Joel Clifft, DMA


Professor; Director of Keyboard Studies

Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 3592

Email: [email protected]

Office Location: Warren Music Center, Room 217

Video Introduction

As a collaborative pianist, Joel Clifft has had the pleasure of performing with many world-class musicians, including Midori (violin) Ma Xiao Hui (erhu) and Ken Grant (clarinet). He has extensive international performance experience, touring throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Brazil, Korea, China and Singapore. In addition, he has performed by invitation at the United Nations headquarters in New York, both as a collaborative pianist and as a soloist. Dr. Clifft earned his doctoral degree from the University of Southern California while studying with Dr. Alan Smith and Bernadene Blaha. His primary area of emphasis was keyboard collaborative arts, with minor fields in solo piano, music theory, and composition. He graduated Pi Kappa Lambda and was chosen as the “Most Outstanding Graduate” at both the Master’s and Doctoral levels. He attended USC on a full scholarship and in addition, was a recipient of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky scholarship. Dr. Clifft is proud to serve as Director of Keyboard Studies at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches piano, music theory, accompanying and ear training courses. A highly respected pedagogue, he frequently serves as a judge for competitions, including MTAC, MTNA, Classical Masters Music Festival, local, regional and state competitions. In addition to his experience in the classical genre, Dr. Clifft is musically adept in the widest variety of settings, including musical theater, ballet, studio recording, sacred music, jazz and popular music. He also enjoys working as a commercial vocalist, performing for clients such as Universal Pictures, The Paramount Group, and Dreamworks. In 2010, Dr. Clifft created Music Theory Pro, an iPhone app for music education. MTP teaches music theory and ear training using cutting-edge mobile technology. To date, the app has received more than 140,000 downloads in over 100 countries.


  • DMA, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, University of Southern California
  • MM, Keyboard Collaborative Arts, University of Southern California
  • BM, Piano Performance, Music Theory/Composition, Music Education (with honors), Azusa Pacific University

Academic Area

  • School of Music (College of the Arts)


  • Music Fundamentals
  • Vocal Accompanying
  • Practical Musicianship
  • Piano
  • Music Theory
  • Instrumental Accompanying