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Piano Faculty



Dr. Sara Ernst

Dr. Sara Ernst

Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy
Director of Piano Pedagogy

Office: Catlett Music Center 017

Sara M. Ernst, PhD, NCTM, is an active piano pedagogue, teacher of all ages, pianist and is Associate Professor of Piano and Director of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma. She is a leader in the field, also serving currently as the Director of Teacher Engagement for the Frances Clark Center, where she directs the program of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (2021 Virtual and 2023) and contributes to teacher seminars and online courses. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Service Recognition Award from the Frances Clark Center in 2021. Other leadership roles have included serving as the South Carolina Music Teachers Association President (2018–2020) and on the National Committee for NCKP 2019. She worked at the University of South Carolina for ten years, serving as Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy, Group Piano Coordinator, Director and Founder of the Center for Piano Studies, and Keyboard Area Chair.

Dr. Ernst's research and scholarship in piano pedagogy includes investigating teaching effectiveness, the use of language in instruction, and best practices in elementary piano instruction and curricula. 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, lecture recitals and posters have been featured at numerous conferences including those of the Music Teacher National Association, GP3, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, College Music Society and many state conferences. Her articles have appeared in the Piano Magazine, Clavier Companion and the American Music Teacher. She designed and contributed to the first two online courses for the Frances Clark Center, The Beginner Course and The Pianist's Guide to Teaching Online. She authored modules on teaching elementary students for the Royal Conservatory of Music's online teacher training courses.

She is a frequent adjudicator for piano events and competitions and an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music in the U.S. and Canada. Furthermore, she assisted in the music selection of multiple volumes of the Celebration Series (2015) and reviewed the RCM Piano Syllabus (2015). Her perspectives on piano music and educational materials have been solicited by the American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion as a reviewer and content contributor.

While at USC, she founded the Center for Piano Studies, which grew into a vibrant community of piano students from the Columbia area. Under her directorship, this program featured private lessons, group classes, performance opportunities and festivals, for all ages and stages, and served as a teaching and research laboratory for her courses. She also coordinated the Group Piano program (2013–2021), directing the team of Graduate Assistants, revising existing curricula, creating new coursework, and overseeing the renovation of the Group Piano Lab (2014).

Prior to her position at USC, she worked at the New School for Music Study (a division of the Frances Clark Center) in New Jersey as the Administrative Director and an instructor of piano lessons and group classes. 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 (2009) and with the Studio Fellowship Award (2006) from the Music Teachers National Association.

Dr. Ernst received a PhD in music education with an emphasis in piano pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma. She 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.

  • PhD, Music Education with an Emphasis in Piano Pedagogy - University of Oklahoma
  • MM, Piano Pedagogy - University of Missouri-Columbia
  • BA, Music and Mathematics - Luther College in Decorah, IA


Barbara Fast

Dr. Barbara Fast

Professor Emeritus (Piano and Piano Pedagogy)

Office: Catlett Music Center 017

Barbara Fast serves on the piano faculty at the University of Oklahoma as Professor Emeritus. Dr. Fast was the 2020 recipient of OU’s prestigious David Ross Boyd Professor Award for excellence in teaching, and in 2014 OU’s Regents Award for Superior Teaching.

Her lifelong interest in effective teaching eventually led Dr. Fast to researching and discussing the practical applications of educational research for teaching in the private lesson and group class. A culmination of her interest in effective learning and practicing, and their integration with current and future technology, resulted in the book iPractice: Technology in the 21st Century Music Practice Room (Oxford, 2018). Recently, Dr. Fast has presented at numerous webinars and online town halls focused on practicing, teaching group piano, and issues in higher education related to the pandemic. Her webinar Overcoming the Brain’s Negativity Bias is available on the MTNA website. Frequent workshop topics led by Dr. Fast include efficient practicing, technology related to practicing, sight-reading, the brain and learning, overcoming performance anxiety, teaching ensemble music, newly published music, and historical keyboard pedagogy.

An active clinician and adjudicator, Dr. Fast has presented at Music Teachers National Conferences, International and National College Music Society Conferences, ISME International Conference, The Classical Music Festival Eisenstadt, Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, NCKP National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, EPTA International Conference, and MTA state conferences. Dr. Fast’s articles and reviews have been published in Music Performance Research, American Music Teacher, The Piano Magazine, and the New School for Music Study blog. Additionally, she has performed in chamber settings in England, Russia, Japan, and India as well as presented lecture recitals and master classes throughout the United States.

