Piano Majors at DSA study diverse topics that are designed to support the student’s performance skills.  Topics are arranged in a three-year loop for MS Students, and a four-year loop for HS Students.  While every attempt will be made to present new material, there will be commonalities among the topics we study.  Since we work with new students every year at all grade levels, there are times when it might be necessary to review previous topics to ensure that all students have a similar knowledge base.

Please examine grading policies, jury requirements, and other important aspects of the piano classes using the links on this website.  Please contact Mr. Lassen at with any concerns or questions about academic requirements.

HS Academics

During the first week of the year, HS students will make a list of topics of interest.  Several topics will be chosen from this list.  Students may expect two to three academic units per semester.  These topics will be combined with topics chosen by Mr. Lassen.

Academic units are presented in various ways:

1.  Direct teaching from which students take notes.  This is the commonly accepted method of teaching at the college level, and our students will be afforded the opportunity to practice listening and recording skills.

2.  Musical examples, assigned both in class and outside of class.  Students will listen, describe, and analyze examples using a commonly accepted set of listening rubrics.

3.  Readings to be completed outside of class.  These readings may be included in books, magazine articles, or internet sources.

4.  Classroom discussions.  Students are required to participate in all interactions in the classroom.

5.  Written essays to be completed outside of class.

6.  Written essay tests.

Teaching Pieces

During the course of each semester, students will be assigned pieces to learn to support study in the piano classroom.  These pieces will serve as “tool pieces” so that students can better understand classroom lectures and presentations, and they are also meant to assist with sight-reading skill acquisition.  Students can expect to learn two pieces each semester.  The difficulty level will roughly reflect the level of advanced MS repertoire, but easier Bach Fugues and C.P.E. Bach Sonatas have also been included. Please consult the Performance Test Rubrics page for grading criteria.

HS students will also be graded on performances of major and minor scales, arpeggios, and other technical study.


HS Students will generally have technical exercises to practice during the course of each semester.  Students can plan on working on all major and minor scales.


Technical Comprehensive Test

All students in the HS Piano Class will take a final comprehensive test.  9th and 10th Graders will be tested on all major scales, 11th and 12th Graders will be tested on all major and minor scales.  The student must use the metronome to fulfill this requirement.  Metronome speeds will be discussed in class.

Music History

Students in the HS class will participate in a Music History review.  The material for these units can be found at the, “Music History” tab on the DSA Piano website.

Music Theory

All students will participate in a Music Theory course.  The components of the course will vary according to the skill level of the student.  However, it is essential that all students in DSA Piano know all scales and key signatures, intervals, chord qualities, and elementary analysis techniques.  The students will complete work sheets and will participate in periodic testing for knowledge.

Interim Classroom Performances, Juries, and Recital

Jury requirements can be found at the “Jury Requirements” tab on the DSA Piano website.  Students are required to perform on all classroom recitals.  Seniors are excused from one of the recitals in lieu of a successfully performed Senior Recital.  Students will present interim performances in order to assess progress toward the Jury and Recital.

Piano Ensemble

All DSA Piano students will work together with their colleagues to learn several duets or trios, and will perform these pieces in an Ensemble Recital.

Directed Independent Study

High School students will complete one research project each semester.  The requirements for these projects can be found at the “Directed Independent Study” tab on the DSA Piano website.

Departmental Service

All HS students are required to perform 3 hours of service to the department in various capacities.  This can be accomplished through representing the department in outside performances (private teacher recitals are not eligible), tutoring, filing and cleaning in the classroom, non-paid religious functions, or other service options.  Please discuss your ideas with Mr. Lassen in advance.

Middle School Academics

Music History

Students in the Middle School will be learning about composers from the Romantic Period this year.  There will be a significant discussion about the origins and philosophies of Romanticism.  Early Romantic Period composers will be discussed first, after which we will discuss the Conservative and Radical Romantic Period composers.  Students will take a quiz over each of the units, and can plan to participate in activities associated with this material.

Music Theory

Students in Middle School will participate in a Music Theory Course that will be levelled according to students’ backgrounds and abilities.  The Music Theory class generally occurs twice a week during the major class time.

Classroom Project

Students will complete an informal project on a subject of his/her choice.  Please click on the “Directed Independent Study” tab on the DSA Piano website.


Students will maintain a Journal of all lectures and activities in the classroom.  This journal will be graded on neatness and completeness.

Juries and Recital

Please find information about jury requirements by clicking on the “Jury Requirements” tab on the DSA Piano website.  All students are required to perform each semester in our class recital.