Music students have performance opportunities from the first semester onward.


Stellar faculty includes 19 members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Grammy winners and performing and recording artists, augmented by guests such as acclaimed DSO conductor Jaap van Zweden.


Numerous ensembles and programs, including the Meadows Opera Theatre, provide multiple opportunities for performing on and off campus.


Multiple degrees are offered in performance, composition, music therapy, education and more at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Programs of Study

Instruction in the SMU Piano Preparatory Department is based on a unique, time-tested combination of group and private piano lessons. All students participate in weekly private lessons and group lessons as outlined below. The private piano lesson offers an intensive environment to develop technique, practice skills and musical interpretation. The group lesson, consisting of students grouped approximately by age and performance level, has two components: 1) monthly performances of solo repertoire in a master class setting; 2) exploration of concepts in music theory, functional keyboard skills and music history.

Groups 1-3

Students in group 1-3 attend a weekly, 45-minute group lesson. Those in group 1 meet Wednesdays from 5:30-6:15 pm in room 1060. Students in group 2 meet Tuesdays from 5:30-6:15 pm in the Band Hall. Students in group 3 meet Tuesdays from 6:30-7:15 pm in the Band Hall. Additionally, students take a weekly 45-minute private lesson. Students gain a thorough musical foundation using singing, movement activities and focused listening activities that enhance performance. Furthermore, this class provides children and opportunity to practice performing in a supportive environment.

Download the Group 1 schedule (PDF) | Group 2 schedule (PDF) | Group 3 schedule (PDF)

Groups 4-7

In the intermediate levels, students attend a monthly, 1 hour performance class and a weekly private lesson during the school year. The performance class meets Tuesdays from 6:00-7:00 or from 7:00-8:00 pm. This is a performance based class in which students perform from memory before their peers while being coached by Dr. Cathy Lysinger , the Artistic Director of the Piano Preparatory Department at SMU. The environment is positive and replicates a formal performance.

Download the Groups 4-7 schedule (PDF)

Groups 8-9

Students in groups 8-9 attend a monthly, 2-hour performance class that meets on Tuesday from 6-8:00 pm along with a weekly 60-minute lesson during the school year. This class is designed for students who are playing advanced level literature and are committed to practice 1.5 hour to 2 hours per day. Any student is welcome to participate in this class at the discretion of his or her teacher and the leadership of the Piano Prep Department. This is a performance based class in which students perform from memory before their peers while being coached by Dr. Cathy Lysinger , the Artistic Director of the Piano Preparatory Department at SMU. The environment is positive and replicates a formal performance.

Download the Groups 8-9 schedule (PDF)

Musicianship Course (recommended)

Recognizing the importance of well-rounded musicianship, we are offering extensive courses in musicianship. Due to the time commitment that a comprehensive course requires, these are now optional to all students and will coordinate with the time of performance classes. This class includes 15 30-minute lessons throughout the school year (August to May). The class topics are:

  • Piano skills (i.e. harmonization and sight reading)
  • Exploration of great masterworks
  • Form and analysis training
  • Ear training



Recitals are scheduled in December and in May. All students are required to perform in both recitals. Additionally, speak with your private teacher for information about other performing venues available to students through the Dallas Music Teachers Association.

Achievement Auditions

All students participate in either DMTA Achievement Auditions. This activity serves as a capstone experience for the year as students will prepare 3 pieces for the DMTA Achievement Auditions, or 2 pieces for the in-house auditions and perform the music for an independent judge who will assess the student's skill. Students must perform in either the DMTA Achievement Audition or the In-House Audition to remain in good standing in the Piano Preparatory Department at SMU.

Festivals and Competitions

In the second year of study, students have the option to participate in local festivals and/or competitions sponsored by the Dallas Music Teachers Association. For each event, students perform at least one memorized piece for a judge. Each event is held on a Saturday and requires a flexible schedule.


National Piano Institute for Young Artists (NPI)

July 14-20, 2013

The NPI for Young Artists is open to any student and is designed to fulfill a two-fold purpose:

  • to highlight the work our young pianists have done throughout the summer, and
  • to inspire them to look ahead to the coming year

Each camper will be expected to arrive at camp with two pieces prepared and memorized for performances in master classes and recitals. More music should be in development stages appropriate in the private lessons. The day camp lasts five days and is designed to be fun and educational. All lessons and classes will allow the students to learn many new things and reinforce information already learned.

View more information about the National Piano Institute for Young Artists

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Communication Studies

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts



Welcome to the Division of Music

About the Division of Music

Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies





Faculty and Staff

Dallas Resources

Student Resources

SMU Meadows Licensed Music Rights

Workshops and Special Programs

2014 SMU Music Educators Workshops

SMU Institute for Piano Teachers

SMU Institute for Young Pianists

Piano Preparatory Department

Programs of Study


Student Achievements

Departmental Policies and Procedures

Student Practice Expectations