Bachelor of Music: Piano

Program Overview

Piano at Westminster Choir College has multiple dimensions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It fosters the development of students who perform on a high level as soloists, as artist-teachers and as collaborators with other performing artists.

Our program helps to develop a strong foundation of technique and knowledge of piano literature and style. The department also provides instruction for undergraduate students who need keyboard skills in order to function effectively throughout their professional careers.

Curriculum Overview

Undergraduate Piano Primary: Piano primary students majoring in sacred music, B.A. in music, music education, or theory/composition are expected to play once each semester in a performance class. Seniors give a full or half recital. Freshmen have required juries at the end of each semester; sophomores and juniors, at the end of each year.

Undergraduate Piano Secondary: All undergraduate voice primary students must enroll for piano secondary study until completing the undergraduate piano secondary curriculum course sequence. Instruction is in the form of piano classes. Placement in the class by level is determined at the beginning of each semester. Instruction entails study and performance of piano literature from the Baroque through the 21st Century as well as development of proficiency in areas of functional keyboard skills.  For more details about the Piano Secondary curriculum, please refer to the Piano Department page in this catalog.

Piano as an Elective: Students may elect private instruction in piano for credit. There are no audition requirements, but an extra fee is charged.

Piano Pedagogy Lab: This is a required graduate Piano Pedagogy course for the purpose of problem solving related to piano teaching. The class format includes open discussion of observations, supervised and independent teaching, questions relating to repertoire, materials, and technique, comparative philosophies and psychologies and their applications, group and private teaching, business issues (e.g. studio policies), use of technology, professional organizations and publications, recital and audition preparation, and parent education.

Piano Studio and Performance Class: This is a weekly recital and lecture hour during which performances are given by students, faculty members, and guest performers. Attendance and participation at weekly studio and performance classes is required for all undergraduate and graduate piano primary students. All Westminster students are invited to attend.

Degrees Offered

  • B.M. in Piano


Margaret Cusack
Professor and Chairperson
Erdman Hall 26
609-921-7100, ext. 8253

Ingrid Clarfield
Erdman Hall 11
609-921-7100, ext. 8290

Program Website:

Associated Department: Department of Piano and Voice 

Related Programs


Ingrid Clarfield • Professor, Piano, 1982. B.M., Oberlin College; M.M., Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.
Dalton Baldwin • Adjunct Professor, Piano, 1984. B.A., Oberlin Conservatory.
Ena Bronstein Barton • Adjunct Associate Professor, Piano, 1983. Artist Diploma, Escuela Moderna de Musica and Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, Santiago, Chile.
James Goldsworthy • Professor, Piano, 1996. B.M., M.M., Southern Methodist University; D.M.A., Stanford University.
Phyllis Lehrer • Professor Emerita, Piano, 1975. A.B., University of Rochester; M.S., Juilliard School.
Thomas Parente • Associate Professor, Piano, 1993. B.A., Jersey City State College; B.M., Manhattan School of Music; M.A., Rutgers University; Dalcroze Eurhythmics License, Longy School of Music; Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University.
Agnes Poltorak • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Piano, 2000. B.M., University of British Columbia, Canada; M.M., Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Betty Handelman Stoloff • Adjunct Associate Professor, Piano, 1978. B.M.A., University of Michigan; M.A., Columbia University.

Piano Program Requirements

Learn more about General Undergraduate Requirements.

