A non-intimidating introduction to jazz standards.

When we're discovering something new, it's rarely something intellectual. It's emotional. It's all about love. An experience makes us feel something, and then we become curious about it and want to learn more. Without the emotion, even something beautiful is boring. 

Which brings us to the subject of jazz. People get really into jazz, and then they want to share that. They discuss bebop and hard bop, cool jazz and free jazz, stride and swing. They use words you know in unrecognizable ways: chops, charts, and changes. Pocket, woodshed, walk. They toss around scary-sounding chords G minor seven flat five and A flat nine and F thirteen. 

Pretty intimidating, right? And definitely intellectual. But jazz has soul. It starts with the songs. The jazz standards. Hundreds of beautiful tunes written by greats like Ellington, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. Songs like, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Georgia on My Mind," and "Stormy Weather." These songs, written mostly in the first part of the twentieth century, are the Great American Songbook, played and sung by generations of jazz musicians. First, let's fall in love with these songs - then we'll have accidentally fallen in love with jazz.

In this workshop, we'll explore:

  • Kid-friendly tunes that we can sing (or play on our own instruments).
  • Playing together as an ensemble.
  • Accessible and fun music related to the Great American Songbook, like big band swing, bossa nova, and Dixieland.
  • How to swing a melody.
  • Great jazz musicians and composers of the twentieth century and what made them so great.
  • Games that will help us learn to improvise.
  • How to sing or play a melody expressively and put your own stamp on it.
  • Stacking the notes of a scale to make some of those scary "jazz chords" with upper extensions - using Duplos (baby Legos)!
  • Common chord progressions in jazz, like the twelve-bar-blues and "two five one."

The workshop (for ages 6-12) will conclude with a performance for family and friends where we'll share the songs we've learned.