Jazz and the University
How would comprehensive education in jazz studies help to better prepare current and future teachers for teaching music using a multicultural approach? Ake briefly discussed the beginnings of a focus on jazz studies at institutions of higher learning during the nineteen- fifties with a jazz history course at NYU, and the appearance of further programs that centered on jazz studies like Berklee College of Music, Westlake College of Music (1945), and North Texas State University in 1947. He suggested that the academy was very slow in adopting the music for serious study, however, “In 1972, only fifteen colleges or universities across America offered degrees in jazz studies.” The recent trend has been a rise in jazz programs however, as Ake writes that by 1998 MENC statistics reported 97 collegiate degrees in jazz studies with 2000 jazz faculty teaching over 1500 jazz ensembles. Jazz history has become the largest enrolled general music class as well. The now defunct International Association of Jazz Educators, an offshoot of MENC, had made significant progress towards the advancement of jazz and jazz studies in the universities and in secondary schools with its campaign for jazz. Its members provided the educational community with an abundance of jazz educational materials in the last few decades. One of its previous annual conferences recently drew more than “8000 participants from forty-five countries.”
Many “name” jazz performers have been hired in recent years to fill those 2000 university faculty positions that have first- hand experience in the process, culture, and product of jazz. These musicians can provide authentic learning experiences for students and serve as “culture bearers” as Campbell pointed out, as outlined by the International Society for Music Education’s initiative, with the goal of presenting through musicianship “a perceptual shift in the understanding of the ways a group of people thinks and behaves.”
Ake, David, Jazz Cultures (Berklee and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002).
Chinen, Nate, “Jazz Is Alive and Well. In the Classroom, Anyway.,” New York Times, 01/07/07 2007.
Campbell, Patricia, “Music Education in a Time of Cultural Transformation,” 30.