A devoted teacher, Dr. Fast’s students have won numerous awards and secured teaching positions nationally and internationally, including in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. The OU collegiate chapter won the MTNA national Chapter of the Year award in 2017, 2009, and 2007. In recognition of her guidance and mentoring of students, Dr. Fast was the recipient of the Oklahoma Music Teacher of the Year award and OU’s Irene and Julian Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts.

Dr. Fast co-founded the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum (GP3) in 2000, a biannual conference affiliated with MTNA that focuses on group piano and piano pedagogy teaching. An active member of the Music Teachers National Association, she serves on the GP3 executive committee and currently is Immediate Past-President of the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association. She has served in numerous national and state MTNA and NCKP piano pedagogy related positions, including the Editorial Board of the MTNA E-Journal, and as Associate Editor of Piano Pedagogy Forum.

Former faculty appointments include the University of Northern Iowa, Hesston College, and Woodstock International School in India. Her broad interests are represented in her undergrad degree with a double-major in piano and flute, paired with a minor in English. When she is not teaching, presenting workshops, or engaging in research, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and interacting with family and friends.


Jeongwon Ham

Dr. Jeongwon Ham

Professor of Music (Piano)

Office: Carpenter Hall 301

Dr. Jeongwon Ham is Frieda Derdeyn Bambas Professor of Piano in Music at the University of Oklahoma. She has received many teaching and performance awards and recognitions, including the Regent's Award for Superior Teaching (2021).

Ham has won top prizes at numerous piano competitions, including Bartók/Kabalevsky international competition, the Epinal international competition, the Paul Hindemith competition, the Artur Schnabel competition, and the Simone Belsky competition. The New York Concert Review referred to her recital in Merkin Hall as “an admirable piano recital." The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau has written, “Jeongwon Ham possessed astonishing and effortless technique. She plays not only with incredible warmth but also with great power.”

As a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, Ham has given numerous concerts, master classes, and lectures at many universities, festivals, and conferences in the U.S. Asia, and Europe. In addition, she was featured at the “40 faces-40 years” exhibition at the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung's 40th-anniversary convention in Potsdam-Babelsberg in Germany. The Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung (A scholarship program sponsored by the Free Democratic Party in Germany) selected the forty most successful people out of 6,800 scholarship recipients worldwide for the special event.

Her students frequently distinguish themselves as winners at many regional, national, and international competitions, and hold faculty positions at major universities and colleges in the US, Canada, and Asia. Some of the recent examples are the University of Alabama, Bowling Green State University, University of Houston, Los Angeles Harbor College, University of Northern Iowa, Northern Michigan University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of South Carolina, Oklahoma City University, Chinju National University of Education, and Ewha Womens' University, and the Korea National University of Arts.

As a highly sought-after adjudicator, Ham has served at many international and national piano competitions including the Bartók/Kabalevsky/Prokofiev International Piano Competition, World Piano Conference, Classical American International Piano Competition, Asian International Piano Academy and Festival, Sonatina and Sonata International Youth Piano Competition, and Starr Young Artist National Piano Competition. Ham is frequently invited to judge MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) piano competitions at state, divisional, and national levels.

She has held teaching positions in Germany, Korea, China, and the US. In Germany, she taught at the Hochschule für Musik Hans-Eisler(Berlin), the Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach Music Pre-college (Berlin), and the University of Duisburg (Duisburg). Since 2014, Ham has been a faculty member at the annual International Piano Festival in Lindlar, Germany. In addition, she held a guest professor position at the Graduate College of Performing Arts of the Ewha Women’s University in Korea, served as a guest master teacher at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, and was an Artist in Residence at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, China.

Jeongwon Ham obtained piano performance degrees from the United States (Doctor of Musical Arts, University of Kansas) and Germany (Konzertexamen, Universität der Künste, Berlin; Reifeprüfung, Folkwang Hochschule, Essen). Her principal teachers were Professors Sequeira Costa, Klaus Hellwig, Hans Leygraf, and Ludger Maxsein.

  • Künstlerische Abschlußprüfung - Folkwang Hochschule für Musik, Essen, Germany
  • Konzertexamen - Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, Germany
  • DMA (Piano Performance) - University of Kansas


Igor Lipinski

Dr. Igor Lipinski

Associate Professor of Music (Piano)

Office: Carpenter Hall 300

Polish-born pianist Igor Lipinski made his orchestra debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on NPR’s Performance Today and performed with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, Butler County Symphony Orchestra, Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra, Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra, and Paderewski Symphony Orchestra at Chicago’s Symphony Center. He maintains an active concert career in the U.S. including a live broadcast recital at Chicago’s premiere classical music station 98.7 WFMT and “33 Variations,” an award-winning theater play based on Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.

