Term Paper: Jazz Pedagogy

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Jazz Pedagogy

When it comes to pedagogy, "the art of teaching" (Mish 912), there are many different interrelationships among different theories of knowledge, theories of learning, conceptions of curriculum and approaches of broad inquiry for the purposes of schooling. Every teacher is faced with a challenge to effectively convey his or her message of knowledge and inspire today's youth. It takes a certain amount of passion and consistency to pursue such a career. It takes a certain amount of leadership and guts to effectively captivate the student with subject matter, unless of course the subject is jazz. Jazz has the ability to open the soul, inspire a range of possibility in its creation and remains a rebel among music genres as it continues to bend the rules. Where does one begin to understand the elements of jazz and its fundamentals? How does a teacher instill in the student an open mind, inspiration to take a chance? Jazz embodies dreams, wants and needs while exploring the limits of the confines of music's structure. It takes an artistic spirit to embrace jazz and gain a better understanding of its essence. By having an understanding of how powerful jazz can be, one discovers much about themselves and the world.

This paper will first examine a brief history of jazz. Where did it come from and who influenced the movement? How has it changed and grown over the years? What is the future of jazz in today's market of rap and rock n' roll? The first paragraphs of this paper will look for answers to these questions. Second, this paper will explore the various techniques and fundamentals of this genre. This will require a look at the different types of jazz such as: Swing, Funk, Ballads and Latin Styles. Also by looking at the different sub-genres of jazz, one must take into account the importance of instruments and how each one has a different sound and complexity in the formations of the music. Each instrument has a different role in jazz. Further analysis of articulation, dynamics and phonetics come into play when thinking about jazz and the bare essentials that make music possible. After looking at these elements. One can get a better frame of reference of how to arrange jazz pieces in with relationship to harmony and form. Only after looking at the foundation of jazz can one comprehend the richness and full passion jazz has to offer as art. Once the rudimentary elements are understood, the student can then have the freedom to break the construct and create spontaneous notes using different specialized techniques whether individually, as part of a small band or as part of big band. The possibilities of application are endless and only as limiting as the artistic spirit. Allowing oneself different roles in jazz music also gives the player variation and intensifies creativity on many levels. Having more than one role requires the player to have an understanding of band rituals.

Brief History of Jazz

The history of Jazz music origins is attributed to the turn of the 20th century New Orleans, although this unique, artistic medium occurred almost simultaneously in other North American areas like Saint Louis, Kansas City and Chicago. Traits carried from West African black folk music developed in the Americas, joined with European popular and light classical music of the late 18th and 19th centuries, became the syncopated rhythms of Ragtime and minor chord voicings characteristic of the Blues. Jazz music is among America's greatest cultural achievements and exports to the world community. It gives powerful voice to the American experience. Born of a multi-hued society, Jazz unites people across the divides of race, region and national boundaries. It has always made powerful statements about freedom, creativity and American identity at home and abroad.

Jazz is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, inspired by one's passion, and willed next in playing music. Jazz music draws from life experience and human emotion as the inspiration of the creative force, and through this discourse is chronicled the story of it's people. Jazz musicians and those that follow the genre closely, can indeed be thought of as an artistic community complete with its leaders, spokesmen, innovators, aficionados, members & fans.

Jazz Education

Music and all Art is an essential part of the "human experience." A basic understanding and appreciation of Music can only serve to broaden ones character and deepen the connection with those around us. Today, Jazz music is played, studied and taught at private and public institutions around the globe. However, as lower budgets force public schools to cut back, private lessons will not only supplement the school but also may eventually replace it in many areas. This is especially true for Jazz education. Understanding Jazz theory & Jazz harmony provides the basis for Jazz improvisation, fills and soloing. Study improv methods and find Jazz chords, Blues chords, intervals, cadences, turnarounds, reharmonization, tritone substitution and transposing keys. Interact the virtual piano chords to see variations of piano chords, chord voicings, and piano scales, or study the charts for scale degrees, chord progressions, the circle of fifths, or to find Jazz scales and common modes. Guitarists will find shapes for basic barre chords, open positions and root voicings with the virtual guitar chords.

Jazz Ensemble Techniques

The purpose of starting an ensemble is that everyone involved can have a role in making jazzy music together. The beauty of the ensemble is that everyone plays a role and that role can very from session to session. One may find over time, that each ensemble has a different way of doing things so it is important to have an open mind. What technique you may be been taught early on, may not be the technique you use today. There are many schools of thought on technique. There is the attitude of 'technique is the slave of creation' is a pretty good one. This means simply we have to have technique to create, and the greater our technique is, the more creative opportunities we have, but the focus should not be on technique. It should be on creativity. To focus on technique and not enough on creativity is common among a lot of teachers and can create a lack of interest in music in the student easily. It is a good idea to find a teacher who not only takes music seriously but also art. It is important to see how other art forms relate to music and how one can use other art forms in music as inspiration and vice versa. Another word of advice, it is important not to really develop technique as such, but develop ways of thinking, by varying lessons and playing with different notes. This applies as well to the ensemble as a group must adjust to working together. Different exercises to push envelope are a good to encourage improvisation. It is easy for people to feed off the energy of each other's creation. This in turn, helps inspire and motivate people to continue practicing.

Fundamentals of Jazz

Jazz is so flexible in its creation; it takes on different qualities depending on the artist and the influences of the artist. As a result there seem to be sub-categories within the genre that stand on their own. A combination of cultural influence and varied instrument arrangements can change the sound of the classic swing into a Latin beat. It really just depends on the limits of one's imagination. Still it is interesting the relationships between culture and the final product, of how one small decision can change the piece completely. It is this direct relationship that makes jazz happen on so many levels. Each musician has a different way of contributing to the music and will chose the style that best suits him or her. It is also my belief that in modern jazz, one can find it is made up of all the styles, feeding off each other but also making expression seamless. By sticking to the foundation of styles, it is easy to get an eclectic mixture. It is clear that at different times in America's short history styles have flourished at different rates. Swing and Big Band were very popular in the 1930s and 1940s and this reflects the time period of Depression and war. People needed to escape their worries and have fun.

Still it is noted Swing was the beginning of the breakdown of barriers. When people discuss rhythm in jazz, they almost invariably deal with the concept of swing. Whereas syncopation has to do with surprise, swing has to do with the creation of forward momentum, a drive that makes you want to dance to the music. At the most basic level, swing is usually described in terms of the length of eighth notes. If you divide each beat exactly in half, the results are called straight eighth notes. Berendt writes, "our musical instincts used to perceive swing… [END OF PREVIEW]

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