The keyboard area is dedicated to helping our students share and express our common humanity through music in ways as diverse as all of us. You may choose to explore and concentrate in a wide range of areas such as solo repertoire, instrumental and vocal collaboration, piano/organ/harpsichord, jazz, pedagogy, contemporary repertoire, etc.

As a music major, in addition to the music core curriculum, you will work with our world-renowned keyboard faculty in weekly lessons, accompany ensembles, and various student, faculty and guest recitals. You will also have the opportunity to work with guest pianists who also offer masterclasses.

You'll receive a key to practice any time in a Steinway piano room, and there are state-of-the-art recording facilities. As a result, our entrepreneurial graduates have stimulating careers that involve everything from performing solo and collaborative repertoire worldwide from every century and style, to teaching at the primary school through university levels in the U.S. and abroad, as well as privately.

Performance Opportunities

You can schedule your own solo performances in our concert halls, which uniquely offer a wide choice of instruments including a Fazioli, Hamburg Steinway, NY Steinway, Yamaha, Schimmel and other pianos you may encounter in your professional career. There are two Hubbard type double-manual harpsichords, one at A=440 (equal temperament) and the other at A=415 (Valotti/Young temperament, mildly unequal). Boutell Memorial Concert Hall is the site of a magnificent organ by Martin Ott. Practice organs are by Flentrop and Zimmer.

School of Music ensembles include:

  • Orchestra
  • Chorus
  • Opera
  • Contemporary ensemble
  • Jazz ensembles
  • World music
  • Numerous small ensembles created for your specific expressed interests

The school sponsors both an annual concerto competition to perform with the orchestra and, uniquely, a chamber music competition.

Our students also have an opportunity to teach at our Community School of the Arts, find experience and employment playing for churches, perform at area institutions, and take advantage of the myriad riches of a world cultural center, Chicago, as both spectator and participant.

In short, at NIU you will not only have an academically sound foundation, but also continuing professional applied experiences often supported by undergraduate scholarships and graduate assistantship and tuition waivers for teaching and collaborative piano.


As a keyboardist, you will find yourself in constant demand for both teaching and performance collaboration, as well as solo performance. Keyboard provides a solid foundation for understanding music, so all musicians must study keyboard, and all musicians value good keyboard collaboration highly. There are careers teaching in public schools, higher education and in the private studio. Collaboration can take many forms, which could include studio accompanying, choral accompanying, vocal coaching, church work, dance accompanying, opera, orchestra pianist and small ensembles.


Our alumni have built keyboard careers in a wide variety of ways that have included university professors (Duke University, University of Massachusetts, Shanghai Conservatory and others throughout Asia, Idaho State University, etc.), Houston Grand Opera vocal coach, Seattle Opera vocal coach, Opera Midwest accompanist, innumerable Chicagoland public school teachers and private teachers, Dal Niente contemporary ensemble pianist and numerous private music school faculty across the U.S.

If you are an alum we’d love to hear about what you’re up to.

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