April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and there are many Jazz events going on. What will you be doing in recognition of the Jazz?
Since 2001 April has been set aside as Jazz Appreciation Month, a time that pays tribute to jazz as an historical and living American art form. As a distinctively American musical form, jazz expresses a wide range of emotions, from sheer joy and ecstasy to deepest sorrow and pain. Central to this musical expression is improvisation, a spontaneous interchange between soloists and ensemble, often with “call and response” and other characteristics that give jazz a uniquely American flavor.
With its origins in the South in the early part of the 20th Century, jazz developed most notably in New Orleans, which brought together a delectable medley of sounds, a kind of “Cajun, creole, gumbo”, a sumptuous blending of music from diverse cultural populations: Caribbean, Mexican, German, Italian, French, Native American, African and others. The music blended ragtime, marches, with a heavy dose of the blues, along with European light classical music and other musical forms.
Seven Free Jazz Resources and Websites for Educators
April is the best month to celebrate jazz, a uniquely American art form. First, April is Jazz Appreciation Month. But the celebration doesn’t stop there. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival runs from April 6 to May 5, and International Jazz Day is on April 30.
As the school year nears its close, jazz might be the perfect remedy to calm your restless students, and fortunately, there’s some wonderful jazz teaching resources online. Here are a few of our favorites:Free Jazz Teaching and Learning Resources: From Federal Resources for Education Excellence, this page features links to the best free federal resources, including PBS resources for Ken Burn’s jazz documentary, theNEA’s Jazz in Schools project, and the Smithsonian’s jazz page. Another great resource from the Smithsonian is Jazz History Explorer.
Cross-Curricular Lessons and Activities for Jazz Appreciation Month: Author Phil Nast produced this insightful blog, offering ideas for teaching students about jazz in math, history, art, English and music classes. The blog also features links to available resources that can be used for lessons.
Jazz in America from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz: This award-winning resource features an extensive library of jazz materials, as well as lesson plans and other learning links. The Institute also hosts an engaging page for teaching students about the Blues.
Educational Resources from JazzDay.com: The official site for International Jazz Day, which is April 30, is a great stop for educators looking for resources and information for teaching jazz. The resources page features links to the most popular and useful jazz teaching websites, and there’s also plenty of news and insights into Jazz Day celebrations.
The Best Sites and Videos for Learning About Jazz Chants: Edutopia blogger and educator Larry Ferlazzo published this blog on his personal site, and there are some great ideas here for bringing jazz chants into the classroom. Jazz chants are poems that use musical rhythms to help students better understand conversational English, and they can be used to test and improve students listening comprehension skills. They’re great for ELL students, as well as younger students.
Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with EDSITEment: The National Endowment for the Humanities produced this resource, which features a wide variety of teaching aides. There are lesson plans, links to online jazz collections, possible topics for research projects, and much, much more. Plenty here to pique the curiosities of your students.
Jazz Resources from ARTSEdge: The Kennedy Center for the Arts has a number of free jazz learning resources online, including featured videos and audio clips, recommended reading, classroom ideas, and plenty of other useful links.