Jazz & Contemporary Music at the Conservatory

Jazz & Contemporary Music

Jazz & Contemporary Music at the Conservatory

Musical Connections from Around the World

The Conservatory’s new Jazz & Contemporary Music offerings will continue to preserve and share the unique heritage of American Jazz — a longstanding WCM tradition — while celebrating its proud heritage that is ever present in the music of today.


Beginning and advanced programs are also available for school-aged students who wish to get a more in-depth knowledge of jazz.

Beginning Middle & High School students can enroll in the Jazz Prep program, an entry point into developing their ears, building jazz feel, exploring tune knowledge & improvisation skills, and learning ensemble skills.

Advanced High School Jazz students may audition to enter the Conservatory’s Honors Jazz Institute, a a comprehensive, year-round experience that includes small ensembles, big band, jazz theory classes, private lessons, and summer jazz camp. Honors Jazz Institute students have the opportunity to work with visiting guest artists and to perform in the community.


From Jazz to the Music of Today

Jazz, at its core, is music of connection — to West African rhythms, to European-style brass bands, to work songs sung by enslaved peoples in the American South, and even to the structures found in classical music. Jazz musicians experience connection through improvisation, spontaneous composition, and understanding of a shared musical language.

What then does Contemporary Music add to the equation? Contemporary styles like rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, and salsa find their roots in Jazz music and also all share a keen ability to connect cultures and traditions from around the world. By fusing diverse styles, jazz & contemporary musicians create the music of “the now.”

Jazz Ensembles At The Conservatory

Make the Connection

Jazz & Contemporary Music are linked by their ability to fuse global cultures and traditions to create the music of “the now.” Here are just a few examples:

  • Jazz great Duke Ellington has claimed inspiration from the works of classical French composers such as Claude Debussy, and his influence can be heard in Ellington’s compositions from the swing era to his symphonic works.
  • Mississippi Delta Blues, one of the earliest styles of American blues music, served as key inspiration for the British Invasion bands of the 1960s.
  • Modern day hip-hop sampling allows individual artists to create “mash-ups” and shatter traditional genres through the use of music technology.

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For ages 9 – 18

Jazz Prep Program

The Conservatory’s new Jazz Prep Program is the place for students to begin their journey into Jazz! Students will develop their ears, build jazz feel, explore tune knowledge & improvisation skills, and learn ensemble skills in a three-part package: combo, keyboard-centered concepts class, and private lesson.

Full and partial financial assistance available. Call 414-276-5760 or email info@wcmusic.org for more information.


Jazz Camp 2020

Open To The Community By Audition

Honors Jazz Institute

The Honors Jazz Institute is a comprehensive, year-round experience for high school students. The program includes small ensembles, big band, jazz theory classes, private lessons, and summer jazz camp. Students have the opportunity to work with visiting guest artists and to perform in the community. Admittance into the program is by audition.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year on a rolling basis. Please contact Mitch Shiner directly at mshiner@wcmusic.org to apply.

  • Entry Level | Auditions open to woodwind, brass, percussion, strings, bass, guitar, piano, and voice students currently in grades 8-11 (high school students in 2021-22)
  • Audition Material | Students will be expected to prepare all of the requirements as listed in the appropriate category. Time limit is 10 minutes.
  • Evaluation | Auditions will be judged on the following elements of musical performance: improvisation, accuracy, rhythm, time, technique, stylistic awareness, and harmonic skills. All judges’ decisions are final.




Jazz & Contemporary Music Faculty

Meet Our Teachers


Alec Burke


  • Bachelor of Science, Instrumental/General Music Education | Ball State University
  • Master of Music, Trumpet Performance | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Performer’s Certificate (in progress) | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


  • Is on faculty as a brass instructor with several organizations in the Milwaukee area.
  • Served as the Muncie Symphony Orchestra’s Education Coordinator.
  • Performed as the 2017 Concerto Soloist with the Music for the Sake of Music Symphony Orchestra, a chamber musician for Classical Music Indy and the Muncie Symphony, and as a lead trumpet player for numerous musicals and shows across Central Indiana.
  • Has a breadth of experience teaching both in and out of the classroom including traditional public school ensembles, clinics and masterclasses, general music and PreK, and managing his own private studio.
  • Performs in his contemporary chamber ensemble Microcosm and with his acoustic pop duo Ekruteak with his fiancé, Jennifer Rodriguez.

