By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tuesday is Mardi Gras, and today some student musicians were preparing for the festivities by practicing their New Orleans jazz.

In preparation for their debut next week on the Verizon Hall stage at the Kimmel Center, high schoolers from the Benjamin Rush Arts Academy Jazz Ensemble participated today in a master class led by professional musicians who perform  regularly at the Kimmel Center.

“You know, at school we’re focused on text and getting the notes correct, but now we’re really focusing on nitpicking every little rhythm, every little melody, and really getting into the music,” says twelfth grader Emily Rose Ristine.

Ristine will be playing piano on Tuesday with her fellow students, who will be opening the Mardi Gras performance for Grammy award-winning musician Irvin Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

“I’m a little nervous,” admits Ristine, “but mostly I’m excited because it’s my absolute dream to play in Verizon Hall.  So this is like a dream come true!”

Especially, she notes, as a high school student.