Faculty and Staff
Sara M. Ernst
Assistant Professor / Piano and Piano Pedagogy
School of Music
Sara M. Ernst, PhD, NCTM, is an active piano pedagogue, teacher of all ages, and pianist. Prior to her position at USC, she served as the Administrative Director of the New School for Music Study in Kingston, New Jersey, where she also taught piano lessons and group classes to all ages. Dr. Ernst has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan and piano and piano pedagogy at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her teaching was honored with a campus-wide Graduate Teaching Award at the University of Oklahoma and with the Studio Fellowship Award from the Music Teachers National Association. She received a PhD in music education with an emphasis in piano pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Ernst completed her dissertation on the teaching philosophy of Mr. Marvin Blickenstaff, a widely admired piano teacher. Her other degrees are from the University of Missouri-Columbia and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Her former piano and piano pedagogy teachers include Jane Magrath, Barbara Fast, Karen Larvick, and John Strauss.
Dr. Ernst’s research in piano pedagogy includes investigating teaching effectiveness,
the use of language in instruction, and successful parent-teacher interactions. In
addition, she frequently explores pedagogical music of the 20th and 21st centuries
and examines the pacing of instruction through the intermediate years. Her presentations
have been featured at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, regional conferences
of the College Music Society, and many state and local conferences.