McNally Smith College of Music

Discover your life in music

Earn Your Degree in Keyboard Performance
1, 2 and 4 year programs available

Keyboard Performance

The Keyboard Performance program is designed to develop your instrumental technique and stylistic vocabulary so you can excel in a variety of musical contexts, both on stage and in the studio. You’ll gain essential musical skills through a combination of ensemble performance and private lessons tailored to your interests and personal goals. Whether you’re into rock, pop, R&B, Latin, classical or jazz, you’ll have the support of experienced faculty to help you develop your unique artistic identity and create the music you’re most passionate about.

By building a solid foundation in music theory, sight-reading, aural skills, scales, chord voicing, composition and arranging, you’ll graduate prepared to succeed in a variety of career paths as a professional keyboard player.

Ready For The Real World

As a Keyboard Performance major you’ll receive a hands-on education in a real world environment that directly mirrors the music industry. You’ll gain stage experience through the many playing opportunities on campus and around the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. You’ll also learn how to use synthesizers and keyboard technology to enhance live performances and to produce music for your own studio projects. You’ll learn tour management, how to book your own shows, and how to market and promote yourself as an artist. And through our job board, you can find gigs with original bands and commercial groups.

You’ll get a head start on your music career by building your professional network while you’re still in school. With access to guest artists, internships and the thriving Twin Cities music and arts scene, you’ll be connected to the industry before you graduate.

Teaching For Tomorrow

To succeed as a professional keyboard player, you need a well-rounded education that prepares you for the dynamic future of the music business. That’s why our Keyboard Performance degree program focuses on developing your creativity and musicianship while giving you the necessary technology skills to adapt and compete in the industry. You’ll also graduate equipped with the entrepreneurial concepts and business savvy you’ll need to accomplish your goals and establish your career.

With a comprehensive education that blends artistry, technology and entrepreneurship, you’ll be ready to make and sustain a life in music.

Your Career Path

Graduates of the Keyboard Performance program are prepared for a variety of career options, including:

  • Professional Keyboard Player
  • Touring Musician
  • Session Player
  • Music Director
  • Composer
  • Songwriter
  • Sound Designer
  • Music Teacher
  • Private Lesson Studio

 Studios & Facilities

Our campus features 3 performance venues, 6 technology labs, and 11 recording studios where students learn to record, edit and mix music and audio.

Student Life

There’s a lot to explore outside of class, including student organizations, free concerts, music ensembles, and the diverse music and art scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Auditorium hosts student recitals, guest artist concerts and music industry seminars year round. MIDI Lab. Students learn to write and produce music using hardware and software, including Logic Pro. Pro Tools Lab. Students learn editing, mixing and production techniques using the latest software. One of the multipurpose classrooms used for rehearsing bands, teaching music theory and songwriting. The Sound Bite Café features an intimate performance setting for small ensembles, guest artists and workshops. The 48-input SSL Duality console in Studio 1, with a view into the main performance area. Studio 1. 48-input SSL Duality hybrid analog-digital console; Barefoot MicroMain 27 monitors. Studio 4 features a Digidesign ICON D-Command Work surface and 5.1 surround mixing system. Studio 5. Trident 80B analog console; Otari MTR-90 24-track analog recorder; Pro Tools HD2 system. Studio 10 main performance area. Studio 10 features three racks of outboard mic preamplifiers, compressors, equalizers, and limiters.
Many artists have launched their careers at First Avenue, Minnesota’s quintessential music venue. The Theater Ensemble performs rock musical RENT at the History Theatre located on campus. At The Sessions master class, industry pros like Dom Famularo help artists sharpen their business skills. EDM artist/producer Francis Preve demonstrates remix techniques using Ableton Live during a master class. The X-Tet Ensemble studies traditional cajón technique in Lima, Peru during their South American tour. Concertgoers get the full Flaming Lips experience at River’s Edge Music Festival, downtown St. Paul. The NOLA Ensemble performs authentic New Orleans-style jazz at an Open House event. The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble performs onstage in McNally Smith’s Auditorium. Music Business students plan, promote and execute a SXSW day party in Austin, TX. Students pause for a photo-op while guiding campus tours at Open House. Taking a break during the McNally Smith kickball tournament at nearby Harriet Island, St. Paul.

FacultyView All Faculty >>

Sean Turner

Sean Turner’s compositions and orchestrations have been utilized by Sony, Oprah Winfrey, Lifetime Network, Discovery Channel, American Express, Target, Chicken Soup For The Soul, and he has been a featured artist for Getty Images among many others. He has authored two instructional texts and written and produced three albums — one of which received a “Parent’s Choice Award” for children’s music.

Turner began his professional music career performing as a vocal soloist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera soprano Lucy Shelton in the world premier of twentieth century composer George Crumb’s “Ancient Voices of Children.” He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from Arizona State University and was awarded a Jazz Study Grant from the National Endowment For The Arts to study in New York with JoAnne Brackeen.

Adi Yeshaya

Adi Yeshaya is an Israeli-American composer, arranger and pianist whose recording credentials include some of the world's top artists such as Prince, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Burt Bacharach and Michael Johnson. Yeshaya served 11 years as the arranger/orchestrator for Whitney Houston on her live, television and award appearances, and was a member of the Whitney Houston Band during the Nothing But Love World Tour (2010), and collaborated with Ms. Houston's musical director, Michael Baker, on composing several of her tour overtures

Yeshaya’s film credits include Persistence Of Vision, a Kevin Schreck film, and Electoral Dysfunction, a Trio Pictures film, which received the American Bar Association’s 2013 Silver Gavel Award for Television. Yeshaya has arranged music for performances by Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Donny Osmond, Doc Severinsen, Christopher Guest, Michael Bolton, Jack McDuff, The Minnesota Orchestra, and The Milwaukee Symphony, and has produced over 70 CDs. Yeshaya’s most recent projects include arrangements for The Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Sarah Hicks, and NBC's The Voice.

Yeshaya has 25 of years experience in teaching, including four years as an Associate Professor of Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music in Boston, three years of instruction at the University Of Minnesota School Of Music, and thirteen years at McNally Smith College of Music, where he currently teaches arranging and composition and serves as the Arranging Program Coordinator.


We offer 1, 2 and 4-year degrees in Keyboard Performance, giving you options for a degree that fits with your plans and budget.

$12,870 per semester for full-time attendance (13-17 credits)

  • Bachelor’s degree: 120 credits
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree: 60 credits
  • Diploma: 45 credits

$990 per credit for part-time attendance More info >>

Financial Aid

On average, more than $1 million in College-funded aid is awarded annually in the form of merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. More than 85% of our students receive financial assistance to help cover their educational costs.

Click here to learn about the many resources available to help pay for college.

Gainful Employment Statistics


McNally Smith College of Music is institutionally and programmatically accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and is registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. More info >>

Applied Theory I

Students examine how essential elements of music theory (melody, rhythm, scales, form, improvisation) are represented in contemporary music and directly apply classroom lessons on the bass, gaining deeper understanding of a variety of popular styles and standard works.

Contemporary Literature

Students across the Music Performance program form ensembles to study, rehearse and perform contemporary music. The unique roles of the various members of an ensemble are examined and experienced through active participation. Students learn to read charts, take solos and play songs by ear. Emphasis is placed on hands-on execution of the diverse musical styles practiced in the industry today.

Music Interpretation

Students learn to reproduce and interpret songs in a variety of styles. Performance concepts are examined and implemented on the guitar through intensive listening, analysis and performance. Emphasis is placed on practice routines and habits, memorization strategies and overcoming technical and stylistic challenges.