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Marcya Daneille


  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Voice Performance | Roosevelt University (Chicago Musical College)
  • Graduate Level Vocal Training | University of Iowa


  • Joined the Vocal Arts faculty at the Conservatory in 2017.
  • Is a cross-genre singer that is classically trained, jazz influenced, and soul inspired.
  • Has taught private voice to students of all levels for thirty years, which includes more than a decade in New York.
  • Began her career singing career as a soprano and has sung with Lincoln Opera Chicago, the Lyric Theater of Illinois and the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee.
  • Has gradually transitioned from singing classical music exclusively to performing an eclectic repertoire of music.
  • Has performed alongside a diverse group of critically acclaimed artists such as Simon Estes, Wycliffe Gordon, BeBe Winans, Vanessa Williams, Laurel Masse and Gerald Levert.

Aaron Gardner


  • Berklee College of Music


  • WCM faculty member since 2005.
  • Moved back to his roots in Milwaukee after 10 years of living in New York and touring and recording with the band ulu.
  • 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.

Hannah Johnson


  • Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies | Indiana University Jacobs School of Music


  • Joined the Conservatory faculty in January 2019.
  • Teaches and plays various styles of music on the drum set, specializing in jazz.
  • Plays with her modern jazz quartet in the Milwaukee area.
  • Featured as an instructor for the Vic Firth video series “Inside the Teaching Studio” entitled How to Sound Like Elvin Jones.
  • Has played with musicians such as Leni Stern, Ingrid Jensen, and Jamie Baum.
  • Enjoys teaching the bucket drumming and world percussion classes through the Conservatory Connections program, as well as private percussion lessons.

Sean Koga


  • Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Master of Music, Jazz Pedagogy | University of Northern Iowa
  • Professional Educators License | Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago


  • Based in the Midwest, Sean Koga’s interest in music started very young.
  • Surrounded by a musical family, Sean started piano lessons at age eight and switched to tenor saxophone by age nine.
  • By age 11, Sean began his journey as a jazz saxophonist refining his sound and approach to improvisation.
  • Through junior high and high school Sean performed in wind ensembles, jazz bands, jazz combos, and high school productions.
  • In 2012, Sean began performing all over the world aboard major cruise lines.
  • Sean has always been serious about doubling on reeds and has worked in many orchestras for professional productions.
  • In December of 2018, under the direction of Julio Awad, Sean performed in the orchestra of Spain’s world premiere of Sunset Boulevard at the Auditorio de Tenerife in Santa Cruz, Spain.
  • Sean is now teaching music at River Trail Elementary School in Milwaukee while continuing to perform professionally, and is excited to be teaching at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Kyle Samuelson


  • Kyle Samuelson is one of the most in-demand freelance performers in the area and has over 25 years of teaching experience.
  • An exceptionally diverse musician that performs on trombone, euphonium, tuba and trumpet – everything from classical to jazz to Latin.
  • Regularly performs with all the orchestras in Southeastern Wisconsin, including the prestigious Milwaukee Symphony.
  • A member of several bands ranging in styles from Big Band to New Orleans Jazz.
  • Has performed with national and international acts alike, as well as Broadway touring companies.
  • All of this real-world experience has given Kyle a great foundation from which he builds his teaching style upon, and he loves passing on his experiences and knowledge to the next generation of musicians.

