Jul 21, 2024  
Course Catalog 2023-2024 
Course Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Performance Major: Piano Concentration

Course Requirements

For course requirements for the Performance Major: Piano Concentration, please see the grid .

Music Theory and Aural Skills Requirement

All BM students complete a core of music theory and aural skills classes, which includes the following: Music Theory I-II (MUTH 131 and 132), which prepares students to hear, perform, and communicate about multiple aspects of music in diverse repertoires; two additional music theory courses at the 200 level (MUTH 250-299), which include topic- and repertoire-based classes that are chosen in consultation with academic advisors; Aural Skills I-IV (MUTH 101, 102, 201, 202). Students are expected to register for one Music Theory and one Aural Skills course each semester until they have completed the core requirements. 

A music theory placement test score of 80 or higher is a prerequisite for MUTH 131. Students with lower scores must successfully complete MUTH 120 before taking MUTH 131. The placement exam may be taken five times.

The First Private Study Committee Examination

This examination will consist of 15 minutes of solo music, prepared with the major teacher, to be performed from memory for a faculty jury composed of the entire piano department, at the end of the freshman year. Transfer students with two or more semesters of piano credit will not be required to take this examination. This examination will not be graded and is advisory in nature. Comments will be offered by the jury.

The Second Private Study Committee Examination

This examination will consist of 25 minutes of solo music, of which 12 minutes will be heard.  Repertoire must include a minimum of two contrasting styles and include at least one work written before 1900. This repertoire is to be prepared with the major teacher, and is to be performed from memory for a faculty jury composed of the entire piano department, at the end of the sophomore year, or at the end of the fourth semester of study. It is graded pass/fail and must be passed by a majority of the jury in order for the student to continue as a piano performance major. Comments will be offered by the jury. A failed sophomore committee may be taken a second time in the first two weeks of the following semester. At least one work must be new repertoire.

The Third Private Study Committee Examination

This examination will consist of one piece chosen by the student from three selected by the faculty and announced two weeks before the examination date. This examination will take place at the end of the first semester of the junior year, or at the end of the fifth semester of study. This music will be self-prepared, without help from the teacher or others, and will be memorized. This examination will be graded, and comments will be offered by the jury, which will consist of the entire piano faculty. Students who do not receive an average grade of B- or better will be required to repeat the Committee.

The Junior Recital

This will consist of solo works performed from memory. The maximum length shall be 35 minutes. Minimum length shall be 25 minutes.

The Senior Recital

This will consist of at least 50 minutes of solo repertoire performed from memory. In addition chamber works or concertos can be scheduled. A balance of repertoire is expected. Unusual or esoteric programs must be submitted to the piano department for approval. Students are required to play a pre-recital hearing (20 minutes) a minimum of two weeks before their senior recital. The senior recital may be performed during the first or second semester, or during Winter Term.

Conservatory Writing Requirement

The Conservatory Writing Requirement is designed to help students develop the ability to do the following: communicate effectively in writing, understand writing as a process, engage in writing as a form of critical thinking, demonstrate rhetorical flexibility by addressing various audiences and purposes in their writing, and demonstrate awareness of the conventions and forms of writing in particular disciplines.

As noted in the Bachelor of Music Degree Requirements  section of this catalog, the writing requirement is as follows:

Students are required to complete one writing course, either Writing-Intensive (WINT) or Writing-Advanced (WADV). It is strongly advised that students complete this course by the end of the second year of study. The course must be completed at Oberlin, with the exception that transfer students may petition to count a transferred course with a comparable focus on writing toward this requirement. The petition to request transfer of credit toward the writing requirement can be accessed here. Taking a second writing course during studies at Oberlin is strongly recommended.

Courses carrying the Writing-Intensive (WINT) designation involve explicit instruction in writing, are generally limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses are designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize, and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course. Courses carrying the Writing-Advanced (WADV) designation are associated with the major and aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary issues and practices typical of knowledgeable practitioners.

Numerous campus resources are available to help students develop their writing skills, including Oberlin’s Writing Associates Program and the Writing Center. Conservatory students are encouraged to work closely with their Conservatory teachers to hone their music-specific writing skills as they progress through their degree requirements, with particular encouragement to engage in writing artistic statements, program notes, and grant proposals. Students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sequence will fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement as part of their ESOL coursework, specifically with the successful completion of ESOL 140 .

Accompanying Courses

The following courses are available to piano majors and to other qualified keyboard players interested in accompanying:

Related Programs

For a description of the major and minor in harpsichord and the minor in fortepiano, see the Historical Performance Program.

Honors in Performance: Piano


Potential applicants to the Honors Program in Performance: Piano will be identified during the end of their sophomore year and will be required to audition at the end of their junior year. In order to audition for the honors program, a student must be nominated by a member of the piano faculty and must meet the following requirements:

  • a private study grade point average of 4.00 for the two preceding semesters;
  • completion of three semesters of accompanying;
  • appropriate completion of the performance major requirements in piano; and
  • “good academic standing” for the preceding two semesters as defined in the Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

Applicants must prepare 35 minutes of memorized and balanced repertoire. Auditions for the honors program will be open to the public and adjudicated by no less than two-thirds of the piano department faculty. Students will advance past the audition stage only if selected by a two-thirds majority of the panel, and it is possible that no one will be chosen; a maximum of three students may be selected per year.

If a student performs a successful audition, they must submit a proposal for an honors project to the chair of the piano department and the Dean’s office before the first day of classes of the following fall semester. Proposals must receive approval from two-thirds of the piano department faculty. A student will be notified by the department chair of the status of their entrance into the honors program before the end of the Add/Drop period of the fall semester. If a final proposal is not approved before the end of the Add/Drop period, others may not be submitted. It is recommended that applicants seek assistance from members of the faculty.

Proposal/Project Requirements

All honors proposals must include the production of a professional-quality compact disc (CD) to be funded by the piano department (see department chair for limitations and restrictions). The completed CD must be submitted to the chair by the end of the first week following spring break. If it is approved by two-thirds of the piano department faculty, it will then be submitted for external review to at least one individual to be selected by the piano faculty. (This individual will be chosen from a list of pianists suggested by the student and his teacher.) If successful, the CD will become a permanent part of the library collection.

All honors projects will culminate in a public recital to be given by the end of classes in the spring semester. It will be adjudicated by at least six members of the Keyboard Division, including the private teacher, the piano department chair, and the division director. The recital must pass by a two-thirds majority of these members.

Special efforts will be made to provide off-campus performance opportunities for honors candidates.

Curricular and Program Requirements

A student who receives approval for an honors proposal will register for four credits of honors study in each semester of their senior year. Free elective requirements for the performance major will be reduced by eight credits and the final honors recital will replace the senior recital. If some part of the honors program, such as the recital or CD project, is not considered to be adequate but is completed, a student may receive credit for the work but will not receive the distinction of honors. Students who fail any portion of the required coursework in honors will be removed from the program and must complete the standard performance major requirements in order to graduate.

Following successful completion of a project and approval by the piano department as defined above, the chair of the piano
department will submit the following to the Honors and Awards Committee of the Conservatory of Music:

  • a brief rationale pertaining to the student’s successful and meritorious completion of the honors project;
  • the project proposal;
  • a recording of the recital; and
  • the final project CD.

If the Honors and Awards Committee approves the piano department recommendation, the student will be awarded the baccalaureate distinction of Honors in Performance: Piano.