1,387

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

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Now, as I began to play more and more, I began to like the music BETTER than pop. That's when I decided to research the subject, to find out all I could.

Now Jazz is my favorite type of music to play, and to listen to. Many of my friends—well, most of em—are non Musicians. Thus they never were exposed to Jazz like I was, and do not understand the music, do not care for it, nor do they understand my complete fascination-bordering-on-obsession with the music.

The only ones who do are the fellow jazz players.

I believe the key to introducing Jazz to young people is to begin with Jazz that is VERY close to what they listen to, and pound it into to their skull until it BECOMES the music they listen to... then start to divulge, so on and so on, until they become Jazz Fanatics.

I've tried—with some success—to get some of my groupied into Jazz through people like Brian Setzer, Johnny Favorite, and other pop-like swing bands. I've also tried with MUCH success to get rock fans into jazz through Miles Davis. Using some of his PRINCE and SANTANA recordings (of which most are bootleg), and Bitches Brew, I slowly brought more and more miles upon them until I hit Birth of the Cool—at which point I began to move to other Jazz greats.

This worked about 50/50... the hardest part is 'bringing it upon them'—you have to some way to get them to listen to this stuff. I played most of it while holding weekly pool 'tournaments' with friends in my basement.

Oh, and a tip—stay AWAY from Kenny G at ALL costs.


Date: 14-Aug-2000 13:37:54
From: Chang, Won ( [email protected] )
I am a 20-year-old collegean living in South Korea. Since I was about 14 years or so I've never lost my interest in a thing called music, and I've been trying to listen to music as much as possible. Mostly i am into indie rock/electronica/underground hiphop/avant-pop—sorta things. And as I became a collegean and had some more leisure time than in highschool, I started to involve myself with playing guitar and bass, which was great turning point to me. As I learn to play'em, strange to say, i found myself getting into genres that I previously almost ignored—jazz and classic. This was very interesting experience and thesedays I am having much inspired days(nice timing—'cause indie rock and techno stuffs started to feel like kind of stereotypes to me). And it is another new fun that I hang around on weekends at some jazz clubs(there're some nice jazz clubs in my country, not many to my regret). Anyway, my conclusions is this: if you want to introduce a young person to jazz, teach him or her how to deal with a instrument(preferably one of guitar, bass and drums). As the young person grows good at it, he or she will realize how jazz is striking, intelligent, enormous and full of beauty.

warning : this is also possible that he or she makes a hardcore-satanic-shock-crazy heavy metal band or something, depening on what kind of person he or she is.


Date: 14-Aug-2000 13:44:13
From: Chang, Won ( [email protected] )
I am a 20-year-old collegean living in South Korea. Since I was about 14 years or so I've never lost my interest in a thing called music, and I've been trying to listen to music as much as possible. Mostly i am into indie rock/electronica/underground hiphop/avant-pop—sorta things. And as I became a collegean and had some more leisure time than in highschool, I started to involve myself with playing guitar and bass, which was great turning point to me. As I learn to play'em, strange to say, i found myself getting into genres that I previously almost ignored—jazz and classic. This was very interesting experience and thesedays I am having much inspired days(nice timing—'cause indie rock and techno stuffs started to feel like kind of stereotypes to me). And it is another new fun that I hang around on weekends at some jazz clubs(there're some nice jazz clubs in my country, not many to my regret). Anyway, my conclusions is this: if you want to introduce a young person to jazz, teach him or her how to deal with a instrument(preferably one of guitar, bass and drums). As the young person grows good at it, he or she will realize how jazz is striking, intelligent, enormous and full of beauty.

warning : this is also possible that he or she makes a hardcore-satanic-shock-crazy heavy metal band or something, depening on what kind of person he or she is.


Date: 25-Aug-2000 20:26:15
From: Stu Simpson! ( [email protected] )
Jazz is no Joke plus Patrick is a Loser!


Date: 30-Aug-2000 22:34:48
From: God
Stu, Patrick is a wonderful, fallible human being, just like you. Don't ruffle my feathers.


