Jazz pedagogy is not a required field of study for music education majors in the state of California and many other states. Many new music teachers, employed as band directors in secondary schools, often find themselves directing a Jazz ensemble with little or no personal experience In playing or Improvising Jazz. Jazz Is one of the most important music taught in public middle and high schools (Kelly, 2013). There are several studies (Mantle, 2009, Milkiest, 2001 , Wetted, 2007), which show that participation and interest in public school Jazz band programs has continued to rise since the sass.
Moonwalk (2001) reports that, In 1960, there were 5,000 high school jazz bands in this country, and in 1980 there were more than 500,000. Students majoring in English Literature, would not earn their bachelor degree, let alone qualify for their Single Subject Teaching Credential in English, without ever studying William Shakespeare. However, In the state of California, students majoring In music education can graduate and receive their California State Single Subject Teaching Credential without ever taking a class in Jazz studies.
In California, music teachers are entrusted to teach music, including Jazz music, to more than 2. Million students In more than 1200 middle schools and 1300 high schools throughout the state (CA Dept. Of Education 2011-12), and many of them have no experience In Jazz pedagogy. Both Kelly (2013) and Milkiest (2001), agree that most music education majors enter the field with little or no jazz experience and are expected to be experts (at least in the eyes of students, administrators, and parents) without adequate support from collegiate music education.
Graduating as a music education major without any course work in jazz pedagogy and no personal experience in jazz improvisation is a ajar weakness in the music curriculum, in the state of California. Commenting on the 1994 publication of the united States National Music Standards, Benedict, (2006, p. 18), stated “It appears that, over the past 113 years, little has changed, or been questioned, with regard to the goals and purposes of a music education program. ” Changing the dominant status quo in any organization, institution or government means changing the attitude and biases of the individuals that are in control.
Those In control could be considered the oppressors, but not the oppressors that Paulo Fire refers to in his seminal book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Rather, “the oppressor refers to the hegemony found in society, and therefore schools, that dictates what and whose knowledge is most worth having” (Benedict, 2006, p. 21). “In music education, for example, considerations of curriculum – namely what of all that could be taught Is most worth teaching -? cannot be determined by empirical research and thus are all but ignored in the present “how to” climate of instrumental reason” (Resellers, 2005, p. ). The differences between theory and practice are issues that can be viewed through the lens of critical theory. Critical theory Is a theory of social change. The alma of critical theorists Is to uncover the underlying assumptions we have about a given subject; they help and bring to light that which keep us from understanding the true reality of that subject. In the words of Resellers, (2005, p. 17), I OFF and thus makes the individual the subject of his or her own destiny, not an object for the carrying out of instrumental reason. Critical consciousness can empower people to take ownership of their own and collective interests and give them the ability to change those interests. A critical theory of music education will look with approval on methods that actually empower students to be able to and want to be musically involved throughout life with music” (Resellers, 2005, p. 19). Colleges and universities need to consider new ways of teaching their education majors a broader genre of music. Teaching, what has been regarded as the standard curriculum content, is not giving future music educators the tools and disciplines they need to teach Jazz pedagogy.
Being an effective teacher of Jazz requires the teacher to be a practitioner of Jazz. A cursory course in Jazz pedagogy will not suffice. Future secondary school teachers need to participate in Jazz ensembles. School teachers need to learn how to improvise and create melodies over the blues and standard chord progressions. They need to know the history of Jazz and who the major contributors of the art form were and currently are. Music educators must bridge the gap between band repertoire and Jazz culture. To be effective as educators-? teachers who can model, guide, and mentor young Jazz musicians, and who can connect them to the community of Jazz-?music education students must immerse themselves in the sounds, styles, and culture of Jazz” (Vole, 2005, p. 2). Initially, learning about Jazz is learning how to listen. Modifying the curriculum in our colleges and universities, to allow education majors to explore Jazz, means changing the hegemonic notion that teaching music is only teaching Western classical art music.
We need to not only change the course catalog, but also change the attitude of the music faculty. The music literature taught at most schools is a reflection of the faculty that teaches at those institutions. Even though Jazz pedagogy has exploded over the past 50 years, it is shown little respect by many faculty members in institutions of Geiger learning. We need to empower education majors and faculty members to change the status quo of the music education curriculum. Jazz education is an integral part of the music curriculum in public schools, in California.