Teaching Jazz History Through Performance in a Big Band Setting

Many high school teachers do not have room to have a separate jazz history class, as many colleges do. For students to create a credible jazz performance, it’s important to find how and why these tunes were performed in the first place. It gives students a connection to the music beyond what is written, or heard on recordings. Without knowing the social, economic, political, and cultural developments, students lack the relationship to history that would inform a more authentic performance. This thesis will examine the class offerings to select colleges and high schools throughout the United States in regards to jazz history and performance classes. It will also outline ten jazz trailblazers, a short history on them, and their musical significance defining the genre. The study will also include a recommended list of books on jazz pedagogy, and suggested resources on jazz history. Lastly, this thesis will summarize a proposed list of big band charts, which the trailblazers were historically known to perform. The product of this study comes from professional developments, searching for books, online research, e-mail communications, and advisements from professors. The result will be a recommended list of artists, books, resources, and charts to perform which have historical significance to jazz. With this, jazz educators and their students will have a better connection and understanding to the music their playing.