A historical and critical survey of recent pedagogical materials for the teaching and learning of jazz

  • Witmer R
  • Robbins J
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Jazz students and educators are faced today with a boggling array of published pedagogical materials. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, despite the common perception of jazz as an unwritten musical tradition, and despite near-legendary accounts of prominent jazz musicians learning entirely from records or on (or behind!) the bandstand. Music reading, and forms of institutionalized or "legit" training, have always been a part of jazz (Suber, 1976; Shapiro and Hentoff, 1966, pp. 26-33). The tradition of published instructional materials for Afro-American musical traditions extends at least as far back as banjo tutors in the 1850s (Nathan, 1962, p. 189). Down beat has featured "how-to" columns on jazz since its inception in 1934. Similar material appears even earlier in Metronome. The "Jazz Age" itself was not without its method books, including such items as How to Play Breaks and Endings (Winn, 1924), Jazz Bass for Piano (Shefte, 1925/27), Up-To-The-Minute Jazz Breaks (Shefte, 1925), Axel Christensen's Instruction Book For Song and Novelty Piano Playing (Christensen,

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  • Robert Witmer

  • James Robbins

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