Wise Words on Jazz by Wynton Marsalis

Jazz requires creativity, communication and community. Through improvising we learn to value our own creativity; through swing we coordinate our communication with others; and through the blues we learn to find and celebrate ‘meaning’ in the tragic and absurd parts of life that afflict every community. Certainly three things worth learning…” – Wynton Marsalis, quoted in Downbeat article, Oct. 2009

These words of Wynton’s show why he is a great educator as well as jazz artist.  Jazz is the most democratic, freedom-loving form of musical expression. It requires the individualistic ability to confidently “solo” and improvise within a musical group, and it necessitates listening and responding to others in a musical dialogue.  Jazz is the fine art of conversation, which requires trained listening skills. Jazz is the art of give and take.

Teaching Tip: This quote on jazz by Wynton Marsalis is a good topic for class discussion.  Ask students for concrete examples of how jazz requires “creativity, communication, and community.” And ask them to provide personal anecdotes if they have  ever witnessed or experienced firsthand these 3 C’s of jazz.

Recommended resources:

JAZZ FOR YOUNG PEOPLEJazz for Young People: Curriculum Kit. This is a complete multimedia curriculum on jazz, written and narrated by Wynton Marsalis, and produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center. Includes Teacher’s Guide, CD-ROM, 9 CDs, 30 Student Guides, and Video.

MASALIS ON MUSIC Boxed Set of 4 DVDsMarsalis on Music: Set of 4 DVDs. This PBS video series introduces both classical and jazz music to Elem.-Jr. High ages.

MARSALIS ON MUSIC (Hardback & CD)Marsalis on Music: Hardback and CD. Companion book and CD to Marsalis on Music DVD series.

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