Why J&D?

While there are inherent benefits to studying any art form, the value of integrating the arts into other subject areas can offer particular advantage. The following list details the added value of The Jazz & Democracy Project®’s unique approach to integrating jazz into the study of U.S. history, government, civics and culture.


We must pay musicians to put the music directly in front of our children.
The Jazz & Democracy Project® is passionate about putting live music as close to children as possible. Doing so continues a tradition, increases students’ feeling for the music, and helps them appreciate the physicality and expertise needed to play. Bringing J&D into your school or organization will infuse that otherwise quiet space with live music. That experience alone can be transformative.
Music can enrich the study of other school subjects.
This is widely known as music integration. However, unlike many arts integrated projects that use art as a mnemonic device or to add mere sight and sound to another topic area, The Jazz & Democracy Project® integrates at the level of craft and metaphor. Students learn tenants of the jazz aesthetic and what is required of the musician to uphold them. Because there is a germane connection between jazz and America, students then apply this understanding as a lens through which they analyse U.S. History, government, civics and culture.
The Jazz & Democracy Project® lives atop Bloom's Taxonomy.
J&D students are continually asked to evaluate theirs and others' performance, synthesize and apply knowledge across domains, and generally engage in elastic thinking across domains that may seem dissimilar: jazz and democracy. Doing so means that they are accessing high order thinking skills at every turn and thereby building the mental muscles that will serve them well in school and in life.
Your student body should appreciate "the band geeks".
If your school is one of the lucky ones that has a burgeoning or thriving jazz program, The Jazz & Democracy Project® will increase the non-musicians' appreciation for "the band geeks." This is because J&D was created with non-musicians in mind. Musicians and other artists appreciate J&D as well--sometimes at even greater depths--but the curriculum is designed so that people who have little to no experience with music in general, or jazz in particular, can find their way inside the jazz process. As a result, your general student body will have a unique appreciation for the importance of jazz both on and "beyond the bandstand."
Young people are grappling with the deep questions of the universe.
Education must provide them a means to locate answers within themselves and their world. Jazz is a music that requires connection not only to one's physical body, but also to one's mind, heart and soul, in order to connect with others in each of these ways. The jazz masters have located certain truths about balancing self and collectivism. To the extent possible, these truths should be made available to all of us, not just the "jazz heads".


Art--any art--is reflective of the people, place and time it was created.
Because it was created in America, jazz is reflective of something distinctly American. Therefore, whether you are a citizen or a foreigner, understanding jazz is one way to understand what America was, is, and what we have the capacity to become.
Metaphor yields unique perspective.
Viewing any object through a particular lens will illuminate aspects of that object previously unseen. Therefore, analyzing U.S. history, government, civics and culture through the lens of jazz inevitably uncovers new observations and insights.
"There is probably no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble." - Michelle Obama
If The First Lady is correct, then it follows that the jazz master's behavior amidst a great performance is a model for the good citizen. In other words, a well functioning jazz process tells us something about a well functioning democratic process, including how individual citizens participate in that process. It is also true that a malfunctioning jazz process tells us something about a malfunctioning democratic process.
Jazz reflects the light of democracy.
The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution cast a bright light when they appeared on the world stage, but the very citizens who invented jazz lived in the shadow of that light. Nonetheless, as a musical art form, jazz reflects the best of the country's spirit. In jazz performance, audiences can witness aural representations of equality, freedom of speech, and a system of checks and balances between equally powerful members of the band, each one leading at various times. Jazz is democracy in sonic motion.
Not everyone will play in a jazz band, but the insights of the jazz masters can serve us all.
Masters of a craft discover certain truths. Jazz masters are no different. To the extent possible, their truths and discoveries should be available to all of us--even if we are not "jazz heads," we are not in the school band, or we have no rhythm. The Jazz & Democracy Project® endeavours to make the experience and insights of the jazz masters available to all so that we not only appreciate their artistic contribution, but so we benefit from the perspective of the jazz aesthetic.
We all need a favorite jazz tune, whether we are musicians or not.
Jazz was born in America. Some consider it "American Classical Music," and others, America's greatest artistic contribution to the world. Therefore, The Jazz & Democracy Project® believes that jazz should be required learning for all American children and citizens, and foreigners learning about America. The great jazz composers--Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, etc.--should be studied at all levels such that everyone has the answer to, "What is your favorite Duke Ellington tune?" The master improvisers--Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc.--should be studied along side the world's greatest minds. J&D makes this possible by bringing jazz music into humanities and other classrooms so that musicians and non-musicians alike appreciate the artistry and its implications for all of our lives.