Piano at GVSU

Piano/Keyboard Faculty

Helen Marlais
Piano/Piano Pedagogy

Dr. Marlais' Website

Sookkyung Cho
Associate Professor

Dr. Cho's Website

Gregory Crowell
Senior Affiliate Faculty
Organ & Harpsichord

Studying Piano at GVSU

dr. cho teaches

Degrees Offered

We offer the following undergraduate major/minor programs:

Bachelor of Music 
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Music Education 
Music Minor

Our undergraduate-focused program makes it possible for students to receive undivided attention from our world-class faculty and take full advantage of performance opportunities both on and off campus.

tumaini sango


Students receive individual lessons each week. Lessons are designed to help develop a student’s instrumental technique and interpretive abilities. Stylistic understanding of piano repertoire in its wide range will be emphasized, and students will be guided to continue to grow as well-rounded musicians.

Studio Class
Studio class is held weekly at Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall. Various aspects of piano playing are discussed, and students perform for their peers and professors as their repertoire is getting ready to be presented for the public. Sharing of peer observation and constructive criticism is encouraged, as students develop a sense of musical partnership within the studios. Performances are also recorded and sent to the performers.

Focused hours of practice are expected of piano students at GVSU. Each student is guided individually by the professor how to utilize the practice time better. For technical exercises, several sources are used depending on the level and need of a student. They include, but are not limited to: 51 Exercises by Brahms, Basic Principles of Pianoforte Playing by Lhevinne, Menahem Pressler: Artistry in Piano Teaching by Brown, and Cortot’s exercise recommendations on Chopin Etudes.

See below section on performance requirements/opportunities for our piano students.

nme keyboard

Performance Requirements/Opportunities

Performance Requirements and Opportunities
We recognize that performing is perhaps one of the most important facets of learning to become a better pianist and educator.

  • Student Recital Hour is held weekly at Cook-DeWitt Center, with the entire GVSU music student body as its audience. Everyone is required to perform at least once a year in this venue, but is welcome to perform as many times as one wishes. Most students perform a multiple times a year.
  • Half- and Full- Recitals are required for juniors and seniors, and additional recitals are scheduled with a permission from the studio professor.
  • Masterclasses by guest artists are scheduled regularly throughout the year, and students are invited to perform for world-class performers.
  • Studio Recitals and Piano-Area Projects are scheduled regularly. 
  • Off-Campus Performances are scheduled regularly also. 

New Music Ensemble is one of the nation’s most recognized college ensembles. Their performances and concerts have been hailed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and dozens of other medias. Our pianists often take critical role in it. Check out their website at www.newmusicensemble.org.

Early Music Ensemble often collaborates with early music experts and provides rare opportunities to undergraduate students to play period instruments as well as learn historically informed performance practice of pre-classical repertoire. Visit their website at www.gvsuearlymusicensemble.com.

Piano Pedagogy Certificate

dr. marlais teaches

Piano Pedagogy Certification (in the Department of Music and Dance at Grand Valley State University) will enable undergraduate piano majors and area piano teachers to focus on the skills necessary for successful piano teaching. Students learn how to teach beginner, intermediate, and early–advanced students.  They learn how to teach pre-college students as well as music majors who take keyboard as their secondary instrument.  They learn how to teach correct technique, how to develop musicianship and good sight-reading skills, how to select and teach repertoire, how to practice efficiently, and how to motivate.  Students learn about the most important competitions and festivals in the state as well as in the nation. 

To gain entrance into the program, an interview with the Piano Pedagogy professor and the performance of one memorized intermediate-level piano work will take place.

This certification provides teachers with theoretical knowledge and practical experiences in accordance with state and national piano teaching guidelines.  The piano pedagogy coursework includes guided teaching experiences.

Students completing the Piano Pedagogy Certification will have a record of this accomplishment appear on their academic transcript. Students and/or teachers will receive a certificate for their piano studio.

For more information, please contact Dr. Helen Marlais

Piano Pedagogy Brochure

Piano Pedagogy Curriculum

Piano Events

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Page last modified May 17, 2023