Individual Applied Instruction Syllabus

Cornell University

Department of Music

Individual Applied Instruction


Course Overview

Applied lessons in the Department of Music are designed to cultivate a deeper understanding of and dedication to the performance, study, and creation of music.


Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be expected to demonstrate multiple learning outcomes, including, but not limited to:

  • awareness of general musical concepts (e.g., intonation, tone quality, phrasing, and expression, etc.);
  • knowledge of general and nuanced concepts and techniques specific to the instrument and studio;
  • non-musical aspects of high-functioning professional interaction (e.g., collegiality, punctuality, receptiveness to constructive feedback, etc.);
  • consistent and measurable progress in lessons.

Additional learning goals and outcomes may be listed by individual instructors.  These outcomes will be fostered by instructional strategies common in individual applied lessons, primarily instructor modeling and demonstration of examples, both in isolation and in representative musical contexts.  Student achievement will be assessed through instructor feedback, individual reflection, and peer review during studio classes and/or recitals (if applicable).


Required Materials

Each student will progress through literature assigned by their instructor and appropriate to their goals and current level of performance.  Repertoire and etudes will be specific to each student and studio.  Students are responsible for obtaining required music, either through purchase or download, or the CU music library <>. 



Regular and consistent practice habits are crucial to making progress in applied lessons.  You will be expected to devote ample time to the development of your musicianship, and to the realization of performance goals as discussed with your instructor.  You will be expected to faithfully attend your lessons at their scheduled time, and to abide by the attendance and tardiness guidelines described by your instructor.  These guidelines vary from one instructor to another but share the common goal of preserving a collegial and respectful culture in the studio.


Active Learning

A primary goal for this course is to maintain an atmosphere in which you are consistently engaged in active learning. In the ideal scenario, you have learned the essential elements of assigned music before your lesson, and as a result, you are able to focus on higher-level cognition in the lesson.


Lesson Scheduling

Students in the lessons program are entitled to receive fourteen 30-, 45-, or 60-minute weekly lessons in each semester, totaling 420, 630, and 840 minutes of instruction, respectively.  Instructors may choose to modify this schedule for practical or pedagogical reasons, in which case you may receive fewer than fourteen meetings over the course of the semester (e.g., two 45-minute lessons as opposed to three 30-minute lessons). Nonetheless, the total duration of your lessons (420, 630, or 840 minutes) will be unchanged.  These scheduling options are unified across the department and exist to provide flexibility for instructors desiring to accommodate personal/academic conflicts, university holidays, student learning preferences, and other concerns.



Your instructor will provide you with a clear grading plan at the outset of the semester.  Your grade will be determined by a combination of several factors, including but not limited to:

  • attendance;
  • completion of the previous week's repertoire goals;
  • technical and artistic improvement;
  • positive attitude and willingness to try new approaches to making music; 
  • attentiveness during lessons.

The following guidelines apply to all studios:

  • Every unexcused absence lowers your overall grade one step on the grading scale (e.g., A to A-). Exceptions may vary by studio.
  • Unexcused absences exceeding 40 percent of the total number of lessons constitute failure in the course (e.g., more than 3 absences for a 7-lesson semester, 4 absences for a 10-lesson semester, and 6 absences for a 14-lesson semester). 

Individual instructors may have additional attendance policies which will be included on the studio syllabus. 


Studio Classes & Recitals

Studio classes and recitals are not required or expected as part of the lessons program, but some instructors choose to include one or both each term.  Performing in an informal setting surrounded by your peers is an excellent way to prepare for more formal appearances, and to cultivate a supportive and encouraging environment for the entire studio.  Your instructor may ask you to present a piece you have prepared during the semester at a studio class or recital, sometimes followed by comments and suggestions from your peers.  


Statement of Inclusivity and Respect

One of the strengths of this campus is that our community represents a rich variety of backgrounds and perspectives.  All members are expected to contribute to an inclusive and respectful class environment by treating others with fairness, honesty, integrity, and respect.  Civil discourse, reasoned thought, sustained and constructive engagement, and a collaborative spirit is required of all students in this course.


Students with Disabilities: Your access in this course is important. Please give your instructor your Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodation letter early in the semester so they have adequate time to arrange your approved academic accommodations.  If you require immediate accommodation for equal access, speak with your instructor or send an email message to SDS at If the need arises for additional accommodations during the semester, please contact SDS.