Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).

Youtube Play


This is Jazz Educator's Guide: Episode 3

Uncover the different sounds, moods and emotions in jazz


Subject: Music


Level: Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary

By: Joel Chua

Episode 3: Jazz for the times of your lives

This educator's guide is part of a series of guides for music educators looking to explore the basics of jazz with their students. Created alongside the 3-episode This is Jazz video series, each guide contains suggested activities and handouts that teachers can use for classroom teaching and learning.

In this guide: Learning objectives

1. Students will gain an awareness of a more diverse “jazz sound”.

2. Students will learn how different techniques/methods contribute to “feeling” in music.

3. Students will examine and reflect on their own interpretations of emotions and feelings in music.

Activity 1A: What are the feelings?

Before going into the various suggested activities, download, print and hand out to your students This is Jazz Episode 3: Student Handout.

Next, play the video below. Instruct students to listen out for the five different types of jazz sounds they will be introduced to in the video before completing Activity 1A in the student handout. Students are required to match each picture to the style of music. 

Episode 3: Jazz for the times of your lives

Activity 1B & 1C: What are the feelings?

1. Refer to the song list given in Activity 1B in the student handout. Students to scan the videos, listen to the songs. Allow students to guess and write the sub-genre of jazz that each song belongs to. Choose from bossa nova, ballad, bebop, on-screen/spy jazz or free jazz. 

2. Go through the answers. Refer to the Educator's Notes: Ep 3 for the answer.

3. Discuss what feelings/imagery are conjured through the music. Aim for compound emotions. To encourage students to express a wider and deeper range of emotions, they can refer to this list of basic and compound emotions by PositivePsychology.com. Refer to activity 1C in the Student Handout and complete the activity accordingly. 

Activity 2: Why are the feelings...?

1. Explain to students we have listened to music and asked ourselves how it makes us feel. Now, we will try to reverse engineer and use the feelings to create the music!

2. Refer to activity 2 in the Student Handout. Choose from some compound emotions e.g. shame, envy, optimism, disappointment etc. Explain that there are characteristics of music we can adjust to create moods and feelings. These are; tempo (speed – e.g. fast/mid/slow), rhythm (e.g. swing, rock etc.), harmony (e.g. major, minor, simple, constant, complex, changing etc.), and melody (eg. repetitive, long and smooth, short and fast etc.) Instruct students to write down the musical characteristics that they believe will achieve the emotion and complete activity 2.

3. Next, apply those characteristics (in particular, tempo and melody – as these are easy to imagine with minimal effort) to a song they are already familiar with (e.g. to express “disappointment”, using the song “baby shark”, the tempo would be slow, rhythm might be heavy and plodding, harmony would be minor and the melody long and in a whining manner)

4. Invite students up to sing the new version of their song.

5. Ask them to examine if it has achieved the emotion they were hoping to achieve.

6. Ask the rest of the class whether they felt the emotion was achieved. If no, what else can be changed to better express the emotion?

Activity 3: What are your feelings?

1. Explain to students that most music these days is written to tell a story, express emotions or create an aesthetic. However, we are able to interpret art and music from our own lens and ears, and this is a beautiful freedom. This last exercise simply encourages students to engage with music in a way that they likely have not done in the past.

2. Exercise your discretion in choosing between 1–3 of the songs (preferably contrasting) from the list of songs given below.

3. Inform students this is a “stream of consciousness” exercise. Refer to Activity 3 and inform students that they can draw, write, colour etc, anything they wish for the duration of the song. The only conditions are that they cannot stop, and it must be done in response to the music.

4. After the song, invite students to present what they have done. Aim to highlight specific sections of songs that the student was impacted by and relate that to their expression.

5. Discuss among the class whether they have similar feelings or different.

Song selection

1. Herbie Hancock – Rockit

2. Wynton Marsalis – Autumn Leaves

3. Clark Terry – Mumbles

4. Steve Lacy – Pannonica

5. Charles Mingus – Self Portrait In Three Colours

6. Bill Evans – All The Things You Are

7. Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts – Side B

8. Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life

9. Joshua Redman – Home Fries

10. George Benson – Moody’s Mood For Love

Conclude the lesson by getting students to share with their peers three different types of jazz music they were introduced to and the feelings associated with them, two different techniques/methods that contribute to “feeling” in music and one type of jazz sound that they will explore like to find out more about.

Contributed by:

Joel Chua

Joel Chua is a Singapore-based keyboardist who has performed at various international Music and Improv Festivals. A versatile musician, he is associated with a wide-range of acts including Litmus Jazz Ensemble, The TENG Ensemble, Raghajazz and Nathan Hartono.

Keep up with Joel and the Litmus Jazz Ensemble @litmusjazz

This is Jazz Educator's Guide
This is Jazz Educator's Guide is a series of guides for music educators interested in discovering the basics of jazz with their students. Created alongside the 3-episode This is Jazz video series, each guide contains suggested activities, resources and handouts that teachers can use for classroom teaching and learning.