Jazz Collage
Art Appreciation

Jazz Lesson For Kids of All Ages

Jazz music pumps through my speakers in our home throughout the day, everyday.  Houston bred, I feel a near spiritual connection with it, and when it place I feel as if I can hear the echoed songs of my late grandfather’s soul.

So, we just concluded a week of exploring four different music genres at the request of Baby K.  Such a shift in focus put me on my toes for sure, I was going to be forced to think outside the box and alter the formula I use when building these activity platforms.  The result was a refreshing success from what had become a rote and predictable weekly cycle of chewing up an artist on Monday and spitting them out by Thursday.  

I love music.  For whatever reason it was never something I pursued beyond my short year spent playing Trumpet for the Lamesa Golden Tornado band.  Unless by pursuing you mean soaking up the sound of rhythm of any genre every moment of every day from my household speakers from morning to dusk, then perhaps I do partake quite regularly.  But as far as how to read notes, keep tempo, and all the other details, I would not be of much help.  As a result this because a culture study if  you will, a evolutionary (and sometimes revolutionary) look into four iconic genres of song: Jazz, Country, Hip/Hop, and Rock.

the first day we focused on Jazz, perhaps the genre my children are most fluent in as it is my number one pick to play throughout the house everyday.

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Music Genres

Genre 1:  Jazz

Introductory Sound

The Study

True Jazz is a compilation of sounds and improvisation.  It’s birthplace is predictably cited to be New Orleans, LA but even more specifically Congo Square, which is located today in the historic Louis Armstrong Park.  

Instruments of Jazz:

  • Clarinet
  • Saxophone
  • Piano
  • Cello
  • Tuba
  • Bongos
  • Drums
  • Trumpet
  • Voice
  • …and so much more

As the children looked at the different instruments we reviewed what was considered brass, string, woodwind, and percussion.  The kids and I discussed the idea of improvisation and what it means.  What would be like if a group of people improvised their music with all these different instruments.  Then we watched this cute example on Sesame Street.

The Dance

I wanted a dance that was simple enough that the 5 year old could do it, so we went with the Charleston for our dance to represent the Jazz Age.  The kids really enjoyed our dance segments so much that we repeated them each two or three times each day.

The Story

Now that those cool cats have their sillies wiggled out it’s time for a story.  Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon one of my favorite children’s books on Jazz. I love the rhythm in its verse, and the way it truly captures the myriad of sounds that erupt in each beat.  It also gives a great synopsis of jazz legends throughout, with brief bios and photos provided at the end.  


The Activity


  • Paper of various Patterns and Colors
  • Mod Podge
  • Watercolor or Washable Paint
  • Crayons
  • Sponge Brush
  • Construction paper

Inspired by Crayola, once more, we revisited our Matisse study in collage.  What better way to show how so many different things can come together to create one beautiful things than making a single artwork out of a series of shapes, colors, and mediums?

  1. From a variety of patterned, printed, and colored papers the kids cut out one shape for their head.  A shape for their body, legs, and arms.  A shape for facial features, and a shape for a jazz instrument of their choosing.
  2. Using a sponge brush and a half and half Mod Podge to water solution, press down the shapes onto a piece of construction paper, until the desired figure is complete.
  3. Giving that a bit to dry, come back and allow the kids to add details with crayons and paints.

We have done this activity before.  Both times it has invited discussions on artistic aspects such as proportions and the overall idea of  organic and geometric shapes.  The first time we did it we constructed individual musicians, but this time I added to the fun by constructing an entire band with their completed there on a giant scrap of butcher paper spray painted black.


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