Person playing a grand piano on a darkened stage

World-renowned Faculty and a Rich History

await Piano Performance students at the KU School of Music. 

KU piano faculty offer a variety of specialized expertise including performance of both traditional and avant-garde contemporary music, piano pedagogy, and collaborative piano to our students. We offer several undergraduate degree options, along with graduate and doctoral degree programs.

KU Piano Faculty

Yi-Yang Chen:  Prizewinner at numerous international competitions including the Sussex International Piano Competition, Washington International Piano Competition, Waring International Piano Competition, Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and others.

Michael Kirkendoll:  Contemporary specialist and YAMAHA artist. Finalist for the American Pianists Association Classical Fellowship Awards. Founder of the Cortona Sessions for New Music and International Foundation for Contemporary Music.

Scott McBride Smith:  One of the world’s leading experts in Piano Pedagogy and co-author of The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher and the groundbreaking series American Popular Piano. Past president of Music Teachers National Association and President/CEO of the International Institute for Young Musicians.

Ellen Sommer:  Esteemed collaborative pianist chamber musician, coach, and founding member of the dynamic flute, oboe, piano trio Allegresse. Faculty member at the Interlochen Academy, Omaha Conservatory of Music Institute, and frequent recording artist.

Events & Programs

Every year piano students, faculty, alumni and guest artists enjoy several events and programs unique to KU Piano.

Lied Center Concerto Performance

All undergraduate and graduate piano majors with the recommendation of a member of the KU piano faculty perform a complete concerto movement with the KU Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful Lied Center. This unique opportunity for KU piano majors has been an annual event since 1997 thanks to a generous gift from Dave and Gunda Hiebert. Dr. and Mrs. Hiebert were the recipients of the Phoenix Award for outstanding contribution to the Arts in Lawrence and have been longtime supporters of the KU piano programs.

Masterclass Opportunities

Renowned guest artists frequently appear on the stages at the University of Kansas and offer masterclasses, lessons, and lectures to KU piano majors. Recent guests have included,  Sergei Babayan, Maxim Lando, Robert McDonald, Beatrice Rana, and Boris Slutsky, among others.

International Institute for Young Musicians

Under the direction of KU alumnus Scott McBride Smith, the IIYM brings its prestigious Summer Music Academy to the University of Kansas campus each summer since 1993. The three-week intensive program features performances at the Lied Center and attracts talented piano and string students from around the globe to work with some of the most accomplished music educators in the country, including several of KU's own faculty members. Former IIYM students have received prizes in the most important international competitions, such as the Van Cliburn, the Chopin, the Gina Bachauer and the Music Teachers National Association.