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History of Jazz: A Black History in America Activity

Students will learn about jazz from its beginning in New Orleans to modern jazz today through text and audio.


3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Computer Lab Activities

As part of the Culture & Change: Black History in America online learning activity, students can learn about the History of Jazz (grades 3 and up), which was adapted from the Jazz for Young People Curriculum by Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Each of the subjects covered includes text, audio, and links for students to read more:

  • Students learn about the evolution of the blues, another African American-derived form of music.
  • Famous trumpet player Wynton Marsalis explains how various types of music combined to become New Orleans jazz.
  • Students meet Louis Armstrong, legendary jazz trumpet player, and learn how he shaped a new form of jazz called Improvisation.
  • Swing, a high-energy form of jazz beloved by the big bands of the 1930s, is described.
  • Students meet Duke Ellington, a pianist, composer, and bandleader, who helped create the big band sound, which fueled the "swing" era.
  • Behop, a new style of jazz in the 1940s, is defined.
  • Students are introduced to trumpeter, bandleader, and composer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie.
  • Latin and Afro-Cuban Jazz are explained.


Learning Objective


While participating in The History of Jazz, students will study the history of jazz music to gain awareness of the cultural contributions made by different groups in America

Susan Cheyney

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