About Us

Mission Statement

The GYJE believes music making is one of the keys to the development of youth.
Through exploration of the jazz language and improvised music young musicians are allowed the opportunity to create music in a relaxed and safe environment.  There is no pressure to fulfill a curriculum and the students are encouraged to create music in their own way.

Vision Statement

As we look to the future of the GYJE the ensemble looks to expand into a program that offers a variety of experience opportunities.   Youth will be able to participate in an ensemble that is comfortable for their ability, either a small group or a larger big band type of ensemble.  The ability to improvise helps develop the ability to adapt to a variety of situations that students will come across as they live their life’s journey.  The GYJE will have a visible presence in the community through a variety of performances.  Opportunities for the ensemble to travel to Music Festivals across the country will provide the members with the chance to see and hear world class musicians in workshops, concerts and clinic environments.

How We Do It

Based in Guelph Ontario the Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble (GYJE) provides young musicians with the opportunity to learn about and explore the world of jazz and improvised music.  The program was started in 2001 by the director Brent Rowan as a place for his private saxophone students to play together in a jazz quartet.  From there it grew to become an ensemble for youth in the community to learn about jazz styles and improvised music.  In 2006 it became the GYJE obtaining Not For Profit status in 2018.

There are varying levels of ensembles based on the experience of the members.  Currently band 1 is for the beginner improvising musician who has little or no experience playing jazz.  Band 2 is for youth with some experience in jazz and improvised music. Band 3 is for those students who have a good deal of experience and want to have a deeper and more serious study of the music known as jazz.  The program will soon be expanding to offer a big band as well.

Under the direction of Brent Rowan, original and standard jazz music is written and arranged specifically for the ensemble.  From Ellington-Herman-Davis-Gillespie-Elias-Coltrane and Derome, many styles of jazz and improvised music are explored.

Members are given ample opportunities to expand their ability to read music, improvise and understand the jazz language.


The band travelled to Ottawa in 2012 to attend the Nationals of Music Fest Canada for the first time. The band played great and had a wonderful learning opportunity receiving a silver medal.  In May 2013 the group attended the Nationals again in Toronto and was awarded with a Gold Medal. In May 2014 the group travelled to Richmond BC for nationals and was awarded a Gold Medal.  In 2015 the Nationals were in Toronto and Band 2 received a Silver Medal and Band 3 was awarded a Gold.  Trips to Nationals have continued with Gold in Ottawa 2016, Gold in Niagara Falls 2017 and Silver in Toronto 2018.

The Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble has had the pleasure of working with such great musicians as Adam Nussbaum, Don-Wong Kim, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jane Bunnett, Ted Warren, Kirk MacDonald, Tara Davidson, Pat Labarbera, Kieran Overs, Nicole Mitchel, William Parker, D.D. Jackson, Dean Bowman and Greg Tate.  The group has done a wide variety of Performances; Formal concerts at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, the Jazz Tent for the Guelph Jazz Festival, gigs at Manhattan’s Pizza, Women of Distinction Ceremony, Santa Clause Parades, International Community Music Conference, weddings, fundraisers for charity, and won awards at the Guelph Kiwanis festival.