Jazz Appreciation Month is coming up in April, and Mobile Ed Productions, Inc. is ready to celebrate! Jazz History Month, also called “JAM” for short, was officially created in 2001 by the National Museum of American History. This month intentionally celebrates the heritage and history of the jazz genre and encourages individuals to listen, appreciate, and study this fascinating genre.
What is Jazz Music?
Jazz might be the hardest genre of music to define, which is perhaps what makes it so loved. Jazz can often be characterized by improvisation, polyphonic ensemble playing, syncopated rhythms, deliberate deviations of pitch, and original timbres. Jazz can also be separated into its own subgenres depending on the era, including swing and free jazz. With a style that is derived primarily from West African musical traditions and the use of classical European harmonic structures, jazz is the ultimate cultural blend of music.
Jazz music has a fascinating history. Jazz music began to form when African American slaves were limited on what kind of music they could perform, introducing a new blend of music that still stuck to their roots. People of “African, French, Caribbean, Italian, German, Mexican, and American Indian descent” had the unique opportunity in New Orleans to interact with one another in daily life, and jazz would soon be born. West African musical traditions were blended with ragtime style and blues to eventually create jazz music. Jazz rapidly spread across the country following the first recording in 1917.
Why Should We Study Jazz?
Besides being a completely unique genre of music with a fascinating history, research has proven again and again that musical studies can often aid students in learning other school subjects. Studying music can involve the use of motor skills, listening skills, and visualization, which are skills students will use and develop in and outside the classroom. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening, and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).
Specific benefits of studying music in classrooms include:
- Increased IQ
- Language development
- Motor Skills
- Spatial-temporal skills
- Improved test scores
- Embraced creativity
What Can I Do?
This April, challenge your students to do something they have probably never tried before: listen to jazz for the first time, research a jazz artist, or even write a song! Mobile Ed Productions, Inc. has a Songwriting Workshop program that has allowed students across the country to crank up their creativity in their classrooms for years. Brian Chevalier, our professional songwriter, educates students about the elements of music. Using their new knowledge, students are challenged to write their own songs using inspiration around them. By the end of the day, students have the chance to have their song performed in front of their peers by Brian himself!
In our program, students will learn:
- Basic Music Theory
- Song structure
- How to play musical instruments
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Jazz is a distinguished and well-loved genre that all of your students may not be familiar with. This genre, born from many cultures, proves to your students the importance of trying new things, taking risks, and working together. The Mobile Ed Songwriting Workshop gives students a memorable experience that will encourage creativity, build confidence, and create an attitude for appreciating music. More classroom resources for teaching jazz in your classroom can be found here.