Academy Piano Major

Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school offers student pianists a program of pre-professional music training and college preparatory academics. Students graduate well-prepared for the rigors of study at the university and conservatory level.

The piano major requirements include:

Private Lessons

A piano major will have a primary focus on piano and will have an hour lesson weekly as part of their program of study.

The goal of private piano instruction is the development of the individual as a musician, pianist, and performer.  In addition to weekly private lessons, students will attend studio class weekly and will have opportunities to perform each semester in that class, on student recitals, in solo recitals, and in some cases, off campus as well.  Piano majors will be expected to practice at least three hours per day, and most piano majors at Interlochen practice more than this amount.

Non-major Students taking lessons will be expected to practice about two hours daily for a one hour lesson, or one hour daily for a half-hour lesson.  


Individual repertoire and technique assignments will be determined based on the student’s background and capabilities. The instructor will evaluate and discuss the student’s musical goals and technical needs, and will choose music and technical studies that are appropriate. That music will generally reflect a variety of styles, will reflect the individual student’s performing experience and repertoire, and will set both long-term goals as well as goals that are attainable on a weekly and a semester time line.  In most cases, student expectations will include some level of recital performances, and some students may wish to participate in competitions on or off campus as well.

Typical repertoire for piano majors would include:

  • major works of Bach: Preludes and Fugues, Toccatas, Suites, etc.,
  • complete sonatas by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven
  • romantic works such as Chopin Ballades, Scherzos, or Polonaises
  • comparable works by Schumann, Liszt, and Brahms,
  • representative works from Debussy and Ravel
  • Sonatas by Prokofieff, Muczynski, significant works of other 20th and 21st century composers
  • Etudes by Moszkowski, Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Bolcom, etc.  
  • Concertos from the standard literature

Piano Seminar

Target students: Senior piano majors
Pre-requisite: Senior piano major or consent of instructor
Number of times course can be taken: 1
Seating priority: Senior Piano majors
Credit per semester: .50
Meeting time: daily

This course consists of three components: Piano LiteratureKeyboard Skills, and Master Class.  Generally Piano Literature meets Tuesdays and Fridays, Keyboard Skills on Wednesdays, and Master Class on Saturdays. There can be some flexibility in this schedule to accommodate guest teachers or other class needs.

Piano Literature Objectives:

  • Become familiar with keyboard repertoire from the beginnings of keyboard music writing (Renaissance) to the present day;
  • Gain understanding of stylistic influences and historical contexts in the development of piano repertoire
  • Learn about the historical development of the piano and its predecessors, including modern piano design and historic temperaments.

Keyboard Skills Objectives
Students will actively apply their knowledge of form, harmony, theory, and style at the piano, developing skills in harmonization, improvisation, score reading, transposition, and figured bass.  We will do this by:

  • creating improvised music out of motives, harmonic progressions, or melodies;
  • transposing music, using skills in harmony, intervals, and clefs;
  • reading scores other than standard two-stave piano scores;
  • becoming fluent with a variety of clefs, including C clefs;
  • developing fluency with the three common harmonic notation systems: figured bass, lead-sheet symbols, Roman Numerals;
  • analyzing, varying and rearranging piano repertoire pieces at the keyboard.

Master Class
Through a regular weekly master class students will gain additional performance experience beyond studio class and departmental recitals and will receive musical suggestions and feedback from other members of the IAA piano faculty and from guest instructors.

Grading and Assessment:

The overall letter grade is calculated as follows: 2/3 literature grade1/3 keyboard skills grade. then if the level and frequency of master class participation is exceptionally high or low, it will shift the end result by a “+” or a “-“,


  • Quizzes and exams will be given on information presented in the class, and will include identification of listening examples. Other components of the grade will be a listening journal and one or more short papers.

Keyboard Skills

  • Quizzes will ask students to perform prepared assignments that will include
  • Excerpts from scores in varied clefs, including C clefs;
  • Prepared and/or improvised variations on melodies or harmonic progressions;
  • Realizations of Baroque pieces notated in figured bass
  • Harmonization of melodies, with or without chord symbols or Roman numerals
  • Music to be sung and played at the same time.

Master class: Students perform usually about three times per semester, depending on the number of students in the class.

Text/materials needed:  
Gillespie: Five Centuries of Keyboard Music
Materials for harmonization, transposition, score reading, and improvisation will primarily be handed out by the instructor.

Visiting Artists

In addition to regular training by the artistic faculty, students have special opportunities to participate in master classes, workshops and lectures by internationally known visiting artists.  Recent guests include Robert McDonald and Matti Raekallio (Juilliard), Frank Weinstock and Elizabeth Pridonoff (Cincinnati), YongHi Moon (Peabody), and many others.


Dr. Michael Coonrod

Instructor of Piano, Interlochen Arts Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp
Faculty, Interlochen Piano Institute

D.M.A., M.M.A., Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University; B.M., University of Montana, with honors; Three summers at the Aspen Music School

Dr. Thomas (T.J.) Lymenstull

Instructor of Piano, Interlochen Arts Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp; Faculty, Interlochen Piano Institute

D.M.A., University of Southern California; M.M., B.M., Performers Certificate, Eastman School of Music; Fulbright study in piano and conducting at Hochschule fur Musik und darststellende Kunst, Vienna, Austria