If you want to play chamber music without being coached, you can attend the Conference as an auditor. Auditing appeals to both newcomers and returnees who do not have the time to prepare pieces for coaching sessions, who cannot spend an entire week at the Conference, or who want to play chamber music without coaching.
Our Auditor Coordinators meet with auditors on opening Sunday afternoon to orient them to the program. At 9:00 AM daily, the Auditor Coordinators meet those interested in forming groups to play during the 9:00 AM sessions. Although we strive to achieve an instrumental balance among the auditors each week, we cannot guarantee a full complement of
standard groups such as string quartets and piano trios; variables include which auditors enroll and which auditors want to play on a given day. Thus, on some days auditors may read pieces for unusual combinations of instruments, may substitute instruments of the same key (e.g., oboe for flute), or even transpose instruments of different keys (e.g., B-flat clarinet for oboe). If you play two instruments, such as violin and viola, oboe and English horn, or clarinet and bass clarinet, we encourage you to bring both. We also suggest that you bring any music you are particularly interested in reading; auditors do have access to the extensive holdings of the Chamber Music Conference and Bennington College music libraries. Guest Faculty sometimes join these groups for
free play sessions.
Observing Coaching Sessions
As an auditor, you may observe coaching sessions (9:00-11:00 AM and 2:00-3:30 PM during Weeks 2, 3, and 4), which can be a particularly rewarding experience. A schedule of coaches, compositions, and rooms is posted on the bulletin board inside the front door of the Jennings music building. We ask auditors who choose this option to notify the coach of the group in advance and to enter the coaching room before the session begins, since entering late can disrupt the flow of the session. Leaving early is permissible as long as it is done quietly and during an appropriate moment in the session. During the coaching session itself, auditors do not actively participate in any way other than to listen, learn, and enjoy the music and the opportunity to watch a professional faculty member at work with the participants.
Outside of coaching sessions, auditors and participants have equal opportunity to form groups with each other and with those coaches and Guest Faculty who are available for informal playing. For auditors interested in organizing groups for the off-hours, we recommend attending the 11:00 AM coffee break on the back porch of Jennings, as it offers a good opportunity to arrange to play with people throughout the week.
There is no obligation for auditors to play in each session. Many auditors reserve some time for quiet reading, walking, and enjoying the many activities available in the Bennington area.