Date: 01-Oct-2000 19:32:53
From: Lisa
I think the best way is to let them hear jazz, ask them to try it.


Date: 22-Oct-2000 06:51:18
From: Sugar Shane ( [email protected] )
I just finished playing a wedding for some relatives(distant ones) with my quartet..during every song my oldest son(9) kept saying "when are u going to stop playing?" my youngest son(6)..was just grooving to the sounds of me doing the Chet Baker thing.....i am a working professional....kids are so different right from inception so my advice is to throw up your hands(between solos ) and say"hey it makes sense to meeeee....."


Date: 05-Feb-2001 17:52:47
From: Pam Birley
Kids need to be able to listen to jazz. They never hear it. 'Music' to them means pop groups. They don't hear jazz on the radio or TV or in the supermarket. Our love of jazz as a couple of English 'seniors!' grew from the dancehalls, big bands, Earl Bostic, George Shearing, Ted Heath, Stan Kenton. Later we had visits from Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and the Allstars and an unforgettable concert by Duke Ellington. Jazz in UK has to be sought out. Our grandson Jamie, aged 8, asks Grandpa to 'put your jazz on.' He loves it. He is learning to play piano and we will continue to indoctrinate him with Billy Taylor, Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Geoff Keezer, Cedar Walton, Marian McPartland, Gene Harris, Monty Alexander, etc. etc. whenever he comes to stay and hope that he will continue to develop his interest in both classical and jazz and get as much pleasure out of it as we have over the years.


Date: 06-Feb-2001 20:16:53


From: Andreas
Jon Hendricks' "Evolution of the Blues" ought to be part of the school curriculum, as both music and history.


Date: 08-Feb-2001 17:05:57
From: Dawn Jacobson ( [email protected] )


Optimally, start 'em off young—the younger the better. For teenagers (at least in the SF Bay Area), the new swing groups (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, etc.) are interesting to them, and provide a way to lead them on to the original swing bands, and thence down the garden path to harder, more improvisational stuff. I've done this with my high school students (no, I don't teach music; computer science), and every year, a few more of them really start getting into jazz. I also try to give them as many biographical details as they are interested in (frequently, the more lurid, the better!); I think they are comparing jazz musicians with their hip-hop and rap favorites, to see who is "badder."


Date: 09-Feb-2001 11:49:10
From: Adam Lozo ( [email protected] )


The best way for young people to learn jazz is start listening to what they are familiar with already. Take the most recent top 40 list, bring together jazz musicians and have them play these same tunes, but jazzed up. Bring in the Britney Spears of the world to sing (they need to relate and this ties into the familiarity) and soon these versions of their favorite songs will get air play.

The problem with hitting this mass market is that jazz has failed miserably to recognize and incorporate the 'popular artist.' Sure, Britney has a lousy voice. I'd rather hear Jane Monheit sing. But Jane can't/won't wear the low cut, hip outfits of today. How can we blame these kids?


Date: 21-Feb-2001 06:40:40
From: Dario Birindelli ( [email protected] )


Do you want to introduce Jazz to teens or college students as a 'cooler-than-thou' music? Easy:first,have a look at what's the rage at the moment,and it seems to me that very loud rock is currently sweeping the nation-or should I say the globe. So:we have music which is very loud,and bursting with energy. Wait: did someone say 'late John Coltrane Quartet' there at the back of the classroom? Make them listen to LIVING SPACE or SUN SHIPS to name but a few,watch their reaction and start from there. What? No Heavy Rock aficionados available? Only Phish Phans or Deadheads?(Or any other JamBand fans)? Easy-Peasy:Scofield, Electric Miles, or even Jimmy Smith should do the trick. DON'T let them know that Jazz is heavy on Ballads and melanchony and sadness. Not at the beginning though. AND then,when they're hooked... Ciao!


