What is unique about NEC Prep?

Every week, NEC Prep draws more than 1,600 students from all over New England, each exploring his/her own unique musical path. At NEC Prep, you’re encouraged to pursue whatever inspires you, and pursue it to the fullest—from classical to jazz, world music and contemporary improvisation to musical theatre. Walk down our halls on any given Saturday, and here are just some of the things that you’ll see: composers gathered around pianos, young children doing Eurhythmics, full orchestras, string orchestras, piano seminars, choruses, brass ensembles and trombone choirs, Renaissance ensembles, improvisation classes, dozens of chamber groups, music history, and theory classes, and hundreds of private lessons. Our faculty consists of over 250 committed, experienced musicians with extensive teaching and performance careers, including several members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and members of the college faculty.

As a member of the NEC family, you are welcome to the many wonderful resources that our community has to offer. With your NEC ID, you can use the library, attend any and all concerts that interest you, and receive mailings and invitations to special events. Not only that, but you will be surrounded and inspired by 750 college and graduate students, many of whom will become your mentors and your friends. Getting to know these phenomenal artists is a wonderful opportunity for any young musician!

NEC Prep offers the rigor of a conservatory with the openness of a community music school. Some students pursue professional careers, but most go on to become enthusiastic lifelong musicians who carry the NEC experience with them wherever they go.

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Prep Catalog 2017-2018How can I get a copy of your catalog?

Our catalog is available online. You can request a physical copy of our catalog by emailing prep@necmusic.edu. You are always welcome to stop by during our office hours to pick up some materials and talk with our staff.

If your family is new to NEC Prep, we recommend browsing through our website or catalog to get a feel of what we have to offer. Feel free to also contact us anytime for more information!

How do I audition for NEC Prep?

For information on how to audition, please visit our Auditions page.

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I already have a private teacher that’s a good fit for me, but doesn’t teach at NEC – can I still study at NEC Prep?


We do offer private lessons, but it is not mandatory to study privately through NEC Prep to enroll in our other programs. We offer everything - lessons, classes, chamber music, and large ensembles - on an à la carte basis, so you can pick and choose from our program to suit what best fits you. If you are interested in a more structured, curriculum-based experience, you might want to consider our Certificate Program, which does have certain requirements according to level.

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I’m interested in taking private lessons at NEC Prep. What are the benefits?


First, NEC Prep has an extremely broad range of teachers with whom you can study. Because of this, there will always be someone who is just right for each phase of your musical development – you never have to leave NEC to search for your next teacher, which can be a daunting experience.

A unique feature of our private lesson program (which students and parents love) is our workshop/recital system. Every week, NEC Prep organizes multiple workshops and recitals in which any private lesson student can participate. At no additional charge, you can play for a teacher other than your own, who will provide valuable feedback (a shorter version of a masterclass). Then, the following week, you can perform in a noon-hour recital. This constant opportunity to perform is an invaluable experience!

Some other benefits include progress reports and evaluations during the course of the year, automatic discounts on classes and ensembles, and eligibility for participation in the NEC Prep Concerto Competition.

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What is the Certificate Program, and can anyone join?

Anyone taking private lessons at Prep can also participate in our Certificate Program. Beginning with Level 1, our certificates provide a combination of required and elective courses in a curriculum that leads to a well-rounded musical education, all in the company of other students who share the same goals. Students who progress through the most advanced certificate level (Level 4) have received the approximate equivalent of an Advanced Placement music training. As private lesson students, certificate students receive discounted rates on classes and ensembles. For more information on the Certificate program, click here.

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My child is a beginner. Is he/she ready for NEC Prep?

We love beginners!

So many of our students have grown up at NEC, starting from their first Suzuki or Eurhythmics class, and ending up in our most senior ensembles. In addition to Suzuki and Eurhythmics, we offer Preparatory and Children’s Choruses, Young Composers Seminars, group classes, beginning Theory, and of course, private lessons. We’re always introducing new opportunities for our youngest learners because it’s never too early to start!

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Is NEC Prep a competitive environment?

Our students are incredibly supportive of each other. They attend each others' concerts, hang out before and after rehearsals, and cheer each other on, both musically and personally. Many of our students forge deep, lifelong friendships through NEC Prep—and so do their parents! And because we have such a wide range of levels and interests under one roof, everyone has a peer group that they can relate to. Our students come to NEC to learn, to make music, and to make friends.

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How do I apply? Do I need to audition to participate in Prep activities?

NEC Prep is a community music school with an open enrollment policy. Anyone can participate in our programs; however, we want to make sure that you're set up to succeed, so there are several instances where we will need to hear and/or meet with you to place you in the right class or ensemble. If you are starting private lessons and do not already have a teacher, our Department Chairs will meet with you to determine your needs, and recommend some teachers who would be a good fit. Placement auditions are needed for large ensembles, chamber music, piano seminars, and sonata/piano duos; and if you’re going to sign up for theory classes, you’ll take a short placement test.

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We hear that there are a lot of students signing up for NEC this year—will you have enough openings to accommodate everyone?

Yes! The more the merrier.

With over 26 large ensembles, dozens of chamber music groups, several choruses, multiple jazz ensembles, over 50 classes, and 250 faculty members, there’s a place for everyone. We welcome students of all levels to the NEC family.

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How much does the “average” Prep student participate in?

As an à la carte program, students can participate in as many or as few activities as they’d like. Many students spend their entire Saturdays on the NEC campus, moving from classes to lessons to rehearsals. Many others come for an hour or two. You can adjust your level of participation from year to year, depending on your schedule and your needs.

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What performance opportunities are there for me?

Providing performance experience is a very important element of our program. Our 26 large ensembles perform at least twice a year in NEC’s Jordan Hall, and several participate at other events and venues off-campus. We have chamber music festivals and contemporary music festivals, each of which involves hundreds of students. There are department recitals throughout each semester, private lesson workshops and recitals every Saturday, masterclasses, concerto competitions, and international tours for several of our large ensembles. Private lesson students who take a minimum number of lessons are also eligible to give individual recitals on the NEC campus.

On several occasions, Prep students have been invited to perform with college ensembles and to share concerts with college students. What a unique opportunity!

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When do classes, lessons, and ensembles take place?

The majority of our programs take place on Saturday, and a few activities occur during the week. The Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensembles meet on Fridays, as does the Renaissance and Baroque Wind Band, and some private lessons are arranged during the week at the discretion of your teacher.

For more detailed information, check out our class schedules and Academic Calendar.

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Is there financial assistance available? How do I apply?


NEC Prep distributes over $250,000 each year in scholarships. Students are welcome to apply at any time; however, the earlier you register and apply, the better your chances of receiving aid. Applications for the upcoming school year are available in June and can be found online here

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Where is NEC?

NEC’s main building (Jordan Hall) is located at 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston. Our St. Botolph building is located at 241 St. Botolph Street. We are located one block from Symphony Hall. We are easily accessible by public transportation and commuter rail. For directions, click here.

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What is parking like at NEC Prep?

Parking in the city is never simple, but it’s made a little easier by several parking garages within walking distance. Also, you can purchase parking vouchers through the Prep office, which offers discounted rates at an area garage. Our campus is also T-accessible, which many of our families appreciate.

Current Prep students have the option of discount parking at the Christian Science Center, by purchasing a ticket voucher through the Prep office. For more information, please click here.

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I’m ready to sign up! How do I register?

Registration is available online and in person. If you have any questions, our Registrars are ready to help you through the process! Send them an email at prepceregistration@necmusic.edu.

If you are ready to sign up for a large ensemble auditions you can do so online as well by clicking here. Always feel free to contact us.

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