Say jazz and the following comes to mind: improvised, big band, swing, be-bop, free, dixie, energizing, relaxing… Pretty diverse list. With such diversity, exploring jazz with a child can involve repeated, fun activities and listening. Here are 4 ways to explore jazz with a child.
Explore jazz with books
Books can be a wonderful way to introduce music. You can talk about the instruments and artists portrayed in the book. You can discuss the patterns and sounds mentioned within the pages. Melody Soup has a nice collection of children’s books about jazz. To this list I would recommend:
Explore jazz with singing
Using our voices (or singing) is a wonderful way to explore jazz. For those who prefer something predictable try these resources:
- Jazz Three Bears
- Check out the recordings on Jazz For Kids: Sing, Clap, Wiggle, And Shake (affiliate link) which has some familiar songs sung by jazz artist. Sing along with them!
You can also you hand at scat or improvising with silly sounds.
Explore jazz with listening and videos
Sometimes videos are a great way to help bring concepts to life. One example is the PBS “Chuck Vanderchuck’s ‘Something Something’ Explosion”. This would appeal to kindergarteners and early elementary ages. You can also search YouTube for your favorite jazz artists to share. Also considering sitting and listening, drawing, or moving to a variety of jazz selections. Here are a few to get you started.
- Chick Corea’s “Children’s Songs”. Select one or two to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEoUuVBQjtI
- Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”
- Duke Ellington’s “Take The A Train”
- Weather Report’s “Birdland”
- Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”
Explore jazz by creating music
This is the one way that may require a little music training. Use structures including:
- the pentatonic scales
- 12-bar blues
- question and answer
Create lyrics, rhythms or melodies and have some fun.