Welcome to the Piano Area website of Mississippi State University, Department of Music. Located on this site is information concerning: auditions, degree programs, classes/lessons, chamber music and ensemble opportunities, scholarships, and FAQ. A core mission of our program is to prepare students for professional careers with a well-rounded education in music as well as solo and collaborative performance. You are welcome to visit music classes, tour the music building, and meet with faculty and students anytime. We would also like to extend a special invitation to attend our fall semester Music Discovery Day and our spring semester Piano Retreat.

If you are a prospective student, please take a few moments to browse our website, by visiting the following addresses: www.music.msstate.edu/students and www.music.msstate.edu/academics If you have any other questions please contact the area chair, Dr. Rosângela Sebba at rys3@colled.msstate.edu or call at (662) 325-2854. We want to hear from you!

Steinway Initiative

MSU College of Education and Department of Music announces its All-Steinway School Initiative with the arrival of five new pianos on April 2015. In addition to joining more than 160 institutions of higher learning and conservatories throughout the world with this distinction, the university seeks to become the only Mississippi school holding the prestigious honor. Visit our Steinway School Initiative and donate at https://www.music.msstate.edu/steinway/  

Performance Opportunities

There are many opportunities for pianists to perform as soloists, accompanists, and as members of small and large ensembles. Piano majors have frequent opportunities to participate in master classes with guest world-renowned musicians. Towards the end of the spring semester, the Starkville - MSU Symphony orchestra offers the concerto competition. Students perform a movement of a concerto or orchestral work competing for an opportunity to perform as a soloist with the community orchestra. The competition consists of a preliminary and final round, with the final round being held during one of our W@2 recital hour meetings.

The piano area holds a studio class weekly to acquaint students with piano repertoire and provide additional opportunities to practice performance before their peers. Studio classes are required of piano majors/minors and factor into the weekly lesson grade. To provide performance practice in a formal setting, the piano area holds a Piano Studio Recital at the end of each semester that is open to the public. Piano majors are, again, required to perform on the Piano Studio Recital. After the first semester of applied lessons at MSU, students are required to perform once per semester on the weekly, departmental W@2 recital hour.

Degree Options

The MSU Department of Music offers two degrees: Bachelor of Music Education (through the College of Education) and Bachelor of Arts in Music (through the College of Arts and Sciences). Some MSU students elect to pursue double majors (e.g., music and history) or select two performance areas (e.g., piano and voice) within a music major. [Please note that only one concentration will appear in your degree. The other concentration will be listed in your transcript.]


Although alternate dates are available, the preferred scholarship audition date for music majors is the third Saturday in February. For more information please visit our department’s website at //www.music.msstate.edu/students/scholarships/

Classes / Lessons   

Our undergraduate program requires at least 12 credit hours of applied lessons for the B.M.E. and B.A. degrees before graduation, 4 of which must be at the 3000 level. Piano majors must be enrolled in at least 2 credit hours of applied lessons during the semester of preparation for the B.M.E. degree recital or the B.A. recital or project. Students are evaluated weekly according to their development and accomplishments. In addition, they are also evaluated in two juries: the mid-term jury and the final jury. For the mid-term jury, referred to as the "reading jury," students are evaluated according to their progress, to date, on assigned repertoire: correct notes, rhythms, steady tempo, continuity, evenness and dynamics. Pedaling, tempo and memorization are not required for the mid-term jury. For the final jury, students are expected to prepare what was mentioned above and perform: two memorized works, additional repertoire (preferred by memory, yet not required), technique (scales, arpeggios and/or exercises), an independent-study work (not memorized), and a sight reading example (provided during the jury).

The MSU piano faculty offers a complimentary 30 minute lesson with each professor, free of charge, for incoming piano majors. Freshman and transfers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to help them get to know the professors and their different styles of teaching and background.

Chamber Music and Ensembles Opportunities

Piano majors are encouraged to take MU 3201, Collaborate Piano Ensemble after their first semester at MSU. This class provides an opportunity to learn how to accompany a variety of instruments, the voice, and learn the collaborative repertoire. Auditions are required to accompany and to participate in large ensembles, and you can find information at //www.music.msstate.edu/ensembles/  


Students whose main performance area is piano are encouraged to audition for scholarship consideration with either the band or the choir. For more information go to //www.music.msstate.edu/students/scholarships/  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If I am a piano major, are piano classes required in addition to applied lessons?

Yes, piano classes are required for all music majors to train practical skills such as playing lead sheets, improvising, harmonizing, and playing by ear. Beginning pianists take the slower-paced, four-semester sequence (MU 2111, MU 2121, MU 3111, MU 3121); intermediate-to-advanced pianists take the faster-paced, two-semester sequence (MU 3112, MU 3122).

2. Is the Piano Proficiency Exam required for piano majors?

Yes, the P.P.E. is given to all music majors as the final exam of the last semester of piano class. All exam components must be passed before graduation, and the purpose of the exam is to ensure minimum competency in keyboard skills necessary for success as a professional music educator.

3. What if I don’t pass the Piano Proficiency Exam?

We recommend that you re-take the last semester of piano class. Students who do not pass the P.P.E. will also not receive the required final grade of "C" or better to fulfill the requirement of the class.

