"Education in Music is most sovereign because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way to the innermost soul and take strongest hold upon it" - Plato

If you want to have a career in music after your secondary education, attend a university and study music. People who attend universities have a higher chance of having a professional music career.

A university that offers a degree in music is synonymous with quality musical education. It is said that the best set of musicians like for example pianists, drummers, guitarists have probably gotten some level of degree from a university or music school.

Many schools of thought believe that attending a university is the best place to learn a lot about both the theoretical and practical aspects of music in your core area of interest.

The question now is, how is a piano taught at the university level?

Playing Piano: What do we mean by music at the university?

Understanding a university offering music courses

Teachers who teach the piano are like any normal teacher who has taught you in one way or the other. The piano teachers will teach you from the basics to the advanced level of each course as expected in any teaching field.

Attending a university to study music is a dream come true for the students interested in learning music. Universities have courses that favor students interested in having a bachelors degree. It ranges from a diploma to post-university programs.

There are some universities that offer scholarship programs for people from a poor background to encourage their musical dreams.

There are many well known and good universities all across Nigeria offering music degrees.

Learning how to play the piano and other musical instruments is majorly broken down into 2 sections:

  • The theoretical aspect of music
  • The practical aspect of playing the instrument

There are usually public concerts to showcase the students and to prepare them against any form of stage frights.

They also organize other events where students perform for each other or even programs where students will play with other professionals in the area of music. This is dependent on the music teacher and their teaching methodology.

Great works of the likes of Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are also incorporated in the teaching process to familiarize the students with the great minds that their works are still trending day after day.

Modern music is also taught to improve the students' musical culture and ensure they are up to date in the musical world.

Duration and details of the training

Piano career Lagos
Students attending a university to study music usually perform in front of a crowd which prepares them for their musical career (Source: Unsplash)

There are some requirements needed before you can register and study at a university.

  • Qualifications: 5 Credits from WAEC, NECO or GCE after your secondary school education. Having a credit in music as a subject will be an added advantage.
  • Interview: Some institute requires the student to be interviewed so they can have a feel of what they can already do in the musical field interested.
  • Skills and Experience: The students' information on their skills, area of interest and past experience are also sometimes part of the requirements for an entrance.

So after receiving your acceptance letter, what next? How many years of training is required?

Undergraduate courses in Nigeria are usually 4 years to obtain a bachelors degree. This also applies to courses in music. After the fourth year, a degree is obtained and you become a professional in the area of specialization.

What are the 4 years of study going to be like?

Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of music and taught other courses not related to music in their first year. This will give them a feel of what music and other courses, for example, English, computer, psychology is all about.

After the first year, students then begin to focus solely on music and their area of specialization. They will be taught a lot about ancient, classical and modern music. A lot on the theoretical and practical aspects will be taught.

Students at the end of the day will obtain their bachelors degree on the below 4 assessment:

  • Written exams
  • Practical Exams
  • Class works
  • Projects

Regardless of the university attended in Nigeria, most have similar course syllabus that will be taught to students who study music (Piano, violin, guitar...) as a degree within the 4 years.

Who can attend a university to learn how to play the piano?

Children piano classes in Lagos
There are many music institutions that have piano classes for children from 6 years old. (Source: Unsplash)

Classes for kids and teenagers

Some music institutes offer classes to students from the ages of 6 to 17 years of age. The teachers who teach these youngsters are qualified pianist and can even be members of an orchestra. A good example of an academy for children is The Eagles Music Academy in Abuja.

The classes offered to these young students are mostly done on weekends or in the evening during the weekdays. This is because most of these students will probably be in a primary or secondary school studying, while also having an interest in playing the piano. It will encourage a balance in their education and their musical desires which should be encouraged.

It has been observed that most of these young students eventually enroll in university later in the future to study music as a career.

Classes for Adults

Young adults who have completed their secondary school education can apply to the universities offering music as a degree.

There are some classes dedicated to older adults who later realize they have an interest in learning music at a later stage in life. A group lesson will be organized for the beginner adults.

