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Exploring Jazz With Active Listening

Teach in music class with students in chairsThe soulful sounds of saxophone, bass, drums, and piano filled the classroom of a seventh-grade music class as students studied jazz at Somers Middle School.

“I think it sounds smooth and calming,” said Cole Kennedy.

They actively listened to music clips and referenced their notes to figure out which of the four subgenres of jazz they’ve studied so far were showcased in each clip. So far, they’ve studied ragtime, bebop, big band, and New Orleans styles. A new addition to the lineup was fusion.

“Fusion is characterized by electronic instruments,” Mr. Gilbert told the class. “It often, though not always, utilizes creative improvisation.”

teacher in classroom with attentive students “It’s scripted and not scripted because of the middle section,” said Harry Dugmore when sharing in the classroom discussion after listening to a jazz piece.

Students discussed tempo, style, instruments, and other attributes that set each subgenre apart, developing their Approaches to Learning (ATL) skill of finding, interpreting, judging, and creating information they’d covered in class so far.

“It’s fun to listen to music in class,” said Harry.

Students have also learned about famous jazz artists and how they influenced and shaped the genre over time. Studying different artists and subgenres of jazz helps students develop their open-minded IB learner attribute by becoming more active listeners and even discovering new artists they enjoy.

 Teacher demonstrating stand up bass for students“I admire Art Tatum because he is very talented while being almost completely blind,” said Cole.