Jayna Nelson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and began to study piano as soon as she could reach the keyboard. At age 9 she began to study the flute as well and by age 17 had won both the Baldwin Junior Keyboard award and the l Music Teachers' National Association Competition.
She graduated from the University of Toronto in Flute Performance where she studied with Louis Moyse, Andre Jaunet and Jeanne Baxtresser. For the next two years, she served on the faculty at University of Toronto teaching chamber music. There she also premiered a work by Mario Davidovsky: Synchronism #1 for Flute & Electronic Tape under the direction of the composer. She also was principal flutist with the Union College Orchestra, the Wesleyan College Orchestra, Opera Omaha Orchestra and Symphony Canada.
In 1983 she attended the Banff Centre Jazz program headed by Dave Holland and studied and performed with Anthony Braxton, Don Thompson, Dave Liebman and, John Abercrombie.
Jayna moved to New York in 1989. She continues to work as a Classical and Jazz performer, producer, composer, arranger and educator. She has designed and implemented integrated arts curriculum for New York area schools and summer camps and has lectured and given seminars at the University of Nebraska, University of Georgia, Bard College and the Julliard school of music and also has has maintained a private teaching studio for over 20 yrs. She has performed in the Toronto DuMaurier, NYC Panasonic, NYC JVC Jazz festivals, Woodstock Maverick Concert series, and the Kleinert/James Gallery, Woodstock, NY.