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Teaching Jazz Appreciation Month with Videos

April 24, 2023

Teaching Jazz Appreciation Month with Videos


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Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in the United States is celebrated in April. The monthlong celebration is an initiative by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to promote the recognition and appreciation of jazz as a uniquely American art form.

Jazz music emerged in the late 19th century in New Orleans. It is a genre that blends African American musical traditions with European harmonies and instrumentation. Jazz music is characterized by its improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and call-and-response patterns. Jazz has been a vital part of American culture, and it has influenced and inspired numerous other music genres, including rock, hip-hop and pop.

JAM was first celebrated in 2001, and since then, it has become an annual event that has gained popularity throughout the country. The celebration features concerts, festivals, workshops, and educational programs that aim to encourage people to listen to and appreciate jazz music and its rich history.

In addition to its cultural significance, jazz has also played a vital role in promoting social justice and equality. Jazz music has been used as a means of protest and a platform to promote civil rights. Jazz musicians, such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, have used their music to raise awareness about racial inequality and injustice.

JAM also celebrates the contributions of jazz musicians, past and present. It recognizes their creativity, innovation and artistry and honors their legacy. JAM provides an opportunity to learn about the lives and works of jazz legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and appreciate their musical contributions.

The Harlem Renaissance

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Questions to ask:

  • How did jazz music become an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance?
  • How did jazz music influence other forms of art, such as literature and visual art, during the Harlem Renaissance?
  • What was the significance of the Cotton Club, and how did it contribute to the popularity of jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance?

The Harlem Cultural Festival: Summer of Soul

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Questions to ask:

  • Name some of the key musicians who performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival; what were their contributions to the festival and to music in general?
  • How did the festival promote African American culture and pride, and how did it challenge prevailing societal attitudes toward race and culture?
  • How does the legacy of the Summer of Soul continue to influence and inspire musicians and cultural movements today?

Bluegrass Music: An Ode to America

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Questions to ask:

  • How are jazz and bluegrass music genres similar, and how are they different?
  • What role does improvisation play in both jazz and bluegrass music, and how is it different in each genre?
  • How has the cultural context of jazz and bluegrass music influenced their evolution and popularity?
  • How can understanding the connection between jazz and bluegrass music deepen our appreciation and understanding of both genres?

You can learn more at and the UntoldEdu History Channel on YouTube. And follow up on Instagram and Twitter @UntoldEdu.

Jazz Appreciation Month

Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with your students using these free preK-12 lesson plans, resources and activities selected by the Share My Lesson team.

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Untold History

Untold History explores stories, people and artifacts that students won’t learn about in an ordinary text book. Perhaps now more than ever, our history is a vital and very present part of the world around us.


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