Marsalis and Lincoln Center Release Jazz Appreciation Curriculum
Marsalis, renowned jazz musician and Artistic Director of Jazz
at Lincoln Center, divided the auditorium of MS 44 into two parts
and taught the audience a simple call and response – “How are
you?” “I’m fine” – to demonstrate the clave, a common rhythm
in Latin Jazz. The middle-schoolers that joined Marsalis onstage,
who were selected for their perfect attendance records, had already
mastered the clave and other elements of jazz music. They
wowed the audience with their improvisational skills as they demonstrated
the break, scat-singing and playing their kazoos with aplomb.
Marsalis and others came to MS 44 to promote their Jazz for Young
People Curriculum, a joint effort between Jazz at Lincoln Center,
the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and Scholastic, Inc.
Mayor Bloomberg stopped by to congratulate Marsalis and his collegues
and to officially proclaim February 26, 2002 Jazz Education Day
in New York City.
Marsalis explained that the curriculum grew out of the Jazz for
Young People family concert series and outreach work in the schools.
The curriculum, Marsalis explained, “travels without us” and has
“an impact that lasts far beyond us being in a city or a school
for a day or an hour.”
Members of the Board of Education have promised to purchase a
curriculum package, which contain 10 CDs narrated by Marsalis
with music by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and written materials
for teacher and students, for each district arts superintendent.
Marsalis emphasized that the curriculum is designed to teach music
appreciation, not how to play music. “It’s not really for music
students, it’s for general students,” he said. Neither are the
materials designed for specially trained music educators. “Anybody,
really, can understand it and teach it,” said Marsalis. Laura
Johnson, of Jazz at Lincoln Center, described the materials as
a “curriculum for how to listen to jazz,” mentioning the need
to create new jazz audiences as well as muscians.
Mayor Bloomberg and spokespersons from Jazz at Lincoln Center
all underscored the uniquely American development of jazz, which
was refered to as “one of America’s greatest creations” and “one
of the centerpieces of American culture.”
The 4th-9th graders for whom the curriculum is designed are, of
course, more likely to be listening to the all-American voices
of Britney Spears and N’Sync rather than Billie Holiday or Dizzy
Gilespie albums. No matter, explained Marsalis. Music education
can cultivate good taste as well as analytical thinking. He encouraged
teachers to have students share examples of their favorite music.
“Whatever the kids like, it’ll have breaks and responses,” he
explained. “I’m not into teaching them my own prejudices.”
Marsalis takes a more pedagogic approach. “Instead of saying,
‘I hate rap music’ – and I do hate it – I say, ‘this is what a
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.