Jazz For Young Children

If you read my previous post about the Jazz Education Network Conference  that I recently attended you already know that I am really excited about incorporating some of the many ideas about music education I was exposed to while there. Today I want to share some of the ideas on teaching young children about jazz in both the group setting and the private lesson.

The picture above is from the cover of a jazz CD for kids as young as preschool by music educator and artist Louise Rogers. I used songs from this CD in my preschool music class this week and the children LOVED it! While listening to the CD the children experienced jazz rhythms, scat, jazz history and jazz themes. Even some of my shy preschoolers who usually don’t dance during music time got on their feet and moved to the beats!

My favorite thing about Bop Boo Day is the way Louise uses poetry set to jazz to teach the children the history of this music and familiarize them with some of the jazz greats like Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and others.

This week I’ve also used the CD to play in the private piano studio as students arrived for their lesson. The jazzy beats really helped the kids (and me) get geared up for their lessons after a long day of school. We kept the music going from the door all the way to the piano keys as I showed the students how to play along with the songs on a single note in swing rhythm. If you’ve been looking for a fun way to encourage your students to improvise, this works really well.

If you’re interested in resources to help you teach jazz to young children, check out the JEN K-8 Jazz Education site here.


2013 Jazz Education Network Conference Notes


There was a whole lot of toe-tapping, bippity bopping, swinging and swaying, musical stretching, and growing  last week at the 4th Annual JEN Conference of the Jazz Education Network! I had the privilege of attending and couldn’t wait to share some of the nuggets I picked up from the conference with the Kids and Keys readers.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Jazz Education Network or JEN,  it is an organization dedicated to
building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance, and developing new audiences.

During the conference I was able to attend several workshops that were not specifically geared to piano teaching. I found that it was VERY helpful to listen to what presenters who play saxophone, trombone, and strings had to say about music education. There were several statements that I will be applying to piano teaching and using with my students even for non-jazz repertoire. Some of the most helpful are:

1. Students want to sound good – This is not always obvious to us as teachers, but is certainly important for us to remember! Just think how much more committed students are when they know they sound good! Let’s teach them music that they like and sound good playing. Better yet, let’s give them music that their friends and families think they sound good playing!

2. Practice is Preparation For The Unexpected –  Let’s prepare students for performances so that once they are on stage they won’t have to make music happen, they can be free to let music happen!

3. Challenge students to have more than just nice performances!  – Nothing should be nice, it has to be entertaining!

4. Not rushing is a discipline of the mind – In jazz, the power comes from grooving and playing behind the beat, but the discipline of not rushing is something that EVERY musician must have!

5. Students have to be taught how to listen with music ears – They don’t usually come to us with music ears. It is up to us to help them improve their hearing – without surgery!

Thanks to the clinicians whose workshops I attended and from whom I gleaned these insights: David Guidi, Pete McGuiness, Gary Motley, Mark Gridley, and Matt Wilson.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the JEN Conference. I will be blogging about the session on teaching jazz to young children. In the meantime, visit Jazz Education Network’s website at www.jazzednet.org to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved!