Pre-College Program: String Chamber Music

Hi, everyone! My name is Joan Kinsella, and I’m an instructor for the Pre-College Programs. I’m a cellist teacher and performer. I’ve been a chamber musician and orchestral player in upstate New York for years. Recent performances include WXXI’s “Live from Hochstein” broadcast, SUNY Brockport Fine Art Series, and shows with artists including Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, and Michael Bublé.

I have performed with the national tours of numerous Broadway productions, including Newsies, Pippin, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, and West Side Story. I routinely perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester Oratorio Society Orchestra, the Rochester Lyric Opera, and the Geva Theatre Center.

I received my Bachelor of Music in cello performance from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and studied at Syracuse University in a graduate string fellowship program. Within the Rochester community, I have been an active advocate for improvements in urban education within the Rochester City School District.


My one-week pre-college program, String Chamber Music Communal and Collaborative Harmony, offers an opportunity for string players to achieve confidence while working with their peers and experience collegiality in a fun learning environment.

This course is for students with experience playing the violin, viola and cello. You must be an intermediate through advanced level player. You’ll absorb chamber music techniques and musical artistry in this collaborative session. Engage in a community of peers and coaches while you engross yourself in developing cohesive musical goals. This program will include daily ensemble coachings, master classes, musicianship classes such as ear-training, and movement, with chamber ensembles such as string trios and string quartets. You will present an informal performance on the last day. Ensembles will be determined in advance and students will be grouped by instrument, age, and level. An audition is not required.

Rochester’s Pre-College Programs put the student in a semi-professional environment, which heightens personal expectations. This type of collaborative learning can provide healthy competition and camaraderie. The program allows students to achieve realistic goals while increasing technical and musical standards through teamwork. In daily rehearsals and coachings, students gain practical and real world experience. Faculty members are excited about engaging with students as they achieve their goals, negotiate with their peers, and develop transferable skills. As they interact and share ideas, this process creates an incredible synergy.

chamber music

What are students saying about their experiences with chamber music?

“I will be forever grateful that I chose to play chamber music. It is a happy medium between playing solo and playing in an orchestra. It has definitely helped me grow as a musician by impelling me to listen to the other instruments and be aware of each person’s part. In addition, chamber music has given me meaningful friendships with other musicians. It is truly a special experience growing as a group by learning how to blend the different voices of our instruments, and feeling the music together. Not only has chamber music given me musical, cooperative, and team building skills, but the memories of fun rehearsals and successful performances will stick with me forever.”

“The study of chamber music has motivated me to pursue violin more effectively, and to appreciate the intricate ways that each part in a piece works together. Chamber music has allowed me to meet individuals just as passionate as myself, and through our passion we have been able to create great music. It is truly a gift to be able to participate in a quality chamber group and play beautiful music.”

“For me, chamber music has been similar to orchestra, but better: I can work with others to create amazing music, but it’s more personal. I know each of the other players, so I know how they respond to the piece, and that lets me feel the music as a group instead of just as an individual.”

“I love chamber music because it gives me the opportunity to meet people who are as enthusiastic about music as I am. In orchestra, there are many of us all playing the same parts, and in solo playing, the only focus is yourself. But chamber music is different and special because you form a special bond with your group and playing individual parts that all come together to form beautiful music.”

“I love to play chamber music because it is a small ensemble where everyone has their own unique part. We learn to communicate through our body language without depending on a director. In chamber, I have grown to be a strong leader. This is a life-changing experience, and you become a better musician.”

“Chamber music taught me to listen with nuance—to music of course, but also to the friends, peers, and members who became my collaborators.”

Register now!

About the author

Ursula Balent

I'm the assistant director for Pre-College Programs. I’m a Rochester native and currently live in Hilton, NY. Pre-College Programs are designed for high school students in grades 9–12 to get a taste of the college experience through rigorous coursework and life-changing experiences. From this blog, you will hear from faculty, students, and staff directly involved with Pre-College Programs.

One Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>