The strings curriculum is centered on the broad experience of the faculty.
All are current or former members of professional chamber ensembles with extensive performing and recording credits, both as ensemble members and soloists. Through private lessons, faculty members offer rigorous instruction tailored to the needs of each student.
Students are required to take six semesters of chamber music with a faculty coach and many take additional semesters. The Advanced Quartet Seminar, which focuses on a different composer each semester, offers more concentrated work.
Additional chamber opportunities are available during winter term through the Intensive Quartet Seminar. Designed to accelerate students’ grasp of standard quartet repertoire and rehearsal techniques, this seminar includes four hours of rehearsal each day. The winter-term seminar involves both Oberlin faculty members and distinguished guests.
Orchestral skills are developed through excerpt classes taught by faculty who are experienced orchestral musicians and through participation in one or both of the student orchestras. Each orchestra rehearses six hours per week and perform concerts every three to four weeks. This schedule exposes students to a broad orchestral repertoire and provides excellent preprofessional training.
Because Oberlin has no junior orchestra, first-year students perform alongside experienced players. The relatively small requirement of six semesters of orchestra participation for violinists, violists, and cellists gives these students the scheduling flexibility they need to devote attention to perfecting instrumental technique or audition repertoire.
Students who wish to teach can gain experience through Oberlin’s supervised student teaching program. Conservatory students teach both college and conservatory students. A pedagogy course is available to help students prepare for teaching. After taking the course, students may teach in the String Preparatory Program that includes private lessons and group classes for area elementary school children.
The classical guitar major, incorporated into the Division of Strings in 1992, emphasizes the full range of chamber literature. In addition to primary study on classical guitar, instruction is available on lute, early guitar, heorbo, vihuela, baroque guitar. Secondary lessons in jazz guitar also is available for interested students.
The program offers performance opportunities, regular exposure to guest artists who perform recitals and teach master classes, and seminars that address resume preparation and other job-related issues. The major is supported by an extensive collection of guitar scores and recordings in the conservatory library.