January 11, 2021

The Value of Jazz Education in the Schools

Music directors around the world are always seeking to improve their music programs. With all of the concerts, technology, theory and historical activities already taking place why would anyone want to add more? That is a question to be answered by professionals however, one keyword works well for me. “PASSION.”

Value of Jazz

Jazz is fun and motivates professional musicians and students. In addition, jazz pulls at the heartstrings of people’s emotions. Regardless if one's reason for learning jazz it is emotional based or academic in nature, an understandable  standard of learning curriculum should be the expectation.

Dimensions of a Jazz Curriculum

Most noteworthy dimensions of a jazz curriculum include:

  • Aesthetic
  • Multicultural
  • Historical
  • Creativity
  • Musicianship and Practical

Jazz Music School

Aesthetic

Aesthetic dimensions refer to the relationship that music manifests as an emotional and sensual response. One example of this could be you associating a beautiful ballad to a special feeling of someone. Hence, musician skills can express a greater variety of aesthetic response through improvisation.


Multicultural

Multicultural dimensions refer to the idea that jazz is a culturally blended and diverse form of musical expression. Even more, jazz influences can be traced back to Latin America, Africa, European, and North America. Songs often express cultural stories and moods of the performers.


Historical

Historical dimensions refer to how jazz fits into the bigger music history scheme of time and influence. Similarly, musical arts have had an influence over other historical cultural dimensions. For that reason, how do you feel jazz influence has affected the other arts, ideas and practices?


Creativity

Creativity dimensions refer to the idea of expressing oneself in spontaneous performance. This act refers to improvisation as of one of the corner stone elements in the jazz idiom. Furthermore, a variety of musical elements can be combined so that the performance of a single musical piece can have an infinite and completely unique artful outcomes.


Musicianship

The "Musicianship" dimension refers to the technical skills a great artist possess. For example, this would include elements of rhythm, pitch and overall mastery of one's instrument. Some of the greats are highly regarded classical musicians who regularly perform and write great symphonic masterpieces. Whereas others cannot read simple musical notation. As a result, these jazz musicians master the art of listening and imitation.


Practical

Finally, the "Practical" dimension refers to the broadening of possibilities so that students can comfortably go forth into the real world as a musical performer and a consumer of jazz. Students of jazz not only seek to become experts but also learn how to market their passion so that they can earn a living doing what they love to do.

The “Why” of teaching is a tremendously important question to answer and communicate for one’s self and for students. Even more, I recommend checking out  a tremendously helpful book entitled “Jazz Ensemble Auditions and Repertoire Selection” by Dean Sorenson (Please note disclosure.) I have found it to be an extremely helpful in preparing for a successful jazz season with my students.



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