University of Minnesota Duluth

Piano Area

At UMD, pianists have an opportunity to focus on a range of interests with a group of faculty who are active performers and dedicated teachers committed to the development of each individual in preparation for successful careers as musicians.

With a low teacher to student ratio, students benefit from exceptional individual attention in a dynamic environment. Providing a diverse offering of solo, collaborative, and jazz studies in piano, faculty mentors provide guidance in solo performance and concerti, keyboard literature, piano pedagogy, piano four-hand and duo repertoire, and contemporary repertoire. Our students enjoy a wealth of performing opportunities appearing regularly in chamber ensembles, guest master classes, weekly student recitals, and through involvement with larger ensembles such as the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Opera Studio.

Please contact the piano area for additional information about the programs or to arrange a sample lesson. Significant scholarships and assistantships are offered annually based on audition.

Piano Proficiency

Bachelor of Music Degrees Basic Piano Proficiency (Non-piano Majors)

1. Two-octave, one-hand scales with logical fingering: ALL major keys, WHITE KEY ONLY minor scales (all forms) in eighth notes (quarter = m.m.72).
2. Repertoire piece chosen from MMTA level three (similar to Bach Anna Magdalena Notebook, Beethoven German Dances, Sonatinas, Bartok For Children, Kabalevsky pieces from Op. 27).
3. Harmonize at sight a song chosen by the adjudicator that is similar to melodies found in Share the Music (McGraw-Hill Pub.) grades K-3.
4. Transpose and harmonize the same melody as in #3.
5. Sightplay a piece selected from MMTA level three: no more than 5 errors in notes, rhythms, or beat hesitations. Student may study the piece for up to one minute (simple rhythms--quarter, eighth, half, dotted half, whole, dotted quarter and eighth notes; simple meters; accompaniment styles including single note, note tonic, harmonic 5th or 6th, contrary or parallel motion).
6. Score reading of any 2 parts in 2 different clefs chosen by the adjudicator to be selected from a prepared packet of score examples (available online).
7. Demonstrate competency in basic improvisation: 12 bar blues.
8. Play Happy Birthday in F Major.

Students will be encouraged to take their proficiency as soon as possible – at the end of the freshman year if possible. The proficiency must be completed by the fall semester of the sophomore year.


Bachelor of Arts Degrees Basic Piano Proficiency (Non-piano Majors)

This is the same as the basic proficiency for Bachelor of Music degrees except there is no score reading (#6 above).


Basic Piano Proficiency – Jazz Studies

This is the same basic proficiency as listed above substituting #6 with the #6 listed below.

6. Play a 3-5-7-9 voicing, in any inversion for any major, minor, or dominant chord as called on by the adjudicator on sight and comp reasonably voiced chords through the F blues progression (quarter = m.m. 108).

The jazz faculty listen to this element of the piano proficiency exam.


Advanced Piano Proficiency for Vocal Music Education Majors

1. Repertoire pieces chosen from MMTA level four (Bach Anna Magdalena Notebook, selected shorter movements from Handel Suites, easier movements by Haydn, Maykapar 18 Selected Pieces).
2. Sightplay a piece selected from MMTA level four; the criteria are the same as in the basic proficiency.
3. Play 3 lines of a prepared 4-part choral score (SATB) to be chosen by the adjudicator from the prepared packet (online). Steady beat and continuity are essential.
4. Play two different vocal warm-up exercises, one major and one minor.
5. Accompany a vocal student. This must be performed publicly--either a master class, jury, or recital hour. At least one member of the piano faculty must be present.
6. 2 octave major scales - hands together in eighth notes (quarter = m.m. 72).

The advanced proficiency is normally taken by a vocal education major following 2 semesters of piano lessons after the lower level piano proficiency is passed. This requirement must be completed before the student will be allowed to student teach.


Advanced Piano Proficiency (for all degrees, B.M. and B.A. with piano as the primary instrument)

1. Harmonization
at sight of a song chosen by the adjudicator (as found in Share the Music).
2. Transposition and harmonization of song played in #1.
3. Score reading: any 3 lines of the advanced vocal scores (online).
4. Sightplay a piece selected from MMTA level six (add compound meters; increased range; add triplets and appropriate rests; the following accompaniment styles: harmonic/melodic intervals through the octave, solid/broken triads, close position chord progressions, ostinato, contrary/parallel motion); the criteria are the same as in the basic proficiency.
5. Play "Happy Birthday" (F Major), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (G or A-flat Major), and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (D Major).



For Information about music department programs and upcoming concerts, please call 218-726-8877