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Thomas Swenson

Thomas Swenson

Director of the Community Music School

Assistant Professor of Music

601 South Church Street
Winston-Salem , North Carolina 27101
Office Phone: (336) 721-2798


  1. Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
  2. M.M., University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  3. B.M., Minnesota State University


Dr. Thomas Swenson, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Musical Excellence at Salem College, has distinguished himself as a national leader in the field of piano pedagogy.  His dissertation focused on the specific traits of adult piano students.  A book based on the dissertation, Not Just Big Kids! Motivations, Preferences, Backgrounds and Attitudes of Adult Piano Students, is an important resource for piano teachers of adult students.  Several articles and reports by Swenson have been published in Clavier Companion and the online journal Piano Pedagogy Forum.  Additionally, he has presented nationally at the Music Teachers National Association Conference, Music Educators National Conference, the World Music Symposium and at numerous state and local conferences and workshops.  

Dr. Swenson holds degrees from Minnesota State University (BM, Piano Performance), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (MM, Piano Performance), and the University of Oklahoma (PhD, Piano Pedagogy).  While pursuing graduate degrees he gained valuable experience as an instructor in applied piano, group piano, and music theory.  Additional advanced training in piano performance, choral conducting and composing have been through the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and the Van Cliburn Piano Institute (as a teacher-performer).  His primary teachers include Jane Magrath, Barbara Fast, Howard Lubin, John Salmon, Olga Gross, Nancy Harris, Jean Hegland and Jerry Rubino.  Additional lessons, coachings, and master class performances have been with Ann Schein, Andrew Willis, Joseph DiPiazza, Alicia de Larrocha, Charles Rosen, Gilbert Kalish, William Black, and Ned Rorem. 

Thomas is an active member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and the North Carolina Music Teachers Association (NCMTA).   He is currently the President-Elect of NCMTA, after serving as the Piano Division Chair, and Vice President.

As Director of the Center for Musical Excellence at Salem College, he works with some of the finest music instructors and students in the area and teaches individual and group piano lessons. 

His teaching responsibilities at the Salem College School of Music and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts allow him to develop traditional and innovative courses (such as “Women and Popular Music,” “Music Appreciation in the City of the Arts,” “Music and Meaning,” and “Making Sense of Music—Listening with 21st-century Ears”).  He is currently developing courses in Arts Entrepreneurship and Music Technology, which address some of the unique skills of 21st-century musicians. During the summers Swenson is a piano instructor at the largest music camp in the USA held at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  As a leader in adult piano teaching he has had the fortunate opportunity to teach Recreational Music Making courses throughout the world as part of the Creative Learning Institute for Crystal Cruises. 

Prior to his appointment at Salem College Swenson directed the piano department at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University and taught advanced music theory courses (“Eighteenth-century Counterpoint,” and “Form and Analysis”). 

Dr. Swenson is in great demand as a piano instructor, with students traveling from far areas in the state to study with him.  Several of his college students have received graduate degrees in music and music education.  A number of his high school students have been accepted and received considerable scholarships to leading conservatories, universities, and colleges.  His pre-college students frequently receive superior and excellent ratings in piano competitions and festivals. 


Other areas of interest and research include the art of practicing, teaching composition and creativity, partner lesson pedagogy, world music for the keyboard, and keyboard ensemble literature. 


As a hobbyist composer Dr. Swenson has a number of completed works including functional music for church worship (regularly used at many churches throughout the country), art songs, solo piano pieces, choral arrangements and music for dance and film (for a complete listing please see his website:  Much of his music, as a composer/performer can be heard on CD’s and websites.



Arts Management:
Center for Musical Excellence:
Director of the Center for Musical Excellence
Assistant Professor of Music