What is the best way to introduce a young person to jazz?

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Date: 22-Dec-1998 15:40:01
From: Stephen ( djangorhinehart@yahoo.com )
The best way to introduce young people to jazz is by exposing them to it. Just be careful to start with what they will find cool. Not every one likes Live in Seatle so you should probobly start with some new swing or salsa. Stuf like the sound track to When Harry Met Sally and Brian Setzer are a great place to start. Then as the young person developes expose them to more and more outside stuf. Before you know it thell be thinking Ornithology is the hepest thing since Jelly Roll.

Date: 23-Dec-1998 02:50:48
From: jon ( edwin@iswt.com )
Stephen, your e mail address is more interesting than the body of your message.. imagine.......djangorheinhart@yahoo.com

i have collected Django records for many many years. back to about 1952. he was the greatest.

and say.....have you heard the small group from austin texas.....names....(8 1/2)...they are great...see them in person if you can......they have a french guitarist that sounds exactly like Django....they have been signed by RCA recently and maybe more people will hear them.

as to getting young people interested in jazz......ah now thats difficult. i think it has to be one of gentle exposure....too much or our preaching about it will only discourage them...

when you are talking to a young man/woman they are mostly interested in themselves...in the course of the conversation if they talk about some life crisis or problem or some related interest...(dancing,,,,singing) we can tell of how a certain jazz record seemed to help yourself be it anger at parents,,,,school,,,,girls,,,,,boys,,,,society,, race issues....ect. this being able to tell how you feel; will open the young person up to perhaps thinking this jazz record or maybe just one cut....can help me too.

then maybe they will hear something again and again to where they can feel the music. its a slow process.

now in a school situation the teacher can work in these feeling about the music in an educational way....but in a one to one situation...its very hard to do.

i have loved jazz for over 50 years....(dinosir)...and looking back i will have to say jazz is a very lonely hobby.....few will share your interests even if they like jazz......

but i would not trade this experience for any other i have tried......ie......classical.....opera....rock and roll.....ect ect.

i believe for a lot of young people they associate music with their early romantic yearnings....of course later in life its takes on other feelings....anger,rage,beauty, spiritual qualities,....i really hope these new swing experiments will bring the kids back to jazz....you see having fun and dancing ,,,,they get it all....the ear for jazz....the rhythm.....and its fun.

for give the length of this post.


Date: 23-Dec-1998 07:20:21
From: Chris Genzel ( stamil@t-online.de )
Jazz should get prohibited, so that it's illegal to listen to it. Or at least start large campaign about how dangerous this music is. You wouldn't believe how many youths would suddenly find jazz hip. Honestly, I guess there's little hope to turn on a lot of young people to jazz—it's a music for outsiders, and youths are regarded as outsiders by other youths when they are listening to jazz. I know that because I experienced it myself. I do agree that they should be led very casually towards jazz; give them the "Get Shorty" soundtrack by John Lurie or explain to them where US3 stole all these wonderful melodies and ideas from. Then let them proceed with "Doo-Bop" or "Dis Is Da Drum" or whatever.

Herbie Hancock & Bennie Maupin discographies at: http://home.t-online.de/home/stamil/

Date: 23-Dec-1998 15:40:37
From: Peter Kenyon ( kenyonp@cbs.curtin.edu.au )
I know it is corny and the purists would turn their noses up in disdain, but good compilation CDs work—"Mellow Miles," the "Best of Blue Note" etc. I have (a few) young friends who have heard something like Miles doing Round Midnight and have very quickly progressed to the 65-68 Quintet and then on to Coltrane, Dolphy etc. But realistically, most kids just don't get it! Similarly with classical music. Try getting kids to listen to good chamber music. It's the same with good jazz. basically, these are difficult genres of music as they require you to LISTEN and not just have the music there as background sound. Jazz (and classical) are simply never going to be popular.

Date: 28-Dec-1998 20:45:46
From: David Kurtz ( kurtz@liquidaudio.com )
I stand by the notion that jazz is best experienced live. The electricity generated by seeing a jazz ensemble work together is infinitely more exciting to the untrained ear than sitting through Miles solos in your living room. Live jazz has an organic feeling that connects the listener to the culture of jazz that other live music does not. After sitting through a Joshua Redman set at Yoshi's or the Vanguard, no arena rock show can compare, as a whole experience. Live jazz is the best way to introduce the culture of jazz.