Choirs and Conducting
CR 109Chapel Choir (2 terms)2
CR 209Schola Cantorum (2 terms)2
CR 509Symphonic Choir (4 terms)4
CR 215Fundamentals of Conducting3
Applied Music
PI 101APiano Primary (2 terms)4
PI 201APiano Primary (2 terms)4
PI 301APiano Primary (2 terms)4
PI 401APiano Primary (2 terms)4
Voice Secondary (4 terms)4
Theory and Music History
TH 141
TH 142
TH 241
Musicianship I
and Musicianship II
and Musicianship III
TH 342Contemporary Trends3
Theory level I elective3
Theory level II elective3
MH 247
MH 248
Music Historiography I
and Music Historiography II
MH 345Music Since 19003
Music History elective (MH433 Seminar in Music History)3
Professional Studies
PI 297
PI 298
PI 397
Fund of Piano Pedagogy I
and Fund of Piano Pedagogy II
and Fund of Piano Pedagogy III
PI 435
PI 436
Survey of Piano Literature I
and Survey of Piano Literature II
Select two of the following:3-4
Accompanying Class (2 credits)
Chamber Music (2 credits)
Piano Ensemble (1 credit)
Arts and Sciences
LL 131English Composition3
Foreign Language I/II (2 courses)6
Literature or Philosophy elective3
Social/Behavioral/Natural Science elective3
History elective3
Arts & Sciences electives (4 courses)12
Free Electives
Free Electives12
Total Credits124-125


Academic Plan of Study

The following educational plan is provided as a sample only.  Rider students who do not declare a major during their freshman year; who change their major; or those who transfer to Rider may follow a different plan to ensure a timely graduation.  Each student, with guidance from his or her academic advisor, will develop a personalized educational plan.

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterCredits
CR 109 Chapel Choir 1
PI 101A Piano Primary 2
VC 103 Voice Secondary 1
TH 141 Musicianship I 4
LL 131 English Composition 3
Literature or Philosophy Elective 3
Free Electives 2
 Semester Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
CR 109 Chapel Choir 1
PI 101A Piano Primary 2
VC 103 Voice Secondary 1
TH 142 Musicianship II 4
Social/Behavioral/Natural Science elective 3
Arts and Sciences elective 3
Free elective 2
 Semester Credit Hours16
Year 2
Fall Semester
CR 209 Schola Cantorum 1
PI 201A Piano Primary 2
VC 203 Voice Secondary 1
TH 241 Musicianship III 4
MH 247 Music Historiography I 3
PI 297 Fund of Piano Pedagogy I 3
Foreign Language I 3
 Semester Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
CR 209 Schola Cantorum 1
PI 201A Piano Primary 2
VC 203 Voice Secondary 1
TH 342 Contemporary Trends 3
MH 248 Music Historiography II 3
PI 298 Fund of Piano Pedagogy II 3
Foreign Language II 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
Year 3
Fall Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
PI 301A Piano Primary 2
Theory Level I elective 3
MH 345 Music Since 1900 3
PI 397 Fund of Piano Pedagogy III 3
PI 435 Survey of Piano Literature I 3
Free elective 2
 Semester Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
PI 301A Piano Primary 2
Theory Level II elective 3
MH 433 Seminar in Music History 3
Arts & Sciences elective 3
Select one of the following: 1-2
Accompanying Class
or Chamber Music
or Piano Ensemble
Free elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours16-17
Year 4
Fall Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
PI 401A Piano Primary 2
CR 215 Fundamentals of Conducting 3
PI 436 Survey of Piano Literature II 3
PI 413
Accompanying Class
or Chamber Music
Arts and Sciences elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours14
Spring Semester
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
PI 401A Piano Primary 2
Arts and Sciences elective 3
Free elective 3
History elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours12
 Total Credit Hours for Graduation124-125

Courses and Descriptions

PI 101A Piano Primary 2 Credits

PI 201A Piano Primary 2 Credits

PI 297 Fund of Piano Pedagogy I 3 Credits

Fundamentals I is devoted to study of techniques, methods, and materials suitable for beginning through early intermediate level students. Other areas of study include motivational strategies, establishment of effective practice habits, recital preparation, technique, and elementary duet materials. Students analyze and demonstrate teaching from three different beginning piano methods. Observation of professional teaching is done in the context of class and private lessons at the Westminster Conservatory.

PI 298 Fund of Piano Pedagogy II 3 Credits

In Fundamentals II, students continue to apply their experience with piano methods to the teaching of students. In addition, the semester is devoted to the study of materials from all style periods for upper elementary and intermediate level students. Students observe private and group lessons appropriate to these levels. The course culminates in an individual lecture recital demonstrating music from a variety of style periods.

