Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Private Lessons


Instrumental majors receive a private studio lesson each week, with an opportunity to perform in the Honors Recital at the end of the summer.  Voice majors receive a one-hour private studio lesson (with professional accompanist) and an additional half-hour private vocal coaching session each week through the summer where they work on technique and the preparation and presentation of classical repertoire.  Voice majors will perform in the voice recital during concert week.  Composition majors receive a private studio lesson each week and explore several areas of music composition including theory, orchestration and electronic music, both in classes and in individual instruction.  Students will have the opportunity to have a composition read by professional musicians at the end of the summer. 

Applicants may major in bagpipe, bassoon, cello, clarinet, composition, double bass, euphonium, flute, guitar, harp, horn, oboe, percussion, piano, organ, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, tuba, viola, violin, or voice.

*required coursework for all full-time music majors.


Through the Minor Studio Option, students may take introductory or advanced lessons in any of the offered Major Studios.  Students also have the ability to double the number of studio lessons by registering for the minor studio in their specified major instrument.  In addition to any of the instruments listed above, students may also minor in any of the following: conducting, improvisation, songwriting, composition, jazz composition, jazz piano, jazz voice.

Note: Composers and voice majors are required to take piano during the regular school year.  While we are not requiring it, we strongly encourage voice and composition majors to sign up for a minor studio in piano.

Minor Studio Improvisation focuses on a more classical style while Jazz Improvisation centers around improvisation in a Jazz setting.  Conducting students work privately with a Pre-College ensemble director and have the opportunity to put their skills into practice and conduct one of the major ensembles in rehearsal at the end of their studies.  Both Songwriting and Jazz Composition courses offer a focus on styles of composing not found in Major Studio composition lessons.

Summer Courses:

The basics of acting: structured improvisations, monologues, scene work, songs, and arias will provide a platform for the development of stage presence and effective communication.  Each summer will finish with a group project that provides an opportunity for the students to begin to work together as a cast. 
For many young musicians, there is nothing more daunting than the ten minutes of intense pressure and scrutiny known as the audition.  Following years of lessons, countless hours of practice and dedication, it all comes down to this first impression, this gateway standing between a young artist and the next step in their careers.  Through seminar discussions, guest faculty lectures, and regular mock auditions, The Art of the Audition will help you build confidence in your playing and give you the skills necessary to conquer this crucial challenge.  This course will address both musical and extra-musical factors that play into a successful audition and making a positive first impression: What is appropriate attire for an audition?  How fast should I walk out and how should I carry myself? Should I smile or be serious? Is it okay to speak or ask questions? How do I choose my audition repertoire? What happens if I make a big mistake?  Can I recover or do I need to start over? How should I practice my excerpts? How can I mentally prepare for an audition? Students in this class will find answers to all of these questions as they take part in weekly mock auditions where they will play/sing for Maestro Curtis, their peers, and special faculty artists.  This course is open to all instrumental and vocal majors and is open to non-music majors with the permission of the instructor. 
Weekly meeting of composers to hear guest lectures, participate in discussion, and present student works or works-in-progress. 

Weekly meeting of all Pre-College music students featuring performances and lectures from professional musicians.

*required coursework for all full-time music majors.

This curriculum is designed to expose students to various styles and genres of contemporary and traditional forms of dance and movement.  Students will increase their technical proficiency and personal artistry in dance in order to expand their physical skills as vocal performance artists.  The course will improve students' posture and strength, increase proficiency in dance vocabulary, increase ability to recognize, interpret and execute choreography, movement and staging direction, enhance kinesthetic awareness and physical confidence and improve overall health.  With a focus on creativity and expression in movement, this course concentrates on using the body as a tool in the creative process.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is a unique approach to music learning based on the recognition that meaningful rhythmic movement experience, associated with ear-training and improvisation, reinforces understanding of music concepts, enhances musicianship, and focuses awareness on the physical demands of artistic performance.  All concepts are experienced in a musical context.  Rhythm reading, notation, analysis, and improvisation are integral to the course. 

*required coursework for all full-time music majors.

This course focuses on the skills, motifs, and techniques of improvisation in the jazz environment.

Each week, rotating guest faculty members present a topic of their choice.  Lessons cover a wide variety of subjects (from pre-baroque polyphony to the ballets of Stravinsky, to the history of American music), ensuring that students are exposed to depth as well as breadth.

*required coursework for all full-time music majors.

This course gives an overview of music technology through practical information and several hands-on projects.  Concepts such as MIDI and digital audio are introduced and specific topics are covered in detail including sequencing, music notation, digital recording, mixing, and production.  Throughout the course, students are required to complete several projects and create musical compositions in styles of their own choosing.
This course deals with common-practice harmony.  It includes triads and their inversions, tonality and modality, non-harmonic tones, cadences, and the basic concepts of modulation.
This course, required for all Full-Time voice majors, serves to put the skills gleaned in studio lessons and acting classes to practice in the performance of scenes from selected operas.  The work of this course will culminate in a final performance during Concert Week.
This is a group coaching class for piano majors, involving performance, discussion, and master classes. 
The core of this course revolves around hands-on experience in the School of Music recording studio.  Students will gain hands-on experience using equipment and insight into how to record different styles of music in various spaces. Equipment includes a complete 24-track Pro-Tools system, a professionally designed control room that can accommodate up to 24 people, outboard preamps, and other gear, and an interesting array of microphones.  All recording is direct to hard disc.

This course improves the student's ability to analyze music aurally and to sing at sight in traditional meters and tonalities using the "fixed do" system.  Solfège is the integration of the three cognitive skills: reading music, hearing music, and writing what one hears.

*required coursework for all full-time music majors.

This is a group coaching and recital class for voice majors