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International Jazz Day: Creative Lesson Ideas

"International Jazz Day -- UN Music Ensemble 2014." Photo credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter / CC BY-ND

“International Jazz Day — UN Music Ensemble 2014.”
Photo credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter / CC BY-ND

April 30 is designated International Jazz Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the first International Jazz Day held on April 30, 2012. Because of the rich influence jazz music has had on people and events throughout history, this is a day to celebrate how jazz has strengthened cultural and historical ties all over the world. Music is often said to be a universal language, and jazz music especially speaks to audiences from all different backgrounds. To foster jazz appreciation in the classroom, consider devoting a day or more to sharing the contributions of jazz musicians, how jazz music coincided with the Civil Rights Movement, the women of jazz or create an activity that students can do together to express themselves artistically.

Here are some ideas to start customizing a lesson focused around jazz!

1. Jazz-Themed Classroom Tools: ProQuest SIRS WebSelect contains multiple resources to influence classroom instruction and guide discussion. Some websites that can be found here can help you start planning for a jazz-themed lesson:

Jazz in America — Great resource for building a lesson or curating ideas for projects.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns — This PBS documentary transports viewers to earlier jazz days.

Smithsonian Jazz — Educational ideas for bringing jazz to the classroom. 112 Ways to Celebrate Jazz is a fun compilation of ideas to spread jazz appreciation.

NPR: Jazz — Packed with videos, interviews, sound clips, webcasts and more all about jazz.

2. Adventure: The International Jazz Day website suggests organizing a field trip to a local record store and then having students design their own jazz album covers or having the class create a jazz wall mural together.

3. Investigate: Maybe you live in a place where jazz has made a major impact on the community. Turn your students into investigative reporters and have them find out what jazz accomplishments make their hometown special. Older students can decipher public records to back their research. Share as a class.

4. Concert: If you’re a music teacher or librarian, encourage students to add some new jazz songs to their repertoire or organize a jazz concert. Any ticket sales can be donated to a charity of their choice.

5. Documentary Show & Share: Since jazz is such an interactive form of expression, share a jazz documentary with your students and challenge them to express how it made them feel. Let them show or tell their classmates through words, pictures or their own creative project. Ask them why it’s important to continue teaching and learning about it.

How do you support jazz appreciation? Tweet us at #ProQuest or let us know in the comments below!