Jazz Institute

Jazz Institute

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has one of the longest running jazz education programs in the United States. For over 40 years, it has been a significant presence in the world of jazz and has produced many well-known performers.  Well known jazz alumni of the Conservatory include Grammy-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch, David Hazeltine, Lynne Arriale, Gerald Cannon, Dan Nimmer, and Rick Germanson, to name just a few.

Jazz Institute faculty members are premiere jazz performers as well as dedicated and accomplished educators who have the expertise to work with jazz students of all backgrounds and experience levels. Individual instruction, classes in jazz improvisation, straight ahead jazz combos, big band and Latin jazz are all offered. An emphasis is placed on understanding the bebop idiom as well as other historically important styles. Faculty members bring jazz to young people by providing residencies in area schools. WCM Jazz Institute students frequently perform in the community. Recent performances have included Summerfest, the Jazz Estate, and Jazz in the Park. Scholarships and financial aid are available.

Master Classes by world renowned performers are regularly offered to our students. Past artists have included Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, Peter Bernstein, Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, Regina Carter, Harry Connick, Jr., and Brian Lynch. The Conservatory’s resident jazz sextet We Six also presents an annual concert series featuring its signature straight-ahead style.

Summer jazz camps are offered for high school and middle school students. Jazz jam sessions, open to high school and adult musicians of all experience levels, take place the second Friday of each month and are free and open to the public. Students have access to the Dorothea Music Library which includes thousands of books, scores, DVDs, and the Ron Cuzner collection of over 10,000 jazz CDs.

Our expert faculty will help you to refine your technique, deepen your improvisation skills, and become a stronger player overall.

Private lessons available in

  • Bass
  • Drums
  • Flute
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Voice

Call 414-276-5760 to be matched with an instructor and to register for a sample lesson.

Tuition Rates for individual instruction range from $31-$33 per 30-minute lesson, $46.50-$49.50 for a 45-minute lesson, or $62-$66 for 60-minute lessons.

Group instruction encourages students to study and learn in a collaborative manner with students of similar experience while advancing individual skills.  Students can also study the basics of theory, composition, and improvisation in a fun and nurturing environment.

Class & Ensemble (Entering Grades 6 – 9)
Uniquely crafted for instrumentalists, Jazz Foundations covers improvisation, performance practice, ear training, jazz history and more. Students interested in playing jazz or other contemporary music styles will get essential knowledge and skills they need to begin exploring their creativity in a focused way. Prerequisite: Two years of instrumental study.

The Conservatory offers comprehensive, year-round jazz programs for high school students. Ensembles from the program have received numerous national awards. Classes and ensembles meet on Wednesday evenings. Admittance into the program is based on audition. Please contact Student Services at 414-276-5760 for more information.

The Jazz Institute offers straight-ahead and Latin jazz combos at all experience levels for middle school, high school and adult musicians.

Jazz Combo: Intermediate (Adults)
Tuesdays | 5:30pm-6:25pm
May 23 – June 27 | 6 weeks
Mcintosh|Goodrich | Eric Schoor

Big Band (Grades 9 – 12)
Wednesdays | 7:00pm – 8:00pm
July 5 – August 9 | 6 weeks
McIntosh|Goodrich | Eric Schoor

The resident faculty ensemble is the We Six jazz sextet.

The teaching artists for jazz are gifted performers and skilled in nurturing students’ musical talents.

Mark Davis

Chair, Jazz Institute, Piano

Chair, Jazz Institute, Piano

WCM faculty member since 1992. B.S., with honors, Skidmore College. Mr. Davis is Jazz Institute Chair and a member of the Conservatory’s We Six. His WCM instructors included Adelaide Banaszynski and David Hazeltine. He later studied with jazz legend Barry Harris. He has performed with many jazz luminaries, including Jimmy Heath, Charles McPherson, Slide Hampton, Brian Lynch, Vincent Herring, Peter Bernstein, and Frank Morgan. He is also on the faculty of Wisconsin Lutheran College, Cardinal Stritch University, and Alverno College. He has done work for the Hal Leonard Corporation including transcriptions for Miles Davis: Kind of Blue for their Transcribed Score Series and numerous recordings for their Real Book Play-Along Series. Mr. Davis can be heard on the We Six CD Bird Say.

