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Patterns of Jazz

Reproduce the cacophony of jazz in a visual portrait of a musician from shapes using collage, crayon resist and watercolor techniques.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Talk about what shapes music: notes, chords, rhythm, melody, riffs, and vamps to name a few. Acknowledge that the students are well-versed in pop music but ask how many are familiar with the style of music called jazz. Share jazz’s history and its place in our history as a truly American style of music.
    2. Challenge the students to design portraits of a jazz musician without a pencil; draw shapes with scissors. Think about the shapes that make up our bodies: head-circle, arms-arcs, torso-block, legs-triangles. Next, look closer at people’s features to break these down into smaller shapes: eyes, hair, cheeks, lips and more.
    3. Provide the students with pieces of brightly colored card stock and printed paper like wrapping paper or wallpaper. Have them cut out their shapes using Crayola® Pointed Tip Scissors and then assemble them on a piece of large craft paper cut from a roll. Once they are satisfied with their portraits, they may glue the pieces to the craft paper shape using Crayola® No-Drip School Glue and Crayola® Glue Sticks.
    4. Talk about how sounds and notes are layered in jazz to create an improvised tapestry. Now encourage students to add more layers to their creation using Crayola® Crayons and Crayola® Watercolors. Demonstrate how to make a crayon resist design by first drawing with the waxy crayons and then covering the crayon with a watercolor wash.
    5. To animate their portraits with energy, provide students with Crayola Glitter Glue for highlighting movement on their figures.
    6. Display these portraits on a bulletin board in the classroom, hall or library.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.

    VA: Students will use a variety of methods for preparing their artwork and the work of others for presentation.

    VA: Students will demonstrate that art communicates meaning through sharing their work and the work of others.

    VA: Art communicates about and helps viewers understand the natural and constructed world.

  • Adaptations

    Provide listening sessions for your class. Introduce the various styles of jazz like Dixieland, Swing, Bop, Cool, Latin and Fusion. Encourage the children to pick the style that best suits their musician portrait.

    An important component to jazz is improvisation; musicians listening and responding to the other players. Artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), famous for his collages (many of them of jazz musicians in clubs) loved jazz. He would recapture many of his musical experiences in a work of art. Ask your students if they think improvisation would work with visual arts. Do they think it could be a group effort of one artist responding to another to create a new work of art? Or do they see visual arts as a solitary occupation. Try to make an improvised work of art together.

    Assign biographies of some of the well-known jazz musicians. Request that each student support their artist’s place in the Jazz Musicians Hall of Fame.

    Name and count the number of shapes found in each portrait. See who has the most in number and the most in variety of shapes.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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