Date: 23-Feb-2001 10:21:27
From: Mudd ( [email protected] )
My older brother worked for the Jazz Heritage Society, and one day he brought home "The Gentle Side of John Coltrane" and played it in the morning when I was hung over.

I loved the way it made me feel, and now jazz replaces my "James Taylor's Greatest Hits" cd for the relaxing moods. I have since become a devoted member of Jazz Heritage Society, and I don't regret a penny spent.

Granted, most kids are not into relaxing or being hung over, but exposure to it in the morning can have a profound effect for the rest of the day.


Date: 26-Feb-2001 19:29:04
From: Andreas
I haven't had a hangover in many years, personally, but Mudd hits up on the subject of another thread here, the spiritual / transcendental nature of jazz, and of music in general. Some people meditate in the morning to get them in the right frame of mind to tackle the day. I put on a CD for the same purpose. Music hits places in your soul that words can never reach—hung over or not.




Date: 25-Mar-2001 22:38:09
From: Miguel ( [email protected] )
As a young jazz fan, I can say that Miles Davis would certainly change teens minds, just as he did to me. I truly believe that Doo Bop could slowly lead teenagers from Hip Hop to Jazz. How I dare saying such a thing? Curiosity guides us, that's why one who "falls in love" for the Doo Bop sound will try to find out something more about Miles.


Date: 07-Apr-2001 18:15:10
From: David Burnett ( [email protected] )
Hi,

I'm 14 and I love jazz. I don't listen to much else. I play the Alto Sax, go to jam sessions, etc. Actually LISTENING to jazz has made me a better player.

I wouldn't try to force jazz on anyone. I would just let them find that music which suits them best. I tend to lean toward Cool Jazz, Miles Davis, Brubeck, etc.

A real fast paced kind of kid might appreciate bop. Have them listen to something like KoKo. If they think that rock is fast, let them hear some Charlie Parker. I wouldn't recommend John Coltrane, though. :o)


Date: 07-Apr-2001 19:44:57
From: JAZZIZLIFE!
Witnessing live players is definitely the key. I am 18 years old, and I know tons of people my age who love jazz...don't be surprised, I'm a jazz music student in college. What really got me into it was seeing live performances of people who'd blow like there was no tomorrow. I was always in awe (and still am) when I saw jazz soloists totally engaged in their playing. It seemed like such an intense experience...I think it was Artie Shaw on the Ken Burns documentary who said "It's better than sex!" from then on, I've wanted to explore jazz more than any music. Take teens to concerts. Show them the intensity of it, show them it is a music more true that doesn't find it's meaning in a girl's sexy lips and fake boobs, or a guy's cute face and big muscles, as the commercial music most teens are exposed to does. And I agree 100% with CHRIS LA ROCHE...KEEP THEM FAR, FAR, FAR, FAR AWAY FROM KENNY G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Date: 23-Apr-2001 10:56:49
From: Cathy ( [email protected] )
When I introduce group of young children (kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades) to jazz I use a picture book,"Charlie Parker Played Be Bop" by Chris Raschka. This book comes with a tape that has "A Night In Tunisia" on it. The author also talks a little about jazz. They kids love it and when I go back into a classroom a week later and ask,"Who was Charlie Parker and what did he play?" They all say, "He played bebop, he played alto sax!" They also get a charge out of the story about him eating the chicken killed by the car. (Although that's not in the book.) When I introduce older children,(3rd, 4th, and 5th grades) to jazz I use Vince Guraldi's music because every child recognizes and loves the "Charlie Brown and Peanuts" music. Many of the 3rd graders liked the Charlie Parker book as well. By the end of the class I have a room full of toe tapping, finger snapping, head nodding, future jazz fans.