At age 12, Lipinski won the Grand Prix and the First Prize at the Paderewski Competition for Young Pianists in Tuchów, Poland. At 17, he played the role of a pianist in Kazimierz Braun’s theatre play "Paderewski's Children" at the University at Buffalo. A year later, he graduated from the Paderewski Music High School in Tarnów, Poland where he studied piano with Jaroslaw Iwaneczko.

Lipinski earned his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Musical Arts and Master of Music in Piano Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester where he studied piano under the tutelage of Douglas Humpherys. As a teaching assistant of Vincent Lenti and Tony Caramia, he received Eastman’s Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Lipinski continued his graduate studies at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music earning his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Alan Chow. Upon graduation from Northwestern, Lipinski joined the piano faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as the Lecturer of Piano where he received the KMTA Teacher of the Year award. In Fall 2017, Lipinski joined the piano faculty at the University of Oklahoma.

Lipinski’s students have won multiple awards including the University of Oklahoma Concerto Competition and the Oklahoma MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition. Lipinski has been an adjudicator for many national piano competitions including Texas Music Teachers Association State Conference in Houston and the Young Artist Piano Competition Finals of the 2020 MTNA National Conference in Chicago where he was also selected to present a conference session entitled “Reimagining The Piano Recital: Creative Ideas To Engage Your Audience.”

Lipinski’s research interests focus on the history of recital programming featured in his DMA dissertation “From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.” Recognized for his own creative programming, Lipinski unified two of his lifetime passions, classical music and magic, in a unique recital program “Piano Illusions.” Originally developed for his honors senior thesis at Eastman, Lipinski collaborated on the program with Teller of Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller and won the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. In light of his success in New York, Lipinski presented “Piano Illusions” at renowned concert series and festivals including Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation in Salt Lake City and Musica del Cuore Concert Series in Hong Kong.

Highlights of recent concert seasons include recitals at the San Francisco International Piano Festival, College of Charleston International Piano Series in Charleston, South Carolina, The Evelyn Miller Young Pianists Series in Knoxville, Tennessee, and WNYC’s Greene Space in New York City.

After the halt of his concert tour caused by COVID-19 in 2020, he turned to recording, started his own record label Vanishing Records, and released his first album Alchemy available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. His most recent releases feature an EP of Ravel’s piano music and Masterpieces, a collection of piano music inspired by works of art. Upcoming 2021 releases feature an album of Liszt’s song transcriptions, an EP of piano music by Grażyna Bacewicz, and two books of Janácek’s On an Overgrown Path.

  • DMA - Northwestern University
  • MM - Eastman School of Music
  • BM - Eastman School of Music


Jane Magrath

Dr. Jane Magrath

Professor Emeritus (Piano and Piano Pedagogy)

Office: Carpenter Hall 307

Jane Magrath is well known as an author, clinician, and pianist. Her book The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature has become a classic reference work for pianists throughout the country, and Magrath's work in the area of the standard classical teaching literature has been central to the current revival of interest in this music throughout the U.S. She currently has more than forty volumes published with Alfred Music, and her music editions are used widely throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Dr. Magrath is frequently in demand as a clinician and teacher, and has performed and given presentations in over forty-five states and on three continents. Her workshops and master classes have drawn international acclaim. Magrath has served as Piano Coordinator for National Conferences of Music Teachers National Association and given presentations at MTNA National Conferences, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the European Piano Teachers Association Conference, the International Society for Music Education, and at many state MTNA conferences. Her articles have appeared in Keyboard Companion, Clavier, and The American Music Teacher, among others. For many years she contributed New Music Reviews to Clavier and the column Polyphony to The American Music Teacher. Later her column Musings appeared regularly in Clavier Companion. Since 2011, Magrath has served as Director of the Classical Music Festival Piano Seminar in Eisenstadt, Austria.

Magrath was the first recipient of the MTNA/Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Piano Pedagogy and was inducted into the Oklahoma Heritage Higher Education Hall of Fame. In 2019 she was honored with the MTNA Achievement Award, MTNA’s highest honor, and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy. Currently she is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Frances Clark Center.

A native of South Carolina, Magrath received her education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Wesleyan College, and was the first person to receive the DM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Northwestern University. At the University of Oklahoma Magrath was named Regents' Professor and Rothbaum Presidential Professor in the Arts and also held the Grant Endowed Chair in Piano Pedagogy. From 1995 until 2018 she served as Director of Piano Pedagogy at OU. Her students have been placed in university and college teaching positions throughout the country as well as in many independent piano studios.

