Jazz Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Jazz music has deep roots in our culture. Text and video lessons describe the genre for students and an activity gives them a chance to feel the music.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify jazz music
  • outline the principles of jazz music
  • select one example of a specific type of jazz music to share with the class


1 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.


  • Audio of several songs of different genres with one of the selections being jazz
  • Slips of paper with the following written on them: SLAVE SONGS, BRASS BANDS, BLUES and RAGTIME
  • A bowl or other container


  • Begin by playing the selected songs for the class.
  • Based on the songs they have just heard, ask the students to identify the song that belongs to the jazz genre of music.
  • Does everyone agree on a selection? Why does this selection represent jazz music? How is it different from the other selections? Discuss this as a class.
  • Now have students read the introduction and What is Jazz? section of the text lesson What Is Jazz? - History, Characteristics & Instruments.
  • How does the description of jazz music provided in the lesson compare to the classroom discussion on the topic? Review this as a class now.
  • Now play the video lesson Elements of Jazz: Swing, Syncopation, Styles & History for the class.
  • Answer any questions then have students read the remainder of the text lesson: What Is Jazz? - History, Characteristics & Instruments.

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