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Workshop Ensembles

Widely known as one of the most prestigious jazz education programs on the West Coast, YLJC has small ensembles for every skill level as well as big band.

Workshop Ensembles

What Are Workshop Ensembles?

Workshop ensemble classes are for students who are not quite ready for the demands of being in a YLJC ensemble but want to gain the experience necessary to join an ensemble in the future.  After these classes, students should be comfortable and ready for the challenges of being in the YLJC Youth Ensemble Program.

Who Is Eligible?

One year playing your instrument is highly recommended. 

For students up to 18 years of age with less than a year of experience on their instrument, we recommend starting with private instruction to establish a solid foundation. This individualized learning path ensures that each student receives the attention and guidance needed for their musical development. YLJC’s tuition is $1250 for the academic year, for the same amount a beginning student can access 15 to 17 private lessons, providing an excellent start. After completing a year of private instruction, we find that students are more comfortable and prepared to fully embrace and benefit from the comprehensive ensemble instruction and opportunities available at YLJC, leveraging their skills for maximum advantage.

What’s Included?

Students are placed in ensembles of six to nine students and rehearse weekly.*

*Instrumentation can be varied (examples: we might have 4 pianists and 1 drummer, or, 2 sax, 2 pianists and a bass player, etc.)

Curriculum: Music theory, ear training, reading music—sight reading, improvisation, how to play in a group setting, jazz history.

Class Schedule: Classes take place on Saturdays or Sundays.  You can find the class calendar and rehearsal locations here.  

Performance Opportunities: Ensembles will have an opportunity to play at our All-Ensembles Showcases (Dec & June). Workshop ensembles are not required to perform at Panama 66 (unless the group is ready and willing). This takes the pressure off students as they grow musically. 


Tuition is paid by the acendemic year. There is also a reccurring monthly payment plan available.

  • $1,250 for the acedemic year

  • $25 non-refundable registration fee

  • There are no class material fees

Billing invoices are sent via email after ensemble placements. We accept credit cards and checks. Families who have multiple students enrolled in the program will receive a 50% siblings discount on the tuition fee for the second student.


We believe no child should miss out on the opportunity and enrichment that music education provides.

Full, half and gap scholarships are available to students who show merit and whose families demonstrate financial need.  



2024-2025 – Registration Now Open!

Now accepting registration for the 2024-25 academic year.

*All new and returning students must register.

  • New students will receive an email to sign up for in-person auditions.

  • Returning students are required to submit a video audition.

Important Dates:

  • August 1: Registration Closes 

  • August 3: In-Person Auditions for NEW Students

  • August 5: Audition Videos Due For RETURNING Students 

  • September 14, 15, 16, 17, 19: Classes Begin

$25 non-refundable registration fee

Audition Process

Workshop Ensemble Students
Audition Required

Potential workshop students are required to audition (see audition requirements below). The auditions are designed to be low-pressure experiences, intended to help us tailor our program to best support each student's musical journey.

Benefits of auditioning:

  1. Students will learn how the audition process works and that it isn't something they need to fear—auditions are just a way for us to gauge where a student is in their musical journey.

  2. Often, students don't realize what they can achieve with a bit of hard work. We've had multiple students who after auditioning, end up being placed in higher level ensembles.

  3. After auditions, students mostly come away with a better understanding of their growth opportunities and a sense of accomplishment for having gone through the process.

When and Where

In-person auditions for Fall 2024-25 will take place on August 3, 2024 at YLJC's Rehearsal Space (Liberty Station)

After new students register, an email is sent with a link to sign up for auditions. In-person auditions for new students are required so adjudicators can get a better sense of the student’s skill level and place them appropriately.

 Placement Process

After in-person and video auditions are held/received, artistic director Gilbert Castellanos will place students into ensembles.

Mr. Castellanos takes placements very seriously and places students into groups with others who are at similar levels.

Placements are not based on day or time of class meetings. Sports and other activities conflicting with our fall semester classes are common and these students usually audition for the spring semester.

"Learning music is a journey that is unique to each individual. Creating and playing jazz is not a competition, it's a collaboration with other musicians. Wherever a musician is in their journey, accepting their position and working to improve the group as a whole as well as individually, is the best pathway to growth. This can also be applied in everyday life!"


Artistic Director — Gilbert Castellanos

Placement announcements are sent via email.

Audition Requirements

Carefully Read and Follow the Requirements
The FUNdamentals level is recommended for students interested in auditioning for our Workshop program.

Click on your instrument to download the requirements. Auditions will not be considered if requirements are not followed.

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