Date: 29-Dec-1998 06:02:11
From: Chris Genzel ( stamil@t-online.de )
I agree that a live jazz experience is more likely to turn somebody on to the genre (my sister is now a jazz fan after seeing Herbie Hancock live), but the problem is that you may have serious problems bringing someone who doesn't like (or know) jazz to spend money for a concert (s)he doesn't want to see. This person already has to be more open-minded. I guess this is not that much of a problem in America, you probably have several jazz clubs where you don't have to pay much in order to be able to hear a concert.

Herbie Hancock & Bennie Maupin discographies at: http://home.t-online.de/home/stamil

Date: 01-Jan-1999 05:20:04
From: israel ( esroh@juno.com )
I believe that in most cases it usually takes some kind of pre-meditated motive or a more in-depth reason for a pop influenced young person (I assume we're talking about teenagers) to become at least somewhat interested in jazz. The nature of this "pre-meditated motive" will vary individually and is usually accompanied by a transitional phase as well.

For example, I used to listen to allot of alternative rock as an early teen. At 17, I got so tired of alternative and the silly trends it set at school, that I turned to classic rock. Initially, I started listening to classic rock just to try to stick out and be different (something most all teenagers try to pull every now and then) but soon I started to enjoy it for what it was worth. A year later, at the age of 18, I was growing sick of classic rock and miraculously started a light interest in jazz. And, like before, my initial purpose for getting into jazz was again to be a "non-conformist" by finding something new and different (little did I know what was coming to me).

And so, at the time of my initial interest in jazz, my "pre-meditated motive" was to be a non-conformist and the "transitional phase" which made my adaptation to jazz possible was a short interest in classic rock.

Soon after discovering jazz, though, I quickly realized the true importance of this great art form and soon began to recognize the huge contrast that exists between it and pop music/pop culture. This contrast being that pop music, of any kind, has one primary purpose: to merely entertain its listeners—whereas one of the primary purposes of jazz is to provide its audience with intellectual, spontaneous, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences which will never be exactly duplicated but which can always be remembered.

Date: 03-Jan-1999 23:40:45
From: Michael Ricci ( mricci@visionx.com )
Someone should ask 10 year-old Ben Kincaid of Wichita, KS. Check out his website at http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Coffeehouse/5121/ .

Date: 04-Jan-1999 13:12:49
From: Linn Kincaid (Ben's dad) ( JazzLvr103@aol.com )
Hey Michael, Thanks for the comment on my son Ben and his success with jazz. I think that a child must be introduced to music ... any music—from the very earliest stages of development.

Ben responded to nursery rhyme music in cassette and video format. This, combined with jazz played around the house may have been the catalyst for him—but I cannot be sure. Through the ages (2, 3, 4 and on), we took Ben to every music production, festival, and concert that we could—and used little earplugs for those loud occasions. We have always made music a fun thing, and encouraged Ben to "dance" and "sing" before he could even walk and praised him for having so much fun with us. But again, jazz was always in the background—as wakeup music, dinner music, car-music, and bed-time music. We also have many friends who are jazz-musicians, friends who Ben loves and respects as "uncles."

Ben has two younger brothers that respond the same way, so we can only hope for the same results. My goal was never to "create" a musician, but only to instill a love of music. Jazz just happens to be our choice of music at home, where everything begins. I have often wondered if we were country or classical fans if the results would have been the same. As far as older children (post-toddler) and developing a jazz interest, there are so many variables to consider. Once a young jazzer comes to surface, they lead a lonely life because it doesn't seem to be a natural thing for most. Other kids do not understand or appreciate, which is (sadly) reflective of society.

As Ben (now 11) continues to thrive on Dizzy, Bird, Miles and Trane—his peers seem to outcast him and his world in favor of Hanson, Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. Most of Ben's classmates think he is "strange" because he is a jazz musician—and this in itself can be discouraging for a 5th grader. The only thing that keeps Ben going is positive reinforcement at home, and through the old timers and mentors who continue to recognize, appreciate, and praise his interest and efforts.

I believe that the only way to reach most children with jazz would be to somehow make it a "cool" thing, where peer-pressure would would be a driving force ... and in the process, perhaps a handful might continue to appreciate it throughout life. The sad truth is that jazz represents only 3% of CD sales in America—and these CD's are bought by adults. Children live what they learn, so take it from there. Parents, educators and mentors—take heed, and know that your efforts and encouragement are all that we have in keeping jazz alive!


Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.