Keyboard Studies

Piano, Harpsichord, Organ

James Winn, D.M.A., Director

Piano student on stage at Nightingale Concert Hall

The Keyboard Studies department is designed for music students who want to raise their artistic and technical skills to the professional level. Through courses specific to applied keyboard performance, weekly private instruction, master classes and directed supervision, aspiring keyboard musicians will receive in-depth guidance and training across the full range of traditions. Attention will be given to solo and collaborative performance.

Students in applied piano are offered additional courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Classes offered

Piano Seminar

Piano Seminar is a small class discussion and project seminar for students interested in an applied piano degree. Recent topics have included classical improvisation, Classical and Baroque performance practice (including the realization of figured bass, embellishment and the construction of cadenzas), piano pedagogy (and the business aspects of private studio teaching), piano construction and maintenance, and the anatomy, potential problems, and medical care of the human hand.

Techniques of Piano Accompaniment

Techniques of Piano Accompaniment teach the literature and skills of collaborative piano performance with vocalists, other instrumentalists, choral groups and dance.

Piano Ensemble

Literature for two pianos or piano/four hands, coached by James Winn, member of the 1980 Munich International Competition top prize-winning duo.

Private Study

Weekly private lessons, regular master classes, and supervision in chamber music and accompanying provide piano students with the skills and experience required for a career in piano. Entrance auditions, semester juries and upper-division barrier auditions allow the faculty to track the progress of each piano major and to make recommendations concerning further study.


Nightingale Concert Hall is equipped with two Steinway concert grand pianos and a Russell double manual French harpsichord. The Department of Music also houses an Eric Herz double-manual German harpsichord and practice areas with grand pianos for piano majors.

Performance, competition and employment opportunities

Departmental recitals and piano master classes with music faculty or distinguished guest artists (such as, most recently, internationally famous concert artist and Van Cliburn Competition winner Jon Nakamatsu, John Wustman, renowned collaborative pianist, accompanist to Pavarotti, and Jonathan Shames, Tchaikovsky Competition finalist) provide all students with opportunities to perform for their peers and faculty. An active, internationally known performing faculty provides not only the experience of hearing literature in world-class performances but also (as the student's abilities mature) the chance to join with them in chamber ensembles.

The Northern Nevada chapter of the MTNA (Music Teacher's National Association) and the Reno Chamber Orchestra both sponsor competitions and study awards. Students are encouraged to compete. A recent winner of the RCO Concerto Competition, a student of Winn, has since been accepted with full scholarship to the doctoral program of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins. Other students have been accepted into programs of advanced study at Yale, Eastman and the Conservatory of Indiana University.

The piano area maintains two graduate assistantship positions, one for studio/recital accompanying, and one (contingent upon funding) for teaching overflow private piano instruction. In addition, students with chamber music and accompanying skills are in demand both within the music department (for accompanying applied lessons, voice and instrumental classes, choruses, and opera), in Reno's professional organizations (including Nevada Opera, Reno Chamber Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic and Nevada Festival Ballet), and in many local churches. Other employment is available in the field of private instruction, either as an assistant in one of the already established private studios or through one of the local non-collegiate music schools (such as Sparks Music Center).

Faculty: Keyboard Studies

Adam Benjamin
Assistant Professor, Jazz Piano; Director, Jazz and Improvisational Music
(775) 682-9039
Office: CFA 135

Hans Halt
Lecturer: String Bass, Jazz Piano; Jazz Composition
(775) 682-9032
Office: CFA 135

Philip Manwell
(775) 682-9066
Office: VSG 30E

Adela Hyeyeon Park
Assistant Professor, Piano; Artistic Director, Apex Concerts
(775) 682-9030
Office: CFA 132

Isadora Pastragus-Wilson
Piano Accompanist, Vocal/Instrumental Coach
(775) 784-6862
Office: CFA 124

James Winn
Professor, Composition Studies, Keyboard Studies, Piano, Harpsichord; Director, Keyboard Studies; Coordinator, Composition Studies
(775) 784-4051
Office: CFA 138