Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Prep School Programs

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Music Preparatory School offers programs in piano, string, guitar and percussion.

30, 45, and 60 minute lessons are offered in each instrumental area in the following plans:

Solo Plan
Private lessons only, no elective classes (30 minutes-$450  45 minutes-$675  60 minutes-$990)

Duo Plan
Private lessons + 1 elective class (30 minutes-$515  45 minutes-$775  60 minutes-$1030)

Trio Plan  (Only offered in the Fall and Spring)
Private lessons + 2 elective classes (30 minutes-$850  45 minutes-$1275  60 minutes-$1700)

Elective Classes
Students may register for elective classes without being enrolled in private lessons

Piano Program
Luz Manriquez, Director

Our Piano Program, designed by Professor Hanna Wu Li and directed by Luz Manriquez, combines outstanding private piano instruction with classes in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, music theory, composition, improvisation and chamber music. A public, free recital is given at the end of each semester. Each year many students receive national recognition for excellence. 

Private Piano Lessons:
Students may choose a 30, 45, or 60 minute weekly private lesson. In addition to the weekly lesson, students are encouraged to take a music class in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Musicianship or Theory, Composition, Improvisation, or Chamber Music for the more advanced student. These classes help to develop listening skills, rhythmic and tonal dictation, theoretical knowledge, and structural and compositional techniques. One music class may be taken each semester at no additional cost. All classes are taught on Saturdays on the Carnegie Mellon campus. Private lessons are taught on Saturdays on campus, although some teachers may teach throughout the week on campus. An interview with Professor Luz Manriquez is required for admittance into the Piano Program. Call the Music Preparatory Office to schedule an appointment 412.268.3667.

Beginning Piano Program for Children
Carla LaRocca, Director


The Beginning Piano Program for Children is designed to provide students ages 5 through 7 with a comprehensive instruction plan that focuses on a natural approach to the keyboard and the development of a fluency in reading and musicianship.  Every week the students receive a 45-minute group class, a 30-minute private lesson, and a 45-minute Dalcroze Eurhythmics class.  The group class concentrates on topics such as note reading, counting, rhythm, ear training, sight reading, solo ad duet playing, and technical concepts such as finger patterns and hand positions.  During the weekly private lesson, students will receive more individualized coaching to further develop the concepts addressed in the group class.  Based on the principles of Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, the Eurhythmics class helps the students experience music through their bodies by integrating movement, ear training, and improvisation. 

Program Expectations

This program is specifically for students ages 5 through 7 (though students who will be turning 5 during the first year of instruction and are therefore 4 at the time of interview may be considered).  Students must be able to commit to four consecutive semesters of instruction (including summers, as applicable). Students will have classes at the same time all four semesters. Students graduate the program one full year after the semester in which they began (i.e., students who begin the program in the Fall will graduate at the end of the following Fall semester, students who begin the Program in the Summer will graduate at the end of the following Summer semester, etc.).  All program components—the group class, eurhythmics class, and private lesson—take place each semester on Saturdays, so students must be able to commit to weekly on-campus attendance every Saturday when the program is in session.  The Beginning Piano Program for Children relies on 100% parental involvement.  This means parents are expected to sit in on the student’s weekly private lessons, and oversee their daily practice between classes.  Finally, students must have an instrument at home for daily practice.




All students wishing to enroll in the Beginning Piano Program for Children must first complete an interview with the Director of the Program, Professor Carla LaRocca.  The interview is about 15 minutes in length, and students do not need to prepare anything, as no experience is necessary for entry into the Beginning Piano Program for Children.  During the interview, the child will be asked to do simple activities, such as clapping and singing.  The child’s attention span, emotional maturity, concentration ability, and manners will be assessed.  Interviews are conducted throughout the year, and typically are for consideration for the following semester at the time of meeting, (for example, if a student interviews during the Fall semester, their interview would be for consideration for the upcoming Spring or after).  A parent/guardian must be present during the interview.  Children will not be given acceptance decision at the time of their interview.


Regardless of when a child has an interview, decisions are only sent out during regular Prep School registration periods (late July/early August for Fall; November for Spring; late March/early April for Summer).  The following factors are considered when determining whether or not a child is accepted into the class:

  • Class size – Each Beginning Piano class has a maximum size of 12. This is to make the program as individualized as possible.
  • Age makeup – So that all students in the class can thrive, we try to compose a class where all of the students are as close in age as possible.
  • All of the factors considered at the time of interview (i.e., child’s attention span, maturity, etc.)

When the incoming Beginning Piano class has been determined, the parents of all of the students who have recently interviewed will receive a decision via e-mail on whether their child was accepted, deferred, or waitlisted:

  • Accepted – Your child was accepted into the incoming Beginning Piano class
  • Deferred – At the time of your child’s interview, it was determined that he/she is ready to begin the Beginning Piano class, and were in high contention to do so, but there was simply not a spot available. If they are deferred, this means he/she is eligible for one of two possibilities:
    • If a student who was accepted into the program declines their offer, your child will receive priority for filling that spot.
    • If there are no remaining spots in the upcoming semester, your child will receive priority for enrollment in the following semester
  • Second Interview Needed – Your child was not accepted into the upcoming semester, but can be considered for  future semesters as long as they complete a second interview.


