The JEN Conference in San Diego marked the debut of the Traditional Jazz Curriculum Kit, a free package of materials in CD-ROM form that was given to all educators in attendance. Years in the making, the Kit is the first-ever comprehensive curriculum for teaching New Orleans-based styles of jazz to student musicians, and includes lesson plans, teacher’s guides, music arrangements, audio tracks, video masterclasses, and a classroom poster.
The curriculum was developed by David Robinson, Jr., Adjunct Professor of Music at George Mason University, together with the Traditional Jazz Educators Network (TJEN). Serving as a consultant to the project is Dr. John Edward Hasse, Curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution. This valuable resource is being provided by JEN as a service to the field under funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and other sponsors.
Maintaining the full diversity of jazz has become a challenge as the earlier stylistic traditions have begun to fade from view, particularly the New Orleans styles and their outgrowths, collectively called traditional or “trad” jazz. These styles remain valid and essential means of jazz expression, yet the passage of time has produced generations of professional performers and educators that are unfamiliar with them.
Distributed nationally (10,000 copies) following its San Diego debut, the Traditional Jazz Curriculum Kit is helping to restore the full spectrum of colors to the jazz educator’s palette.
The project seeks to facilitate:
- The revitalization of traditional jazz styles through the increased participation of young people
- The formation of youth traditional jazz ensembles in schools
- Heightened appreciation and awareness of traditional jazz among music educators.
Through application of the lessons in the Kit, student musicians will perform traditional New Orleans jazz and its outgrowths and will compose new tunes in the idiom.
The Traditional Jazz Curriculum Kit is designed for use within existing scholastic or extracurricular music instruction programs. It has been designed by teachers for teachers; it supplements but does not supplant a school’s existing music curriculum, and it closely ties to the National Standards for Music Education. The Kit presents traditional jazz not as an historical artifact, but as a living art form that remains relevant and exciting today and gives today’s young players vast opportunities for self-realization and self-expression. The Curriculum Kit has been deployed in classrooms across the country, from middle schools to universities, resulting in overwhelmingly positive response. This crucial project directly addresses the field’s lack of standards-based tools for sustaining early jazz traditions.
The kit can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Please note that due to licensing and funding restrictions, kits can only be sent to addresses within the U.S. and Canada.