Biographical Information


D.M.A. in Piano Performance & Literature, Eastman School of Music (2004)

M.M. in Piano Performance & Literature, Eastman School of Music (2001) 

B.M. in Piano Performance, Eastman School of Music (1999) 

Performer's Certificate, Eastman School of Music (1998)


Before returning to her home state of Pennsylvania, Amber Shay Nicholson was a member of the keyboard faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi from 2004-2009.  She was on the piano faculty at Slippery Rock University for the 2012-2013 academic year.  Dr. Nicholson has teaching experience in private applied piano lessons, class piano, piano literature, chamber music, accompanying, and healthy piano technique.  She has taught and coached students of all ages and levels, from beginners through advanced students, from children through adults.  In addition to private in-person studio lessons, Dr. Nicholson also offers Skype coaching sessions to advanced students.  During her time at USM, other independent piano teachers in the Southeast sought her out regularly for lessons and coachings.  Prior to 2004, Dr. Nicholson ran a successful private studio in Rochester, NY.

In addition to teaching, giving workshops, and adjudicating piano competitions & festivals, Nicholson performs regularly as both a solo pianist and collaborative artist.  Past performances include regional solo recitals, a concerto performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra, and collaborations with faculty artists from Eastman School of Music, East Carolina University, Yale University, Edinboro University, Indiana University of PA, Penn State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi, among others.  

She recently completed a CD project of French music for cello and piano, including the Franck and Poulenc cello sonatas, with Alexander Russakovsky, cellist (string faculty, USM).  It was released on the Centaur label in 2017.  Their first CD, with music by Russian composers, was released on the Brilliant Classics label and contains music by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Glazunov, and Tchaikovsky.

Performance highlights include a May 2017 performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra; a 2016 concert tour with Sarah Schouten and Becky Chambers, horns; a 2009 performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra; a 2009 concert tour with Stephen Redfield, violin, featuring the Mendelssohn violin/piano sonatas; a 2006 concert tour with Nicholson featured as soloist with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra and choirs; and a 2002 invitation to the International Workshops in Stavanger, Norway, where she performed as soloist and collaborative pianist. Also in 2002, Nicholson gave several solo performances at the International Summer Music Academy in Leipzig, Germany. She won the 2001 Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 piano concerto competition at Eastman and performed that work with orchestra.  In 1997, she received a special prize at the Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev, Ukraine.

Honors include being the only U.S. citizen to be accepted into the 2001 TCU/Van Cliburn International Piano Institute in Fort Worth, TX.  From 1996-2004, Nicholson was named a Liberace Scholar at Eastman School of Music and received scholarship support from the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. While at Eastman, she studied extensively with Nelita True and served as her studio assistant.  Dr. Nicholson can trace her musical pedigree back to Beethoven himself, so she has a strong artistic and pedagogical foundation as her base.

Dr. Nicholson holds permanent professional certification as a teacher of piano from the Music Teachers National Association.  She lives and teaches in Tidioute, PA with her husband Jeremy and their four children.  Jeremy owns King Building Supply in Tidioute, PA.