top of page

Jazz, Improvisation, and the Schulwerk

Report from the Resonances Committee by Tiffany English

The American Orff-Schulwerk Association was pleased to host the Resonances Jazz, Improvisation, and the Schulwerk on March 26, 2022. It was targeted to all who are interested in learning more about the American art form of Jazz and how it relates particularly to Orff-Schulwerk and work with children. Videos of the sessions are available free of charge here.

One of the most incredible parts of this event was the discussion between Dr. Patrick Ware, Dr. IJ Routen, and Doug Goodkin. The topic of Jazz is enormous. It could be approached from the technical, definitive aspects - What actually is Jazz? -, the creative aspects - What does a musician do when performing Jazz? - , the impressionistic aspects - What does an audience take from Jazz? - and I could go on. The panel tackled these ideas briefly, but then went into much deeper discussions on how the Schulwerk and Jazz are intimately connected. I really loved how the panelists discussed children’s responses, improvisation, and successes. They also discussed how and why incorporating Jazz into the Orff-Schulwerk pedagogy is a great fit. There are two different discussions so I suggest that you watch both of them to get the full information.

Jazz has had incredible impacts on so many things including movement and dance. Jazz is intimately connected to the movement of the body. I find it very interesting that many Jazz rhythms have their basis in body movements of enslaved peoples. Hana Novotna did an incredible job showing some of these rhythms in her session. Her process built the choreography into a full dance by the end of the session and was so fun! Additionally, Judith Thompson-Barthwell did a historical analysis and demonstration of a wide variety of dance steps in her Come Together session. I highly recommend watching both of these sessions if this is of interest to you.

Jazz also has led to many musical genres including pop music. Dr. Martina Vasil presented a virtual session giving participants lesson plans and ideas for using these types of music with children. If you would like to begin using Jazz with your students, this is a good session to watch.

Finally, Jazz is not just American music any longer. Jazz has influenced music all over the world. Jofre Gasol Arús of Orff Catalunya presented “Rumba Catalana” sharing how Jazz and Catalan music are intertwined. You can access the scores to his session here.

This Resonances is the tip of the Jazz iceberg. There are so many aspects of Jazz itself and also so many ways to incorporate it into the Orff-Schulwerk classroom. What are your thoughts and recommendations?

167 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page