Jazz in the classroom

Image from Periscope on KnowItAll.org, "First of All, What is Jazz?

When I was a teacher, I would try to incorporate music as much as possible into each of my lessons. I would try to find every opportunity throughout the day to allow music to fill the air so the students could be exposed to different genres, relax, and focus on their work.

I found that jazz was an excellent genre because it was often instrumental and has a wide variety from which to choose.

Dizzy Gillespie from Periscope on KnowItAll.orgWhile jazz is directly stated in the social studies and performing arts standards, it is important to expose students to a wide variety of cultural expression. If the students were working on a writing assignment, I would often play some early Miles Davis or John Coltrane to relax the students and get their creative juices flowing for writing. During transition time, I would play Herbie Hancock to get the students moving at brisker pace.  If I really wanted to get the attention of my students, I would play some Thelonious Monk and gauge their reactions.  I would often teach the differences between the South and North by comparing the jazz of Billie Holliday and Duke Ellington from New York City to the Delta Blues of Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson from Mississippi (2019 Fifth Grade Social Studies Indicator 5.2.CX - Contextualize the post-war economic climate on the cultural landscape throughout the United States and South Carolina). This way the students can compare how music reflects the environment. Also, if you want the students to learn about jazz through the works of great novels, please check out Jazz by Toni Morrison and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. These are just a few examples of how I would use jazz in the classroom.

I highly recommend using jazz in your classroom to introduce a style of music that students may not hear on a regular basis.  Who knows, you may be the one to influence the next Cheraw-native, jazz legend and ambassador, Dizzy Gillespie?  For more resources about jazz please check out the Jazz collection on Knowitall.org and the media gallery from Ken Burns’ documentary, Jazz, on PBS LearningMedia.