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Piano at JMU

Thank you for your interest in the piano program at James Madison University. We have a vibrant community of piano students, focused on achievement, hard work, and healthy competition, and nurtured within a supportive, collegial environment.  We want to help you create, develop, and realize your goals as a pianist and musician. Your success is very important to us.

Pianists can choose from concentrations in performance (solo or collaborative), music education, music industry, composition, and jazz studies. We currently have over 40 piano majors (including undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students), and the number of students applying for admission is growing. We do not assign freshman piano majors to graduate instructors as some large conservatories do, but take pride in the personal interaction with each student. JMU is an “All-Steinway” school, and 11 of our practice rooms contain Steinway grand pianos.  Piano majors will spend the majority of their time in the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, a state of the art facility.

Please visit the JMU website for more information about the School of music and its programs.  I encourage you to plan a campus visit, meet our faculty, and talk to our students. Thank you for taking an interest in us, and of course, I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.  Good luck in this important process, and we hope to see you at audition time!

Dr. Lori Piitz
Piano Area Coordinator

Click here for undergraduate and graduate admission audition guidelines.

Piano4-té Performance feat. the JMU Piano Faculty
Featured Student Performances


Bobby Carlson

Bobby Carlson graduated from JMU (BM - Piano Performance) in the Spring of 2020, where he studied with Dr. Paulo Steinberg. Originally from Rustburg, Virginia, prior teachers included Dr. Nicholas Ross and Dr. Emily Yap Chua. While at JMU, Bobby collaborated extensively with many of his peers and worked with both the Wind Symphony and Opera Theatre. Bobby has also participated and performed in numerous music festivals in Europe and the USA. In the fall of 2020, Bobby will be attending the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship to study with Professor Soyeon Kate Lee. 


Ednaldo Borba

Ednaldo Borba began his piano studies with Prof. Claudia Marcia Feitosa, studied at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro with Prof. Idis Benicio, and at James Madison University with Dr. Paulo Steinberg. He won first prizes at piano competitions in Brazil, Spain, and the USA. While pursuing a Master’s in Piano at JMU, he won the JMU Concerto Competition and performed Rachmaninov’s 3rd concerto with the JMU Symphony Orchestra. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctorate in Piano at the University of Oregon studying with Dr. Alexandre Dossin. He has played as a soloist with Brazilian and American orchestras, and often performs solo and chamber music in Brazil and the USA.


Priscila Oliveira

Brazilian pianist, Priscila Oliveira, received her DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from JMU in 2015 under the tutelage of Dr. Lori Piitz. She was awarded a full graduate assistantship after winning the “Young Musicians” competition in Brazil. During her first year in the US, Priscila won the concerto competition at JMU, and performed Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the JMU orchestra. She holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Brazil. She is an active performer, both as soloist and collaborative pianist. In 2015, Priscila joined the music faculty of Pensacola Christian College, where she teaches private piano lessons, piano classes, and music theory.


Michael Scales

Michael Scales (JMU '09, MM in Piano Performance) has been hailed as a pianist with "heroic vigor," and has performed as a soloist and chamber musician for dance across the country and internationally. He currently serves as Music Director for New York Theatre Ballet, and has been featured by the New York Times and the Epoch Times for his role as the company's pianist. An advocate of new art, Mr. Scales has been involved in the process and performance of numerous new works of music and choreography, including a recent premiere by Pam Tanowitz at the Bard College Richard B. Fischer Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to his work as a performer, Mr. Scales is in high demand as an accompanist for dance classes around New York City, at such reputable institutions as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Juilliard School, and Marymount Manhattan College, to name a few.

"I came to JMU to pursue a Master of Music after finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. The decision to attend JMU was an easy one to make, especially after meeting the incredible faculty and viewing their fantastic facilities. Once there, I had the great privilege to study in the studio of Dr. Lori Piitz, who along with the other faculty fostered a department brimming with creativity, excellence, and encouragement. This environment, along with access to high quality Steinway instruments for practice and performance, helped me to grow as a musician and artist."

Piano Professors and Technicians

Lori Piltz

Lori Piitz
Piano Area Coordinator

Eric Ruple

Eric Ruple
Steinway Artist

Masa Ishikawa

Masa Ishikawa
Assistant Professor
Jazz Piano

Jocelyn Chan

  Jocelyn Chan
Lead Piano Technician

Heather Coltman

Heather J. Coltman
Provost & Senior Vice President

Scott Zane Smith

Scott Zane Smith
Class Piano Coordinator, Supervisor, Instructor

John Veitch

John Veitch
Piano Technician

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