David Bayles

Faculty, Percussion

Faculty, Percussion

Dave Bayles has performed with many well-known artists including Peter Bernstein, Slide Hampton, Barry Harris, David Hazeltine, Vincent Herring, Carolyn Leonhart, Brian Lynch, Joe Magnerelli, Kevin Mahogny, Jack McDuff, Bob Mintzer, Frank Morgan, James Moody, Kim Richmond, Jim Pugh, Steve March-Torme, Melvin Rhyne, Charles McPherson, Terell Stafford, Ernie Watts, Steve Wiest and Phil Woods.

Dave has appeared in numerous festivals and concert series, including Chicago Jazz Festival, Fox Jazz Fest, Third Ward Jazz Festival, Isthmus Jazz Festival, Trout Art Museum, Jazz in the Park and Jazz at Five (Madison). He performs regularly at jazz venues around the Midwest, including The Jazz Estate, Blu, Mason Street Grill, Pete Miller's, Andy's Jazz Club, The Green Mill and The Jazz Showcase.

In addition to keeping an active performance schedule, Dave is an accomplished educator and clinician, and is currently on the faculty at UW-Parkside, UW-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Dave works with band directors throughout the Midwest organizing summer camps and clinics, and giving master classes on jazz, percussion and drum set.

Students taking private lessons with Dave are exceptionally prepared to study percussion at the undergraduate and graduate level, and many of his private students have become accomplished musicians and educators in their own right.

Dave earned a bachelor of arts in music education from UW-Milwaukee.

Steven Cohen

Faculty, Harmonica

Faculty, Harmonica
Steve Cohen is a Milwaukeebased performing musician, an educator, and a booking agent. He has been sponsored by Hohner Inc., the world's largest maker of harmonicas, since 1986. He also plays the guitar and sings.
Steve performs regionally in several ensembles. He has produced over 8 published recordings of his own, and his playing has appeared on dozens of other recordings, demos, and commercials. He currently has 3 harmonica instruction books in print, published by Hal leonard, and his playing has graced dozens of othere Hal Leonard instruction books.
Steve has received public recognition, winning over a dozen awards from several organizations, including WAMI, the Shepard/Express Readers Poll, and Milwaukee Magazine. He was a finalist at the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis as a solo performer.
Steve taught a blues history course at  UW Milwaukee from 2005-2009. He has also taught harmonica and guitar to many private students. His Blues Central booking agency has been in operation since the early 1980's. In his 45 year career, other music related activities have included work as a disc jockey, journalist, concert promoter and record dealer.

John Foshager

Faculty, Piano

Faculty, Piano

WCM faculty member since 1987. B.M. Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Mr. Foshager has studied with Tony King and David Hazeltine as well as jazz legend Barry Harris. He has performed with a host of local jazz artists such as Hattush Alexander, Berkeley Fudge and Manty Ellis. He has also performed with internationally known artists Spike Robinson, Scott Hamilton, George Braith, Frank Morgan and Richie Cole. A WAMI award winner for his work with the Juli Wood Quartet, Mr. Foshager has performed at the Playboy Club in Chicago and venues throughout the Midwest. His recordings include a CD with his John Foshager Trio/Quartet, featuring Dennis Irwin and George Fludas; work for the Hal Leonard Company; and an appearance on the WYMS Jazz Sampler.

Aaron Gardner

Faculty, Saxophone, Flute

Faculty, Saxophone, Flute

WCM faculty member since 2005. Aaron Gardner is a graduate of Berklee College of Music. After 10 years living in New York touring and recording with the band ulu, Aaron moved back to his roots in Milwaukee. Since then he has played and recorded with many bands and artists including De La Buena, Choir Fight, Jamie Breiwick, Steve Peplin, The Static Chicken, Tristan Royalty Squad, The Extra Crispy Brass Band, The Soul Trio, The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Eric Bennet.

Jeff Hamann

Faculty, Bass

Faculty, Bass

WCM faculty member since 1998. A member of the Conservatory’s We Six jazz sextet, Mr. Hamann attended the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, winning first place in the Jazz Studies Scholarship competition four years in a row. He has worked as a clinician and jazz festival judge in the Milwaukee, Kenosha and Waukesha public schools as well as at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison and UW-Green Bay. Performing with such well-known artists as Frank Morgan, Marlena Shaw, Steve Allen, and Eric Alexander, he has toured throughout the Midwest and has appeared at Jazz Yantra in Bombay, India. Jeff is also the bassist on Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know show, airing Saturdays on Wisconsin Public Radio and broadcast nationally on NPR stations. He can be heard on the 2005 We Six CD Bird Say.

Eric Jacobson

Faculty, Trumpet, Jazz Institute, General Music

Faculty, Trumpet, Jazz Institute, General Music

WCM faculty member since 2008.

