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Experience Jazz

While rooted in jazz, this program embraces the power and artistry of hiphop, rhythm & blues and other genres students and instructors want to explore together. We strive to bring together students of a multitude of cultural and musical backgrounds in an innovative music-making environment.

– Justin Christy, Board Chair
Minnesota Jazz Education

About Experience Jazz

Experience Jazz is a genre-bridging music ensemble program for instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, DJs and other aspiring musical artists. Launched in 2017 by Minnesota Jazz Education (formerly Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education), this innovative program is an incubator for middle and high school musicians to learn, play and compose new music together. Starting in 2023, Experience Jazz is presented in partnership with Walker West Music Academy and High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), students rehearse together at HSRA’s St. Paul campus, in their state-of-the-art “Studio 4.” There is no other program like it in Minnesota!

When & Where

Experience Jazz 2023 takes place on Saturday mornings October 7, 2023 through January 20, 2024 (off Nov. 25, Dec. 23 and 30), with a final performance on the final session. Program takes place at High School for Recording Arts (HSRA), a secure facility with ample free parking, centrally located in St. Paul, off University Avenue and Lexington Parkway. 


Musicians of all skill levels and backgrounds, grades 7-12 are encouraged to participate! Open instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, DJs, producers and other aspiring musical artists. No prior jazz experience required.


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. 

Students get hands-on experience integrating musical styles, while working with professional musicians to learn new skills and approaches to making music.

How to Participate

Interested students can sign up for Experience Jazz by: 

  1. Completing this registration form anytime before program begins, as well as
  2. Completing this audition form and submitting a work sample (learn more, below)

The program fee varies by year. Financial assistance available upon request to anyone who needs it–no questions asked. Complete the registration form for more information.

Experience Jazz 2023 – Auditions

Experience Jazz is an all-encompassing experience that welcomes youth musicians from all backgrounds, experience levels and musical worlds. In order to build an enriching experience for everyone involved, we are asking students to submit a short video/audio recording of themselves, either performing live or a produced piece (on a DAW or music software). This will help our teachers assess your skill level. You may submit any piece you feel puts our best foot forward. Audition submissions must be received by the first day of the program, October 7, 2023.

Audition Guidelines

Auditions must include:

  1. A prepared piece (students choice).

Your prepared piece must be:

  • A recorded video of a live performance (no editing or splicing takes, please)
  • 2-4 minutes in length.
  • Of any style you feel most comfortable with (jazz, funk, classical, etc.) 
  • Performed a cappella, accompanied, with a click or with a backing track.


2. A self-composed/arranged piece on a DAW (music software)

Your prepared piece must be:

  • 2-4 minutes in length.
  • Of any style you feel most comfortable with (hiphop, R&B, pop, etc.)

Audition Considerations and Recommendations

  • Please submit pieces for your primary instrument you want to play in the band (e.g. if you are a multi-instrumentalist but you feel best at piano, consider submitting a piano piece)
  • The ability to improvise over a form is not required, but if you are comfortable improving, it is helpful for to see a sample of your improvising ability
  • Pianists, guitarists, drummers and bass players: please consider playing a tune that highlights your ability to play grooves, but also an improvised segment (if comfortable)
  • Horn Players: please play a piece that highlights your tone, sound and improvisation (if comfortable) 
  • Vocalists: please sing something that reflects your tone, dynamics, facility (vocal runs, embellishments) and range
  • Producers: please send us something that best reflects your own creativity (e.g. own composition, beat made from scratch etc.)

With questions, contact Program Director, Katia Cardenas – katia [at]


In 2023, Experience Jazz is supported by a grant from the National Basketball Association Foundation.

2023 Teaching Artists

Mickey Breeze is a DJ, artist and educator with over 10 years of musical experience that started as early as the age of 5 years old. He now plays trumpet, drums, piano, violin and cello. At age 8, he began producing music electronically, and by age 10, DJing seemed like the logical next step that combined production with the knack for live performance he picked up as a musician.

Breeze has had some very high provide gigs as a DJ, including playing at the SXSW music festival, three times at the “Twin Cities Pride Festival,” The “Tostitos Cantina Bowl” during the Super Bowl LII festivities, Twin Cities Dilla Days, the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair and opening for the afropunk band, AstralBlak. He was also the former house DJ for the Minneapolis-based Music Television show, “Candy Fresh.” In 2019, he participated in the Deeper Learning Conference in San Diego, and was also a featured DJ at the “Last of the Record Buyers” tent for the Soundset Festival, the Midwest’s largest One-Day outdoor music festival.

Arthur “L.A.” Buckner is a performing musician, teaching artist, and producer from the Northside of Minneapolis. He holds a master’s degree in Percussion Performance from McNally Smith College of Music. Currently, LA serves as co-host for the two-time Webby award-winning PBS music education YouTube series Sound Field, a video project exploring the music theory, production, history, and culture behind our favorite songs and musical styles.
In August 2020, LA took iTunes by storm with the release of his project BiG HOMiE, which reached the #1 Jazz position within 24 hours of its release.

Peter Goggin has established himself as one of the top improvising saxophone players in Minnesota. After spending time at the University of Michigan, he has returned to the Twin Cities to work as a saxophonist, educator, and composer. In the summer of 2022 Peter performed as a featured artist at Off The Hook Arts’ “Summerfest”, an annual music festival held in Fort Collins, Colorado. He’s recorded with multiple groups, most notably on Hoaxer’s album “Crash Test” (2017). He’s performed multiple times in the Twin Cities and Detroit Jazz Festivals, and was a representative at the IASJ’s 2019 international Jazz Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia. Peter has studied with Andrew Bishop, Robert Hurst, Miles Okazaki, and Benny Green– all of whom have left an indelible impact on his approach towards the study and creation of music.

Cody LeDuc is a Twin Cities-based musician, composer/arranger, producer, & educator. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, Cody was first exposed to music performance through his church’s gospel choir at the age of 6. Shortly after, they picked up the trombone at 10. Cody studied music theory and trombone performance at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN, as well as trombone performance and production at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their style is influenced by the likes of Fred Wesley, Christian Scott, Kamasi Washington, & many more. Cody has been mentored by the likes of Mike Nelson, Bob McChesney, and Corey Wilcox. They currently play locally with McNasty Brass Band, Black Market Brass, and iLLism. They have also collaborated with a host of bands including K-Libre 21, Sister Species, The iLLharmonic Orchestra, Nooky Jones, The Kirk Johnson Orchestra, LGCY (Muse), The 451st Army Bands, and the JazzMN Orchestra.

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