Students with an interest in keyboard instruction and performance can draw upon a comprehensive program of study designed to meet a wide variety of vocational and avocational goals. Music majors and minors, as well as non-majors as space permits, may enroll for private instruction in piano, organ, harpsichord, fortepiano and carillon. Regular opportunities for performance include weekly studio class meetings, student afternoon recitals, monthly keyboard division recitals, and performances for visiting guest artists.
Meet our new faculty!
Margery McDuffie Whatley performs from coast to coast as piano soloist and as chamber musician. A native of Macon, Georgia, she has performed at the United States Supreme Court at the request of former Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun; at the World Congress Center in Atlanta for the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony; and at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion with her brother, internationally acclaimed violinist Robert McDuffie. Concerto appearances include the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Macon Symphony Orchestra, Chicago’s Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta’s DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra. She has performed in Rome, Italy at the Rome Chamber Music Festival. With a strong interest in making classical music accessible to people of all ages and listening experiences, Margery Whatley has presented a series of outreach programs throughout cities in Georgia, California, Iowa and Illinois.
Margery Whatley received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance at the University of Southern California where she studied with John Perry and was named the most outstanding piano doctoral graduate. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she studied with Frank Weinstock. She has also studied with George Lucktenberg, formerly of Converse College.
Margery, her husband Terry, and their twin daughters, Kendall and Lindsay, relocated to Birmingham, Alabama in July 2012, from Missoula, Montana. While in Missoula, Margery was featured on Montana Public Radio, served as a visiting professor/sabbatical replacement at the University of Montana and taught regularly at the University of Montana Summer Piano Camp. She also served as president of the String Orchestra of the Rockies Board of Directors and president of the Missoula Music Teachers Association. Prior to her five years in Montana, she was a tenured Associate Professor of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where she also served as Chair of the Department of Music and where she received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She has served on the boards of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Youth Orchestra, and she has also served as secretary of the Arts Council and vice president of the Huntsville Chamber Music Guild. She was also an active member of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild. From 2012-2013, she was a Visiting Associate Professor of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She joined the music faculty at Birmingham-Southern College and Birmingham-Southern College Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts in the fall of 2014. Active in several organizations, she was former president and vice-president of the Birmingham Metro Music Forum and served on the executive board of the Alabama Music Teachers Association. She received the Steinway & Sons 2016 Top Teacher Award. In August of 2021, she has moved back to Missoula, where she has joined the music faculty at the University of Montana.
Margery Whatley’s four CDs, Piano Reflections – Encore Favorites; Margery McDuffie Whatley plays Bach, Haydn, Brahms and Ravel; From Mozart to Gershwin; and Piano Gems have received rave reviews from Fanfare Magazine and American Record Guide. These recordings are available at ArkivMusic, iTunes, Amazon, and other fine retailers and download services.
Piano study at The University of Montana at both the undergraduate and graduate level is designed to provide enriching and stimulating experience. A well-rounded and intensive curriculum includes piano literature, piano pedagogy, jazz studies, advanced keyboard harmony, accompanying classes and piano ensembles. Our Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy degree is designed to prepare pianists for a successful career as a performer and teacher. With a dedicated and nationally recognized faculty who are committed to performing and teaching, our students receive instruction and guidance from those who practice what they teach.
The School of Music boasts two beautiful Steinway concert grand pianos, including a new Steinway D Concert Grand. In addition, there is a Steinway D Concert Grand and a Yamaha CFIII Concert Grand Piano with Disklavier technology located in the Dennison Theatre, our large concert hall adjacent to the music building. The School of Music has a large complement of Steinway grand pianos available for student use, and piano students earn access to the dedicated grand piano practice rooms and classroom facilities. There is also a Korg digital piano laboratory with computer stations for composition and digital effects processing.
Organ study at the University of Montana is available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The curriculum includes a weekly hour-long private lesson, a weekly studio class with both UM organ students and community organists, as well as the study of organ literature, pedagogy, service playing, organ construction and design. Our organ instructor, Nancy Cooper, has a doctorate and Artist’s Diploma from the Eastman School of Music, and is involved in the American Guild of Organists at the national level; our local chapter of the AGO has a thriving student membership, and attendance at regional and national conventions is encouraged, and frequently subsidized by the chapter.
The School of Music has two organs in the Music Recital Hall, our primary recital space: a three-manual Moller electro-pneumatic instrument, and a one- manual Walcker tracker-action continuo/chamber organ. There are two practice instruments in rooms designated for organ practice alone: a two-manual Moller, and a two-manual Schlicker tracker. In addition, pipe organs in the community are often available for student use, and students are encouraged to work, and/or otherwise participate, in area churches with established music programs, as substitutes and as interns.
Harpsichord, Fortepiano, Carillon
The School of Music owns 4 period instruments: the previously mentioned continuo organ in the Recital Hall, as well as a fortepiano (a 1750's Stein copy) and two harpsichords—a French double, and a Flemish single, all available for student use. The clock tower in Main Hall on the University of Montana campus is home to one of only three carillons in the Pacific Northwest. The school has a practice carillon in the music building, and students taking lessons can perform in the tower at noon on weekdays.
Celebrate Piano Series
The Celebrate Piano Series attracts illustrious keyboard guest artists and clinicians to campus for residencies and visits. These nationally recognized performers present master classes for students, serve as teachers for our annual Keyboard Festival, and perform in solo recitals. Recent artists include Anderson & Roe, Spencer Myer, Duo Turgeon, Stephen Beus, Lydia Brown, Margery McDuffie Whatley, Barbara Blegen, Jennifer Hayghe, and Bernadine Blaha and Kevin Fitzgerald. The Celebrate Piano Series also includes the wildly popular Pianissimo! and Poco Pianissimo! concerts. In addition, guest artists perform each year with such ensembles as the University Symphony Orchestra, The String Orchestra of the Rockies, and Missoula Symphony Orchestra.
Meet our Carillonneurs
From Prescott Arizona, Tyrel Wilder is a 2020 graduate of the University of Montana School of Music earning undergraduate degrees in both piano and composition under Professor Steven Hesla and Dr. Bryan Kostors respectively. He began his schooling at Flathead Valley Community College with Nicole Sanford and Micah Hunter and was the first student through the school's early composition program. Tyrel began playing carillon with Barbara Ballas and is now writing music for the bells.
Barbara Ballas attended the University of Montana where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy studying with J. George Hummel. She also earned a Master of Music in Music Composition studying under Dr. Donald Johnston. In the following years she taught piano privately and also worked as an accompanist for area schools and churches. She was a long-time member of the Missoula Music Teachers Association as well as the state and national groups. More recently she discovered the carillon and, with the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Cooper, began playing the University’s 47-bell instrument housed in University Hall. She has been the University’s carillonneur since 2018 and a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America since 2013.