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Louis Armstrong Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Nola Bridgens

Nola has taught elementary school and tutored for four years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Marketing, and is a certified teacher.

Do you love the sound of a big band playing jazz where you can't help but tap your feet along with the beat? In this lesson, you'll learn about Louis Armstrong, one of the most influential figures in jazz music.

What a Wonderful World

'I see trees of green, red roses, too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.' Do those lyrics sound familiar? They're from the international smash hit What a Wonderful World, recorded by the legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong. This lesson will discuss his life and explain how he rose to fame in the jazz world.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was born in 1901 in New Orleans into an extremely poor family. His father abandoned him when Louis was young, and he was raised by his grandmother and mother who tried desperately to make ends meet. Louis had to drop out of school in the fifth grade to work and help his mom pay their bills. To earn extra money, Louis would sing in the streets.

Louis was a mischievous young boy who was eventually sent to a home for troubled boys. It was there that he learned he had a natural ability to play the cornet. A cornet is a brass instrument similar to the trumpet, but it is smaller and has a softer tone. He was released from the home in 1914 and set out to begin his musical career.

Cornet
cornet

Musical Career

In 1918, Louis married his first wife and adopted a son named Clarence who was mentally disabled from a head injury. Louis continued to take care of Clarence throughout his life.

During this time, his musical career really took off, and he joined Kid Ory's band, a well-known band in New Orleans. Louis became very popular and was able to quit his side jobs and make music his full-time career. He eventually switched from playing the cornet to the trumpet and is most famous for his trumpet playing ability.

Louis Armstrong
louis2

'Satchmo'

As a child, Louis was nicknamed 'Satchelmouth,' which referred to the size of his mouth. Later in his career, a reporter mistakenly called him 'Satchmo,' and the nickname stuck because Louis liked it better than 'Satchelmouth.' In 1922, Louis moved to Chicago and joined King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. He began recording albums with them and even had some solos.

Satchmo
louis

Louis married his second wife Lil Hardin in 1924, and she convinced him that Oliver's band was holding him back, so they moved to New York City. In New York, he joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra and is credited for transforming the band into the first jazz big band.

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