Classroom Departments

The Music Division’s main areas of classroom instruction—Ear Training, Music Theory and Analysis, Music History and Keyboard Studies—are designed to give students the skills and knowledge they need to become complete musicians. Our faculty members in these areas are distinguished composers, scholars, and performing artists whose passion for their subject matter and dedication to teaching offer our students invaluable learning opportunities.

Additionally, Juilliard’s Center for Innovation in the Arts (formerly called the Music Technology department), created in 1995, provides students with the basic skills needed to compose and perform music using new technology, and offers hands-on experience with state of the art equipment.

Music Theory and Analysis

The Music Theory and Analysis department helps students to develop and refine their natural musical instincts. The core curriculum offers a broad introduction to musical syntax, structure, and styles from the Renaissance to the present day. Advanced elective courses (offered in a wide variety of subjects, on a rotating basis) allow students to focus in-depth on repertoire tailored to their special interests as well as to pursue sophisticated analysis projects.

The department offers a separate honors track (by advisement) for composers and other advanced students who wish to pursue a more intensive, academically rigorous program of study.

The department also offers Music Studies courses for students in the Dance and Drama Divisions, drawing on the School’s unparalleled musical tradition to offer a rich grounding in music.

Music History

The music history curriculum is designed to foster the music student’s knowledge of his or her art and its cultural significance overall; it also promotes the development of students’ communication skills, critical thinking, and the application of knowledge to real-world circumstances. Classroom instruction advocates historically informed performance practice, not only for music written before 1800, but for every type of music, including non-Western and popular music.

Students begin the music history survey in the spring semester of their first year (MHMUS 111). This is followed by the second-year survey courses (MHMUS 211; 311) and three advanced electives spread over their third and fourth years.

Ear Training

The aim of the ear training program at The Juilliard School is to equip students with thorough skills in rhythm, pitch, and musical structures in order to promote confident, fast, and accurate learning. Through a guided series of precision exercises, students come to understand their roles as soloists, as collaborators in small or large ensembles, and as creators in transmitting to an audience the emotional content of the music. The fixed-do system—primarily because of its systematic approach to both tonal and atonal music—is employed to develop all pitch-related skills.

Keyboard Studies

The Keyboard Studies department aims to broadly enhance the level of keyboard playing and musicianship skills for all music students at Juilliard. It is primarily comprised of two courses of study: Secondary Piano and Keyboard Skills. 

The Secondary Piano course is required of all non-keyboard music majors. Its three-year curriculum trains students in the rudiments of piano playing, including scales, arpeggios, basic keyboard harmony, and sight-reading, while maintaining the study of repertoire, ranging from simple pedagogical pieces to two-part inventions and Classical-era sonatinas. 

The Keyboard Skills course is required of all keyboard majors. Its two-year curriculum is designed to sharpen specific practical skills that are necessary for all keyboard players. It covers sight-reading, keyboard harmony, transposition, and score-reading. The final semester of the Keyboard Skills sequence offers a rich menu of advanced electives on a rotating basis. 

Prior to entering into the Keyboard Skills sequence, students are required to pass a sight-reading proficiency exam. In support of this requirement, a two-semester Keyboard Sight-Reading course taught by graduate teaching fellows is offered in the student's first year.