  • DM - Northwestern University
  • MM - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BM - Wesleyan College


Dr. John Patrick Murphy

Dr. John Patrick Murphy

Assistant Professor of Music
(Piano and Piano Pedagogy)

Office: Carpenter Hall 307

J. P. Murphy serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Piano Area Chair at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches applied piano, graduate piano pedagogy, and coordinates the secondary piano studies program. An active clinician and adjudicator, he frequently presents workshops and guest lectures at the state and national levels. His research on keyboard skills, inclusive teaching practices, effective classroom communication, and early-advanced teaching literature has been featured at numerous organizations, including the MTNA National Conference, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP), the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum (GP3), and the MTNA Collegiate Piano Pedagogy Symposium. With the Frances Clark Center, he has appeared in the From the Artist Bench lecture-performance series, as a contributing instructor in the Intermediate Teacher Education virtual course, and as a panelist at the 2022 DEI Summit. His work has been published in Piano Magazine and the MTNA e-Journal.

Passionate about art song and chamber literature, Murphy actively performs as a collaborative artist. He is currently recording an album of song cycles by Ralph Vaughan Williams with baritone Leslie Flanagan. While living in New York, he served as a staff accompanist in the pre-college and college divisions of the Manhattan School of Music where he frequently collaborated in recitals and artist residencies. As a musical theater accompanist, he has performed in numerous professional productions and was a member of the music staff at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and the Gateway Playhouse. Murphy completed studies at the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria and at the Orford Music Academy in Orford, Canada.

He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma as a Graduate College Fellow and was awarded the Provost’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for outstanding instruction. He earned a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano at the Manhattan School of Music and completed dual majors in Piano Performance and Pedagogy and Music Education while earning his Bachelor of Music from the State University of New York at Fredonia. Murphy completed additional training at the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University and Orff-Schulwerk Level 1 at Hofstra University. He previously taught music in the New York State public schools and served on the piano faculty at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts.

Dr. Murphy is currently President-Elect of the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association and chairs the annual Oklahoma Music Teachers Association state conference. He also serves as a member of the GP3 Steering Committee and as a member of the NCKP Teacher Education in Higher Education Committee.

  • DMA - University of Oklahoma
  • MM - Manhattan School of Music
  • BM - SUNY Fredonia


Stephanie Leon Shames

Stephanie Leon Shames

Instructor of Chamber Music and Collaborative Piano

Office: Catlett Music Center 127D

Professor Stephanie Leon Shames, who serves as a visiting instructor of music and collaborative pianist in the OU School of Music, has performed internationally as a recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist. She has been a guest soloist with the Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Wyoming Symphony, New Orleans Philharmonic, and on tour with the Orchestra of Chur, Switzerland, among others.

As a chamber musician, she has appeared at numerous international festivals, including the Radio France-Montpellier and MIDEM Classique Festivals, the International Piano Festival at La Roque d'Antheron, the Bordeaux Festival, the Saarbrucken Chamber Music Festival, the Pine Mountain (MI), and Olympic (WA) Music Festivals. She has performed in Detroit's Orchestra Hall, Boston's Tsai Center, the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., Salle Gaveau, the Louvre Recital Hall, the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore, and London's Royal Academy.

While living in Paris, Ms. Leon Shames' collaborations regularly involved tours of France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain and encased a broad spectrum of activities, including playing harpsichord, playing modern music, being the official accompanist at international competitions, as well as performing as a member of chamber music ensembles. Ms. Leon Shames has been featured on the B.B.C., Radio France, German radio, N.P.R., and French TV.

As an "Artistic Ambassador" selected by the USIA, Ms. Leon Shames has given masterclasses and solo and chamber music performances in Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, and throughout China. With her sister, a violinist, she has recorded two CDs of the music of Faure and Dvorak for Cassiopee Disques. With her husband and duo-pianist partner, Jonathan Shames, she co-founded The Boston Players, a chamber ensemble that drew upon Boston Symphony members and international soloists whose performances are still heard on public radio.

Ms. Leon Shames has previously taught at the University of Puget Sound and at the Interlochen and Marrowstone Music Festivals. She attended the University of Michigan where her teachers included Theodore Lettvin, Leon Fleisher, Charles Fisher, and Eugene Bossart. She joined the University of Oklahoma faculty in 2005.

  • MM (Piano Performance) - University of Michigan
  • BM (Piano Performance) - University of Michigan