[ Login ]
lesson plan12345678

The Swing Era


1. National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA

2. NAfME: The National Association for Music Education

3. For information on ordering The Instrumental History of Jazz 2-CD set, go to www.amazon.com (item #B000001YNU).

4. Student handouts may be down loaded from the Jazz in America website (www.jazzinamerica.org), printed, and photocopied.

5. Any material from the Jazz in America website (www.jazzinamerica.org) may be down loaded, printed, and made into a transparency as the instructor sees fit.


  1. The Swing Era
  2. Cultural Implications of Swing

National Standards for United States History1 (grades 5-12)

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  • draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources including...folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative (Historical Comprehension Standard 2i).

Historical Content
Students should be able to:
  • examine the perspectives of various African Americans on Progressivism and their alternative programs (Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America Standard 1c).

National Standards for Music Education2 (grades K-12)
Students will be:
  1. Singing, alone and with others. (Standard #1)
  2. ...arranging music within specified guidelines. (Standard #4)
  3. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music. (Standard #6)
  4. Evaluating music and music performances. (Standard #7)
  5. Understanding music in relation to history and culture. (Standard #9)

The student will:
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of Swing
  2. understand the American historical significance and cultural implications of the Swing Era

  1. CD player
  2. chalkboard (with chalk and eraser)
  3. overhead projector (optional)
  4. computer logged onto www.jazzinamerica.org (optional)

  1. The Instrumental History of Jazz3 (IHJ) (optional)
    1. two CDs
    2. accompanying booklet
  2. student handouts4 (one per student)
  3. overhead projector transparencies5

The instructor will:
  1. distribute student handouts
  2. discuss the fundamentals of big band swing
  3. discuss American history and culture regarding the Swing Era
  4. play various jazz recordings of big band swing

The students will:
  1. participate in a class discussion regarding big band Swing Era jazz
  2. participate in a class discussion regarding jazz history as a part of American history, including jazz’s cultural implications
  3. listen to jazz recordings of big band swing
  4. follow and interact with the animated student handout entitled "Journey #3: Kansas City, Missouri" at www.jazzinamerica.org (click on the Student Handout button on the left-hand side of your screen)

A Test Bank is provided that includes questions in the four formats listed below. At the teacher's discretion, all of the questions in each test bank may be used, or a few questions from each format may be selected to compile a shorter test.
  1. Multiple Choice
  2. Fill in the Blanks
  3. True / False
  4. Matching

The following topics and activities are covered in the Student Handout:

  1. Destination and Dates: Kansas City, 1930's

  2. Historical Event: The Great Depression

  3. Vocabulary:
    cutting contest
    inland waterway
    New Deal
    stock market
    Swing style jazz
    twelve-bar blues
  4. Experience the Music
    Found throughout each student handout, this section provides students with an activity to help them Experience the Music firsthand.
    CALL and RESPONSE: Students decide the order and speed of calls and responses.

    12-BAR BLUES: Students write blues lyrics.
  5. Jazz Artists:
    Count Basie
    Herschel Evans
    Coleman Hawkins
    Lisa Henry
    Andy Kirk
    Fate Marable
    Bennie Moten
    Charlie Parker
    Jimmy Rushing
    Mary Lou Williams
    Lester Young

the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
home overview lesson plans jazz resources what's new jazz in america