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Jazz Appreciation Month

Jazz Appreciation Month
Posted on April 19, 2017 by CHS

Celebrate jazz music in April! The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History developed Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) to celebrate the music and history of jazz. Jazz music is important to American history because it began in New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 1800s. That means that America is the birthplace of jazz.

Jazz began with Blues Music that was sung by African American slaves to express their emotions while they worked or socialized. Over time, it developed into other forms of jazz such as Dixieland, Swing, Bebop, and Smooth Jazz. Although jazz began with African Americans, they welcomed all musicians from all cultures and backgrounds, and it soon spread across the United States. These music styles are still being played today, but they also continue to evolve as musicians experiment with sound and create new styles. To read more about the history of jazz and listen to some music samples, visit the Scholastic website.

Improvisation is one of the characteristics seen in all forms of jazz. This means that in addition to playing music that is written, musicians would also make things up as they went along. It is the element of improvisation that makes jazz music so unique, and it is a wonderful tool for demonstrating creativity in music to children.

Music experiences require children to practice multiple skills at once. They can sing, clap, or play an instrument, anticipate what is coming next, and dance. They are developing language, math, cognitive, and motor skills when they play music. Listening to different music styles and music from other cultures extends that learning. They can become more creative with music, and develop an understanding of history and culture.

Ways to celebrate JAM with Children:

  • Go to your city’s website, and check for free music events or festivals that you can attend with your child.
  • Visit your local public library and introduce your child to jazz by reading children’s books about famous jazz musicians or jazz music styles. For a list of books to start with, click here.
  • Practice drumming with your child to explore different beats and rhythms. You can use pots or buckets with wooden spoons, or click here to learn how to make a PVC drum.
  • Watch the video “What is Jazz?” on YouTube.
  • The featured musician for JAM 2017 is Ella Fitzgerald, who is also known as “The First Lady of Song.” Listen to Ella’s music on YouTube.
  • Spend a few minutes each day talking about what happened in jazz history. For a timeline of jazz events through history, click here.
  • Listen to audio samples of different jazz songs here.
  • Study more about jazz with children, and take jazz “classes” with famous musicians on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History website.

"Forgive me if I don't have the words. Maybe I can sing it and you'll understand."

 – Ella Fitzgerald, The First Lady of Song

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