Yesterday I posted some resources, including the Chuck Vanderchuck PBSKids website, for teaching Jazz at the elementary level. Jazz is truly an American art form and although it is a world-wide phenomenon now, it started here in the Southern United States. I am proud to be an American and as an American music teacher, I owe it to my students to expose them to jazz, as it is the grandfather of most current American music (country, rock and roll, pop, etc.).
Jazz is by nature a participatory art so I like to get my students interacting and making music as much as I can. One of my favorite ways of getting students to participate in making jazz is playing the 12-Bar Blues progression.
I know that technically the 12-bar blues is from “the blues” but the progression is also used in a lot of jazz tunes as well. It is a great way to get kids participating in jazz without knowing so much of the music theory required to play good jazz. You can choose any piece that uses the standard 12-Bar Blues Progression for this (I use “Good Mornin’ Blues” or “ABC Blues” from the Silver-Burdett Making Music Textbook Series from the 2nd Grade and Kindergarten books respectively. I’ve also used Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” recording)
We start by counting the boxes in the graphic below and discuss that each box represents one “bar” or measure in music. The black hashes represent the 4 beats in each measure. Then we discuss roman numerals and what I, IV, and V mean in roman numerals (1, 4, and 5). We practice saying the chord numbers as we pat the beat for each bar (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1….4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 1, 1… you get the idea).
I have also played the progression with students on resonator bells, hand bells, and even Orff instruments. You can adapt that charts above to color code as you need them or simply do B&W with note names for Orff instruments.
All of the Above Charts and Images Can Be Downloaded as a ZIP File (bmp, PDF, and ActivInspire formats) for FREE from my Dropbox Account HERE!!!
This is Part Two of a Three-Part Series. Here are the other articles in this series: