[ Login ]
lesson plan12345678

The Harlem Renaissance


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, click here.

4. Student handouts can be downloaded from the Jazz in America website and photocopied.

5. Any material from the Jazz in America website may be downloaded, printed, and/or made into a PowerPoint slide as the instructor sees fit.


  1. The Harlem Renaissance
  2. Jazz as Part of the Harlem Renaissance
  3. Effects of the Harlem Renaissance on Jazz

National Standards for United States History1

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  1. Appreciate historical perspectives – including the ability to (a) describe the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like; (b) consider the historical context in which the event unfolded–the values, outlook, options, and contingencies of that time and place; and (c) avoid “present-mindedness,” judging the past solely in terms of present-day norms and values (Historical Comprehension Standard 2F).
  2. Draw upon the visual, literary, and musical sources, including (a) photographs, paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays; and (c) folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative (Historical Comprehension Standard 2I).
  3. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships, bearing in mind multiple causation including (a) the importance of the individual in history; (b) the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs; and (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3C).
  4. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues, as well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3D).
Historical Content
Students should understand the limitations of Progressivism and the alternatives offered by various groups (Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America Standard 1C). Therefore, the student should be able to:
  1. Examine the perspectives of various African Americans on Progressivism and their alternative programs.

National Standards for Music Education2

Artistic Process - Creating: Imagine, Plan and Make, Evaluate and Refine, and Present Music
  1. Generate musical ideas for various purposes and contexts. – Improvise rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas, and explain connections to specific purpose and context (such as social, cultural, and historical) (MU:Cr1.1.5a); Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and accompaniment patterns) within specific related tonalities, meters, and simple chord changes (MU:Cr1.1.5b).
  2. Select and develop musical ideas for defined purposes and contexts. – Demonstrate selected and developed musical ideas for improvisations, arrangements, or compositions to express intent, and explain connection to purpose and context (MU:Cr2.1.5a).
Artistic Process - Responding: Select, Analyze, Interpret and Evaluate Music
  1. Choose music appropriate for a specific purpose or context. – Demonstrate and explain, citing evidence, how selected music connects to and is influenced by specific interests, experiences, purposes, or contexts (MU:Re7.1.5a).
  2. Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response. – Demonstrate and explain, citing evidence, how responses to music are informed by the structure, the use of the elements of music, and context (such as social, cultural, and historical) (MU:Re7.2.5a).
  3. Support interpretations of musical works that reflect creators’/performers’ expressive intent. – Demonstrate and explain how the expressive qualities (such as dynamics, tempo, timbre, and articulation) are used in performers’ and personal interpretations to reflect expressive intent (MU:Re8.1.5a).
  4. Support evaluations of musical works and performances based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria. – Evaluate musical works and performances, applying established criteria, and explain appropriateness to the context, citing evidence from the elements of music (MU:Re9.1.5a).
Artistic Process - Connecting: Synthesize and Relate Musical Ideas
  1. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make music. – Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding (MU:Cn10.0.5a).
  2. Relate musical ideas and works with varied context to deepen understanding. – Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life (MU:Cn11.0.5a).

Students will:
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of the Harlem Renaissance
  2. gain a fundamental understanding of the role of jazz in the Harlem Renaissance
  3. understand the American historical significance and cultural implications of the Harlem Renaissance

  1. computer logged onto www.jazzinamerica.org
  2. LCD projector and screen
  3. CD player (optional)

  1. The Instrumental History of Jazz (IHJ)3 – optional
    1. two CDs
    2. accompanying booklet
  2. Student Handouts4 (one per student)

The instructor will:
  1. distribute student handouts5
  2. discuss the background of the Harlem Renaissance
  3. discuss the role of jazz during the Harlem Renaissance
  4. play various jazz recordings

The students will:
  1. participate in a class discussion regarding the history of the Harlem Renaissance
  2. participate in a class discussion regarding jazz history as a part of American history during the 1910's and 1920's
  3. listen to jazz recordings
  4. follow and interact with the animated student handout entitled "Journey #4: New York City - Harlem Renaissance" (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:
    New York City
    mid 1920's to mid 1930's
  2. Historical Events:
    Harlem Renaissance (1920's)
    Stock Market Crash
    Great Depression
    New Deal
  3. Vocabulary:
    battle of the bands
    big band
    call and response
    cutting contest
    Great Depression
    Harlem Renaissance
    Lindy Hop
    New Deal
    rent party
    stock market
    Urban League
    Works Progress Administration
  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 sing back a "response."
  5. Jazz Artists:
    Cab Calloway
    Benny Goodman
    Fletcher Henderson
    James P. Johnson
    Willie 'the Lion' Smith
    Art Tatum
    Fats Waller
    Chick Webb

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