Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Keyboard Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Rosalina G. Sackstein

Second Committee Member

Dennis Kam

Third Committee Member

Mark Rowlands

Fourth Committee Member

Tian Ying

Fifth Committee Member

Stephen F. Zdzsinki


This essay uses existential ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre to provide a philosophy of college piano performance teaching which includes awareness of freedom, abandonment and responsibility as a prerequisite for student-teacher interaction. To set the stage for the interaction the study uses Sartre's philosophy, illustrated with concrete examples from the world of piano teaching and performing, to describe what it means to be human. The author applies Sartre's writings about literature to support the idea of an engaged performance, relating it to existential psychoanalysis, making the performer and audience member realize freedom through choice, while addressing ideas of abandonment and performance anxiety. Sartre's philosophy is used to identify the roles both teachers and students play in the college environment as people and as performers. The study with the help of existentialism, describes the interaction between the different elements: teacher, student, performer, and human being, and provides a better understanding of the complexity of the pupil/professor relationship in the college piano performance program.


Abandonment; Responsibility; Freedom; Existentialism Is A Humanism; Choice; Philosophy Of Performance; Being And Nothingness; Application Of Philosophy; Private Piano Teaching; Higher Education Philosophy; Piano; Music; Education Philosophy; Music Education Philosophy; Music Philosophy; College Students; College Professors; Piano Students; Jean-Paul Sartre; Existentialism; Performance Art; Higher Education Philosophy; Piano Students; Piano Teaching; Piano Performance