Jazz music has come a long way from its early days in New Orleans. From being regarded as “destructive dissonance” and the “devils music” Jazz is now well respected and taught at elementary schools, high schools and Universities world wide. In this blog I will delve into the history of Jazz education from its humble beginnings to the present day.
One can argue that Jazz history and Jazz education are one in the same. Music, in a sense, is always taught. Whether by showing a person a progression, explaining why a given progression was chosen, or by observing and listening to others play. Jazz may not have always been present in a classroom, but it was always taught. One early example of Jazz education was The Teddy Wilson School for Pianist which contained recordings and instructional manuals to help a musician improve. It was not until roughly the early mid 1940s when schools such as Berklee, Alabama State U, and Tennessee State U among others offered credit for jazz ensembles, arranging, and improvisation. Throughout the decades Jazz education has thrived in hundreds of thousands of high schools and colleges in America.
Here in Chicago there are a multitude of ways to get an education in jazz music. The majority of out Colleges, and Universities offer Jazz Studies programs which help students compose, improvise, arrange, and comprehend Jazz theory. Colleges/Universities that have Jazz Studies programs include Depaul, UIC, Columbia, Roosevelt Loyola, and Chicago State among others (I’m sure I missed a few schools my apologies). Thanks to these programs aspiring musicians can improve their playing and go to local Jazz clubs and jam sessions and apply their new found knowledge into the real world.
I understand that not everyone wants to obtain a Jazz studies degree from a four year institution. However, there are still many ways you can expand your knowledge of Jazz. Private lessons are an excellent way to improve your playing and allow you to dictate what you would like to learn, whether you want to be a master musician or would just like to learn a couple songs. House Call Music is an excellent teaching service that provides private lessons in the privacy of your home. Another great place to expand your knowledge of Jazz is the Old Town School of Folk Music. Old Town has several locations in Chicago and provides a multitude of classes such as, private lessons, ensembles, and theory. There are many others institution in Chicago where you can learn jazz music however, these are a couple of institution that I know of very well and feel comfortable endorsing.
Jazz music, once shunned by the world of academia, is now well respected and growing. There are a multitude of ways to enjoy Jazz music and a Jazz education only bolsters our comprehension and enjoyment of the genre. So, whether you are studyting in a college/university, taking private lessons, or jamming with friends go out there and learn all you can about Jazz. Below I have added links to the institutions I mentioned earlier. And, as always, thank you for staying in the Jazz Loop.