Welcome to the Keyboard Area

The Keyboard Area of the University of Arizona School of Music is proud of its long tradition of excellence and its commitment to leading young pianists and organists to realize their potential. Our graduates can be found sharing their talents in the world’s concert halls, in colleges and universities, in religious institutions, and in private teaching studios. Students drawn from throughout the world are mentored by a diverse and internationally-recognized faculty who encourage excellence in performance, innovation in programming, and a spirit of collegiality in the field.

Studies center on studio instruction, weekly master classes, and area recitals.  Performance and teaching opportunities abound both on campus and regionally, and our students gain real-world experience in audience development through programs such as UAZ Piano Showcase, Music & Medicine Club, and Piano Day Outreach Event.

Each year, the keyboard area hosts three annual competitions, including the Michael Moore Memorial Piano Competition for Undergraduate Students, Lois Trester Piano Competition for Undergrad and Graduate Students, and the President’s Concert Concerto Competition for students to win scholarships, award money, and opportunities to perform with the Arizona Symphony Orchestra. Students will also have the opportunities to interact and learn from world class guest artists such as Jeremy Denk, Alexander Kobrin, and John Nakamatsu through the Sandra F. Lai Guest Artist Residency in Piano and the Trester Festival for the Latin American Festival.

 The University of Arizona School of Music is the only All-Steinway School in the Southwest, a region that has drawn musicians, artists, poets, writers, and architects for generations. Located in the heart of the spectacular Sonoran Desert and surrounded by five mountain ranges, Tucson is a city of over one million inhabitants that is rich in culture and history. The warm climate during the academic year is ideal for piano study.

When you audition, plan to stay an extra day or two to explore this inspiring setting! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for up-to-date student and alumni success and adventures.

Dr. Daniel Linder, Keyboard Area Coordinator, Associate Professor of Practice

Praised as a “pianistic chameleon” (Fanfare), Daniel Linder is a versatile pianist, chamber musician, and teaching artist. He has performed to high acclaim in venues across the United States and in the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark, and recordings of his performances have aired on KUAT Classical Radio in Tucson, AZ. Recent accolades include the Fresno Musical Club Susan Torres Award, and prizes in the James Ramos International Competition, the Seattle International Piano Competition, and the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, among others.

Recent highlights include appearances at the London Festival of American Music, the world premiere of Kay He’s multimedia work Lost in Colors, and collaboration with the Russian String Orchestra in a performance of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 1. After his performance of Bell Illuminations by Augusta Read Thomas, the composer praised his “vivid, elegant, nuanced, and colorful” pianism. An active recording artist, he is most recently featured on Metropolis: The Piano Music of Joshua Nichols (Summit Records, 2023). His recordings of solo and duo piano works by Daniel Asia are included on Ivory II (Summit Records, 2021), and he also appears with bassoonists William Dietz and Scott Pool on A Second Look (Soundset Recordings, 2022) and with oboist Sara Fraker and clarinetist Jackie Glazier on Johanna Beyer: Music for Woodwinds (New World Records, 2022).

Dr. Linder is Associate Professor of Practice in Piano at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music. He has presented lectures on piano pedagogy and music teaching and learning at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) and state and national conferences of the Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA), and his article, A Multisensory Approach to Memorization was named ‘Article of the Year’ by CAPMT Connect, the e-Journal of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers.


Dr. Fanya Lin, Associate Professor of Practice

Described as a “striking interpreter” who gives a “committed and heartfelt performance” by Musical America and The New York Times, pianist Fanya Lin has entranced audiences worldwide with her charismatic and fiery performances. Lin’s “mesmerizing performance” of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in UK was depicted as “a tornado had touched down through her body and lifted her, feathers fluttering, from the piano stool as she weighed into the keys.” Her orchestral appearances include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Savannah Philharmonic, The Jackson Symphony, Mississippi Valley Orchestra, New Art Symphony, among others.

An avid soloist, Fanya promotes classical music to the public by creating innovative concert programs and engages her audience by presenting interactive performances. She has been featured in numerous prestigious concert series, including the Schubert Club Musicians on the Rise, the Stecher and Horowitz Young Artist Series, and The Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania. Her albums and EPs have been released by world-class labels such as IsoMike, Summit Records, and Soundset Recordings. Fanya’s concerto album Rhapsodic with Maestro Theodore Kuchar and the Lublin Philharmonic is released by Navona Records in 2023.

As a philanthropist, Fanya has collaborated with various non-profit organizations as well as psychological and social service associations through fundraising galas and salon concerts to create access for education and promote mental health awareness. Inspired by her mentors Dr. Yu-Jane Yang, Professor Hung-Kuan Chen, and Professor Lydia Artymiw for their dedication in education, Dr. Fanya Lin is currently serving as the Associate Professor of Practice in Piano at the University of Arizona, where she teaches applied piano lessons, chamber music, piano literature, and Yoga for Musicians course.


Dr. Meily Mendez, Assistant Professor of Practice 

Meily J. Mendez, NCTM, earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance with a minor in Music Education/Piano Pedagogy from the University of Arizona, where she studied under the mentorship of pedagogue Dr. Lisa Zdechlik and Steinway Artist, Dr. John Milbauer. With over two decades of experience in piano instruction, Dr. Mendez has established herself as an esteemed educator and performer in the Southwest region of the United States. She is also a well-known collaborative artist in the Tucson area, regularly performing with the Tucson Duo Project and as the pianist for the Arizona Women’s Chorus.

 As a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music accredited by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), Dr. Mendez actively engages with the local musical community through her involvement with the Tucson Music Teachers Association (TMTA). She chairs the TMTA Piano Ensemble Committee, spearheading the organization of the annual piano ensemble performance extravaganza that culminates in a performance at the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall. This event showcases the talents of over 350 grade school, middle school, and high school performers from various communities, including Oro Valley, Marana, Tucson, Vail, and Sahuarita, featuring twelve grand pianos provided by Hachenberg and Sons Piano Store.

Dr. Mendez’s teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in fostering a supportive and engaging learning environment. She believes in scaffolding students’ knowledge and skills, leveraging their strengths while addressing areas for improvement. Her studio emphasizes the development of independent critical thinking and listening skills, coupled with a diverse curriculum that encompasses technique, composer studies, musical concepts, and their practical applications.

Dr. Rie Tanaka, Adjunct nInstructor of Piano

Dr. Rie Tanaka, a native of Osaka, Japan, enjoys a multifaceted career as a performing artist, educator, and artistic director. She has been praised for her “brilliant performance” (‘Chunichi Shimbun’ Central Japan News) and “lovely sensitivity” (Pioneer Press). She is a prize winner of international and national competitions in Japan and the U.S., winning the MTNA Young Artist Competition in the West Central Division, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Schubert Club Competition (1st), Chautauqua Piano Competition (Finalist, Commissioned Piece Award), Rosenstock International Piano Competition (Special Judge’s Award), to name a few. Her solo and collaborative performance has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, StarTribune, Chamber Music America, and Fox9 News.

A devoted music educator, Tanaka has been teaching Piano to students of all ages and levels for 14 years. Currently, she serves as the Adjunct Instructor of Piano at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, she taught at the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, MacPhail Center for Music, and University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. She has given masterclasses and lectures at the University of Minnesota Duluth, University of North Carolina Asheville, Green Lake Chamber Music Camp, and Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival. She presented at various Music Teachers Associations in the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington, and was the featured presenter at the Minnesota Music Teachers Association’s annual convention in 2023.

Tanaka received her MM and DMA in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota, studying under Professor Alexander Braginsky, and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, studying with Dr. Raffi Besalyan.