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Joel Clifft, DMA

Associate Professor
Director of Keyboard Studies
Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 3592
As an active collaborative pianist, Dr. Joel Clifft has performed in concert with world-class musicians, including violinist Midori, and erhu player, Ma Xiao Hui. He also has performed with the Foothill Philharmonic Society, the Debut Orchestra, the Brand Library Concert Series, the Lake Avenue Chamber Orchestra, and the Idyllwild Faculty Series. Dr. Clifft has also been engaged for many master classes, including those given by the Jascha Heifetz Society, Alice and Eleanor Schoenfeld, Martin Katz, and Midori.

Dr. Clifft has extensive international performance experience, performing in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Brazil, Korea, China and Singapore. He has also performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York and was commissioned to compose a chamber piece that was premiered at the Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, China.

He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Southern California while studying with Dr. Alan Smith and Bernadene Blaha. Dr. Clifft’s primary area of study 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. Dr. Clifft attended USC on a full scholarship and in addition, was a recipient of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky scholarship.

Dr. Clifft is the Director of Keyboard Studies at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches piano, music theory, accompanying and ear training courses. He is also an adjunct faculty member at USC where he teaches collaborative piano to undergraduate piano majors.

Dr. Clifft created Music Theory Pro, an iPhone app for music education. The app teaches Music Theory and Ear Training using cutting-edge technology. To date, the app has received more than 100,000 downloads. In 2013 Music Theory Pro was expanded to mac computers and iPads.

Dr. Clifft lives in San Dimas with his beautiful wife and four adorable children.


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


College of Music and the Arts

College of Music and the Arts: School of Music

  • Undergraduate Programs
  • Graduate Programs


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