However, it should be noted that you can take piano classes online from an experienced pianist, attend a private school or join a group if you cannot find a school to suit your musical desires as an adult.

When is the best time to register at a University to learn the Piano?

As early as possible!

Registration for a new session is usually in September. You are advised to look up on the internet the different universities near you. 

Some universities in Nigeria offering music are Anambra State University, Obafemi Awolowo University,Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Godfrey Okoye University, Babcock University, Bowen University etc

The interested student can go ahead to write JAMB to enable them to apply to universities at the state or federal level. Usually, some private universities do online registration. All you need to do is to download the form, fill your details (name, age, address, contact information, etc ) and indicate the program (piano, drums, guitar, violin, etc) you are interested in.

After registration, the student will then be contacted or given specific instructions as to their next steps before their acceptance into their program of interest.

How much does it cost to study music at a University?

Honestly the cost of a university varies and it is dependent on the following factors:

  • The location the school is situated. You will probably pay more in a city like Lagos or Abuja.
  • The type of university. Federal, State or Private universities.
  • Your area of residence. This will decide the institute nearest to you.
  • Your budget.

The cost of attending a federal or state university is much cheaper than attending a private university or school or a one on one private lessons with a professional pianist.

Nevertheless, education received at the university is absolutely one of the best because students are taught by professionals in their area of musical specialization and eventually have a degree they could use to work even outside the music industry.

The estimated cost per year for tuition is usually ₦ 120,000 to ₦ 850,000 per year depending on the type of university. Sometimes scholarships are given to exceptional or less privileged students. It is best to make an inquiry from the university before enrolling.

To learn the play the piano, it is very important to invest and buy a piano at home to practice during your spare time. The best way to learn the piano and become a pro pianist is by constantly practicing.

The pros and cons of learning the Piano at a University

"Always find different ways to accomplish the mission. Then run a counter - analysis and list the advantages and disadvantages. When you have done that, you are ready to make a decision" - Colin Powell

Universities are often criticized for their teaching methodology. Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons to learning how to play the piano at the university level.

The Pros

The quality of training from a university cannot be overemphasized. The education gotten on the history and how to play the piano from the beginning to the end of the course is beyond artistic.

The tutors usually have several years of experience in their field and most likely attended a university or music school.

The training to be received will be top notch. They place a lot of emphasis on both the theory and practical side of playing the piano. The student's confidence to perform in public will be grossly improved because there are always public events in the school's auditorium or music festivals to showcase their talents.

Universities offering degrees in music, train their students from a more classical point of view. This will help the students creativity as they would have had a solid foundation to choose their own style of music.

Practicing Music is done regularly whether in front of a large or small audience. With the constant practice, the student will learn how to handle stress and this, in turn, will help them while performing or auditioning in front of a large crowd.

The Cons

The disadvantage for some is that universities initially focus more on the theoretical side which can cause some students to lose some interest. (Source: Unsplash)

Just like any academic, universities offering music courses have some cons that may be a turn off for some musical enthusiasts. However, for some people the pros outweigh the cons.

The courses taught on instruments are highly pedagogical. A lot of classical lessons are being taught coupled with a lot of the theoretical aspects of the instrument. They focus so much on the theoretical before eventually moving on to the practical exercises.

This method might be over overwhelming for music lovers who are enthusiastic about practicing and being creative in their area of specialization.

The major downside to this is that the student can become less motivated, bored and eventually lose interest. The joy and satisfaction from playing the piano can be masked by the enormous amount of the theory.

Definitions for University level

To learn how to play the piano from a university automatically means learning new music vocabularies and the antiquity of music.

What is Dissonance?

It is a Harsh, discordant, and lack of harmony. Also, a chord that sounds incomplete until it resolves itself on a harmonious chord.

What is an Impromptu?

A short piano piece, often improvisational and intimate in character.

What is a Tone?

It is the intonation, pitch, and modulation of a composition expressing the meaning, feeling, or attitude of the music.

Find out about playing the Piano in a Group in Nigeria.

Learn more about piano classes at music schools in Nigeria.

Discover how to play the piano without a teacher.


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