jazz education

Jazz Education


I. Early Jazz Pedagogy


A. Exclusively an Aural Phenomenon

   

Originally jazz was just an aural phenomenon, without any kind of written documentation 

      

1.

few scored arrangements existed 

      

2.

no method books 

      

3.

no published systems for instruction 


B. Primarily Self Taught

   

A small number of early musicians, primarily of African-American descent (e.g., Buddy Bolden, Joe Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Bunk Johnson), served as models for future generations 

      

1.

next generation of performers emulated prominent New Orleans musicians 

      

2.

jazz education activities consisted primarily of careful listening and purposeful rote memorization of key aspects of the style 


C. Cutting Sessions and (later) Jam Sessions

      

1.

served as the first "organized" group education activities in jazz (predecessors of today’s performance master classes) 

      

2.

provided opportunities for musicians to learn from one another 

      

3.

rooted in African tradition of passing on culture via oral and aural means 

      

4.

served as primary vehicle for teaching jazz; still in practice (to a lesser degree) today 


D. Activity on college campuses (1920s)

      

1.

non-credit ensembles (usually student initiated and student directed); played dance music 

      

2.

credited ensembles - first was the Bama State Collegians (Alabama State Normal College) organized by Len Bowden and Fess Whatley 


E. Recordings

      

1.

first recordings (starting in 1917) had greatest impact on the spread of jazz 

      

2.

were disseminated by the phonograph and the radio 

      

3.

recordings served as the first "method books" 

      

4.

recordings were (and still are) necessary as jazz was inaccessible by traditional music instruction 


F. Instructors (1930s - 1940s)

      

1.

conservatory trained musicians who also played jazz began teaching jazz in major cities (e.g., New York, Los Angeles, Boston); had a lasting influence on the codification of the style 

      

2.

method books (often written or endorsed by celebrities) became available 

            

a.

Modern Arranging and Orchestration by Norbert Bleihoof (1935) 

            

b.

jazz solo transcriptions and "how to" columns began to appear in magazines such as Down Beat 

      

3.

Heinrick Schillinger taught improvisation and arranging at the Schillinger House in Boston (later to become Berklee College of Music) 


G. Len Bowden and the Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois (1942-45)

      

1.

Len Bowden (pioneer in college jazz in the ‘20s and ‘30s) directed training activities for African-American service musicians to perform in military and jazz oriented dance bands 

      

2.

one of the birthplaces of formal jazz pedagogy 

      

3.

educators such as Bowden were the first to define the basic jazz curriculum that is still considered fundamental in contemporary approaches to training jazz musicians 

            

a.

ensemble experience 

            

b.

arranging 

            

c.

improvisation 

            

d.

rehearsal techniques 

      

4.

major catalyst in the school jazz ensemble movement

Portions taken from "Jazz Studies in American Schools and Colleges: a Brief History" by Daniel Murphy -- Jazz Educators Journal, Vol 26, 1994, pp 34-8 

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