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Where Did Jazz Come From?




1. National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA

2. NAfME: The National Association for Music Education

3. For information on ordering The Instrumental History of Jazz 2-CD set, click here.

4. Student handouts can be downloaded from the Jazz in America website and photocopied.

5. Any material from the Jazz in America website may be downloaded, printed, and/or made into a PowerPoint slide as the instructor sees fit.


  1. Where Did Jazz Come From?
  2. Jazz -- America's Music

National Standards for United States History1

Historical Thinking
Students should be able to:
  1. Appreciate historical perspectives – (a) describing the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like; (b) considering the historical context in which the event unfolded–the values, outlook, options, and contingencies of that time and place; and (c) avoiding “present-mindedness,” judging the past solely in terms of present-day norms and values (Historical Comprehension Standard 2F).
  2. Draw upon the visual, literary, and musical sources, including (a) photographs, paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays; and (c) folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative (Historical Comprehension Standard 2I).
  3. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issuesas well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries (Historical Analysis and Interpretation Standard 3D).
Historical Content
Students should understand the international background and consequences of the Louisiana Purchase (Era 4: Expansion and Reform Standard 1A); the rapid growth of “the peculiar institution” after 1800 and the varied experiences of African Americans under slavery (Era 4: Expansion and Reform Standard 2D); the Reconstruction programs to transform social relations in the South (Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction Standard 3B); how new cultural movements at different social levels affected American life (Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States Standard 2C). Therefore, the student should be able to:
  1. Analyze how the Louisiana Purchase influenced politics, economic development, and the concept of Manifest Destiny.
  2. Explain how the cotton gin and the opening of new lands in the South and West led to the increased demand for slaves.
  3. Describe the ways in which African Americans laid foundations for modern black communities during Reconstruction.
  4. Investigate new forms of popular culture and leisure activities at different levels of American society.

National Standards for Music Education2

Artistic Process - Responding: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Choose music appropriate for specific purposes and contexts. – Select programs of music (such as a CD mix or live performances) and demonstrate the connections to an interest or experience for a specific purpose (MU:Re7.1.8a).
  2. Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response. – Compare how the elements of music and expressive qualities relate to the structure within programs of music (MU:Re7.2.8a); Identify and compare the context of programs of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods (MU:Re7.2.8b).
  3. Support an interpretation of a musical work that reflects the creators’/performers’ expressive intent. – Support personal interpretation of contrasting programs of music and explain how creators or performers apply the elements of music and expressive qualities, within genres, cultures, and historical periods to convey expressive intent (MU:Re8.1.7a).
  4. Support evaluations of musical works and performance(s) based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria. – Apply appropriate personally developed criteria to evaluate musical works or performances (MU:Re9.1.8a).
Artistic Process - Connecting: Select, Analyze, Interpret, and Evaluate Music
  1. Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding to music (MU:Cn10.0.8a).
  2. Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life (MU:Cn11.0.8a).

The student will:
  1. gain a fundamental understanding of how, where, and by whom jazz originated
  2. gain a basic understanding of why jazz is considered America's music
  3. gain a fundamental understanding of Ragtime

  1. computer logged onto www.jazzinamerica.org
  2. LCD projector and screen
  3. CD player (optional)

  1. The Instrumental History of Jazz (IHJ)3 – optional
    1. two CDs
    2. accompanying booklet
  2. Student Handouts4 (one per student)

The instructor will:
  1. distribute student handouts5
  2. discuss the origins of jazz
  3. play recordings of Ragtime, discussing with the students what they heard
  4. discuss why jazz is considered America's music

The students will:
  1. participate in a class discussion on the origins of jazz
  2. listen to jazz recordings
  3. participate in a discussion about why jazz is considered America's music

Test Bank
  1. Multiple Choice Test
  2. Essay/Discussion Questions at the Teacher’s Discretion

Video Clips

videospacer Cannonball Adderley - Work Song
the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
home overview lesson plans jazz resources what's new jazz in america