Jazz and the Curricular Day
In a recent poll of jazz educators, 24% of respondents said they teach jazz as a class period. Several of those who responded indicated that jazz had become part of the curriculum because the educator made a push to have it included.
One jazz educator shared this success story: “I had to fight because there were so many middle schoolers who wanted to join when we met before school, but there wasn’t enough time to rehearse a large ensemble. I now have 34 7th and 8th graders playing grade 2-2 1/2 charts, twice a week, for 53 minutes each day!”
Several stories shared in this poll had a similar theme―jazz started as an extracurricular activity, and interest grew until the administration supported moving jazz to the curricular day. Some respondents said that jazz had been part of the curriculum for up to 30 years.
“In my opinion the successful programs are the result of teachers who really ‘fight’ to have them. This could be said, though, of almost any successful music program in many respects,” said MENC Jazz mentor Andrew Goodrich.
Rural Educators and Zero Hour Jazz
For some rural educators, it’s important to have jazz during the school day. One teacher commented, “[Jazz] would not be happening if it were after school since we are rural and need to get the kids home on buses.” Another rural educator added, “I commute every day over narrow, icy roads so before school is not an option.”
Schools with smaller student populations may find a challenge in incorporating jazz into the curriculum. “Having the time during the day for a jazz ensemble class would be great; however, my school does not have the numbers,” said one respondent. “Only 600 students—therefore it is difficult to offer electives and still have enough students for a full ensemble.”
Read advice from Andrew Goodrich on teaching improvisation with limited time.
Didn’t get a chance to respond to the poll? Share your thoughts on the Jazz forum.
Andrew Goodrich is assistant professor of music education at Boston University, where he supervises student teachers in addition to coaching jazz combos and teaching a graduate course in jazz history and jazz pedagogy. Read his full bio.
– Anne Wagener, February 17, 2010 © National Association for Music Education