Date: 12-Jun-2001 17:56:17
From: filip momirovski ( [email protected] )


I am 20 and live in Macedonia(you might have heard of it since there is a war there. Albanian terorists brutally kill macedonian policemen and soldiers and are trying to divide country.I think of jazz enjoyers as persons with high intelectual capabilities and cosmopolits so it is esential for me to try spread the truth to people worthy of it.Please stand in the side of the ethnic macedonians and other nationalites who want peace and brotherhood.The albanian terorists kill innocent people including albanians who dont want to fight against their neighbours and sponsore their criminal activities(drugs,weapons).The common people just want peace.Please tell this over to a friend, introduce him/her/yourself with the problem,do not fall under the strong terorists propaganda that goes on the internet and even further—on the news media(tv,papers,political talkshows...try imagine that it is not so hard to bribe someone with a lot of money,money made by selling drugs to kids). Please excuse me for using this space and in return I woud like to suggest something from Macedonia- a great jazz guitarist who studied at Berkley.His name- Toni Kitanovski,I promise you pure enjoment listening to both mellow and agresive guitar jazz.Great drums too. The album is called "One 4 Charlie" and among Toni's compsitions you will find other tunes too{"Lonely woman" , "On the stairs..."} I started listening jazz at 17 while listening too rock bands like Ten years after,Jethro Tull,Cream(all of these I still apriciate and listen to}.I think jazz is good where it's at: ezoteric,generally respected,frightend of,pop music is a momentary remembered song,jazz will be kept alive and lived for a long time.Still, I believe it's a ticket to the unexplainable force of art and nature as well(a sound so articulate but so unarticulate- the highpoint of man's creative energy,a circle where the intelect and the savage meet.This can only be done in art).It sholdn't be made popular, it should be left a chalenge to the young man,a test of his human perception and reason.And bravery too, to stand against the common and try find out what the beuty of the human is.We will always need these people since they are(being jazz listeners) regulary provoced by literature,science.These things always go in a package.So there you have it -you can always count a jazz listener has higher emotions and a better understanding of the world, OF YOU.


Date: 16-Aug-2001 13:24:36
From: Vicky ( [email protected] )
Im 17 years old from Canada, and I've just started searching jazz music. I luv it! My friends found it really weird and they laughed at me at first. But then I got them to listen to some Duke Ellington and Miles Davis stuff, they can't get enough of it. I guess jazz has become a secret fetish of mine. I just need some help in finding some more classics! If you could help me out and name me a few songs, write me! Thanx!


Date: 31-Aug-2001 08:31:55
From: Holly
Vicky: Check out the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (5 CD set)- the best of the best. Martin Williams an excellent jazz writer wrote the extensive liner notes which is a great introduction to the history of jazz, jazz styles, and the musicians.


Date: 24-Sep-2001 15:53:12
From: Alan C.
I think young people today have many good compilation series to choose from that are very good. They're generally well chosen and fancy remastered. Really you can't go very wrong. The Ken Burns series is good, the Jazz Essentials series (Verve, I believe) in which different musicians highlight someone, Herbie Hancock picks his favorite Bill Evans' cuts on Verve etc. etc. is also very good. The Columbia Legacy series, sort of a best of series (Ellington, Basie, etc. etc.) is also very good. I also agree with Smithsonian recordings suggestion.


Date: 23-Oct-2001 13:26:34
From: dnlb199
I'm a 40 yr old who just started listening to jazz in the last 5 years. I'm now hooked. 150 rock and country albums sit idle. My girls (age 11 and 7) listen and enjoy because I do. They hear it and enjoy it. Not all of it... they have favorites as we all do. But they have Mingus, Ella and Miles songs that they love.

One key is to not get the purist attitude I so often run into and read. If you don't play it or "understand it," you aren't enjoying it. Well, I'm not a musician and I'm sure I'm missing some of the finer points (what the heck does "modal" mean anyway?), but I dig the music. It's now the kind of music I hum to myself all day. That's the sign of a man loving his music in my book.


Date: 23-Oct-2001 13:49:05


From: Dan R.
Hey, the finer points go on forever. If you enjoy it and spend time with it what more do you need? I still find my rock and country records real interesting and enjoyable. Only now the real good stuff is even better—on its own terms, and in its own way. Welcome to jazz.

Post a comment

Tags

More

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.