Experience Jazz

…an innovative ensemble experience, connecting students across communities & genres

“While rooted in jazz, this program will embrace the power and artistry of hip-hop, rhythm & blues and other genres students and instructors want to explore together. Our goal is to bring together students of various cultural and musical backgrounds in an innovative music-making environment.”

– Justin Christy, DFJE Board Chair

Who is this for?

Experience Jazz is a 16-week, genre-bridging music ensemble program for instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, DJs and other aspiring musical artists. This weekly program is open to up to 25 students grades 7-12. The goal of this program is to foster creativity and collaboration by bringing together aspiring artists from diverse backgrounds with a common desire to make new music rooted in jazz, blues, pop and hip-hop. Musicians of all skill levels are encouraged to apply!

What will happen?

  • Think you know where jazz came from? How about hip-hop?Experience Jazz will be rooted in the history and stories of these connected artforms and others to help you grow your musical vocabulary.
  • Are you a beatmaker who wants to set a new course for jazz? A jazz artist who wants to play to a new beat?You can do all of that! Experience Jazz teachers will facilitate musical exchanges across genres.
  • Do you like the challenge of making new music?You’ll get to collaborate with fellow musicians in ensembles of 5-8 students and professional artist-educators to create new works.
  • Want to experience the magic of live recording and performance?Students will have the opportunity to record their compositions in a pro studio environment, release their music digitally world-wide, and perform it for live audiences within the program and at public events.

When is it?

  • Saturdays 1:30-3:30pm January 26-June 1 (except 3/30, 4/6 and 5/25)

Where is it?

  • High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), conveniently located in St. Paul at 1166 University Ave (near Lexington Ave and Hwy 94) on the Green Line and easily accessible through many Metro Transit bus lines.

What’s required?

  • Bring the instrument you play, or if needed, we will try to help you locate one. Larger items like PAs, mics, drum kits, keyboards and some amps will be provided.
  • Commit to attending all weekly sessions


  • $150 per participant. Full and partial scholarships will be awarded based on merit and need.

Auditions for Experience Jazz 2019

We hope to welcome as many students as we can who are hungry for an experience like this and meet basic program requirements. To audition for Experience Jazz 2019, we ask that you:

  1. Complete a short online application.
  2. Show off your skills, by either:
    • Signing up for an in-person audition, in your online application by Thursday, Jan 3. Auditions are Saturday, January 5th 2019 1:30-3:30pm at High School for Recording Arts (1166 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104) –OR–
    • Submitting a video audition by Friday, January 11, 2019

Click here to apply to Experience Jazz 2019.


Audition Requirements

For your audition, please prepare 1 to 2 minutes of 2 separate songs, preferably in different styles or rhythms (e.g. one ballad and one upbeat tune; one swing and one R&B). Performances can include a cappella, spoken word, live accompaniment and/or pre-recorded backing tracks. You must provide your own accompaniment or backing tracks, if using.


In-person Audition Requirements

  • Auditions are open to all Minnesota student music artists grade 7-12 
  • In-person auditions will scheduled ahead of time, and take 5-10 minutes.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your assigned audition time.
  • If you have a preferred audition time or other scheduling needs, please indicate them in your application form.


How to submit your video audition

To submit a video audition online, upload your video(s) to Dropbox at the link, provided in the online application (maximum file size 2GB; you may upload separate videos, if necessary). Please include your first and last name in the title of your video. If you have trouble uploading your video or have any questions, please contact *protected email*.

Visit the 2019 Experience Jazz webpage, here.

Experience Jazz is presented in partnership with

Backline for Experience Jazz, provided by:

Ellis Drums Logo


Funding for Experience Jazz is made possible, in part, thanks to an Arts Learning Grant from:



DFJE programming is made possible by jazz supporters like you! Help make the inaugural year of Experience Jazz possible by clicking here to make a donation today!