Understanding the background of jazz music is essential for all music students who want to fully appreciate and enjoy this genre. Having an appreciation for the history and impact that jazz music has had on popular music will help your music students to see that the music they enjoy listening to has its origins in the musical revolution of jazz music.

Jazz music is a rich and complex genre that has influenced popular music around the world. Its origins date back to the late 19th century, and its evolution has been shaped by a diverse range of cultural and social factors. For middle school music and general music teachers, teaching the background of jazz music can be a fun and engaging way to introduce students to music history, jazz instruments, and jazz music appreciation. In this blog post, we’ll explore several music appreciation resources that will help you teach the background of jazz music.

Read on to find out more details for teaching resources for Jazz Music Month, but if you are looking for some other ways to spice up your own music curriculum, then why not grab yourself a FREE copy of the 5 Ways to Makeover Your Music Curriculum. Click here to find out more.




Jazz Music Definition

To fully appreciate jazz music, it is important to not only know the background of jazz music but also what defines it as a musical style or genre.

Jazz music is a style and genre of music that often includes improvisation, where musicians make up new melodies on the spot. It usually has a steady beat and uses instruments like the trumpet, saxophone, piano, and drums. There are several sub-genres or types of jazz music, and they all have different stylistic features. Some jazz music can be upbeat and lively or slow and mellow, and it often encourages listeners to tap their feet or dance along. Jazz music has its origins in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has since become a popular and influential genre of music around the world.


Jazz Music History and a Brief Background of Jazz Music

To help your music students understand the background of jazz music, they will need to know some Jazz Music History. The following information is a very brief summary of jazz music history but is enough to get you started when studying jazz music history.

Jazz music has a rich history that began in the late 19th century in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a blend of African rhythms and European harmonies that were played by African American musicians in bars and dance halls. In the 1920s, jazz music gained popularity and spread across the United States, becoming a major influence in music. Jazz music has evolved over the years, and today it is still enjoyed by many people all over the world. Jazz music is known for its improvisation, swing rhythms, and unique style, making it a fundamental part of music history.

When studying jazz music, it is important that your music students understand the impact and significance that it is had on popular music of today. Having an appreciation of the background of jazz music will help to broaden the music listening skills of your music students.

Jazz music has had a significant influence on popular music styles of today. Many popular music genres, such as rock, hip-hop, and R&B, have incorporated elements of jazz into their music. Jazz music’s improvisation and syncopation have been used in the creation of new melodies and rhythms, giving birth to new sounds that are now commonplace in popular music. Jazz also introduced the concept of using instruments in new and unique ways, which has led to the creation of new sounds and techniques in modern music. Jazz music’s influence can be heard in almost every type of music today, making it an essential part of music history and an ongoing source of inspiration for musicians of all genres.


3 Jazz Music Websites to use in Your Music Classroom

The following websites are a great free resource that are available to help you and your students start their journey into Jazz Music Appreciation.

Jazz in America – this site was created by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. It has a comprehensive overview of the background of jazz music and jazz music history. This site has a lot of resources to use in class such as videos, timelines, audio recordings and more.

Jazz in America link here


Smithsonian Jazz Music – this site is a collaboration between two museum sites – The Smithsonian and the National Museum of American History. The site features a lot of jazz history artefacts and interactive exhibits that show students the history of jazz music as well as the instruments used in jazz music.

Smithsonian Jazz Music link here


PBS Jazz – this site features the documentary jazz series. You might want to play excerpts from the series in class, but be sure to preview before showing in class!

PBS Jazz link here



2 Jazz Music YouTube Channels to use in your Classroom

The following YouTube channels are a great place to find jazz music being performed by the best in the business! Try using the recordings as a jazz music analysis or jazz music listening lesson that is focused on analysis using the elements of music.

This first YouTube channel from Jazz at the Lincoln Center would be best used by older students. The playlist is very long, so you will be sure to find something that will appeal to your music students!

Jazz at Lincoln Center YouTube Channel link here


This second YouTube channel features the Jazz for Kids album by Jazz great – Wynton Marsalis. Each song in the album/playlist is based on a popular nursery rhyme or children’s song, making the jazz music version of the song accessible by younger students.

Jazz for Kids Album by Wynton Marsalis YouTube link here.



4 Music Classroom Resources for Jazz Music Month

If you want to make it easier for yourself to teach all things jazz music, then why not try some of the following resources from my Teachers Pay Teacher store!

Jazz Music Mini Bundle – this bundle includes a set of easy to use, low prep resources for the middle school music classroom. In the Jazz Music Mini Bundle are – Jazz Musician History worksheets, Jazz Music Listening worksheets, a Jazz Music Bulletin Board, and a Music Composition Project.

You can grab this bundle here.

Some other resources that you might like to use while studying the background of jazz music are listed below.

African and Jazz Music Unit of Work – this unit is started with lessons on African Music and African Instruments. It then moves onto lessons about jazz music history, jazz music instruments and jazz music appreciation lessons. It includes a composition and performance assessment as well as links to music for your music students to listen to and study.

Link here to the African and Jazz Music Unit of Work here.

Jazz Musician Bundle and Jazz Musician Posters. These two resources go hand in hand, and are perfect for using as a jazz music research assignment with your music students. There are 24 Jazz Musicians in the bundle so you can choose Jazz Musicians that will appeal to your music students for a whole class instruction lesson OR try assigning each student a different musician and then have your students present their research as a speech, video or even a podcast presentation!

If you would like some creative ideas for using research assignments with your classes, read this blog post here.

The posters are a versatile resource that you can use with your music classes. There is a full color version of each Jazz Musician that you can choose to print and display on your classroom walls. There is also a black and white version of each jazz musician that you can choose to print onto colored paper and display OR get your students to color them in! Why not try a listening lesson of a few jazz musicians while your students color in and enjoy the music as they work.

Link to the Jazz Musician Bundle here

Link to the Jazz Musician Posters here

Teaching the background of jazz music can be a fun and engaging experience for your music students. By utilizing the resources listed above, you can help your music students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of jazz music. Whether it’s through a documentary series, studying different jazz instruments, or watching a live recording on YouTube, there are many ways to incorporate jazz music history into your music curriculum. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different teaching resources to make jazz music come to life for your students!

Until next time

Happy Teaching

Julia from Jooya

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