In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.
International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact.
Here are some ideas and resources for exploring jazz with your students on April 30th.
- Play jazz recordings in your classroom. Discuss with your students what they do or don’t like about the music.
- Play video clips of jazz performances.
- Invite a local expert to conduct the listening session or give a talk to your class.
- Schedule a jazz-themed performance or concert by your school band or choir.
- Use one of the many lesson plans available at www.jazzinamerica.org
- Decorate your classroom with jazz posters, or pictures of jazz artists.
- Ask your students to draw or write about how jazz makes them feel or think.
- Have students research the local roots of jazz in your town or city. What made jazz in your city unique?
- Ask your students to interview older relatives about their experiences with jazz. Have students listen to their favorite songs and share the results with the class.
- Have students write a skit or play based on the life of a great jazz musician.
- Encourage students to explore some of the many great jazz websites in the resource list below.
In 2013, educators from around the world led events both in and out of the classroom in honor of International Jazz Day. Below are a few examples. You can view the full list of 2013 events here.
Schools in Yerevan, Armenia hosted jazz film screenings, live performances by students, and lectures by famous Armenian jazz musicians, and throughout schools on the island nation of Bermuda there were featured lesson plans oriented around jazz.
A music teachers’ association in Lyon, France organized a tour of the Robert Martin saxophone factory and a master class. A university in Italy held an all-day conference called “Education as Jazz.” The music department at a Mexico college put on master classes and panel discussions, culminating with an open jam session.
Five musicians in Vosloorus, South Africa worked together to organize and lead a jazz workshop for kids. In Gloucestershire, United Kingdom a master class was held for non-musicians, discussing new approaches to leadership using insights from the world of jazz.