What is PYJO?

Test Your Skills
Are you ready for the challenge of preparing music in a short period of time? Of sharpening your skills and reaching your musical potential? Whether you are brand new to music, new to Jazz, new to taking solos or an extremely expericed Jazz musican (graduated college with a music degree), PYJO has a place for you!
Founded in 2001 by Ben & Michelle Medler
The Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra is Oregon's largest Jazz Program! PYJO has trained musicians from the Portland Metro Area since 2001. Many alumni have attended prestigious music schools across the country on scholarship. Many have continued in music or music education.

Concerts are performed mainly in Portland area venues and music festivals. Occasionally performances are held in other Northwest cities, but are planned well in advance. A world class Jazz education is available right here in Portland, OR! PYJO believes the ‘language of Jazz’ can be passed down to young musicians through strong classroom education and through local performances embellished with guest artists, guest bands or clinicians.
PYJO has worked with Artists
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Village Vanguard Band: Dick Oatts-Lead Alto/Nick Marchione-Lead Tpt
Bobby Shew - Lead Trumpet Extraordinaire (Buddy Rich, Bob Florence Bands etc)
Charles McPherson - World Famous Saxophonist
Terrell Stafford - Trumpet/Educator with Essentially Ellington Program
Derrick Tabb - Snare Drummer in Rebirth Brass Band
Jiggs Whigham - Internationally Acclaimed Trombonist/Band Leader/Educator
BUJAZZO - German Youth Jazz Orchestra
Carl Saunders - Trumpet
Scott Whitfield - Trombonist/Arranger
John Clayton - Bassist/Educator
Darrell Grant - Pianst/PSU Jazz Studies
Jeff Cumpston - Late Director of West Linn HS
Charley Gray - Former Head of PSU Jazz Studies
Susie Jones - Former Head of Mt Hood Community College Jazz Program
Rich Cooper - Lead Trumpet Specialist
Dave Mills - Arranger/Trumpet
Brian Ward - Piano and Jazz Studies at WSU
Jeff Uusitalo - Trombone
Paul Mazzio - Trumpet/Educator/Burlingame Space Private Instructor
Dan Balmer - International Guitarist/Lewis & Clark College Instructor
Randy Porter - Pianist/Lewis & Clark College Instructor
Jeff Leonard - Bass Player/Lewis & Clark College Instructor
Thomas Barber - Trumpet/Educator
John Moak - Trombonist/Educator
Derek Simms - Trumpet/PSU Big Band Director
Greg Garrett - Trumpet
Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble - Grasshoppers Project
Tall Jazz
The Quadraphonnes
Medler Sextet
The Shanghai Woolies
...and many of Portland’s Finest Jazz Musicians!

Make Friends
PYJO brings young musicians together to rehearse, study, absorb and perform the American art form of Jazz. Students from Portland and the surrounding areas (as far as North Salem, Battleground, WA, Forest Grove, & East of Gresham) meet once a week in SW Portland at The Burlingame Space.
PYJO challenges up-and-coming musicians. Fast-paced rehearsals are packed with improvisation methods, music theory, exercises in all keys, rhythmic training, improving sightreading, listening, composition, and preparation of songs & solos for upcoming performances. Students are expected to practice outside of class and are given tools to make practice more fun and effective.
Student Responsibility
Band members are expected to prepare/practice their music and their solos, they should seek out recordings of the music we are working on and spend time listening. In order to grow, bands are often given music that is challenging to work-up with limited rehearsal. When the music is difficult, we expect students to put in their best effort by practicing regularly & giving full attention during classes & performances. Perfection is not our goal, growth is! Students are also responsible for communicating with the directors when conflicts arise with rehearsals or performances (the sooner the better, so alternate plans can be made or subs hired).
Learn to Teach
Ben & Michelle Medler teach the 'Jazz Techniques' class at Portland State University in the teacher education program and are very serious about training future educators. They offer clinics to area schools & train teachers within the PYJO program. In PYJO classes, student leaders are given opportunities to lead sectionals and work with younger students. Exceptional students, who display traits of future educators, are encouraged to become student directors in younger bands. Alumni also return and strengthen their teaching skills throughout the program.
PYJO Gives Back
- With their Student Teacher Program
- With School Outreach Programs
- Performance experiences that raise money for scholarships to support other students
- Students are encouraged to teach, share, and pass on what they have learned to younger musicians in our program or in their communities or school bands
-Experienced players are often asked to perform in small groups for gigs around the city: Portland Jazz Festival events, private parties, corporate events, school fundraisers, community events etc.

PYJO is fun! Rehearsals move fast and boggle the brain; but are always full of laughs. The Medlers have a great connection with their students. Getting results with positive energy.