Mitch Shiner

Chair, Jazz & Contemporary Music


  • Bachelor of Music, Emphasis in Jazz Studies | Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
  • Performer’s Certificate for Senior Recital


  • WCM faculty member since 2016.
  • Began playing drums at age eight and has been studying percussion since age nine.
  • Co-leads tour-de-force fusion group, “Match Stick,” which released a self-titled album in 2019.
  • Released his debut CD, “FLY!”, in 2014, which invites listeners on a musical journey of original compositions and out-of-the-box arrangements for 20-piece big band.
  • Featured clinician for the 2015 Summerfest Big Band Camp, along with Curt Hanrahan and Mike Steinel.
  • Conducted masterclasses at UW-Parkside, University of Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Park Tudor School, and Nicolet High School.
  • Teaches percussion at several Milwaukee public schools through the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s Conservatory Connections program.

Jeanne Marie Stalteri


  • Bachelor of Music, Saxophone Performance | Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
  • Bachelor of Music, Music Education | Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania


  •  Joined the Conservatory faculty in the Fall of 2019.
  • Worked as an orchestra musician for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines May – August 2018.
  • Recorded 2016 CD release “Identity” with the Slippery Rock University Jazz Ensemble, featuring guest artist Troy Roberts.
  • Has played with artists such as Sean Jones, John Clayton, and John Daversa.

Michael Standal


  • Has been a member of the Conservatory since 2017 serving as a guitar instructor, and working for the Guitar Prep Program.
  • Teaching for over 33 years, Michael specializes in genres such as jazz, fusion, rock, alternative, and finger-style acoustic.
  • Additionally, emphasizes in music technology, composition, and production.
  • His compositions have been placed in over 1,000 different television shows and films worldwide including American Idol, Dateline NBC, The Today Show, and The Emmy Awards.
  • Corporate music work includes extensive recording and production for Hal Leonard’s play-a-long series, 2018’s “Stronger Together” live music activation for Aurora Health Care and extensive jingle and custom music composition, recording and production.
  • Performed, recorded and composed in an extremely wide variety of genres and styles, including Jazz, Latin Jazz, Rock, Fusion, Funk, Blues, R&B, Gospel, Alternative and Pop and proficient in Metal, Country, Folk, Finger-style Acoustic, Classical and other styles.

Rosemary McGee Walzer


  • Bachelor of Music | Heidelberg University
  • Master of Music, Instrumental Conducting | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


  • Music educator and saxophonist Rosemary McGee Walzer is Director of the UWM Youth Jazz Ensemble, and Director of Bands at Maple Dale Elementary School.
  • During her time at UW-Milwaukee, she studied conducting with Dr. John Climer, saxophone with Curt Hanrahan, served as a graduate conducting associate with both the University Band and the Youth Wind Ensemble program, and assisted with the overall administration of the university band program.
  • Additionally, she served as music director for Pankratz Arts Exchange in Mount Calvary, WI for five seasons.
  • In addition to her regular teaching gigs, Rosemary has served as a guest lecturer, clinician, and music camp instructor.
  • Is a regular clinician with the Woody Herman Jazz Festival, and has been invited to work with many instrumental ensembles throughout Southeast Wisconsin.
  • As a performer, Rosemary was one of the winners of the Heidelberg University Concerto Competition in 2003, and received the Arthur Bean Award there in 2005.
  • Freelances in the Milwaukee area and has been in several instrumental ensembles, including the funk/soul band Montage, the East Side Jazz Orchestra, the Kicks Big Band, and the Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra.

Sam Winternheimer


  • Bachelor Degree | Michigan State University
  • Master Degree, Jazz Studies | Florida State University


  • Performs professionally in a wide variety of musical styles, as a leader and as a sideman, on upright bass and electric bass.
  • Studied with world- renowned bassist, Rodney Whitaker while at Michigan State University.
  • Studied classically with the Assistant Principal of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Robert Goodlett
  • Taught alongside Robert Goodlett at the Quattro String Academy in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Currently serves as the Bass Instructor at Eastern Illinois University.
  • As a seasoned teacher, enjoys working with students with experience ranging from beginners to professionals.



Thank You

Supported by the City of Milwaukee Arts Board & the Wisconsin Arts Board

WCM Jazz Residencies in Schools are supported in part by a grant from the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.