Carsten Schmidt

Künstlerische Abschlussprüfung “mit Auszeichnung,” Folkwang-Hochschule, Essen, Germany. MM, Artist Diploma, Indiana University. MMA, DMA, Yale University. Extensive performance and broadcast activities as soloist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestras throughout Europe, North America, and Japan; numerous master classes, lectures, and workshops at educational and research institutions. Special interests include: keyboard literature and performance practices; early keyboard instruments; the music of Ernst Krenek; the relationship of performance, analysis, hermeneutics, and recent gender studies; and the interaction of poetry and music in song repertoire. Member, artistic board, Volte Foundation for Chamber Music, the Netherlands; artistic director, International Schubert Festival 1997; research fellow, Newberry Library; fellow, German National Scholarship Foundation. SLC, 1998–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis

This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic
harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop a basic understanding of—and skill in—this area, and then
refine them in the analysis of complete movements and works. Our repertoire will range from
Bach to Brahms, and we will try to incorporate music that class participants might be studying in
their lessons or ensembles.


Awareness Through Movement™ for Musicians

This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement™ lessons
developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully designed
movement sequences that allow the students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby
develop new and improved organizational patterns. These gentle movements are done in
comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing), and many instrumentalists and singers have
found them to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and
performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity
for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of music making and the
creative process.




Bach continues to be a central figure of Western music history. His roots are deep, arguably reaching into the Middle Ages, and his influence is still keenly felt by many contemporary composers. This course will explore some of these roots and examine Bach’s extraordinary contributions to various genres such as organ music, the keyboard suite, chamber music, the concerto, mass, cantata, passion, and pedagogical works. It will also discuss his theological, scientific, and philosophical foundations. In addition, we will pay attention to the reception that history has paid to his music and its performance practices. The course will feature frequent in-class performances by participants, the instructor, and guests.


Evolution of a Performance

This advanced seminar presents a unique resource that is designed to help students develop well-informed and inspired performances. The content of this course will be carefully tailored to participants’ interests, needs, abilities, and chosen repertoire. It will include a combination of the following: textual criticism and possible creation of a performance edition; consideration of performance practices, drawing on historical documents and recent scholarship; study of historical instruments; review of pertinent analytical techniques and writings; analytical, compositional, and ear-training assignments; readings that explore the cultural, artistic, and emotional worlds of the composers studied; in-class performances and coaching; and discussion of broader philosophical issues relating to authenticity in performance. This course is for accomplished and highly motivated performers who have a theory background commensurate with completion of at least the first semester of Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Composition. It is especially suitable for instrumentalists and singers who are preparing for a recital or performances of major chamber music works.


Intermediate and Advanced Aural Skills

This course is dedicated to helping students develop their fluency with theoretical materials through dictation and sight-singing practice. Initially, we may focus on individual parameters such as pitches, rhythms, and harmonic progressions; but the ultimate goal of the course is to be able to perceive all of those in an integrated way.


Previous courses

Advanced Theory: Continuo Playing

This course will offer an introduction to the art of continuo playing. We will begin by developing a basic ability of how to translate the notational symbols of figured bass into sound and then proceed to refine that skill in view of the various styles of different eras, countries, and genres. This course is also designed to prepare students for participation in the Baroque segment of the SLC Orchestra Projects. A good basic command of the keyboard and some theory background are prerequisites.


First-Year Studies in Music

Each student in First-Year Studies in Music will be enrolled in a full music program (also called a Music Third) that reflects Sarah Lawrence’s educational philosophy of closely integrating theory and practice in the study of music. In addition, all students in this course will be members of a weekly seminar, which provides a forum to explore a broad range of musical topics in both artistic and critical ways. Throughout the year, we will attend numerous performances on campus, as well as in New York City—for instance, at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We will start with live musical experiences in order to generate our investigations. The seminar will also feature frequent in-class performances by guest artists, class members, and the instructor. The music that we study in class will range from the early 16th century to the early 21st. Our emphasis will be on Western classical music and will occasionally include jazz, non-Western, and popular music traditions, as well. In order to develop and improve their insights and their ability to share them with others, students will write regular response papers and give short presentations. In the spring, they will also undertake a larger research project. First-Year Studies in Music is designed for students with all levels of prior music experience, from beginning to advanced.


Music of the Baroque

This course will offer an introduction to the always beautiful, often extravagant, and occasionally bewildering world of Baroque music. In our study, we will examine a broad range of seminal works that illustrate the many and significant inventions and innovations of the 17th and early 18th centuries, including those in the genre of opera as well as liturgical, orchestral, keyboard, and chamber music. Even though our main focus will be on analytical listening, we will also pay close attention to how these works relate to their political, literary, religious, and artistic environment.

Orchestra Projects

Throughout the year students will have the opportunity to experience and participate in a broad range of musical styles from the Baroque to symphonic and contemporary repertory, including improvisation and experimental music. The Sarah Lawrence Orchestra is open to all students, as well as to members of the College and Westchester communities, by audition