About Young Jazz Composers

The Young Jazz Composers program is a mentorship opportunity for students to learn how to compose for and interact with professional Jazz musicians. Students will explore composition techniques with a mentor, learn how to input their score and parts into a music software program, and workshop their piece with our musicians. At the end of the program, our musicians will perform the students’ composition in front of a live audience.

Our Education Coordinator, Mieke Bruggeman (pronounced Mee-kuh Broo-ga-min), will be there to help you through the entire process! Reach out to her at mieke@pjce.org.

The 2023 Young Jazz Composers cohort at the final concert at The 1905. Photo by Douglas Detrick

Who is eligible:

  • High-school and advanced middle-school as well as early college music students and emerging professionals.
  • Space is limited to 10 students. Students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • To provide the safest environment possible for all, students agree to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 prior to entering the Young Jazz Composers program.
  • The PJCE will make every accommodation possible for students with disabilities.


  • All students should be enrolled in some kind of music study, either in school or independently and must be able to read music at a basic level.
  • Knowledge of jazz performance is beneficial, but not necessary.
  • You will need access to a computer and music notation software (i.e. Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore, or something similar).

How it works:

  • Students can be recommended by their band director, private teacher or by contacting our Education Coordinator at mieke@pjce.org.
  • Fill out the Intake Survey (see below) to determine eligibility, availability and any scholarship needs.
  • After receiving an acceptance letter, students can sign up online, get their mentorship assignment and start composing!
  • All important deadlines, resources and guidelines will be posted to a private Google Classroom forum for students, mentors and parents.
  • Students will be guided through the entire process by our Education Coordinator, Mieke Bruggeman to ensure maximum success!

Tuition is $500 per student and includes:

  • 3 workshops with professional musicians, performing their compositions and providing constructive feedback.
  • 5 individual composition lessons with a professional mentor.
  • 2 MuseScore tutorials.
  • A professionally photographed headshot
  • 2 free tickets to our YJC Alumni concert.
  • Professional audio/video recording of their finished pieces as performed by our musicians at a local venue – GREAT for college applications and resumes!


We are able to offer a limited number of partial and full scholarships!

The scholarship fund is meant to provide support to students who are recommended by their teachers, but who do not have the financial means to pay full tuition. We don’t ask students to verify their financial status with any kind of documentation but ask that students and their families consider their financial need when requesting a full or partial scholarship.

Please indicate that you are requesting a scholarship on the Intake Survey below or by emailing our Education Coordinator, mieke@pjce.org.

Hear the voices of previous YJC cohorts on our podcast!

Important Dates:

  • MuseScore tutorials will be held in December and February (exact dates and times TBD).
  • Workshops will be held on March 16, April 13 and May 11 2024 at the Burlingame Space.
  • Final concert will be on May 13, 2024. Location and time TBD.
  • Five individual lessons with your mentor will be scheduled independently – once a month from December through April.

What is expected of our mentees: 

  • Be proactive about contacting and communicating with Mieke and your mentor.
  • Be willing to explore the possibilities your mentor suggests in order to grow and expand your craft.
  • Provide all necessary materials to Mieke and your mentor by their due dates.
  • Attend all workshops and the final performance.
  • Ask as many questions as you need to feel confident about your work!

The 2023 YJC Workshop Band. L to R: Tyson Stubelek, Pablo Rivarola, Mary-Sue Tobin. Photo by DOuglas Detrick

What past participants are saying:

It was really valuable to see how all the musicians work together and find the right balance between too little and too many instructions on the page. I’m used to writing mainly for classical musicians and they’re usually more comfortable with everything is notated. It’s something else to learn and also kind of a nice ego check because it reminds you that for improvisation that the page is just a blueprint, and the score isn’t everything. —Rohan Srinivasan

It showed me it was possible to write a composition from start to finish for large ensemble and actually have players perform it. It was my first time doing something like that. Now five years later, I am currently pursuing a Fulbright Finland grant term, taking master’s exchange studies at the global music department at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. —Devina Boughton

PJCE helped me by sponsoring me the first year I did the Grasshoppers program, covering all the tuition which was really really helpful at the time. Now, I’ve ever since then I’ve composed much more. I used to not really compose at all, but after doing this with PJCE it’s been a much, much bigger part of my life. —Harrison Richter

Now, as I write I try to make things kind of a more integrative process. I think a little bit less in terms of chord changes and rather just in terms of these evolving shapes that accommodate themselves to a melody. That was really very helpful advice, and I think that’s one of the main ways I’ve grown (assuming that I have). —Jake Khawaja

One of the biggest takeaways that I got from my mentor was really composing with intent. He said, “Well, you have this amount of time you’re not going to do a whole symphony in that time. So, here’s an idea with a beginning, middle, and end.” And, I carried that idea of composing with intent on into this style of composing that I’ve been doing recently which is basing my compositions on art. —Christian Ramirez

To sign up for the program or to learn more, email Education Coordinator, Mieke Bruggeman at mieke@pjce.org.

Thanks to our sponsors!