Certificate in Piano Pedagogy

Graduate student Raluca Boac works on an exercise during a group piano pedagogy course in the Brady Educational Center on July 12, 2012. The class is part of a Masters of Arts degree program with a concentration in piano pedagogy at the University of St. Thomas.

The University of St. Thomas offers high-quality continuing education opportunities for pianists and piano teachers. These experiences will give you new ideas that will support and revitalize your teaching. They may count toward a Certificate in Piano Pedagogy or a Master of Arts in Music Education degree with a concentration in piano pedagogy– or you may sign up to take classes or lessons without committing yourself to either program. These courses and lessons also will prepare you for national and state certification, and will count toward re-certification.


The Certificate in Piano Pedagogy is a program designed for professional teachers and those wishing to enter the profession who would like to formally pursue studies in piano pedagogy, but who do not wish to attain a graduate degree. Certificate students will receive academic credit through the Graduate Programs in Music Education as non-degree students.

Those who wish to work toward the certificate may do so regardless of academic background or teaching experience; however it is assumed that students will have sufficient background in piano study and preferably some teaching experience. An application, interview, and (when appropriate) academic transcripts will determine eligibility for the certificate. There are certain requirements for those who do not have an undergraduate degree in music.

Students Without a Baccalaureate Degree in Music

Those students wishing to enter the certificate program who have not completed a baccalaureate degree in music will have as a prerequisite the successful completion of either the Elementary Materials and Teaching Techniques or the Intermediate Materials and Teaching Techniques course before being accepted into the certificate program.

Students Without College Music History or Theory Courses

Students must complete at least one college semester of music theory and one college semester of music history. These may be taken from any college offering these undergraduate courses, and may be taken at any time, but must be completed before the certificate can be awarded. It is highly recommended, however, that students take them as soon as possible, as the knowledge gained will provide an important background for other courses in the program.

Students will choose five piano pedagogy concentration courses.

  • Two pedagogy methods courses required, of which Elementary Materials and Teaching Techniques (GMUS 771) must be one.

A minimum of three semesters of piano lessons (GMUS 571).

  • Twelve 50-minute lessons per semester.

One semester of Supervised Teaching (GMUS 800).

Recitals - students are not required but are encouraged to perform in a recital.

Students must be enrolled as nondegree or graduate students in order to have courses apply toward the certificate.

The following courses are offered as part of both the Master of Arts in Music Education and the Certificate in Piano Pedagogy. Students from both programs will participate in the courses together, and will be expected to fulfill the same requirements in each course. Visit our Graduate Course Offerings page for scheduling information.

Advanced Teaching Techniques (GMUS 773), 3 cr.
Topics will include those that are applicable to all students, as well as addressing the issues that are specific to the advancing student. Subjects include: planning repertoire that takes students from the intermediate level to the advanced level; developing advanced technique; how to devise practice strategies to solve specific technical problems; how to recognize and avoid physical injuries; performance anxiety; interpretation and analysis; history of piano pedagogy and current pedagogical theory; how to practice; memorizing and preparation for performance.

Applied Piano Studies (GMUS 571), 1 cr.
Twelve 50-minute individual lessons.

Elementary Materials and Teaching Techniques (GMUS 771), 3 cr.
Discussion of teaching materials for the beginning student and issues relating to the development of musicianship in early studies on the instrument. Learning theories and their relationship to the various aspects of piano study are explored. The course includes consideration of the business aspects of running an independent studio. Seminar participants will develop some familiarity with the various electronic keyboards available for studio and student use.

Intermediate Materials and Teaching Techniques (GMUS 772), 3 cr.
An in-depth study of materials and teaching techniques for the intermediate student. Learning theories and their relationship to the various aspects of piano study at the intermediate level are explored.

Keyboard Literature (GMUS 619), 3 cr.
Study of the keyboard literature from the beginning of the 18th century to the present.

Performance Practices (GMUS 615), 3 cr.
An in-depth study of performance practices associated with stylistic interpretation of piano music from the 18th century to the present, including issues of phrasing, articulation, rhythm and tempo, dynamics, pedaling, and ornamentation correlated with the evolution of the instrument.

Supervised Teaching (GMUS 800), 2 cr.
Piano faculty direction and observation of each student's teaching in an online format. Students will videorecord their own piano students for the basis of the class. Open to non-UST piano teachers. Prerequisite:  instructor’s permission.

Theory for Pianists (GMUS 613), 3 cr.
The study of harmonic language, rhythm, texture, formal and contrapuntal procedures, chosen from a broad range of examples derived primarily from literature for piano.

Topics in Contemporary Music Education (MUSW 501), 1 cr.
Students may earn credit by attending piano pedagogy workshops sponsored by the University of St. Thomas, including the Summer Workshops in Piano Pedagogy.