Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


School of Music


Piano Pedagogy

First Advisor

Scott Price


The purpose of this study was to provide information about the integration of learning theories within undergraduate piano pedagogy courses at member schools of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). A 47-question online survey was sent to each 4-year member school listed in the 2007 NASM directory. The survey elicited 111 responses concerning institutional information, personal and professional information, undergraduate piano pedagogy courses at participating institutions, information pertaining to instructor backgrounds in learning theories, and learning theories in participants' current piano pedagogy course curricula.

Analysis of the data showed that while many instructors of undergraduate piano pedagogy ranked learning theories as very important, almost 30% of undergraduate piano pedagogy instructors participating in this research did not include the topic of learning theories at all within their course. Most respondents had masters and terminal degrees in piano performance. Many had little background relating to the field of learning theories, and were relatively inexperienced at teaching undergraduate piano pedagogy. The broad categories of behaviorism and cognitivism were the two approaches most often included in undergraduate piano pedagogy courses, and Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and B.F. Skinner were the three theorists most often included in undergraduate piano pedagogy courses.

Suggestions for further research included quantitative research supporting the hypothesis that knowledge of learning theories creates a positive effect on the quality of instruction in piano teaching, similar research projects with a more narrowly defined population sample that might increase the response rate, further research regarding specific components of the curriculum, cross-curricular studies comparing the relative integration and effectiveness of learning theories within other types of pedagogical training programs, and a re-evaluation of the design of piano performance and piano pedagogy programs in order to determine if the needs of graduates from these programs are being addressed.


© 2010, Michael W. Rushing