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Keyboard Studies & Supplementary Piano

Keyboard Studies

Keyboard Studies for non-keyboard majors takes place over four semesters, and for keyboard players, over five semesters. It serves as a companion to the study of music theory and analyses. All classes are one hour per week. Students will learn how to apply their knowledge of counterpoint, harmony, and voice-leading fluently and confidently at the piano. Exercises include figured bass realization, harmonization of melodies, clef reading, and counterpoint improvisation.

Keyboard Studies I (for non-keyboard majors only)

Keyboard geography and the review of scales, intervals, triads, and 7th chords. Includes an introduction to figured bass, clef reading, and counterpoint improvisation.

Keyboard Studies II

Includes two-part score reading, figured bass realization of 5/3 and 6/3 chords, short harmonic progressions of tonic expansion and cadences, and harmonization of melodic fragments.

Keyboard Studies III

Continuing two-part score reading, figured bass realization of 5/3, 6/3, and 6/4 chords, diatonic progressions in different keys, and harmonization of soprano and/or bass melodies.

Keyboard Studies IV

Three-part and four-part score reading, figured bass realization which incorporate suspensions and chromatic harmonies, diatonic and chromatic progressions in different keys including applied dominants, harmonization of soprano and/or bass melodies, and harmonization of folk songs.

Keyboard Studies V and VI

Required for keyboard majors only, and open as an elective for anyone interested with sufficient keyboard skill. Exercises include advanced figured bass realization, score reading at the piano, and advanced counterpoint.


Supplementary Piano

All bachelors-degree candidates (except piano) are required to pass or place out of four semesters of Supplementary Piano. Undergraduate composition, conducting, and organ majors will take one-hour piano lessons weekly unless they are excused by their major teacher.  All other students will take 30-minute piano lessons weekly.

All incoming students are expected to follow the four-semester curriculum below, and pass a piano jury at the end of the fourth semester.  Students who do not fulfill the Supplementary Piano requirement by the end of their studies at Curtis will not be able to graduate.  If a student did not fulfill the jury requirement and would like additional piano lessons to prepare for a make-up jury, he/she must petition the Dean and Chair of Musical Studies in writing, which will be approved or denied on a case-by-case basis.  For students who show rapid progress during the year and wish to take the jury before completing all four semesters, his/her Supplementary Piano teacher may request an early jury on the student’s behalf.

The curriculum below provides a guideline for beginner piano students to progress to a late-intermediate level. Students who have a piano background prior to coming to Curtis will be given more difficult, level-appropriate pieces and technical components that fulfill and exceed the minimum requirement.

1st Semester

Students will gain familiarity with the keyboard geography and build basic coordination and mobility of the hands. Repertoire includes etudes (e.g. Beyer, Bertini, Czerny Op. 599, Kohler, Duvernoy, Gurlitt, etc.) and character pieces (easy works by Kabalevsky, Bartok, Burgmüller, etc.)

2nd Semester

An exploration of articulations, expressivity, and musicality at the piano, with the goal of gaining independence of hands through the study of contrapuntal works. Repertoire includes Bach’s contrapuntal works (e.g. minuets), further study of character pieces (see above), easy Classical pieces by Mozart and Haydn, and short sonatinas by Spindler, Schmitt, etc.

3rd Semester

Focuses on left hand accompaniment patterns, such as Alberti bass and Waltz, as well as voicing from melody/accompaniment works and use of the pedal. Repertoire includes sonatinas by Clementi, Kulau, et., more challenging pieces by Bach (e.g. Little Preludes, 2-part Inventions), and children’s pieces by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, etc.

4th Semester (Jury Preparation)

Students will study more advanced use of the pedal and focus on preparing jury repertoire. Repertoire includes Bach 2-pt Inventions, Scarlatti Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatinas Op. 14 and 79, Mozart Sonatas, and intermediate-level works by Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Grieg, Mendelssohn, and others.

Jury Requirements

Scales, arpeggios, and cadences of all major and minor keys. 4 octaves in 16th notes, hands together.

Two works or movements of contrasting styles and tempo; must reach late-intermediate or higher level (i.e. Bach Invention, Mozart Sonata, etc.). Only one of the two pieces can be a repeat from a previous semester.


Odd-numbered courses generally meet in the fall and even-numbered courses meet in the spring.

The designations "s.h." (semester hours) and "g.c." (graduate credits) indicate credit-hours given per term for undergraduate and graduate courses, respectively.

Yearlong, two-semester courses are designated by hyphenated course numbers. Students must successfully complete both semesters of required yearlong courses to satisfy the graduation requirement.

The symbol * indicates a course that is not offered every year.