An innovative chamber music course
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I don't belong to a group.  Can I still register for Basically Quartets?
A: Yes. We will do our best to match you up with players of similar ability and interest. If we can't, your deposit will be refunded in full.
Q: What playing level do you suggest participants need to be at to benefit from Basically Quartets?
A: To get the most out of the course, you play at a Grade 6/7 level ABRSM (Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music, Canada / Level 8 Music Development Program, USA).
Q: I don't know what my playing level is. How can I tell if I'm at a good level for Basically Quartets?
A: Can you manage one of the more straight-forward movements of a Haydn quartet? Have a look at the common work of study and if you can cope with that, your playing skills are likely in the ABRSM Grade 6/7 range.
Q: I'm quite an advanced player and I've taken many quartet courses before.  Will Basically Quartets be too easy for me?
A: It can be whatever you want it to be, if the group you are working with are at your playing level. Many of the other activities offered will address issues common to all chamber music players, regardless of level. 
Q: I play at a grade 4/5 level. I've never played string quartets before but would love to try.  Is there any point in me signing up?
A: We'd love to give you an introduction to the wonderful world of quartet playing! An interest in learning is the only essential prerequisite.  But you would want to play in a group with players of similar expertise and experience. See if you can round up some like-minded friends to join you, or let us know that you're interested and we'll do our best to match you up with compatible players.
Q: Two other members of my quartet would like to register but our cellist isn't available.  Could we still take the course?
A: Absolutely.  We will do our best to find a suitable cellist to join you.
Q: Our group would like to work on an oboe quintet.  Would this be possible?
A: Definitely! As long as your oboist knows that group activities are geared toward string players.   
Q: What about quintets, sextets, etc.?
A: Certainly.  Again, the course is based on the string quartet genre but will certainly be relevant to all chamber players.  There will be some opportunities to play quartets too, outside your group's rehearsal and coaching sessions.
Q: I'm looking for a course that allows lots of time to read through chamber music informally.  Is Basically Quartets right for me?
A:  Probably not.  While it can be great fun to read through music with friends, the schedule at Basically Quartets is quite intense. There will be limited opportunities for some informal playing, and we encourage participants to take advantage of breaks to rest - both body and mind! 

Q: Can I fill in the preregistration form on my computer?
A: Yes! The 2023 preregistration form is now available.
Download and save a copy of the form on your computer. Open the form with your chosen word-processor and fill in the yellow boxes. Save the completed form. (N.B. If you try to open the form on-line you will be told that it is read-only and you will not be able to save your personalised copy to send to us). When the form is complete, please email it to
If you experience problems or need the form in another format please contact us.
* The Registration Form is in a Microsoft .doc format. If your chosen word processor struggles to deal with it we can thoroughly recommend using LibreOffice which is free in every sense and will cope with the vast majority of document formats. It is available for all flavours of Windows, Mac and Linux.
Q: Can I pay the course fees by direct bank transfer?
A: Yes. This is the preferred method. Please contact us for instructions.
Q: We'd like to work on a piano quartet. Will that be possible?
A: Unfortunately no. There isn't a conventional piano available at Noddfa.
Q: I like getting together with friends to read quartets, but I don't like getting coached and feel that I already know enough to enjoy what I'm doing. Would I enjoy this course?
A: Not likely.
Q: How many pieces do we work on during the course?
A: One quartet, plus the common work. At Basically Quartets, we encourage participants to plumb the depths of one work rather than touch the surface of many.  All scheduled course time is devoted to your chosen work of study and the common work.  There is limited remaining unscheduled time available for informal reading but this is not the focus of the course.
Q: Do we select our own quartet to work on? 
A: Yes, each group chooses their own repertoire.  We recommend that you select something that is not so technically challenging that all your concentration is spent on getting through, rather than on developing your chamber playing skills. We are here to help and advise, so please get in touch if you'd like some ideas or feedback about the repertoire you are considering.   
Q: I'm disabled, and can't handle stairs.  Will I be able to manage at Noddfa?
A: Yes. There is a stair lift in the main building and there is limited disabled bedroom accommodation with en suite. Please let us know what your needs are when you register so we can ensure that your rehearsal space is accessible.
Q: My partner isn't a musician but would like to come with me.  Is there enough room?
A: Yes. Limited space will be available for non-playing participants. For rate details, please contact us.

Q:  If I share a room, will my fee be reduced?
A:  No.  Fees are charged per person, regardless of the type of room you are in.  Individual participants will be assigned private single rooms.  Friends and couples can request twin or double rooms, but this doesn't affect the per person course fee.
Q: I've read through everything on the website and I'm still not sure about whether I want to register or not.  Is it possible to speak with somebody on the phone?
A: No problem. Please contact us, send us your phone number and suggest some suitable time options for a phone call. We'll get in touch with you, but please let us know which time zone you're in so we don't ring in the middle of the night!

Q: You have documents in A4 and "letter" format. What is the difference?
A: Paper size and shape in North America is slightly shorter and wider than the nearly universal DIN standard A4 as used in the UK and pretty much everywhere else in the world.  Web sites adapt to the size of the screen they display on but documents intended to be printed need to be formatted to fit a chosen paper size. You can choose "shrink to fit" (the page) as an option on most printers. The registration form on this site is now standardised as an A4 document if you really need to print it! 
Q: Where can I get a good edition of the common work of study?
A: The (free) editions now available in the public domain are very interesting to refer to, but can be frustrating to work from. For Haydn, the modern Peters Edition is easily the best choice. Well laid out and faithfully edited by Simon Rowland Jones they are a must have for any chamber music player. See the links page for details of good retailers.
Q: Which Haydn quartets have been studied in previous years at BQ?
A: See the common work of study page for a list of quartets studied year by year.
Q: Why have the courses changed from Tuesday - Sunday to Thursday - Tuesday?
A: Many people travel by rail and travel by train anywhere on Sundays is proving increasingly awkward.