Chamber Music

Laura Blustein, String & Piano Chamber Music Department Chair
Aimee Tsuchiya, String & Piano Chamber Music Department Assistant Chair

The NEC Preparatory School offers chamber ensembles for string, wind, brass, and piano players ages 8-18. Chamber music at NEC connects young musicians together based on the common interest of their love of music and is an excellent complement to instrumental education alongside private lessons and large ensembles.

NEC Prep chamber music is a place where students join in learning some of the most powerful pieces in the repertoire. It demands a high level of artistic exploration, creativity, and expression from each member. Students have the opportunity to:

  • Share musical opinions and ways to interpret their scores.  Motivated by their peers, they mature into deeper levels of musicianship.
  • Develop sensitive listening while playing
  • Develop practice and rehearsal techniques
  • Gain independence

Playing chamber music is a great way to meet fellow musicians and make new friends. Some of our NEC Prep chamber groups play together for years.

Each group is coached by a highly experienced teacher and performer who has a passion for chamber music and loves to work with young musicians. Groups are determined by age, ability, and instrumentation. Each group receives 28 coaching sessions. Students play in end-of-semester workshops and in festival concerts each semester. Student groups may also have the opportunity to play in and attend master classes given by distinguished chamber music faculty from the NEC college and outstanding visiting chamber music artists.

Chamber Music Intensive Performance Seminar

For students with a strong interest in chamber music, NEC Prep is excited for the second year of the Chamber Music Intensive Performance Seminar (CHIPS)! CHIPS offers select advanced students an in-depth chamber music immersion experience, with an emphasis on enhancing chamber music skills and performance practice at a high artistic level. New to the program for the 2019 – 2020 year, pianists will also be welcome to audition. Led by faculty member Merry Peckham, accepted students will be placed into a string quartet or piano trio, and assigned repertoire to study over the year.

Significant emphasis will be placed on performance; groups will have the opportunity to perform in recitals at NEC and in the community, as well as potential international performance opportunities. Groups will meet for regular coachings on Saturdays. In addition, they will meet most Fridays from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm during the academic year. The weekday meetings provide additional rehearsal time as well as a weekly performance seminar. The program will also include several special guest artist masterclasses during the year; visiting guests for 2019 – 2020 will be announced later this spring. A full 2019 – 2020 calendar will be available at the time of auditions. Given the intensity of this program, attendance at all CHIPS events is required.

Interested violinists, violists, cellists, and pianists between the ages of 13 and 18 years old are encouraged to apply. Auditions will be held in May 2019; for information on audition requirements, please click here.

Click here to sign up for a Spring CHIPS audition!

Additional Chamber Music Offerings

Sonata-Duo Class

Maria Benotti, Instructor

Violinist-pianist partners study specific works from the violin-sonata literature, two duos share a one-hour lesson in workshop format. Each pair performs for their colleagues and in turn observes the others’ instruction, scores in hand. Intensive study of technical as well as interpretive aspects of each sonata is the focus. Performance presence and refinement of ensemble playing, discussion, and hearing of concepts are encouraged. Open to upper-intermediate to advanced players.

Saturday, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Cello Choir

Boston Cello Quartet, coaches

This Prep ensemble is open by audition to intermediate to advanced cello players. Cellists will work together with members of the Boston Cello Quartet to prepare music in a variety of styles and sharpen their ensemble skills. The Boston Cello Quartet was founded in 2010 by four of the Boston Symphony Orchestra cellists, Blaise Dejardin, Adam Esbensen, Mihail Jojatu and Alexandre Lecarme. Since its acclaimed debut concert, the BCQ has quickly won the hearts of music lovers through its arrangements of staples of the classical music repertoire, as well as jazz, contemporary works, and even comic medleys, all of which showcase the limitless possibilities of the instrument they love.

For more information about Cello Choir, please click here.

Saturday, 11:00 - 12:00 PM

Prep Bass Ensemble/Bass Class

Prep Bass Ensemble is open to beginner and advanced beginner double bass players. Students placed in this ensemble have mastered basic technical aspects of the instrument and have generally studied their instrument for at least 1-3 years. The music is specifically tailored to provide challenging individual parts. Emphasis is on ensemble playing, reading, and common repertoire. Fun will be required as needed.


Auditions for chamber music, the Sonata-Duo class, and Cello Choir take place each September. Auditions for the CHIPS program occur in the spring. For more information about how to audition, please click here.

If you would like to audition for the Prep Bass Ensemble/Bass class, please contact the Prep office at (617) 585-1160 or

Please note that the NEC Prep Chamber Music audition committee tries their best to place all students who audition into chamber groups. However, appropriate chamber groups are only formed if other students of similar age, skill level, and Saturday time availability audition.