Creating Pedagogical Alternatives in Jazz Instruction

For years cognitive apprenticeship has been the foundation for the development of technique and repertoire in music. Jazz is certainly no exception to this approach. In fact, we celebrate the “jazz masters” for their contributions to the art form and its various genres. Aspiring practitioners, if fortunate enough, often study with a master in a effort to glean greater understanding and insight into their chosen interest. This method has been proven to be effective and has never been questioned-until now. With the advent of social media and other sophisticated methods for the delivery of information, questions about how these these technological achievements could be used as a part of the educational process are being raised.

As we assess the overall skill level of the average incoming college freshmen, we are finding that they are technologically far superior to the same student twenty years ago. This does not come as any surprise when we look at the technology achievements of recent years. However, we failed to predict the impact of these achievements on our young digital natives. Having been raised in a digital environment, they have enjoyed the benefits of the immediate availability of information. However this has come at the expense of a significant reduction in their ability to retain information, which is the foundation of cognitive apprenticeship.

Some educators are now proposing that collaborative learning be considered as a way to further engage an motivate young musicians. Naturally there is some resistance to incorporating a new approach to a tried and proven method. However, we are now faced with the challenge of how to disseminate information to students who have been conditioned to receive and process information in a “non-traditional” manner.

Our mission (Jazz Studies) is to use today’s technology practices as a means of engaging students while providing them with the fundamental information and skills essential to the understanding and performance of jazz. This is a new and exciting journey for both the master and the apprentice.

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