MU3004 - Essential Skills in Piano-Playing

What will I learn on this module?

An ability to play the piano reinforces knowledge of harmony and music theory, and is essential for further study, when you will go on to develop keyboard skills necessary for high-level work and research. Piano playing is also essential for players and singers of other instruments, especially those whose performances involve an accompanist. An ability to play the piano is absolutely essential for all music teachers.

This module assumes no prior experience of piano playing, and aims to bring you to the level of competency needed to progress further in your academic and musical career. Those who are beginners can expect to have developed a degree of technical competence at about ABRSM Grade V by the end of the year. More experienced players, especially those whose main instrument is piano, organ or harpsichord, will work on the art of accompaniment.

How will I learn on this module?

Teaching will take place in small groups determined by the level of previous experience of piano playing. Advanced pianists will focus on the art of accompaniment. For beginners, learning a new instrument in the space of a year is challenging and time-consuming, so a great deal of time is devoted to private practice. For advanced players, time will be spent learning accompaniments and working with instrumentalists and singers.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be given considerable support and encouragement by those teaching on the course. The programme leader and Course Tutor will be on hand to offer help and guidance, either in person during the advertised office hours or via email, and you will be working in an environment where you and your peers will offer one another mutual support.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• You will have a knowledge of the piano, its technique and repertoire, and an understanding of how music notation in piano score relates to technique and to sound.
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• You will demonstrate a capacity for independent, self-motivated learning and time management through regular practice.
• You will develop the piano playing skills needed for further study leading to a career in music.
Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• You will appreciate the way in which piano playing and theory interconnect, and how keyboard skills prepare you for various careers in Music.

How will I be assessed?

1. Mid-year practical assessment of ten minutes (50%). MLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4

2. End of year practical assessment of ten minutes (50%). MLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4

Feedback on the summative practical assessments will take the form of a short report.

Individual and group feedback will also be given in class so that students can track their progress.


Entry to the Music Foundation Year in Music



Module abstract

An ability to find your way around a piano is an essential skill for developing your keyboard skills at degree level, and for your future as an academic researcher, performer or teacher. This course is designed for players of all standards. You will be taught in small groups according to your previous experience. If you are a beginner, you can expect to have developed a degree of technical competence of around Grade V standard by the end of the year. More advanced players develop their skills in accompanying. Most of the time allocated to this module will be spent practising.

Course info

UCAS Code W310

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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