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Grand Piano

MFA in Piano Performance, Recording and Contemporary Career Development

The Ultimate One-Year Practical Experience for Modern Pianists


How does it work?

The Low-Residency Option is designed to provide students with the exact same course curriculum content as in the full-time MFA programme, with the difference being that the students can elect to have their one-on-one private lessons with a teacher in the city of their residence, or they can elect to do a combination of one-on-one lessons with a teacher in the city of their residence, combined with synchronous and asynchronous online lessons with other faculty members of The Piano Conservatory.


Students will be required to visit to Bulgaria for their Major Project Concerto Experience during the summer months (June, July and August), where they will also avail of masterclasses and intensive modules that will be delivered live. The remainder of the programme's modules will be delivered via asynchronous and synchronous online classes.


This Low-Residency Option will allow students to complete an MFA without having to interrupt their lives for a year. This option is particularly advantageous to those students who may be in a teaching (or other) position but require a higher degree for their career advancement, and for those that cannot, for one reason or another, take a year out of their lives for full-time MFA study.

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Dr. Svetlana Smolina

Program Director

Acclaimed Russian solo and concert pianist, Director of Piano at the Philadelphia International Music Festival

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Students from the United States can request information about Financial Aid at
  • The world does not need yet another common-practice piano degree. The Piano Conservatory at the European Academy of Fine Arts has designed an innovative new programme with a tutorial staff of world-renowned classical pianists, contemporary jazz pianists, conductors, recording & mix engineers, music producers and visionaries.

  • A core objective of this Master of Fine Arts degree programme is to address the contemporary needs of the performing and recording artist in our digital age. Students will master the art of recording, editing, mixing and mastering the audio and video components of their rehearsals and performances, and discover the potential for exploitation of their unique musical identity to the global marketplace.

  • The final Masters project culminates with a live performance of a piano concerto with symphony orchestra. These performances, together with the student's final solo recital, are professionally recorded [multi-track multi-cam HD audio and video], mixed and mastered for inclusion in the student's professional portfolio. 

9 Module Catalogue

Piano Keys

Module 1: Solo Piano

(6 credits)

Svetlana Smolina, Module Leader

Study piano from anywhere on the planet with our elite group of esteemed piano faculty.


Module 2: Teaching Pedagogy
(6 credits)

Svetlana Smolina, Module Leader

Learn integral components of effective piano teaching pedagogy. To teach is to learn is to grow.

Piano Player

Module 3: Comping and
Cross-Style Versatility (6 credits)

Mike Lang, Module Leader

Equip yourself to handle any gig, including comping & accompanying  contemporary singers / instrumentalists.

Film Scoring Masters, Piano Masters, Composition Competition

Record Selection

Module 4: Career Development, Promotion and Programming
(6 credits)

Module Leader TBA

Getting the gig: learn modern strategies of marketing, effective self-promotion and online presence.

Recording Studio

Module 5: Piano Recording, Mixing and Videography
(3 credits)

Debbie Smith, Module Leader

In this age of technology, it's not enough to just play. Master how to mic, record, mix, and edit your audio and video footage.

String Quartet

Module 6: Chamber Ensemble Performance & Advanced Listening Techniques (3 credits)

Module Leader TBA

Discover a higher level of musical awareness, communication & sight reading skills through immersion and practice. 

Opera singer

Module 7: The Art of Operatic Accompaniment

(3 credits)

Module Leader TBA

Refine the subtle intricacies of accompanying vocalists, instrumentalists and ensembles. 

Piano Performance

Module 8: Solo Recital
(3 credits)

Svetlana Smolina, Module Leader

Perform a solo piano recital. (Programming agreed upon in conjunction with our faculty.)

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Module 9: Major Project,

Concerto Performance
(18 credits)

Svetlana Smolina, Module Leader

A unique opportunity: perform the concerto of your choice with a professional symphony orchestra.

Total Credits: 54


Six merit-based scholarships offered to qualifying students as determined by the Admissions Board.

No additional scholarship applications. All accepted students are automatically considered for scholarships.


Sergei Rachmaninoff Scholarship

The Admissions Board will grant the "Sergei Rachmaninoff Scholarship" to an accepted student in Spring 2021. Submit the program deposit before January 1st, 2021 to qualify.




Clara Schumann Scholarship

The Admissions Board will grant the "Clara Schumann Scholarship" to an accepted student in Spring 2021. Submit the program deposit before February 1st, 2021 to qualify.




Edvard Grieg Scholarship

The Admissions Board will grant the "Edvard Grieg Scholarship" to an accepted student in Spring 2021. Submit the program deposit before March 1st, 2021 to qualify.




Ludwig van Beethoven

The Admissions Board will name an annual "Ludwig van Beethoven Scholarship" recipient in Spring 2021.




W. A. Mozart

The Admissions Board will name an annual "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Scholarship" recipient in Spring 2021.




Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Scholarship

The Admissions Board will name an annual "Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Scholarship" recipient in Spring 2021.



  • Explanation of Educational Hierarchy
    European Academy of Fine Arts, Sofia is an Instructional Site of Irish American University, oferring a 1) Master of Fine Arts in Music for Motion Pictures and Contemporary Media at the Film Scoring Academy of Europe and 2) MFA in Piano Performance, Recording and Contemporary Career Development at The Piano Academy.
  • What's the difference between an MFA and MA?
    An MFA (Master of Fine Arts), alongside a PhD, is considered to be a terminal degree (especially in the United States) whereas an MA (Master of Arts) is considered to be a stepping stone to doctoral study. A substantial portion of an MFA programme is comprised of applied, practice-based activities and production, whereas an MA will usually give greater weight to traditional academic study and research. Many universities accept an MFA as a qualifier comparable to a PhD for professorship and tenure.
  • There are so many Masters programs in Film Scoring out there these days. Why choose the Film Scoring Academy of Europe?
    Simply put, we offer the most comprehensive recording portfolio opportunities of any of the world's film scoring masters degree programs. Our faculty have an extensive history in education and industry practice. Living expenses in Sofia are a fraction of the cost of other cities such as Valencia, Los Angeles, Boston, London, or New York City.
  • When is the application deadline?
    The Admissions Board will review applications and issue admissions decisions every month. The application portal will close as soon as the MFA programme has reached capacity with accepted and enrolled candidates. There is no application deadline, but composers are advised to submit an application as soon as they are able, in order to avoid the risk of losing an opportunity to be selected for the 2020 MFA class.
  • Does the European Academy of Fine Arts provide financial aid?
    At the moment, the European Academy of Fine Arts does not provide institutional financial aid, but grants four (4) merit-based scholarships of €5,000 to deserving students as determined by the admissions board, two (2) merit-based scholarships of €2,500 to deserving students who participate in the Film Scoring Summer Program and wish to transition into the MFA Programme, and one (1) merit-based scholarship of €2,500 to one of the Top 10 Finalists of the Oticons Faculty International Film Music Competition. In order to be eligible to be considered for a scholarship, you must pay your tuition deposit on or before the advertised date, as listed in the Scholarships section on the MFA page. For United States students, Financial Aid is available! Please inquire at
  • Do I need a Visa to participate in an MFA at the European Academy of Fine Arts?
    Students coming from within the EU will not need a student Visa. They'll simply enter the country and apply for a residence permit after they arrive. Students coming from outside the EU will need a student Visa. Student visas will be coordinated with the Visa department at NATFA.
  • Who are the musicians that play on the recording sessions?
    The European Academy of Fine Arts partners with the European Recording Orchestra (ERO) for all recording sessions. The European Recording Orchestra (ERO) is a contemporary orchestra based in Sofia, Bulgaria specializing in studio recording for film, TV, and other contemporary mediums and styles. Comprised of some of the finest orchestral session musicians from approximately one dozen countries across Eastern Europe, the European Recording Orchestra (ERO) regularly records at Bulgarian National Radio Studio 1, Doli Media Studio, and the Sofia Session Studio.
  • I'm from the USA; how can I apply for Financial Aid through FAFSA?
    Accepted students from the United States will be given individual support on how to apply for financial aid via the FAFSA. If you have an immediate question on this subject, please email us at
  • Do I need to stay in Sofia for Semester 3 (Major Project), or can I go home?"
    Student presence in the coursework Semesters 1 and 2 is required, but not required for Semester 3, which means you can go home (or anywhere!) to complete your Major Project. All submissions for the Major Project can be sent remotely. You do have the option of staying in Sofia for Semester 3, if you wish.
  • Is Sofia a nice place to live?
    Sofia is a beautiful place to live! The cuisine is lovely, it is home to an incredible amount of culture, and its proximity to other countries and wonderful cities throughout Eastern Europe is a major plus. If you are not familiar with the Bulgarian traditions in music, you should definitely do some research! We're proud to call this lovely city our home.
  • What is the Film Scoring Summer Program?
    The Film Scoring Summer Program is a 3.5 week film scoring summer course with 4 recording sessions, 4-star hotel accommodation, and 5 days with Christopher Young, all in the beach town of Varna, Bulgaria. 2 scholarship opportunities are available to alumni of the Film Scoring Summer Program who are accepted onto the MFA programme at the Film Scoring Academy of Europe. More information at the Film Scoring Summer Program website.
  • How do I prove Music Theory Proficiency?
    Simply submit copies of all degrees and/or certifications in music that you have achieved with your application, and detail their level of study in Music Theory. If applicable, attached proof of additional study in Music Theory.
  • If I'm accepted, do I need to apply for the Scholarships?"
    No. All accepted students (who meet the deposit requirements for each scholarship) are automatically considered by the Admissions Board for the scholarships. No extra applications are necessary.
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