The Beginning Piano for Program for Children carries a tuition fee of $1000 per semester.  This fee covers each of the program’s components— weekly 45-minute group class, 45-minute Daclroze Eurhythmics class, and 30-minute private lesson—as well as all books and materials.  Payment is due at the beginning of each semester.

The Carnegie Mellon String Preparatory School offers a comprehensive program for students ages 6-18 years of age. Students may enroll in private lessons for violin, viola, cello, and double bass. We offer a full curriculum of classes including Group Classes, Eurhythmics, Music Theory, Composition and Chamber Music. Each year is comprised of three semesters, Fall, Spring & Summer, with recitals ending the Fall and Spring semesters. 

In the summer, string students are encouraged to attend the Carnegie Mellon Summer String Workshop. The Summer String Workshop, sponsored by the CMU String Preparatory School, is a 5-day program which focuses on bringing string students from the greater Pittsburgh area together for an inspiring week of solo and ensemble playing.

Private String Instruction:
Students sign up for a weekly private lesson. Lesson duration is based upon student's level of experience. Private lessons are taught on Saturdays or weekdays.

In addition to a weekly lesson, students are encouraged to take music classes offered at the Carnegie Mellon campus on Saturdays: Group Classes for violin, viola, or cello, Eurhythmics, Musicianship, Theory, Composition, or Chamber Music. These classes help to develop ensemble playing, listening skills, rhythmic and tonal dictation, theoretical knowledge and structural and compositional techniques.

Group classes are fundamental to developing student’s proficiency at ensemble playing and note reading, rhythm, counting, and sight reading. We highly recommended elementary level students enroll in the weekly class. Group classes are based upon student enrollment. 

New in 2022-2023: Beginning Violin for Children Program

For its pilot year, the Beginning Violin for Children Program will be a comprehensive program for students ages 5-7 with little to no prior experience studying the violin.  We are pleased to offer this brand new class for beginning violinists!   In collaboration with graduate studies in the School of Music, a small class of aspiring young violinists will have the opportunity to study with graduate violin students and a master teacher.   In addition to a 45-minute group violin class and 45 minute group Dalcroze Eurhythmics class every week, each student will receive a weekly 20 minute private lesson. This is a very special opportunity to participate in a tremendous learning environment!

Nanette Solomon, coordinator

Chamber Music is a program offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters available to Prep School students in both the String and Piano Divisions. This incredible collaborative opportunity is open to all students 8 years and older, and requires a separate application, including an audition recording, letter of recommendation from a private teacher, and repertoire list. Various configurations are possible, including piano duet, string duet, string and piano, string trio/quartet, or piano and strings. In addition to the recital at CMU, there will be audition and competition opportunities!  An application and audition recording is required for all students.  Please read the following information/requirements BEFORE submitting your application.

1. The Chamber Music Program is intended for students ages 8 years and older.

2. Groups will receive 13 coachings with an assigned faculty member over the course of each 15-week semester (Fall/Spring) and 8 coachings per 10-week semester (Summer).  Groups will meet the first day of the Spring semester (January 14th), and will not meet again until the third week (January 28th). The semesters will culminate with a Chamber Music recital featuring all participating ensembles.

3. In addition to weekly coaching sessions, students will be expected to organize rehearsals OUTSIDE of their regular, supervised rehearsal, without their assigned coach in their own homes or designated CMU rehearsal space and communicate with their ensemble members to organize these rehearsals.

4. If students already have a pre-formed group with other Prep School students, they may indicate on the application form that they would like to request to work with them through this program.  All of the application materials are still required.

1. A VIDEO recording of ONE piece from their recent solo repertoire (excerpts are acceptable).
2. A repertoire list of works studied in the past.
3. A recommendation letter from their private instrumental instructor addressing their sight-reading ability, skill level, and ability to work with other students.

COMPLETE APPLICATIONS ARE DUE WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4TH. A complete application MUST include all components.  Videos recordings and repertoire lists may be submitted via the Upload link on this Application.   Letters of recommendations MUST come DIRECTLY from the instructor via e-mail to by the due date.  Applications will be considered incomplete if there is not a corresponding letter of recommendation received by Wednesday, December 21st.

Questions about the Chamber Music Program can be sent to the Chamber Music Coordinator, Nanette Solomon, at


Please note: Chamber Music is a stand-alone program, and MAY NOT be selected as an elective class as part of a lesson package.

Our Guitar Preparatory Program offers private lessons to the beginner and more skilled student ages 6-18. Lessons focus on classical method and material to build strong music-reading skill, chord and scale theory, and improvisation. 

Lessons are generally taught on Saturdays on the Carnegie Mellon campus although some lessons may be taught throughout the week based upon teacher schedule and availability. 

In addition to the weekly lesson, students are encouraged to take an age appropriate music class in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Musicianship, Theory, Advanced Theory and Composition, Improvisation, or Chamber Music for the more advanced student. These classes help to develop listening skills, rhythmic and tonal dictation, theoretical knowledge, and structural and compositional techniques. All classes are taught on Saturdays on the Carnegie Mellon campus. 

For a guitar consultation, call the Music Preparatory Office 412.268.3667 or send a request by e-mail to

Private percussion lessons for students of varying ages and abilities in all areas of percussion (concert, drum set, etc.).  Please call the Music Preparatory Office 412.268.3667 or send a request by e-mail to to inquire more and schedule a consultation.