pianist on stage

Collaborative Piano Area

Enter an extensive, challenging and rewarding field.

Now, more than ever, the collaborative pianist is involved in numerous positions across multiple disciplines: from religious service to the opera stages of the world; from the classroom teaching to the annual recital series; from the recording studio to the digital marketing. 

The goal of the Collaborative Piano Program at LSU is to prepare you for as many or these situations as possible before graduation, within the supportive environment of University life. In addition to training you in the multitude aspects of the craft, our curriculum is focused on developing the critical thinking skills that will pertain to all aspects of your career.

During the two-year program, the collaborative piano students will have many opportunities to participate in the superb orchestral and choral programs at LSU, interact with a faculty that boasts world-renowned teachers and performers, and be involved in the productions of the historic Turner-Fischer Center for Opera, to name a few.

We encourage you to be a thinking individual in your everyday life, in your classes, in your playing, and especially in your practicing! We will expect you to be inquisitive, to question paradigms, to search for your own voice, and to extrapolate knowledge. We would like to present you with all of our institution's resources and discuss ways to create your own opportunities for learning and performance. We believe that upon graduation, you should have mastered most of the skills that will make you a valuable and successful artist: 

  • A strong musicianship
  • A wide variety of musical skills and interests
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Desire for community engagement


Collaborative Piano Faculty Members

photo of ana maria otamendi

Ana María Otamendi

Associate Professor
Collaborative Piano


photo of elena lacheva

Elena Lacheva

Collaborative Piano




Curriculum Offerings

In addition to the required courses, every semester introduces graduate seminars exploring various topics: orchestral music at the piano, lyric diction, chamber music and duo sonatas, opera coaching and conducting, effective learning and practicing, and more. Admission to the collaborative piano degree programs is by audition only. 

A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit is required to complete the degree. Up to six hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another institution if such credit duplicates required or elective courses at LSU and is approved by the Area Coordinator of the subject area. The Master’s degree must be completed within five years.


Required Coursework   Credits (per semester)
MUS 7011 Keyboard Skills for Pianists 1
MUS 7221 Applied Graduate Collaborative Piano 2, 2, 2, 2
MUS 7221 or 7222 Solo Literature I or II for the Voice 3 (total)
MUS 7521 Instrumental Accompanying 2
MUS 7522 Vocal Accompanying 2
MUS 7798 Master's Recitals 1, 1, 1


Other Required Studies in Music Choose two from the following three Credits (per semester)
MUS 4222 Woodwind Chamber Music 2 (total)
MUS 4223 Brass Chamber Music  
MUS 4224 String Chamber Music  
Any 7000-level Music Theory course  3
Any 7000-level Music History course 3
Electives Chosen in consultation with advisor 3


Admission Requirements

Applicants must first apply to the LSU Graduate School and meet all requirements for admission as specified in the current Graduate Catalog (available under “resources” on the Grad School home page). Send official transcripts of all undergraduate work to the Graduate School. The GRE is not required. Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree in music with an overall GPA of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale). A live audition is required which will include two contrasting movements on an instrumental sonata, six songs representing at least three languages, and one aria or movement of an instrumental concerto. Sight reading will also be required. In addition, applicants may be asked to present one solo piano work from memory

Diagnostic Examinations

All incoming graduate students (including those holding an LSU undergraduate degree) take Diagnostic Examinations in Music History and Music Theory. Students who do not pass the theory exam must pass Music 3703 Theory Survey before they can enroll in 7000-level music theory courses; students who do not pass the music history exam must pass Music 3710 Overview of Western Music History before they can enroll in 7000-level music history courses. Students must exhibit proficiency in appropriate foreign language diction or take MUS 1018 and 1019 for remediation.

Comprehensive Examinations

During the final semester of the degree, students take a Comprehensive Exam administered by the area faculty. Each student is assigned an Advisory Committee consisting of three members: a major professor and one other member of the area faculty, plus one additional member of the music faculty. At least one member must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty.

The DMA curriculum in Collaborative Piano is designed to prepare students to be successful collaborators, as well as teachers of collaborative piano and other coursework at the college or university level. In addition, the curriculum is focused on fostering critical thinking that will pertain to all aspects of their career. It requires a minimum of 60 hours of acceptable graduate credit beyond a 30 semester-hour master's degree.

Required Coursework   Credits (per semester)
MUS 7055 Graduate Collaborative Keyboard 3, 3
MUS 7338 or 7997 Special Topics in Music or Individual Projects in Music* 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
MUS 7221 or 7222 Solo Literature for Voice 3
Select two of the following:    
MUS 4222, 4223, 4224 String, Bass, Woodwind Chamber Music 1, 1

*(Topics: Lyric Diction and Vocal Coaching; Chamber Music and Instrumental Sonatas; Orchestral Reductions and Conducting; Effective Learning Strategies; Entrepreneurship).


Required Supportive Coursework   Credits (per semester)
MUS 7700 Survey of Analytical Techniques 3
additional 7000-level Music Theory course   3
any two 7000-level Music History courses   3, 3
MUS 7800 Intro to Research in Music 3
Required Recitals    
MUS 9008 Doctoral Chamber Music Recital 2, 2, 2
Minor Area Chosen in consultation with Minor Professor 9 (minimum)
Final Research Project   9 (minimum)

With the approval of the Major Professor and Doctoral Committee, the final project will be determined/selected from the following options:

Option 1: MUS 9009 Monograph
Option 2: MUS 9010 Lecture Recital with Written Document
Portfolio/Non-Thesis See Description below


Additional Requirements

Repertoire Requirement

Before graduation, the student will prepare and submit a substantial repertoire list that includes at least 30 arias from the standard repertoire; 100 art songs in Italian, French, German, English, Russian, and Spanish; at least 12 major chamber works (sonatas included) from the Classical, Romantic, and modern eras; and at least 8 of the standard instrumental concerti. The final repertoire list must be approved by the Major Professor at least two semesters before graduation. A major portion of the general examination will revolve around knowledge of these works. See below under General Examination.


