George Lucas Educational Foundation

Can studying the history of jazz teach American history?

Can studying the history of jazz teach American history?

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Teaching children the history of jazz also teaches American history in a profound way. Does anyone have lessons, stories or ideas to share that are connected to the history of jazz?

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Tamera Cone's picture
Tamera Cone
Integrated Global Arts Specialist ECE-5

I did a performance peice with a group of students at the Jamaica center for Art and Leaning (JCAL) a couple of years ago and I used this text the text "Jazz" by WalterDean Myers.

It was a fantastic entry point to discuss the history of Queens, NY, which happened to be the heart of Jazz for a long time. The artwork is beautiful and the poetry is moveable... It also helped that I created a playlist of jazz in cronological order of release and have it play throughout the class.

Hope this helps!

Barbara Joann Combs's picture
Barbara Joann Combs
Artist | Art Educator | Community Art Facilitator

I developed a website using Microsoft FrontPage 2003 for the youth to study the Harlem Renaissance. The site was maintained for two years by the community college where I took the course titled "Congressional Scholars". Through art compositions and historical timelines, I focused on the visual art that was produced during that time and considered the possible influences of the environment and historical events upon the artists and their work. The art compositions and historical timeline was in a PowerPoint presentation and was a mixture of primary sources from the American Memory Collection and other web sites.

The Web Quest had the students searching for more artists, artwork and historical influences of literature, theatre, music, dance, civil rights, activists, science, medicine, public service, law, education, politics, the military and sports upon that time period and artist.

With the information researched through the Web Quest, students had a choice of expressing what they had learned in:
* Poem (Linguistic)
* Short story (linguistic)
* Timeline (Logical/Mathematical
* Chart (Logical/Mathematical)
* Song (Musical/Naturalistic/Interpersonal)
* Skit (Body/Kinesthetic)
* Journal Writing (Interpersonal)
* Diary (Interpersonal)

Using the interdisciplinary approach, technology, and multiple intelligences was the key to the students learning and enjoying the process.

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

Seems like an ideal way to teach about a variety of topics. Race and culture are the two biggest that come to mind. The migration to the cities (Chicago & New York) from the south also goes right along with jazz history.

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