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“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

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Summer Workshop Announced

YLJC is proud to announce our 2020 Summer Workshop – Online. Open to all ages, and students can join from anywhere in the world. We have an amazing faculty lined up and different attendance options to suit your interest. We are also offering scholarships so everyone can join – sign up today! LEARN MORE


New Soil Ensemble Wins Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music Award!

Congratulations to YLJC’s New Soil Ensemble for taking the win in the High School Honors Ensemble category for the 43rd annual Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards! NEW SOIL ENSEMBLEInstructor – Gilbert Castellanos Nick Caldwell – Sax (Tenor)Brenda Greggio – PianoCarmen Murray – DrumsJohn Murray – BassAlvin Paige – Sax (Alto)Mateo Zamora – Trombone See all the winners […]


Jazz Explorations with Gilbert Castellanos – New Online Series!

We are pleased to introduce an online series presented every Sunday at noon! Join us for some exciting “jazz explorations” sessions hosted by Gilbert Castellanos. The presentations will be different each week and will include master classes with world-renowned artists, special guest panelists, discussions on a wide variety of jazz topics such as practicing, etiquette, […]


YLJC Moves To Online Classes Due To COVID-19

Young Lions Jazz Conservatory has moved to remote instruction – week two wrapped up today! To ensure that we do our part to help with the community responsibility of social distancing during this time of coronavirus uncertainty, we are no longer meeting with our students on site. At YLJC we are determined and ready to […]


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!