What is J&D?

  • J&D is a music-integrated curriculum linking the arts (music) and the humanities (history).
  • J&D provides professional development for teachers to integrate jazz into their classrooms.
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Who is J&D for?

  • Students 10 years (5th Grade) or older, and their parents
  • U.S. History/Government/Civics or elective classrooms, or as part of an after school or summer program
  • Teachers of all the above levels
  • Undergraduate level courses in African American Studies, American Studies, Education, Music, Poly Sci or U.S. History

Where does J&D happen?

J&D comes to your classroom, school, or organization.

When does J&D happen?

  • You schedule J&D at times that work for you.
  • The standard curriculum is 12 one-hour sessions taught bi-weekly during or after the school day.

* Customization (e.g., longer/shorter course sequences) and collaboration with classroom teachers are available.

How can I access the J&D curriculum?

Do students need to know how to play an instrument?

No. J&D does not require any musical experience.

Why should I bring J&D to my school or organization?

  • The Jazz & Democracy Project® challenges students to think critically, creatively, and to use high order thinking skills: evaluation, synthesis and application of ideas within and across disciplines.
  • J&D reaches children of all learning modalities by utilizing literary, aural, visual and kinesthetic activities.
  • J&D connects history with current events, modern society and students’ lives
  • J&D enriches the core curriculum while providing arts education.
  • J&D fosters an appreciation for jazz, America’s classical music.
  • J&D encourages civic engagement in one’s community.
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How will studying jazz help students understand American democracy?

Jazz is democracy in sonic motion. It provides students a means to see, hear, and experience concepts fundamental to American democracy. For example, jazz and democracy reconcile personal freedoms (solos/free speech) within a group (the band/society) or structure (rhythm & chord changes/The Constitution & local laws). Once students comprehend this and other fundamental concepts of jazz through sight, sound, and kinesthetic activities, they are primed to recognize and evaluate their application in both U.S. History and modern society.

Who teaches J&D?

J&D Founder, Wesley J. Watkins, IV, Ph.D.—or “Dr. Wes,” as his students call him—spearheaded the organization and delivery of the first jazz and democracy collaboration at Thornhill Elementary in Oakland, California, during the 2007-2008 school year. He created the J&D curriculum and he has been teaching J&D for the past five years. Dr. Wes is an arts education advocate who served as an Arts Learning Anchor School Facilitator in the Oakland Unified School District, and as a District Arts Coach with the Alameda County Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership. He is an avid music lover—especially jazz and Afro-Cuban jazz—who interviews top musicians in order to create exclusive J&D content, direct from the modern masters. After completing his Bachelor’s Degree at Stanford University, Dr. Wes earned his Ph.D. from the International Centre for Research in Music Education at the University of Reading, England.