As a performer, teacher and clinician Eric Jacobson is in high demand. Eric has performed with Grammy© Award Winners Phil Woods, Benny Golson, Brian Lynch, Tito Puente Jr. and Eric Benet. Eric has had the privilege to perform and study with well known jazz artists such as: David Hazeltine, Jim Rotondi, Tim Hagans,Willie Thomas, Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen.

As a Music Major he studied Trumpet at UW-Whitewater from 1993-1997 with Dr. Frank Hanson, and Jazz Director Steve Wiest. Eric continues to work on his craft and has had the privilege to Study with;  Brian Lynch, Alex Norris, Ryan Kisor, and Wynton Marsalis.

Eric toured the world in 2010-2013 with Milwaukee’s local soul band "Kings Go Forth" but now stays a bit closer to home and is a top call trumpeter for high profile gigs in Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago and frequently plays with the popular Milwaukee-based Latin band De la Buena.

Since 2010, he has been the trumpeter with the Conservatory's resident jazz sextet We Six, providing fiery solos and contributing arrangements and original compositions to the band's repertoire.The Jazz Institute of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has been gaining a national reputation in recent years due in large part to the tireless efforts of trumpeter Eric Jacobson.Served for several years as the Chair of Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion. teaches Materials of Jazz as part of the Honors Program curriculum, and directs our award-winning Batterman Ensemble who recently won Best Small group in DownBeat Magazine.Eric has also been busy in the recording studio. He recently recorded for Johannes Wallmann "The Sweet Minute Big Band" and  Willy Porter’s CD Human Kindness. Watch for Eric's latest CD as a leader, Discover, to be released under Brian Lynch's jazz label Holistic MusicWorks.


Eric has been fortunate enough to perform and study with well-known artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Slide Hampton, Brian Lynch, Jim Rotondi, Tim Hagans, Tito Puente, Joan Rivers, Eric Benet, Mayer Hawthorne, Robert Randolph, and Wynton Marsalis. Eric has toured throughout the world with Kings Go Forth who was featured in Time Magazine as being "2011's Best Soul Band".


In 2001, Eric released his debut jazz CD entitled Inspiration which features some of Milwaukee's best jazz musicians as well as New York trumpet sensation and Grammy Award winner Brian Lynch.  Eric released his second album in 2011 entitled "Two A.M.” and his 2012 release Combinations – Live at the Jazz Estate features Brian Lynch and piano legend Barry Velleman. Eric was recently recognized in Jazzscope Magazine by David Hoffman as "having a gorgeous round sound on both the trumpet and flugelhorn" and being "on his way to being a jazz giant."

Jim Paolo

Faculty, Bass, Jazz Institute

Faculty, Bass, Jazz Institute

WCM faculty member since 1981. Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Performance. Regional Freelance performer and teacher as well as leader of his own small ensembles. Has performed with top jazz artists in the United States, including Buddy Montgomery, Melvin Rhyne, Frank Morgan, Berkeley Fudge, David Hazeltine, Brian Lynch, Manty Ellis, Wille Pickens, Ali Ryerson, Greg Abate, Von Freeman, and Henry Johnson. Mr. Paolo can be heard on the CD On the Edge with The Luis Diaz Quintet, WYMS radio sampler CD with Berkeley Fudge on "On a Misty Night" and Jeanne Woodall’s It’s Never too Late. He is currently on faculty teaching Jazz Bass, Theory and Performance at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, private teaching, clinician for the Jazz Experience for Milwaukee Public Schools, and at various colleges.

Robin Pluer

Faculty, Voice (Soprano)

Faculty, Voice (Soprano)

WCM faculty member since 2004. Ms. Pluer is a perennial WAMI Award winner as well as the Shepherd Express’ Best Female Vocalist. She has composed and performed music with Paul Cebar and John Sieger. With Juli Wood, Connie Grauer and Kim Zick (Mrs. Fun) she created The Rhythm Club to perform an eclectic array of jazz, pop, R&B and French songs. Robin collaborated with Peter Buffett, recording a song for his album, Songs from an East Side Attic. Robin combines vintage French chansons from the 20s, 30s and 40s with contemporary songs, which she performs each year at Bastille Days in Milwaukee. Robin studied with Martha Artis (at WCM), Jessie Hauck, and Sylvie Frere. She has also studied at L’Alliance Francaise of Manhattan and at UWM.

