"Raising up the next generation of jazz is really where my passion and heart and soul is. When I was starting out, someone gave me a chance to get on stage and took the time to invest some of their knowledge and experience in me. It's a big part of my success today, and I'm grateful. Today, I'm giving back, and watching these young adults blossom into amazing musicians is an honor and a gift!"

-Gilbert C. Castellanos, Founder and Artistic Director

Young Lions Jazz Conservatory - Jazz Education for Middle and High School Musicians

Young Lions Jazz Conservatory offers one of the most prestigious jazz education programs in Southern California. This top-quality conservatory is open to middle and high school instrumentalists and vocalists who complete and meet audition requirements. Students are placed in small ensembles where they receive professional instruction from San Diego’s top jazz musicians and educators including Gilbert Castellanos, Rob Thorsen, and Marshall Hawkins. Music students delve into jazz theory, history, and performance and receive many opportunities to perform in concerts and attend jazz festivals throughout California. Young Lions Jazz Conservatory is the top school for middle and high school kids with a passion for jazz.

We are a grateful recipient of The Thursday Club San Diego grant. 
Partners: San Diego SymphonyJazz 88.3 KSDS FM San Diego

Conservatory Student Connor Gilbert Receives the VAPA Spotlight Award

We are happy to announce that Connor Gilbert, bass player in our “Free For All” and “Blue Train” ensembles, will receive a Spotlight Award from the San Diego Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Program. Connor is a junior at Mission Bay High School. Every year, San Diego Unified School District’s Visual and […]

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New Soil Ensemble to Play at Monterey Jazz Fest!

We are thrilled to announce that our New Soil Ensemble, led by Gilbert Castellanos, has been selected to perform at the Monterey Jazz Fest this September! They are only one of two ensembles selected nation-wide to perform at this prestigious festival. They will perform on Sunday, September 27 on the North Coast Brewing Company Jazz […]


DownBeat Magazine Honors Nick Caldwell!

A HUGE congratulations to Nick Caldwell, a 13-year-old sax player in our program. He won DownBeat Magazine‘s award for Junior High School Honors Outstanding Performance, Tenor Saxophone! We are all so proud!


2017 Impact Report: See the Impact of YOUR Donations on YLJC

Young Lions Jazz Conservatory is pleased to provide you with our first ever impact report. The impact of your generosity and support over the span of just under five months has been remarkable, and we can’t thank you enough for making so much possible for our kids. Together, we are making a difference in young lives.