Taking Piano Lessons

Piano students at Duke have the option of taking Class Piano (MUSIC 101-1) or individual lessons in Classical Piano (MUSIC 103-1 or 203-1) or Jazz Piano (MUSIC 103-2 or 203-2). Whether you are a beginner looking for class piano or an advanced young artist, the Piano Area of the Music Department has rewarding and challenging opportunities for you.

Each semester, the Piano Area hosts three informal recitals giving students of all levels the opportunity to present works they are studying as well as hearing repertoire performed by their peers. The Piano Area also presents major annual performances by students and faculty that are open to the public. In the past, these have included:

  • an evening of faculty/staff duos;
  • participation in the International Scarlathon (honoring the 250th anniversary of Domenico Scarlatti’s death); and
  • a recital of the complete Debussy preludes, featuring 21 different student pianists as well as keyboard faculty members.

The thriving Chamber Music Ensembles also allow qualified students to explore opportunities with peers in that medium. Another option is the Piano Ensemble Class (MUSIC 211-3), taught by David Heid. A chamber music class addressing collaborative piano skills, MUSIC 211-3 will give students the chance to work on piano duos as well as vocal and instrumental accompanying. Students will present prepared selections in all these genres with student partners for in-class coaching in a master class setting. The class will culminate with a performance for an invited audience. Traditional skills crucial for successful collaborative playing (sight reading, orchestral reductions and transposition) will be explored.

All lessons and ensembles require an audition, which takes place during the first week of classes.


Auditions will be conducted by members of the Piano faculty (see below).

Students should be prepared to play a piece of their choosing, which doesn't need to be memorized. If you have multiple pieces, the faculty will probably only hear one in its entirety but may ask for a small section of another work. The audition will also include a sight reading sample.

Taking Harpsichord and Organ Lessons

Lessons are also available for those wishing to study Harpsichord (MUSIC 103-4 or 203-4) and Organ (MUSIC 103-3 or 203-3). Contact Robert Parkins to schedule an audition time. There are six organs in the Biddle Music Building available for practice.



The Duke Piano Area Facebook page is a great resource for students and will keep you up-to-date on additional piano-related opportunities on campus and in the community.

The Music Library in the Biddle Music Building houses thousands of scores and recordings, as well as online listening resources.

The Biddle Music Building contains 20 practice rooms available to any Duke student. There are additional practice rooms on West Campus.

Advanced students may also choose to compete in the Duke Symphony Concerto Competition for the chance to perform with orchestra.

Duke also plays host to world-class artists and pedagogues, many who work with students through the Master Class Series. Recent master class teachers include Leon Fleisher, Simone Dinnerstein, Gabriela Montero and Angela Hewitt.