Molly Pufall

Faculty, Voice (Soprano), Choral Arts, Jazz

Faculty, Voice (Soprano), Choral Arts, Jazz

Ms. Pufall-Brown is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, and the Millikin University School of Music. She is equally versed in teaching and performing vocal jazz and classical repertoire. From 2008 to 2015 she was Assistant Professor of Music at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she directed the Alverno College Choir, Alverno Chamber Vocal Ensemble, Jazz/Pop Ensemble and taught private voice lessons, Vocal Techniques, Voice Lab, various music seminar courses, and served as the Audition and Performance Coordinator.

Ms. Pufall-Brown currently is the Director of Adult Choirs at Unity Lutheran Church (Cross of Life campus) in Brookfield, Wisconsin. She also maintains a performance calendar with recitals and appearing regularly with The Marion Consort, a Chicagobased professional Early Music vocal ensemble, of which she is a founding member.

In her spare time, Ms. Pufall-Brown likes to play ultimate frisbee, spend time at the lakefront with her husband and two young daughters and their golden retriever, Hazel, ride her bike as much as possible, and practice Pilates.

Eric Schoor

Faculty, Woodwind Brass & Percussion, Saxophone, Jazz Institute, Chamber Music

Faculty, Woodwind Brass & Percussion, Saxophone, Jazz Institute, Chamber Music

WCM faculty member since 2012. B.F.A. summa cum laude in Jazz Studies and Multiple Woodwinds from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Eric performs and teaches extensively throughout the Midwest, giving clinics and lessons, as well as playing clubs and festivals. He has had the good fortune of performing and recording with nationally recognized jazz artists such as Brian Lynch, Dan Trudell, Francois Moutin, Tom Garling, Mark Johnson, John Fedchock, David Hazeltine, and Manty Ellis. Eric is also a member of the Conservatory's jazz sextet We Six. His debut CD, Combinations-Live at the Jazz Estate, was released in 2013 on the Hollistic MusicWorks record label. www.ericschoor.com

Paul Silbergleit

Faculty, Guitar, Jazz Institute

Faculty, Guitar, Jazz Institute

WCM faculty member since 1996 and a member of the Conservatory’s We Six jazz sextet. B.A., Oberlin College. An accomplished jazz composer as well as performer, Mr. Silbergleit has played clubs, concert halls, and festivals throughout the area as both a leader and a sideman. He has appeared with Jack McDuff, Jon Faddis, Richie Cole, Tierney Sutton, Melvin Rhyne, Brian Lynch, David Hazeltine, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, among others. Both his 1996 debut CD Silberglicity (on which other Conservatory faculty members are featured) and his 2003 release, My New Attitude, have made it onto the jazz charts with nationwide airplay, and he can also be heard on the 2005 We Six CD Bird Say. Mr. Silbergleit has also taught at Cardinal Stritch University, and has authored numerous instructional materials for Hal Leonard, including the recently published 25 Great Jazz Guitar Solos, a major book of transcriptions, bios, and lessons.

JAZZ CAMP | June 26-30
Entering Grades 6-8 & 9-12 | 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Come learn from the Conservatory’s Jazz Institute faculty and Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch. Participate in master classes, listening, rhythm and improvisation sessions and workshops. Perform jazz classics in both small and large ensembles. This camp is ideal for experienced and amateur players. You will be amazed how great you sound by the end of the week! Prerequisite: Minimum of one year experience on instrument.

McIntosh|Goodrich | Jazz Institute Faculty | $435 (incl. T-shirt)



We Six, the Conservatory’s jazz ensemble-in-residence, offers residencies for public, private, choice, and charter schools, providing an engaging and dynamic educational program for each school’s jazz ensemble. We Six includes six well established and highly effective teaching artists: Dave Bayles, Mark Davis, Jeff Hamann, Eric Jacobson, Eric Schoor, and Paul Silbergleit.

Each member of the group has advanced knowledge and experience in different instruments: piano, saxophone, trumpet, drums, guitar, and bass, which expands the breadth of impact of this program. This unique, education-based side by side program gives students the opportunity to work with some of the finest jazz musicians in the area.

We Six residencies provide students in a school jazz ensemble the opportunity to learn from, work with, and perform alongside a professional jazz ensemble. Members of the ensemble work closely with the school jazz program director as assistants and mentors in the teaching process. They will mentor and teach students in the ensembles as a whole as well as work with individual or small groups of students. We Six will sit in with the ensemble, giving students the opportunity to play alongside professional musicians.

In 2016-17, with the support of Milwaukee Arts Board and the Theodore W. Batterman Family Foundation, We Six Residencies took place at four MPS Schools: Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Reagan High School, Riverside High School, and Rufus King High School.


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