A Comparative Study of Piano Performance Programs at University-Level Institutions in China and the United States
Jiang, Yuan (author)
Dumlavwalla, Diana Teresa (Professor Directing Dissertation)
Kalhous, David (University Representative)
VanWeelden, Kimberly D. (Committee Member)
Fredrickson, William E. (Committee Member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Music (degree granting college)
As we work and study in our increasingly globalized society, there is a growing trend of Chinese piano students choosing to pursue their higher education in the United States. Elite music institutions in America are also seeking and recruiting a large number of Chinese pianists. This trend raises questions regarding the similarities and differences between Chinese and American piano performance programs in university-level institutions. The purpose of this study was to promote a greater understanding of Chinese and American piano performance programs in higher education through examining selected university-level institutions. To accomplish this goal, (1) the researcher collected data from the selected university-level institutions in both countries regarding their piano-related degree offerings, audition requirements, curriculum requirements, and core course offerings for the piano performance programs. These data were used to analyze and compare the structure and design of piano performance degree programs in both countries; (2) the researcher also conducted an online survey to gather information regarding current faculty members’ and students’ perceptions of their piano performance programs. Their perspectives shed light on why so many Chinese students continue their music education in the United States. A total of 20 university-level institutions (N = 20) were selected in the U.S. (n = 10) and China (n = 10) as the sample institutions in this study. Survey participants included the students who were currently enrolled in piano performance programs and faculty members who were currently teaching in the sample institutions in both countries. A total number of 34 student participants and 7 faculty participants in the U.S. along with 119 student participants and 11 faculty participants in China completed the questionnaires. Results indicated that while only one institution in China offers a doctoral degree, all the sample institutions in the U.S. offer doctoral degrees in piano performance. Institutions have similar audition requirements in both countries, but the American institutions have a broader review process for admission. Although both the Chinese and the U.S. institutions had a similar structure in their curricula, the balance of required credits in each area was noticeably different. Overall, American institutions focus more on the major area than Chinese institutions in both undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition, the structure of the core course offerings is also very similar. Applied lessons, piano literature, piano pedagogy, accompanying, and recitals are the core courses that commonly appear on the institutions’ curriculums in both countries. A large percentage of student participants in both countries indicated that their ideal career was being a faculty member in higher education. Although results indicated that overall, there is no significant differences between the students’ level of satisfaction of the core courses in their piano performance programs, students in the U.S. were significantly more satisfied with the applied lessons and the degree recital in their programs than the students in China. It is encouraging that not only students gave careful attention toward the applied lessons and performance opportunities in their studies, but also that a large percentage of the students believed they received excellent advice regarding practice strategies and artistry in their applied lessons in both countries. The statements made by faculty participants illustrate that the vast majority of them in both countries expressed positive attitudes regarding the piano performance programs in their universities. Faculty members in both countries believed that piano technical skills were difficult to establish and develop during the collegiate level education. Therefore, they recommended that prospective students must build a solid foundation and master the technical skills before college. Interestingly, faculty participants in the U.S. were more concerned about the graduation requirements in their piano performance programs while Chinese faculty participants cared more about the admission requirements in their programs. According to the comparative results of the research questions, the factors that attract Chinese students to study in the U.S. can be attributed to the following aspects: 1) students plan to seek the most advanced degree—doctoral degree in piano performance; 2) students may have less stress related to studying for standardized tests during the application process; 3) students may be able to complete the program and obtain the master’s degree in a shorter period of time; 4) the design of the programs/curriculums may allow students to receive more personal attention and more professional development; 5) students may become more independent and can receive better quality of applied lessons and degree recital preparation; and 6) they may gain more performance opportunities and receive a comprehensive view of the subject matter.
America, China, higher education, piano performance programs, piano students
April 6, 2019.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Diana Dumlavwalla, Professor Directing Dissertation; David Kalhous, University Representative; Kimberly VanWeelden, Committee Member; William Fredrickson, Committee Member.
Florida State University