Diction Requirements

At least one semester before graduation, the student must demonstrate proficiency in Italian, French, German, and English diction. The student must pass two tests for every language (one oral and one written) administered by the Major Professor. The student may take additional coursework in lyric diction as needed.


Admission Requirement

Applicants must first apply to the LSU Graduate School and meet all requirements for admission as specified in the current Graduate Catalog (available under “resources” on the Grad School home page). Applicants for this degree must hold an appropriate master’s degree (with cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4-point scale). Send official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework to the Graduate School. An acceptable score (combined verbal and quantitative) on the GRE is also required. In addition, applicants in collaborative piano are required to perform an audition of instrumental and vocal selections from distinct time periods and demonstrate their knowledge of diction. Applicants living outside of the United States may be evaluated based on a recorded audition, as well as an interview or lesson via telephone or Skype.


Diagnostic Examinations

All incoming graduate students (including those holding an LSU undergraduate degree) take Diagnostic Examinations in Music History and Music Theory. (Exception: students who have earned an MM from LSU within the past four years are exempt from diagnostic testing.) Students who do not pass the theory exam must pass Music 3703 Theory Survey before they can enroll in 7000- level music theory courses; students who do not pass the music history exam must pass Music 3710 Overview of Western Music History before they can enroll in 7000-level music history courses.


Qualifying Examination

All entering doctoral students must take a Qualifying Examination during the first year of study. The student will be required to play at least thirty minutes of instrumental and vocal works, as well as demonstrate knowledge of the repertoire, composers, style, and history. This examination fulfills Graduate School requirements for a “Milestone Exam.” Following the passing of the exam, the student should schedule an appointment with the Director of Graduate Studies


Advisory Committee

The advisory committee should be chosen in consultation with the major professor, who will chair the committee. The minor professor must be a member of the committee - two other music faculty members may be chosen by the student and advisor. (At least two members must come from the student’s immediate area of study.) The Graduate School will appoint an outside member to the committee. All members of the committee must be members of the LSU Graduate Faculty - at least two must be at the Full Member rank. Two or three members of this Advisory Committee will serve as the student’s Reading Committee at the point when the student’s writing of the final document commences. The purpose of the Reading Committee is to provide structured guidance and feedback for the student during the writing process.



A minor is required for the DMA. The minor program will be organized as a coherent program of study as determined by the minor area or department faculty, and will normally consist of 12 hours of 4000-level graduate credit, designed by the minor professor, who will serve on the committee for the student's general and final examinations. The minor area may be either within or outside the School of Music, and may be chosen from any area or department in which a graduate degree is offered. Major and minor professors must be different individuals. If music history or music theory are chosen as the minor area, the required courses in this area MAY (if agreed upon in consultation with the minor professor) count toward fulfillment of the minor requirement.


General Examination

The General Examination may be taken when all, or nearly all course requirements (including recital courses) have been completed, or during the last semester of course work. This examination is a combination of written and oral questions, and includes questions about the major area and the minor area, as well as questions pertaining to the required repertoire list (see above).


Final Research Project

In consultation with the Major Professor and the Doctoral Committee, DMA candidates may choose MUS 9009 Monograph or MUS 9010 Lecture-Recital with Written Document. The monograph is normally of narrower scope than a dissertation, but it otherwise involves the same high level of research and rigorous documentation one associates with a doctoral dissertation. The subject of the monograph should be related to one’s major and should result in an original contribution to knowledge in that area. The two parts of the final lecture recital and written document will present the same general information but will differ in presentation (the written document will not be a transcript of the lecture recital). The prospectus and final exam will encompass both the lecture recital, including repertoire to be performed, and the written document. Both the Monograph and the Lecture-Recital with Written Document require a prospectus, a reading subcommittee, and a final exam (defense).


Portfolio Option

With approval and permission of the Major Professor and Doctoral Committee, students will select additional coursework or performance-based activities. Courses will be selected from the following list:

Coursework Activity
MUS 9758 Repertoire, 3 credits
MUS 9759 Repertoire, 3 credits
MUS 9003 Doctoral Lecture Recital, 3 credits
MUS 9008 Doctoral Chamber Music Recital, 2 credits
MUS 7998 Special Topics in Music, 2-3 credit
MUS 7998 Individual Projects in Music, 2-3 credits
MUS 7750 Special Studies in Piano Literature, 3 credits
MUS 7221 or 7222 Solo Literature for Voice, 3 credits
MUS 7020 Advanced Italian Diction for Singers, 1 credit
MUS 7019 Advanced French Diction for Singers, 1 credit
MUS 7018 Advanced German Diction for Singers, 1 credit

For the Portfolio/Non-Thesis option, the prospectus should list the courses and recitals you plan to substitute for thesis hours—for recitals, the repertoire should be listed with a brief explanation of why the repertoire was chosen.


Final Examination (defense)

The final examination is to be taken after all work, including the final research project, is completed. The examination will, for the most part, be concerned with the defense of the final research project. The portfolio/non-thesis examination will consist of a defense of a portfolio/non-thesis of materials that documents the research activity completed in the coursework outlined above. A minimum of three calendar months must pass between the time of the General Examination and the Final Examination.


Learn more about the collaborative piano curriculum in this short video with Associate Professor Ana María Otamendi.