Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

David Wickham


As classically-trained pianists we are in the unique position among musicians of having many employment opportunities in performance areas. In an industry where so many talented musicians are struggling to find work, pianists are regularly being offered performing work. With opportunities to pursue careers in solo performance, chamber music, accompaniment, conducting, opera or ballet repetiteur work, and in many more related disciplines, pianists are arguably the musicians with the most opportunities to create a career involving performance. However, are pianists in tertiary institutions developing the skills that would enable them to work in the music industry? Upon entering a university or conservatorium to study classical piano in Australia, is the curriculum best supporting students to follow their desired career path to become a pianist or to work more broadly within the music industry?

Whilst it is important to note that much of the onus falls on the students themselves to create opportunities in a university environment, this research topic will focus on what, if anything, the educational institutions could do to provide pianists with more of the requisite skills to follow their desired career path. Through various methodologies - case studies of existing exemplary undergraduate classical piano programs around the world, an analysis of undergraduate piano courses in Australia, a survey of piano graduates, an exploration of possible career paths, and an investigation into the skills needed to pursue these career paths - this thesis will explore how tertiary music programs could provide the best possible opportunities for aspiring pianists to reach their goals in music.


Thesis Location