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As you may know (or you read in my post about Jazz lessons here), April is Jazz month! I actually just finished a unit on jazz (yes, my planning should have been better), but this allows me to share some of my jazz lessons with you. This one is one of my favorites from the year, based on the song Blue Skies. I used this with kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. This lesson uses the song Blue Skies to incorporate singing, movement, instruments, and improvisation. And yes, I used scarves. Because if you cannot tell from this post or this post… or this post…. I LOVE scarves. They are fun, they integrate movements, and you can use them as incentives. What could be better? Now, this was actually two lessons for my students, but I will put it all here and you can make it one or two (or three if you want).
Blue Skies Jazz Lesson
Focus: I can sing, move, and improvise to jazz music. Materials: You can click on these affiliated links to see them in Amazon.
- Tell the students that we are going to learn a new style of music, called jazz music. Jazz music started in the United States when people from different cultures mixed their music together.
- Listen to Blue Skies. You can do steady beat motions (snapping to the back beat is great for this), or have students close their eyes and “move how the music sounds” (I talk more in detail about this in this post).
- Ask the students: If we have Blue Skies, what do you think that means? Are we happy or sad?
- Teach them the chorus for Blue Skies by rote. While doing this, have the students move their hands up when your voices go up and down when it goes down.
- Practice the chorus with the recording.
- Listen to the song again, this time doing steady beat motions (patting shoulders, marching in place, swaying, etc.) until the chorus. At the chorus, stop and move hands up and down to trace the melody (my students like to pretend they are holding a paintbrush and we are painting the melody).
- Do this activity again, but use scarves this time—because scarves make everything better!
- Have students get a handheld percussion item, like tambourines (we just got these from Donor’s Choose and they are awesome!).
- Have students keep the beat on their instrument on the verses and move their “paintbrush” up and down on the chorus. You could also have them move their tambourines up and down for a fun effect.
- About halfway through, stop the music and talk about improvisation. Tell them this is something that happens in jazz a lot, where we make up our own music. Does this mean we are just as loud as possible? No. This means we try to think about what will sound cool and do that.
- Play the song and allow students to improvise to the song. Walk around the room and listen and encourage those who do not need a little extra support.
- Closing: Ask students what words they would use to describe the song. Was it fast or slow? Was it loud or soft? Legato or staccato? What kind of instruments do you hear? See what they come up with.
So that is my Blue Skies jazz lesson! I broke it into two by stopping after the scarves on the first day. On the second day, we reviewed the chorus, danced to the song, and then added in the instruments. The kids loved it. So much so, that I may try it with some of my older students too. I am playing around with a parachute routine for it… So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss anything! You can also click here to view a lot of lesson ideas on my Pinterest page.
Happy Jazz month!