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Jazz Band Basics

As a middle school music educator, I believe the middle school/junior high school years provide an excellent opportunity to begin to introduce kids to jazz performance. Here are a few jazz ensemble basics that are not usually taught and sometimes forgotten. 

 
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Jazz Ensemble Exercises

As a middle school music educator, I believe the middle school/junior high school years provide an excellent opportunity to begin to introduce kids to jazz performance. Here are a few jazz articulation and rhythm warm-up exercises that are not usually taught and sometimes forgotten.

 
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Beginning Jazz Improvisation

As a middle school music educator, I believe the middle school/junior high school years provide an excellent opportunity to begin to introduce kids to jazz performance and improvisation. Most middle school and junior high level jazz ensemble music arrangements involve only a few chord changes making it an excellent time forstudents to practice the art of improvisation. Here are a few jazz improvisational exercises that are not usually taught and sometimes forgotten.

 
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Listening to the Language of Jazz

There are three fundamental elements our young musicians need to fulfill for any school Jazz Program to be successful: 1) Attend Rehearsals 2) Know Your Music; and 3) Listen to the Language of Jazz. After all, everything we need to know about jazz has been captured in the recordings. This is best accomplished with our students by playing a known jazz artist for the students as the students enter the room or before they exit our rehearsal. Then, spend a few minutes debriefing the students by providing some basic historical context about the musician/music following the recording.