Prerequisite(s): PI 297.

PI 301A Piano Primary 2 Credits

PI 397 Fund of Piano Pedagogy III 3 Credits

Fundamentals III involves supervised private and group teaching of beginning students. Emphasis is placed on lesson planning, presentation of concepts, use of technology, and the relationship between technique and musicianship skills. The course further addresses the different psychological and methodological approaches to teaching adults and children in class and private settings, and includes an overview of materials for the adult student and group classes. The course culminates in a lecture recital on a pedagogical subject of the students choice.

PI 401A Piano Primary 2 Credits

PI 413 Accompanying Class 2 Credits

This course is designed with the twofold purpose of allowing undergraduate pianists to fulfill their piano ensemble elective requirement within the professional studies area as well as providing an opportunity for voice primary students to further their piano study in a challenging forum in situations directly related to their repertoire. The students in the class will receive instruction in the stylistic, technical, analytical and linguistic aspects of vocal literature. The many issues involved in vocal collaboration will be discussed along with in-depth study of the pianist’s role in musical partnerships. Issues of musical freedom, language, and the varieties of sonic treatment unique to vocal literature will be discussed. Italian, French, German and English song repertoire from various style periods will provide the assignments for performance and discussion.

PI 435 Survey of Piano Literature I 3 Credits

A study of representative works from 1650-1800 by composers including J. S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Prerequisite(s): MH 248.

PI 436 Survey of Piano Literature II 3 Credits

A study of representative works from 1800 to the present by composers including Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Bartók.

Prerequisite(s): MH 248.

PI 512 Chamber Music 2 Credits

Emphasis is placed upon rehearsal and performances of representative collaborative literature for strings and piano, and woodwinds and piano. Students will be assigned movements from major chamber works selected from different style periods. Professional instrumentalists will join them for rehearsals and performances in class. An overview of the development of this repertoire will be presented and listening assignments will augment the study of specific works. A project involving the study and presentation of a piano quartet or piano quintet will be included. Attendance at three concerts of instrumental chamber music is required. Permission of applied teacher and instructor is required.

PI 513 Jazz Keyboard/Improv 3 Credits

This course will enable pianists and organists to become familiar with the theory, harmony, and improvisational techniques of jazz piano. Emphasis will be placed upon getting each student to create spontaneous improvisations. The fundamental goal will be that of enabling students accustomed to following a score to move beyond it. Extensive exposure to material from the "Great American Songbook" as well as to jazz standards will provide a structural basis for the course.

Prerequisite(s): TH 142 and PI 201, or equivalent knowledge and technical proficiency.

PI 516 Physical/Psych Aspects Piano 2 Credits

The two major emphases of this course are: (1) the pianist as athlete and 2) the pianist as performer. The first includes a study of appropriate exercise, nutrition, anatomy and physiology as they relate to piano technique, implications for injury prevention, and how to deal with injuries should they occur. The second includes the reading process, strategies for practicing, memorizing techniques, and ways of coping with the behavioral, physical and cognitive manifestations of performance anxiety.

PI 540 Keyboard Skills 3 Credits

The course includes in-depth study of numerous aspects of musicianship skills essential for all pianists within the broader categories of technique and practice strategies; memorization and sight reading; improvisation and lead sheet realization. All aspects of piano musicianship skills will be addressed from practical, pedagogical, and collaborative points of view. Assignments will include examples of studies from a wide range of levels all within the current and developing skill level of each student enrolled in the class.

Prerequisite(s): UG - Eight credits of applied keyboard study or permission of keyboard instructor or course instructor. GR - Permission of course instructor.

PI 585 Piano Ensemble 1 Credits

Study and performance of piano duets, two-piano works, and works for combinations of three or more pianists. The emphasis is on ensemble techniques for rehearsal and performance.