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Young musicians get jazzed about playing music

Mentor and instructor Bob Rebholz leads an enthusiastic group of young musicians at Rock Canyon High School. The group is part of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, a unique non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth to creatively express themselves through the language of jazz.

Article and photo by Heidi Lewellyn

Young musicians ages 11 and older interested in developing their jazz performing skills have a great and unique opportunity available. Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts (CCJA) is a Denver area based organization with several programs available for local kids.

CCJA was founded in late 1999 by local area professional jazz musicians Paul and Chris Romaine, with a vision of creating a unique jazz learning program for teens. This Colorado non-profit corporation has grown to offer several different learning programs, including its core small group program.

This program groups students from all over the metro area, including Castle Pines, into seven-to-nine-piece jazz ensembles that are directed by professional musician mentors. The groups practice weekly at three locations, including Rock Canyon High School.

This year included two Rocky Heights Middle School students, who are also residents in Castle Pines. Wayde McDonnell, drums; and Fionn Cool, mellophone, are participants in the group.

Small group member Fionn Cool commented “I really like our group and how we come together in music.” Fellow musician McDonnell expressed that, “It is unusual to find a group of other kids that also enjoy this genre of music.” Mentor/instructor Bob Rebholz said, “To expose the kids to the original art form jazz is such a valuable experience – thank you Paul Romaine!”

At the end of each term, the groups perform at local area venues, such as Dazzle Jazz in downtown Denver. Additional upcoming opportunities include several summer camp programs.

For more information about CCJA and its many programs and workshops, including the upcoming Jazz Boot Camp on June 11-14 (9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) at the Newman Center on the DU campus, visit Also, check them out at



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