Performance Courses

Performance courses, along with frequent opportunities to perform, are at the heart of a Curtis education.

Performance courses include lessons and coachings, instrumental repertoire studies, vocal studies, and supplementary performance.


  • Major Lessons

    Fall and Spring; various s.h. or g.c./term

    One lesson/equivalent per week with the student’s major instructor. Younger students may receive two lessons per week. Voice and instrumental majors receive four s.h./term credit; piano, composition, conducting, and guitar majors receive six s.h./term credit. Opera students receive one g.c./term credit.

    Composition Seminar

    CMP 001–002; 1 s.h./term

    Seminar class for composers, involving analysis, presentation, and discussion of contemporary music.

    Early Music Performance

    HRC 001–002; 1 s.h./term

    Examination of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century performance practice through lectures, demonstrations, and coachings.

    Chamber Music

    CHM 001–002; 1 s.h./term

    Regular coaching of student string, brass, woodwind, and mixed ensembles by Curtis’s chamber music faculty. Trios, quartets, and larger ensembles are formed by students or assigned by the faculty. Required of all piano and orchestral instrument majors with specific repertoire requirements for each semester.

    Score Analysis

    CND 113–114; 1 s.h./term

    Detailed study of the structure of orchestral scores for conducting majors.

  • Orchestral Repertoire


    BRS 001–002; 1 s.h./term


    PRC 001–002; 1 s.h./term


    STG 001–002; 1 s.h./term


    WWD 001–002; 1 s.h./term
    Weekly sectional study and rehearsal of orchestral literature, required of all string, woodwind, brass, and percussion orchestra members.


    ORC 001–002; 3 s.h./term
    Participation in the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Curtis Chamber Orchestra. Required of all orchestral instrument majors sixteen years of age and older.

    Organ Class

    ORG 001–002; 1 s.h./term
    Weekly performance class, required of all organ majors. All repertoire to be performed from memory.

    Curtis 20/21, the Contemporary Music Ensemble

    CHM 101–102; 1 s.h./term
    Participation in Curtis 20/21, an ensemble devoted to the performance of chamber music from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Rehearsals weekly and as needed. Chamber music credit given based on participation and opportunity to perform or at the discretion of the dean.

    Piano Repertoire Seminar

    PNO 221–222; 1 s.h./term
    Weekly performance class, required of all piano majors.

    Guitar Performance Seminar

    GTR 221-222; 1 s.h./term
    Weekly performance class, required of all guitar majors.

    Lab Orchestra

    ORC 311–312; 1 s.h./term
    Practice in conducting ensembles from the symphony orchestra, required of all conducting majors.

  • With the permission of the managing director of the Vocal Studies Department, students in other departments may participate in some of these courses.

    Diction Coaching

    DCT 401–402; 1 g.c./term

    The application of diction fundamentals to prepare for vocal performances.

    Voice Repertoire Coaching

    VRP 101–102; 2 s.h./term
    VRP 401–402; 2 g.c./term

    Vocal and musical preparation with opera and voice coaches for operatic and recital performances.

    Alexander Technique

    VRP 111-112; 0.5 s.h./term
    OPR 501.1–502.1; 1 g.c./term

    An introduction to gentle, novel, guided movement sequences that focus awareness on the subtle patterns of movement, breathing, and alignment. The course aims to enhance flexibility, intelligence, and grace in movement. Credit may also be granted for yoga classes.

    History of Singing: The Recorded Legacy

    MHS 211–212; 2 s.h./term

    A study of the history of vocal performance, using recordings from the past and present.

    Acting Seminar

    VRP 205–206; 1 s.h./term

    An undergraduate course in the method of developing the emotional and physical life of a character through examination of the text. Using improvisation and other methods, the course cultivates the skill of acting while singing.

    Voice Performance Seminar

    VRP 301–302; 1 s.h./term

    Weekly undergraduate repertoire class for voice majors.

    Opera History Seminar

    OPR 505–506; 1 g.c./term

    A study of the growth of the operatic form from the Camerata of 1597 to the mid-20th century. Emphasis is on major works of the standard operatic literature from Italy, France, and Germany.

    Opera Staging

    OPR 571–572; 3 g.c./term
    OPR 671–672; 3 g.c./term

    Rehearsals for major productions.

    Opera Performance Seminar

    VRP 521–522; 1 g.c./term

    Weekly graduate repertoire class for opera majors, in which singers can perform for each other and try out new material in a constructive environment.

  • Supplementary Harpsichord

    HRC 005–006; 1 s.h./term

    One lesson per week with a member of the harpsichord faculty.

    Supplementary Piano

    PNO 001–004; 0.5 s.h./term

    One lesson per week with a member of the supplementary piano faculty. Required for two years of all undergraduates who are not exempted from the supplementary piano requirement by examination.

    Supplementary Voice

    VOI 001–002; 0.5 s.h./term

    One lesson per week with a member of the voice faculty or a graduate student. Open as a performance elective to all students.

    Viola for Violinists

    VLA 101–102; 1 s.h./term

    One lesson per week with a member of the viola faculty. Open as a performance elective to violin majors.

Key to the Course List

  • Odd-numbered courses meet in the fall and even-numbered courses meet in the spring.
  • The designations “s.h.” (semester hours) and “g.c.” (graduate credits) indicate credit hours given per term for undergraduate and graduate courses, respectively.
  • Year-long, two-semester courses are designated by hyphenated course numbers. Students must successfully complete both semesters of required year-long courses to satisfy the graduation requirement.
  • An asterisk (*) indicates a course that is not offered every year.