4. What if I cannot come to W@2 recital hour or the Studio Class due to a schedule conflict?

You should contact the W@2 professor of record for exemption. Although the studio class is required for all piano majors, if there is a conflict you are exempt from it. Nevertheless, you are still required to perform on a W@2 recital hour and the Piano Studio Recital.

5. What if I am a transfer student and have never enrolled in a piano class even though I have had piano lessons?

If you are a piano major, you are required to enroll in MU 3112 and MU 3122. If you are not a piano major and have fulfilled piano requirements at another institution, you should attempt to take the P.P.E. at the beginning of your first semester of enrollment at MSU. If you don’t pass the proficiency exam, the piano faculty will recommend an appropriate piano class or applied lessons to help you acquire the necessary skills to pass the exam. The P.P.E. may be scheduled during end-of-semester piano juries for those who need to re-take the exam. For more information about the P.P.E., please visit the Student Handbook.

6. What is the Upper Division Proficiency Exam?

"The purpose of the U.D.P.E. is to verify that students have minimum competency in music theory, music history, writing, public speaking, performance, and basic skills in piano to ensure greater success in upper division music and music education courses, student teaching, and in the music teaching profession. This exam is normally given at the end of the sophomore year." (Student Handbook)

7. What is required for the piano U.D.P.E.?

Piano majors are required to pass the same exam portions as all other music majors. For detailed information please visit the Student Handbook. Students taking the oral presentation and performance portion of the U.D.P.E. in applied piano should sign-up for a 30 minute final jury slot. The examination is comprised of four steps:

  • you will write a 7-10 page research paper based on a piano composition (in consultation with your applied professor);
  • you will give an oral presentation of your research paper to jury members;
  • you will perform the composition by memory;
  • you will be asked questions pertinent to the paper/subject by members of the jury.

Books and scholarly journals on the chosen research topic should be consulted to produce the research paper; little-to-no references to websites should be used. The written paper should contain an introduction, brief information about the style period of the composition, more detailed information about the composer with special emphasis on his/her works for piano, detailed information about the composition (including musical examples to support points made), and a bibliography of works consulted and cited. The bibliography, as well as direct quotes or paraphrases, should reflect the use of a consistent, single writing style format, i.e. Turabian, APA, or MLA. The paper should be well-organized, communicate relevant information clearly, and demonstrate advanced, scholarly writing skills with the English language (use of correct grammar and musical terms are required). Your paper needs to be reviewed and approved by your major professor before the final presentation given during the jury. Following the U.D.P.E. presentation, you will perform the other memorized work, your independent study, scales/arpeggios and sight reading. If time allows, you will perform the rest of your non-memorized prepared repertoire.

8. In which piano level should I enroll?

As an entering freshman you should enroll in MUA 1010. Transfer piano majors should see Dr. Sebba to schedule a placement audition. Usually, transfers with at least 2 semesters of lower-level college applied study are qualified to enroll in MUA 2010.

9. How long should I enroll in each level?

Receiving a final grade of "C" or better for the semester does not imply that a student can enroll in a higher level of piano lessons. Each student is evaluated according to the level of literature he/she is performing and how well it is performed during the final jury. Jury members will determine whether or not a student is prepared to enroll in a higher level of applied study, and the decision will be recorded on the final jury form.

10. I registered to take piano lessons from one faculty member but I am taking lessons from an adjunct. Why?

Due to scheduling, accommodations are made first for piano majors, then music majors, followed by non-music majors. Piano majors will take lessons from the piano faculty and we try to honor their choice of teacher.

11. I am a music major (non-piano major) and would like to take piano lessons. When can I do this?

For music majors (brass, woodwind and vocal) we suggest that you take the piano class sequence before enrolling in piano lessons. You can take lessons after the piano class sequence as many semesters as you wish.

12. What is the program of study for piano majors in applied piano lessons?

Four components are required for each semester: repertoire, scales/arpeggios/exercises, sight reading, and independent study. The repertoire should encompass three to four different periods in music. We recommend that you carefully read your applied piano syllabus for more detailed information about requirements and expectations. Once more we welcome you as a music major or as a music minor and we encourage you to look at the MSU Department of Music website for faculty biographies and other pertinent information related to our area.

Piano Area Faculty


Ms. Jennifer Blackbourn


Piano, Collaborative Piano
Martha Blackwell

Ms. Martha Blackwell


Piano, Collaborative Piano

Dr. Jacqueline Edwards-Henry


Piano Lessons, Class Piano
Terrell Jackson

Mr. Terrell Jackson


Piano, Collaborative Piano
Dr. Thomas Jenkins

Dr. Thomas Jenkins


Piano, Collaborative Piano
Ginny Jordan

Ms. Ginny  Jordan


Collaborative Piano
Gail Kopetz

Ms. Gail Kopetz


Piano Lessons & Class, Women's Choir, Schola Cantorum, Orff-Schulwerk I-III teacher certification, AOSA Board of Trustees, and Kodaly I-II certification, Music Education
Christy Lee

Dr. Christy Lee

Clinical Assistant Professor

Collaborative Piano
Dr. Karen Murphy

Dr. Karen Murphy


Collaborative Piano and CP Coordinator

Dr. Rosângela  Sebba


Piano Lessons, Theory, Ear Training, Piano Area & Calendar Coordinator