Piano

Degrees Available

Bachelor of Music in Performance • Master of Music in Performance • Master of Music in Performance and Collaborative Arts • Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy • Master of Music Education and Piano Pedagogy • Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance • Doctor of Musical Arts Performance and Collaborative Arts • Doctor of Musical Arts Performance and Pedagogy

  • For more information on degrees, ensembles, summer session, study abroad, and complete curricular handbooks, visit our Academics Page.
  • To apply to the Bienen School of Music, visit our Admission Page.


Piano at the Bienen School of Music 

Piano study at Northwestern is designed to prepare young artists for the multifaceted opportunities awaiting them in today’s music world. The piano faculty is comprised of experienced artist-teachers whose careers represent a diversity of backgrounds. Their comprehensive approach to education encourages students to cultivate their own voices and musical values. The relatively small size of our program—typically less than 50 students total in all degree programs—creates a community that is collegial but motivated toward achievement.

Professor James Giles teachingThe piano curriculum is centered around individual private lessons, where students are encouraged to explore the incredible variety of repertoire available to pianists. Performance opportunities abound and include studio classes, weekly recital hours, a concerto competition, and opportunities for performances off campus. In addition, there are many competitions in the Chicago area which offer performances as well as significant cash prizes.

Chamber music and collaborative experiences are an integral part of our pianists’ lives that further develop listening and promote dialogue about music. Pianists collaborate with other musicians through chamber music, duo sonata classes, two piano classes, and large ensembles. They are also exposed to creative teaching approaches and pedagogy which prepare them for future success in the teaching studio. We believe that the education of a well-rounded musician extends beyond the weekly piano lesson.

Bienen School piano performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DCBecause our undergraduate students excel at and are curious about many things, a degree from Northwestern carries a unique currency in the music world. Not only are they excellent pianists, but they are also musicians who understand their art within a broader context. They are well-equipped to navigate a future that will increasingly require them to do more than just play well. Our dual-degree program attracts those students who wish for a challenging multi-disciplinary experience.

Graduate piano students have arrived at a place in their lives in which they are intent on a life in music. This is a special group whose dedication, artistic achievement, and intellectual engagement make them future leaders in the profession. Masters students are considered for merit scholarships, including several competitive full-tuition awards. Graduate assistantships are also available to MM students. 

Alan Chow, teachingThe atmosphere at Northwestern is particularly stimulating for pianists, and the piano program offers many opportunities that simply cannot be found at other schools. The Bienen School awards the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize biennially to a distinguished pianist. Lane Prize recipients—who have included Richard Goode, Stephen Hough, Yefim Bronfman, Murray Perahia, and Garrick Ohlsson—make several visits to campus during which they perform and teach. In addition to these guests, we have maintained an impressive roster of guest artists who have visited campus to work with our students, including Menahem Pressler, Nelita True, Leon Fleisher, Sergei Babayan, Robert McDonald, Earl Wild, and many others. During one exceptional two-week period, our students interacted with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yefim Bronfman, and Richard Goode.

The piano program has celebrated the bicentennials of Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt with marathon concerts, chamber music concerts, and guest artist recitals. All piano students participated in a marathon concert marking the sesquicentennial of Debussy’s birth. Entitled Watercolors, the program featured collaborations with local artists whose work was projected on stage during the performances. In 2012, we collaborated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in their “Keys to the City” Festival, during which three of our students performed on the Orchestra Hall stage.

Our students enjoy the proximity to the city of Chicago and the many world-class musical events there, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and a piano recital series that presents the most famous touring artists. While the musical life on our campus is substantial, having the cultural landscape of a great music capital a train-ride away complements a student’s education in immeasurable ways. It is essential for all musicians to be constantly reminded of the level of excellence for which they are striving.

The Bienen School recently embarked on an initiative to find the highest quality piano students from Asia, which also includes the opportunity for scholarships. If you are from this region and are interested in the Bienen School piano program, contact musiclife@northwestern.edu.

All entering doctoral students receive a full tuition scholarship and a work stipend.

Experience music from the Piano program by searching our Davee Media Library for performances, master classes, and much more!

Questions?

Request information from the Bienen School of Music.


Video

The following videos of master classes are from our Davee Media Library, a video, audio, and photographic collection of performances, master classes, and documentaries.

Menahem Pressler Master Class   Video: Menahem Pressler Piano Master Class (April 2011)
A master class given by renowned pianist and teacher Menahem Pressler, featuring Bienen School of Music students. Featured pianists include Paul Juhn, John Choi, and Hsaio-Ling Lin. Music by Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, and Mozart.
Yefim Bronfman Master Class   Video: Yefim Bronfman Piano Master Class (October 2010)
Yefim Bronfman, renowned pianist and winner of the 2010 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, gives a piano master class in Lutkin Hall. Featured pianists are Hsiao-Ling Lin (student of James Giles) and Xiao-Min Liang (student of Sylvia Wang). Featured music includes Mozart and Brahms.
Stephen Hough Master Class   Video: Excerpts from Stephen Hough Piano Master Class (November 2008)
Stephen Hough, winner of the 2008 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance, conducts a master class in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall featuring the music of Scriabin, Ravel, and Chopin. Featured student pianists include Nolan Pearson, Geraldine Ong, and Miki Sawada.