Individual Instructions & Lessons


Our Instructors

The music lesson program offers students the opportunity to pursue collegiate level individual instruction with one of our full faculty, visiting lecturers or graduate student instructors. For the complete list, please visit the Lessons Instructors page.


Students taking lessons must have previous experience in a musical instrument or vocals and/or a strong musical background. For an outline of expectations, see the department’s unified Individual Applied Lessons Syllabus. Individual instructors may have additional policies that will be included on the studio syllabus. 

Auditioning for Lessons

Students enrolling in music lessons at Cornell for the first time must audition with the appropriate faculty sponsor. After completing this audition, students must complete an online application through Experience Cornell to enroll in lessons.* Auditions should take place the semester before a student begins taking lessons (exceptions are made for new students and students who were off campus the prior semester, and at the faculty sponsor’s discretion). Once students have begun individual lessons in the lesson program, they are not required to re-audition for subsequent semesters on the same instrument.

Requirements for auditions vary depending on the musical instrument. Please see the Audition Requirements for more specific information.

*This is a separate platform from Student Center (used to enroll in all other Cornell courses)

Instructor Selection

If students are accepted into the lessons program, Faculty sponsors will work with students in appointing a lesson instructor.  Before the beginning of each semester students are asked to inform their instructor whether they plan to continue with lessons. Students wishing to change instructors will need to consult with the faculty sponsor and receive signature approval indicating the change.

Deadline for adding music lesson courses for Spring 2024 is Monday, February 5.

Lesson Fees & Structure

Lessons fees are paid through the Cornell bursar billing system and are non-refundable after the lessons add/drop period.*  Any financial aid package received upon admission to Cornell does not apply to music lessons, but a 20% financial aid scholarship is available to all undergraduate students who receive Cornell need-based aid. Some additional scholarship funding is also available; interested students should contact the faculty sponsor for their instrument.

*Students who drop the course before the add/drop deadline will be charged a per-lessons fee.

Lesson Structure:

Lessons span the fourteen-week semester.  Eligible students have the following options:

Lesson Length
Credit Hours Pre-requisite
Course Number Grade Option Cost
30 minutes ½  credit No Music 3511 Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory $539
60 minutes 1 credit No Music 3513 Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory or Letter $1,078
60 minutes 2 credits No Music 3514 Letter $1,078
60 minutes 3 credits Yes** Music 4501 Letter ***

**Music 4501: only open to music majors and graduate students in the Department of Music.

*** Majors and Graduate Students receive scholarships to cover the full cost of lesson fees.

Audition Requirements

Students enrolling in music lessons for the first time must audition with the appropriate faculty sponsor before completing an application through Experience Cornell. Auditions should happen the semester before a student begins taking lessons, however some exceptions may be made for new students, students who were off campus the prior semester, and at the faculty sponsor’s discretion.

Listed online are specific requirements for lesson auditions by instrument/ensemble.  For information about audition requirements for all other instruments, please contact the appropriate faculty sponsor.

Jazz Lessons:

  • Prepare two pieces: one jazz standard and a blues
  • All major scales
  • Sight read
  • Or, attend CU Jazz Auditions


All students interested in enrolling in Music Lessons must submit an online application through Experience Cornell. Once your application is submitted and fully approved, you will receive a Permission Number by email . You must then enroll in lessons through Student Center (search by the Class Number) – you are not enrolled in lessons until it is in your Student Center.

The Add/drop period for lessons begins the first week of classes and ends 10 calendar days after the first day of classes (exact dates are listed on the lessons form).  Students who have not completed an application through Experience Cornell by the end of the drop/add period will not be eligible to be registered in the lessons program for that semester. Deadline for adding music lesson courses for Spring 2024 is Monday, February 5.

Note: Students wishing to withdraw from Lessons must notify their instructor and the Music Office immediately. Students withdrawing prior to the add/drop deadline will be assessed a per-lesson charge for all lessons taken. Students withdrawing after the add/drop deadline must petition to drop the lessons, and will be billed the full course fee.

Faculty Sponsors

Name Instrument Email Office Number
Ariana Kim Violin/Viola 239 Lincoln
Xak Bjerken Piano 331 Lincoln
Jean Bernard Cerin Voice 231 Lincoln
Kevin Ernste Composition/Digital Music 337 Lincoln
Gabriela Gómez Estévez Flute, Guitar, Harp 237 Lincoln
John Haines-Eitzen Cello 140 Lincoln
Paul Merrill Jazz (all instruments) 235 Lincoln
Annette Richards Organ 342 Lincoln
Michael Truesdell Percussion B23 Lincoln
James Spinazzola Winds, Oboe, Bassoon 332 Lincoln
David Yearsley Harpsichord, Organ

341 Lincoln

Beginner Level Lessons

Beginner level lessons are not offered. Those wishing to pursue such instruction may contact the Ithaca Community School of Music and Arts or Opus Ithaca.