Jazz has long been known as the first all-American art form. It is, in many ways, both a metaphor for and an example of the blending of culture and knowledge that has taken place in the United States over the course of its history.
Jazz was born out of African-American communities in the South who combined traditional spiritual music and syncopation with European instrumentation to make something truly innovative. The style was so impactful that nearly all popular music of today can be traced in some way back to early jazz.
Unfortunately, jazz often does not receive its due attention in the world of music education. Much of the material seems inaccessible to younger learners, relegating jazz education to later years after students have already developed their musical tastes. With jazz being such an integral part of American music history, introducing young musicians to it earlier helps to build a depth of musical understanding that many students lack. But how do we introduce jazz to students at a younger age?
That is the question that the Jazz for Young People series seeks to answer. Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, renowned music teacher and clinician Sharon Burch, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Vice President of Education Todd Stoll have teamed up to produce the definitive work on introducing young musicians to jazz music. Jazz for Young People is a resource that provides teachers with lesson slides, audio recordings, and classroom activities that are perfect for even the youngest musicians. Pepper had the pleasure of speaking with Burch and Stoll about the new series. You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Authenticity is important in teaching anything, which is why Jazz for Young People focuses on the contributions of well-known artists like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and more. These forefathers of jazz give students an authentic look at what the real world of jazz was all about. In addition, through studying these founders of jazz and their successors, students can see the progression of American music up to the current day. By learning the full progression of American music from its roots to modern times, students can better connect to all the things jazz music has to offer.
Jazz for Young People seeks to bring jazz music to the next generation, a mission that all musicians can support. If you are teaching young musicians, consider introducing them to the wide world of music using this excellent new resource.