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What is Jazz


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.

jazz images 1

Gerry Mulligan

jazz images 2

Kenny Dorham

jazz images 3

Billie Holiday

jazz images 4

Anthony Braxton

jazz images 5



  1. Course Introduction
  2. What is Jazz
  3. Jazz Recordings

National Standards for United States History1

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Hypothesize the influence of the past, including both the limitations and opportunities made possible by past decisions (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3J)
Historical Content
Students should understand African life under slavery (Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763) (Standard 3C). Therefore, the student should be able to:
  1. Analyze how Africans in North America drew upon their African past and upon selected European (and sometimes Indian) customs and values to develop a distinctive African American culture.
  2. Analyze overt and passive resistance to enslavement.

National Standards for Music Education2

Artistic Process - Responding: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Choose music appropriate for specific purposes and contexts. – Select programs of music (such as a CD mix or live performances) and demonstrate the connections to an interest or experience for a specific purpose (MU:Re7.1.8a).
  2. Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response. – Compare how the elements of music and expressive qualities relate to the structure within programs of music (MU:Re7.2.8a); Identify and compare the context of programs of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods (MU:Re7.2.8b).
  3. Support an interpretation of a musical work that reflects the creators’/performers’ expressive intent. – Support personal interpretation of contrasting programs of music and explain how creators or performers apply the elements of music and expressive qualities, within genres, cultures, and historical periods to convey expressive intent (MU:Re8.1.7a).
  4. Support evaluations of musical works and performance(s) based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria. – Apply appropriate personally developed criteria to evaluate musical works or performances (MU:Re9.1.8a).
Artistic Process - Connecting: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding to music (MU:Cn10.0.8a).
  2. Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life (MU:Cn11.0.8a).

The student will:
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of jazz
  2. gain a basic understanding of why jazz is included in the study of American history/social studies
  3. listen to portions of several recordings from The Instrumental History of Jazz and/or the web site

  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. introduce the course and its requirements
  3. discuss the basics of jazz
  4. play six diverse jazz recordings (30-90 seconds each), discussing with the students what they heard

The students will:
  1. participate in a class discussion on "what is jazz"
  2. listen to jazz recordings

Test Bank
  1. Multiple Choice Test
  2. Essay/Discussion Questions at the Teacher’s Discretion

the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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