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Music, MM

Specialization(s): Piano Performance and Pedgogy
Department: Music Department
College: Caine College of the Arts


About This Degree

The master of music degree has a required specialization in piano performance and pedagogy. The primary purpose of this degree is to integrate instruction in piano pedagogy with high-level piano performance, making it a unique degree, as many MM programs in piano require students to specialize in either pedagogy or performance. The program is designed to fill an increasing demand for piano instructors who not only perform at a high level, but who also hold advanced credentials in teaching.

Students have the opportunity to acquire comprehensive knowledge of piano performance and pedagogy through research and both classroom and individualized instruction, to develop and practice professional skills, and to gain leadership experience. Master of music candidates also receive experiential training through the USU Youth Conservatory, a pre-college piano program providing instruction to students ages 4 through 18.


Students must choose a specialization.

  • Piano Performance and Pedgogy:


  • MM - Logan Campus

Graduates with the MM typically pursue careers as piano teachers and performers. They are also prepared to pursue doctoral degrees; either the doctor of musical arts (DMA), which is focused on performance, or the doctor of philosophy (PhD), which focuses more on academia.

Admissions Requirements

It is preferred that applicants have an undergraduate degree in music with an emphasis in piano.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • The Music Department requires students to audition in front of an entrance committee comprised of members of the piano faculty. If a live audition at the USU campus is impractical, applicants may send an audio-visual recording that demonstrates their level of proficiency with regard to piano performance.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admissions Deadlines

Students are accepted throughout the year; however, it is recommended that students seeking financial assistance apply before March 1.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MM by pursuing the following option:

  • The Plan C option does not involve a thesis or a defense meeting and is comprised of coursework only, including a terminal recital.

Financial Assistance

Select students will be offered department-funded graduate assistantship positions. After completing departmental requirements, these students will be eligible to teach courses in the undergraduate curriculum for music majors and minors, including music theory, aural skills, and keyboard harmony. All graduate students, including those who do not receive an assistantship position, have the opportunity to provide private piano instruction to nonmajors, for which they will receive compensation.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, tuition awards, and travel support. Additionally, students may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through qualifying assistantships.

Program Requirements

Click here to see course requirements for the Master of Music.


Dennis Hirst
Associate Professor
Office: FAC 203
Phone: (435) 797-3257
Email: dennis.hirst@usu.edu


Gary Amano, MM, Juilliard School of Music
Area: Piano theory
Office: FAC 201
Phone: (435) 797-3028
Email: gary.amano@usu.edu

Sergio Bernal, MM, University of Michigan and Yale University
Associate Professor
Area: Theory, composition
Office: FAC 218 A
Phone: (435) 797-0487
Email: sergio.bernal@usu.edu

Dennis Hirst, MM, University of Oklahoma
Associate Professor
Area: Piano, theory
Office: FAC 203
Phone: (435) 797-3257
Email: dennis.hirst@usu.edu

Kevin Olson, EdD, National-Louis University
Assistant Professor, Director of USU Youth Conservatory
Area: Piano, composition
Office: FAC 101
Phone: (435) 797-3033
Email: kevin.olson@usu.edu

Bruce Saperston, PhD, University of Texas – Austin
Associate Professor
Area: Research methods, music theory
Office: FAC 107
Phone: (435) 797-0717
Email: bruce.saperston@usu.edu

Christopher Scheer, PhD, University of Michigan
Assistant Professor
Area: Musicology, music history
Office: FAC 204
Phone: (435) 797-8706
Email: christopher.scheer@usu.edu

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Music Teachers National Association: MTNA is a nonprofit organization of more than 24,000 music teachers, independent and collegiate, who share the vision of furthering the art of music through programs that encourage and support teaching and performance.

Utah Music Teachers Association: UMTA, a chapter of Music Teachers National Association, is a nonprofit organization of more than 600 music teachers across the state. Through monthly meetings and workshops, members are able to create a support network and exchange ideas about how to improve their teaching.

Labs, Centers, Research

Caine Lyric Theatre: The Caine Lyric Theatre is located in downtown Logan. The 378-seat proscenium theatre, listed on the Utah State Historical Register (1913), is home to the Old Lyric Repertory Company and hosts USU Opera program performances.

Kent Concert Hall: The Kent Concert Hall, located in the Chase Fine Arts Center, seats 2,168 patrons in five orchestra sections and five balcony sections. It has a proscenium stage and an apron that can be removed to reveal the orchestra pit at the front of the stage. The Kent Concert Hall is most specifically designed for orchestra programs and features a full-stage acoustical shell as part of the standard-stage setup.

Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall: The Performance Hall is a 20,000-square-foot building that serves USU, the Cache Valley community, and the Intermountain region. The venue features a 400-seat performance hall, a stage for up to 22 performers, and a lobby with glass windows overlooking a plaza. The hall’s intimate scale is ideal for small acoustical performances, such as chamber music, vocal and instrumental concerts, recitals, readings, and lectures.

Morgan Theatre: A 670-seat thrust theatre is used for plays and small concerts and performances. The Morgan Theatre is the main performance venue for the USU Theatre Department. It also serves as a wonderful venue for music, dance, or conferences that want a more intimate performance venue.

Youth Conservatory: The Youth Conservatory serves as a lab program for USU piano pedagogy students to hone their teaching skills and receive faculty guidance in applied teaching situations. More than 300 pianists, ages 4–18, of varying abilities and backgrounds, come to the Chase Fine Arts Center for piano lessons and musicianship classes each week.

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