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December Newsletter

Homies In Harmony

For children ages 0 – 6 and their caregivers.

Auntie Jayanthi introduces musical concepts and early sound exploration drawing from African American cultural experience, vital artists, and familiar folk music. Early music learners will explore various instruments, sing, and play in a nurturing environment.

For questions contact Student Services

When: Fridays at 10 AM or 11 AM | December 1 – February 2
When: Saturdays at 10 AM or 11 AM | December 2 – February 3
School Closed:  December 29 & 30 and January 5 & 6

She Rock Open Jam

Join us for an open jam for girls, women, nonbinary and trans musicians of all ages! Sing or play with the She Rock house band, or just relax and enjoy the show! Drums, keyboards, amps, mics are provided.

Bring your own guitar, bass or drum sticks! Questions? Email or

When: Saturday, December 16th from 2pm to 5pm
Where: 760 Selby Avenue


Thank you to our Women in Jazz Initiative sponsor, Jazz88, for your support, which makes this programming possible.

Support Walker West This Holiday Season

As you consider your year-end giving, we invite you to consider supporting Walker West. Give the gift of music this season to sustain music education that is rooted in community, and/or our capital campaign vision to expand programs, build capacity, and create a state-of-the-art facility.

Conversation and Q&A with Robert Glasper

“Jazz is the mother of hip hop.” Glasper     

Join us for an open conversation and Q&A with five time Grammy-Award Winning artist, Robert Glasper. Coupled with his breathtaking jazz piano canon, his genre-defying collaborations with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Carly Simon, Erykah Badu, and Nora Jones, among others, have solidified his place as a musical luminary. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to gain insights and inspiration from one of the most versatile and influential figures in contemporary music. Open to songwriters, poets, beat makers, and musicians of all instruments, genres, and ages.

For questions contact Student Services, or

When: Sunday, December 17th from 4pm to 5pm
Where: 760 Selby Avenue

January 17th RCMS Concert featuring Kavy plays Jamal

Rondo Community Music Series

Save Your Spot

Kavyesh Kaviraj is a pianist, composer and arranger from India. Although primarily a jazz pianist, he is known for his versatility as a musician; thanks to his experience in different musical climates he is closely involved with settings of many different genres and styles.

RSVP today to reserve your spot virtually on Crowdcast or Attend In-Person by registering on EventBrite!

Rondo Community Music Series Panel Discussion

Join us online for discussions with musicians, vocalists and spoken word artists that have connections to Walker West, the Twin Cities and the Rondo Community to share thoughts about music and this community’s rich legacy as a training ground for musicians.

Wednesday, January 10 at 7:00 pm

Topic: The legacy of Ahmad Jamal discussion led by Kavyesh Kavyraj and Jack BarrettWednesday, January 31 at 7:00 pm

Topic: Bowed Strings in Jazz featuring Ernest Bisong, Greg Byers, and David Feily

Jazz Piano Workshop

Co-presenting with Schubert Club. Designed for beginning through advanced middle and high school students, this day-long workshop includes skills-based group instruction, masterclasses, performances by the clinicians and scholarship awards! No prior jazz experience required. Prerequisite is 1 year private study on piano. Clinicians include Mary Louise Knutson, Kavyesh Kaviraj, William Duncan and Bryan Nichols. Registration deadline is Jan 17.

When: Saturday, January 27th from 9am to 4pm
Where: Inver Hills Community College

Students and families enjoy a performance by Experience Jazz faculty on the first day of program at High School for Recording Arts, October 7, 2023.

Experience Jazz Kicks off with Record Enrollment

This fall, Walker West launched a new ensemble program called “Experience Jazz” (EJ) in partnership with High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), where students rehearse together at HSRA’s St. Paul campus, in their state-of-the-art “Studio 4.” Originally a program of Minnesota Jazz Education/Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education started in 2017, this year’s program saw record enrollment at WWMA! Over 12 weeks, 20+ students of various skill levels meet on Saturdays to make music, hone their skills playing in an ensemble, and record music together. Faculty member, Kevin Washington says, ”What EJ is doing is teaching students to be in the studio at a very young age. Being in the studio is a whole other world, a completely different experience, and I love how patient and flexible the group is with each other. You gotta start somewhere!” This year’s program will culminate in a final performance on Jan 20, along with other WW jazz ensembles. Keep an eye out for the show announcement!

WWMA Teaching Artist, Sowah Mensah, shares teaching techniques and approaches with SCASD teachers during Professional Development Day, September 15, 2023.

Partnership with St. Cloud Area School District is in Full Swing

In 2022, St. Cloud Area School District 742 (SCASD) invited Walker West Music Academy  (WWMA) to assist with developing programming to address the limited Somali and African American student enrollment in their music programs. Walker West has since begun a 3 year partnership with SCASD to create and implement strategies, residencies, student-based programs and professional development opportunities that tackle challenges related to this issue. Now in year 2, this project has accomplished the following: 

  • Formation of a 14-member advisory council of artists, educators and community leaders from St. Cloud, St. Paul and WWMA to plan and implement programming. 
  • Four residencies with WWMA teaching artists serving over 350 SCASD 5th grade students 
  • Two Professional Development workshops with SCASD Music teachers, led by WWMA teaching artists and faculty.

Planning for year 3 is currently underway, shifting focus to SCACD’s robust infrastructure of monthly gatherings with various communities of color. Our intention for Year 3 is to create new connections with families from these communities, and creating programming that welcomes and supports participation in SCASD music education opportunities. 


On Sunday, October 15, Kamoinge Strings performed their first concert of the season at the Ordway Music Center in downtown St. Paul. The premiere string ensemble of Walker West set the mood for the audience attending the Sphinx Virtuosi concert. The ensemble comprises 12 violinists ages 12 to 18 years from our string studios. In addition to Kamoige, these diverse and accomplished students participate in the highly competitive Minnesota Youth Symphonies, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, and the Artaria Chamber Music School. The event was sponsored by the Schubert Club and entailed the ensemble sharing and in many cases, introducing their artistry to the Sphinx Virtuosi audience and personnel. Comprised of 18 accomplished Black and Latinx artists, Sphinx Virtuosi is an internationally acclaimed, dynamic, and inspiring professional self-conducted chamber orchestra that serves as the flagship performing entity of the Sphinx Organization – the leading social justice non-profit dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

Faculty News

The debut album of Kinetic, a conductorless string ensemble, reached #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Charts during the week of November 18.  Walker|West cello faculty, Patty Ryan, is a founding member of the ensemble and plays on every track of the award winning album.


KEEPIN’ ON kicks off the holiday season with a bundle of three podcasts.

Listen Here

String Department Holiday Recital

Features all studios and Kamoinge String Ensemble

When: Saturday, December 9th at 6pm 
Where: Lutheran Church of the Redeemer

Save Your Spot
Before Its Too Late!