Chamber Music

What is NEC Prep?
Watch to find out more about Chamber Music at NEC Prep!

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, woodwind, 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 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 ensemble receives coachings throughout the full academic year, participates in two end-of-semester workshops, and performs in the Chamber Music Festival at the end of 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. If you have any questions about our Chamber Music program, please click the button below for our Placement Form or contact the Prep Office.

Placement Form



Fall 2020 Chamber Music Schedule

September 12 Chamber Music Orientation
September 19 Chamber Music Workshops
September 26
October 3
October 10
October 17
October 24
October 31
November 7
November 14
November 21
November 28-Thanksgiving - No Rehearsal
December 5
December 12
December 19


Spring Chamber Music (17 sessions/16 coaching)

January 30th- Spring Chamber Orientation
February 6
February 13
February 20
February 27
March 6
March 13
March 20
March 27
April 3
April 10
April 17
April 24
May 1
May 8
May 15
May 22

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 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 include Soovin Kim, Miriam Fried, and Don Weilerstein, among others.  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. For information on audition requirements and how to apply, please click here.

Additional Chamber Music Offerings

Introduction to Chamber Music and Musical Language

Laura Blustein, Instructor

Under the direction of NEC Prep Chamber Music Department Chair, Laura Blustein, students explore the great chamber music repertoire of the 18th through 21st centuries through recorded and live performances. Discussion is a central part of the course and will cover topics such as the unique role chamber music plays in Classical repertoire, how musicians interact in small ensembles, and musical language—learning musical terms in Italian, French, and German and thinking together about how music can communicate emotion. This class is suited for violin, viola, cello, and piano students ages 9-13.

Saturday, 9:00-10:00 AM

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

Javier Caballero, Coach

Cello Choir is open by audition to intermediate and advanced cello players. The ensemble performs music from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic time periods and has even performed jazz and self-composed pieces. Students are encouraged to bring any other musical talents they have (for example, singing, beat-making, composing, etc.), as the group, from rehearsal process to programming, is largely collaborative. Each student is given an equal voice in how the ensemble moves forward while learning and sharpening their ensemble skills.

For more information about Cello Choir, please click here.

Saturday, 11:00-12:00 PM

Honors Woodwind Quintet

Open by audition to advanced wind players. Students must be enrolled in an NEC large ensemble in order to qualify. Auditions held in September.

Honors Brass Quintet

Open by audition to advanced brass players. Students must be enrolled in an NEC large ensemble in order to qualify. Auditions held in September.


Auditions for chamber music ensembles and other chamber music classes take place each September. Auditions for the CHIPS program occur in the spring. For more information about how to audition, please click here.

Please note that the NEC Prep 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.