Doctor of Musical Arts in Keyboard Performance

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Candidates for the Doctor of Musical Arts in Keyboard Performance at the Frost School of Music must possess the highest pianistic skills as well as artistic maturity and musicality. Enrollment is only by a select audition process. Candidates must submit a DVD (preferred) or a CD recording for pre-screening to receive an acceptance for a live audition. Invited candidates are strongly advised to audition in person in order to receive the best consideration for Teaching Assistantship awards.

The curriculum is designed to encompass every important component necessary for a career in the music profession; whether in performance, academia, or both. The Frost School of Music prides itself on being an institution that honors the traditional values of learning while incorporating the necessary curricular requirements that present-day performers and teachers must have by the end of their education.

Our innovative doctoral curriculum incorporates distinctive options for the culminating project of the degree to reflect this very philosophy. Based on artistic interests and professional aspirations, students can choose from these four exciting options: Doctoral Essay, Lecture Recital with Research Paper, Recording Project, and Capstone Recital. These options have been carefully developed to ensure that doctoral candidates receive the highest level of preparation for future professional opportunities. The faculty of the Keyboard Performance department is composed of world-class artists/teachers who are dedicated to the principle that the individuality and talent of every student must be recognized, respected, and nurtured, for these qualities form the essence of successful careers in music.

Performance opportunities are many and varied. The three-year DMA curriculum requires two solo recitals and one program that can comprise chamber music and/or concerto performance. A weekly performance Forum is held every week where students who are ready to present new repertoire are given the opportunity to do so in front of the faculty and their classmates. Students may also have the opportunity to perform with two of our renowned ensembles: the Frost Symphony Orchestra and the Frost Wind Ensemble. Both ensembles have featured piano students in concerto performances conducted by members of our illustrious faculty. The opportunity to collaborate with other talented instrumentalists and singers at the Frost School is also readily available and encouraged.

Many performance venues in the greater Miami area host our students in solo and chamber music performances and continue their association with the department. All of our students also benefit greatly from Miami’s rich cultural life, which includes solo and collaborative concerts by world-famous recitalists and chamber groups as well as orchestral performances by the New World Symphony and the visiting Cleveland Orchestra. The piano department presents master classes by visiting artists and pedagogues throughout the year.

The competitive reality of today’s market for performers and teachers has never been more demanding. We are proud that many of our students have gone on to win awards at piano competitions, have been invited to publish in recognized periodicals, and are currently in teaching positions both in the U.S. and abroad.

Many of our current and past Frost piano students have participated and won prizes at competitions such as

  • Tchaikovsky Competition
  • Leeds International Competition
  • Queen Elizabeth Competition
  • Van Cliburn Competition
  • Sydney International Piano Competition
  • Paderewski Piano Competition

Our mission at the Frost School of Music is to have you join them!

A DMA in Keyboard Performance is a terminal degree intended for serious pianists. If you are a student who wants to continue your journey towards work as a professionally-performing musician, a DMA in Keyboard Performance may be for you. The degree provides students with plenty of opportunities to perform under the mentorship of world-class faculty. A DMA in Keyboard Performance equips you with the skills you’ll need to perform in international competitions or audition for further post-doc graduate study.

What Classes Will I Take?

All programs will require you to perform a doctoral recital and usually submit some kind of written thesis/dissertation. On a semester-to-semester basis, the classes you take will differ slightly depending on the program you enter. All programs have the listings of requirements and electives online that you can peruse even before you submit your application. In some programs, candidates may take classes in the following areas:

  • Seminars in baroque, classicals, romantic, and contemporary performance
  • Keyboard literature
  • String-keyboard chamber music
  • Music bibliography
  • Teaching music in college

As a DMA student, you will write a doctoral essay related to some aspect of your keyboard studies. The essay process involves submitting an essay proposal before you produce the final piece of writing near the end of your degree. In the years of your DMA, you will also take weekly lessons with a faculty member who will gain a keen understanding of your strengths and challenges as a musician. Early on, you will begin working with this faculty member to prepare an appropriate repertoire for your final doctoral recital, one of the highlights of your student career.

What Teaches Classes in DMA Programs?

DMA faculty members have spent their careers performing and teaching internationally. Typically, the faculty members have won numerous awards and performed classical repertoire with some of the best symphonies in the country. These faculty members know the mores of the piano performance scene and can gift you valuable advice as you begin to launch your professional postdoctoral career. As you begin to select the programs you will apply to, it’s important to conduct research about the faculty. If you have an affinity for a particular composer, a style of music or keyboard instrument you want to specialize in, or a particular musical lineage you want to follow, doing online research can help you choose your dream school. You will also want to visit the program in person to make sure that the program is a good fit for you.

Will I Have the Opportunity to Teach?

Many DMA candidates fund their degree through assistantships in which they teach classes in exchange for a tuition waiver and yearly stipend. Contact your program directly to see what kinds of assistantships may be available to you as a DMA student. Leading a classroom of students over the course of the semester is not only valuable teaching experience, but may also make you a better musician. Teaching your subject area is a unique and worthy way to revisit how you learned the basics and how you go to where you are today.

How Do I Apply?

DMA candidates apply through an audition process. You may be asked to first submit a CD or DVD of a performance, and then be asked to visit the school in person for a live second audition. Typical DMA candidates are already competitively performing in some way. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to apply to a DMA program, it’s advised that you consult with your teachers or past professors who know you well and can help you decide what the right next step is for you.

What Other Kinds of Financial Assistance are Available?

The availability of financial assistance differs according to the school and the individual. In addition to assistantships, you may be eligible for government grants, scholarships from the university or other private institutions, and loans. Consulting with the admissions office at your intended school is a good way to determine what kinds of aid you might be eligible for. Make sure that you do all of your research before making a decision. The worst thing that can happen is to forego a degree when you could have gotten it paid for with funds you didn’t know existed.

Can I Play Other Instruments like Organ and Harpsichord?

DMA students are encouraged to excel not only in playing the piano, but to apply their expertise to other keyboard instruments as well. Several of our faculty have a primary or secondary focus in organ and harpsichord music. As a DMA student, you are encouraged to explore the landscape of keyboard music before you hone in on your speciality. Cross-training improves performance.

What Can I Do with a DMA in Keyboard Performance?

Many DMA graduates go on to perform professionally in competitions, with symphonies, among ensembles, and in other performance realms. Other DMA grads teach professionally at the university level or in a community context. Some DMA alumni work as music directors in spiritual communities or at arts nonprofits. There is a wide range of career paths available to DMA graduates and no two careers look alike. Consulting with recent alumni of your intended program is a useful way to learn more about how graduates have used their degrees.

How Do I Find the DMA in Keyboard Performance That is Right for Me?

When selecting a serious graduate program, it’s important to consider various factors such as the qualifications of the faculty, the reputation of the alumni, and the funding available to graduate candidates. The DMA in Keyboard Performance program in the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami is an established program with a reputation for producing competitive graduates. Our students have continued on to compete on national and international levels, teach around the world, and record their interpretations of some of the greatest piano music ever written.

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