Piano Auditions

Welcome to the piano program at Scripps College!

In these uncertain times art and music matter more than ever before because they give us a chance to appreciate and create beauty. We are here to help you make that happen, to help you improve. We accept students at all levels in our graded courses.

Meet our piano profs:

Professor Hao HuangProfessor Hao Huang strikes a pose among the leaves 

Thanks for your interest in piano lessons at the Scripps Music Department. The most important take-away we’d like you to have is that these are college courses for credit, and that students are graded on progress throughout the term, not for specific level of ability.   We are here to help you improve and deepen your relationship to the piano and its repertoire.

Professor Julie Simonprofessor simon smiling 

Normally, we would be looking forward to meeting you in person at auditions.  For now, that’s happening on Zoom and with video submissions.

All of us have been building on the experiences of the Covid-19 fall semester and have developed strategies applicable to applied piano lessons.  It’s a testament to the popularity of music study that there, unfortunately, are very few openings for spring semester in the piano studios.

Professor Gayle Blankenburgprofessor blankenburg strikes a pose by a grand piano 

During this pandemic our piano students taught us how important it was for them to keep connected to music by playing piano, even when conditions were not ideal. Learning the skills to become a pianist is about joining a great musical tradition with thrilling repertoire and wonderful players that came before us.  Please read the instructions below on how to submit a complete piano audition entry, which will include submitting a course schedule form so that we can plan on scheduling lessons. We look forward to hearing from you!


We have two courses that offer piano lessons in the Scripps Music Department that are open to students from all Claremont Colleges.

MUS85a: Group Piano

  • One hour weekly piano training with 4-6 students.
  • For beginners and early intermediate students.
  • Students study short pieces as assigned by instructor.
  • No jury, no public performances required.

MUS171a: Piano (individual lessons)

  • ½ hour weekly one-to-one lessons with one of three piano faculty PLUS attendance at the group Performance Class sessions held an average of every other week, where students play for each other in a masterclass format and receive comments.
  • Jury performance of two pieces at the end of the semester.
  • Performances at Student Recitals encouraged. (Full hour lessons are available for majors, and, with special permission, very advanced students)

Faculty will decide on placements by Friday of the first week of classes. Students will be notified on the weekend about studio placement, and lessons will begin the following week.


Please follow the piano audition process outlined below.

Friday, January 22 is the last day to submit piano audition applications for this spring.

Please send all questions to Prof. Julie Simon at




Record a short video of you playing a piece that represents who you are as a pianist right now. This is a placement audition, not a competition.  The camera should be focused on your hands when you are playing.

Beginners (Group Piano)

(If you are an absolute beginner, you do not have to play.)
Others with some experience:
We need to hear what you can do as a musician.   Can you play a tune on the piano? Even if it’s just with one hand, play it.   Can you play a scale?  Play it.  Can you play a few chords? Play them. Can you play rhythms?  Demonstrate.  Show us what you can do musically.


  • Why are you interested in learning how to play the piano?
  • Do you have an instrument that you can practice on?
  • What musical background do you have, if any?
  • Can you read music? Which clef?
  • What kind of piano music are you most interested in learning to play?
  • Are you able to commit to practicing 1 hour a day in order to make significant progress for a college level piano course?

Intermediate to Advanced (Piano):

Students who are placed in MUS171 are usually intermediate or advanced pianists who will engage in studying and memorizing a minimum of two significant pieces of classical piano repertoire. Their sight-reading should be good enough to support independent learning of the notes and rhythms of new pieces.

CAMERA ON HANDS: We invite you to play 2-3 minutes of a solo piece on your video recording. Focus on phrasing, accurate rhythms, maintaining a steady tempo, clear use of pedal.

CAMERA ON FACE: On the same video, answer these questions:

  • Do you have an instrument to practice on?
  • What are you interested in improving in your piano playing this fall?
  • How long have you studied piano, and what is your musical background?
  • What other music have you been studying over the past year?
  • What kind of piano music are you most interested in learning to play?
  • Are you able to commit to practicing 1 hour a day in order to make significant progress for a college level piano course?


Fill out your student information and projected class schedule on the webform, including exact start and end times, and give us your information for contacting you quickly (email address and cell phone) if we need to get clarification before placement.

Complete Application Here