Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

All applications and audition materials are to be submitted in the Parent/Guardian Application Portal.

When is the application deadline? When will I know the results?

All application materials for large ensembles (orchestras, wind ensembles, Youth Brass Ensemble, Youth Jazz Orchestra, and choral groups) and CHIPS must be submitted by May 15th, 2024. Audition results will be shared on June 15th, 2024.

For students interested in chamber groups, classes, piano seminars, private lessons, and other Prep activities, the application will be available until August 1st.

Is there an application fee?

A $40 non-refundable fee will be charged through the Parent/Guardian Application Portal. This fee covers all auditions for however many ensembles, classes, or activities a student wishes to apply for.

Are there scholarship opportunities?

Yes! 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 April and can be found online here

I’m confused about the audition video requirements!

Detailed requirements about video logistics can be found on our website, and within the application. It is recommended that students keep solos under 5 minutes, or under the file size limit in Slate. If you have a specific question about repertoire requirements, please email

Do my videos have to be all in one take?

No, but certain subsections of the audition requirements must be completed in a single take. For example, scales must all be performed in one video. Excerpts must also be done in one take, and in order. Contrasting solos must be in separate takes. Please note that all audition materials must be unaccompanied.

What kind of ensembles does NEC Prep offer?

Prep hosts 26 ensembles, made up of orchestras, wind ensembles, brass ensembles, choirs, jazz orchestra, Baroque groups, and chamber music. These ensembles encompass many levels of musicianship - there is room for everyone!

How do placements work? Does age factor in, or only playing level or both?

Reviewers mainly consider level to ensure students are properly challenged while not feeling out of place.  We would consider age in an instance such as an older beginner student. This way they are not grouped with students much younger than them.

Do I have to re-audition for the same ensemble I was in last year?

You must re-audition every year regardless of your ensemble from the previous year. If you are in a choir or orchestra program, you are not required to audition if you wish to stay in the same ensemble as last year. However, if you wish to audition for a higher-level ensemble, then a new audition is required.

Are any groups going on tour next year?

2024-2025 tour dates and information are TBA.

What if my student can’t be there on a Saturday?

We offer Youth Chorale on Thursday nights, and Wind Ensembles and Friday Baroque Ensemble on Fridays. Private lessons may be scheduled at the discretion of your instructor.

I’m a parent and I also want to take classes—do I apply the same way as my child?

Please email us at for more information on adult lessons and opportunities. You can find more information on the Continuing Education page of our website.

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.

How do I apply?

Everything you need to know to apply for an NEC Prep program can be found on our Application page.

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, we will connect you with our Department Chairs, who will determine your needs and recommend teachers who may be a good fit. Placement auditions are needed for large ensembles, chamber music, and piano seminars; and if you’re going to sign up for theory classes, you’ll take a short placement test.

You can find detailed information about placement-based programs here

My child is a beginner. Are they ready for NEC Prep?

We love beginners!

So many of our students have grown up at NEC, starting from their first Suzuki class, and ending up in our most senior ensembles. In addition to Suzuki, we offer Children’s Chorus, 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!

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. 

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.

What performance opportunities are there for me?

Providing performance experience is a very important element of our program. Our 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.

What is the Certificate Program, and can anyone join?

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. Certificate students receive discounted rates on classes and ensembles. For more information on the Certificate program, click here.

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. Youth Chorale meets on Thursday evenings. The Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensembles meet on Fridays, as do the Baroque Ensembles. 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.