasting styles, selected from two contrasting musical eras; a 1-minute sightreading assessment is also administered.

Pre-College Piano Competitions/Events