• Length:
    4 Weeks
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  • Course Type:
    Instructor-led on a course schedule


None. No prior musical experience is required.

About this course

Skip About this course

Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker. John Coltrane. You’ve heard their names, but do you know what makes them great? In Jazz Appreciation, you will learn what these artists and many others contributed to America’s great original art form, revered the world over for its innovation and creativity. Jazz emerged during a time of tremendous change and upheaval in American society; this course will also discuss how its evolution both reflected and contributed to those changes.

Much more than a lecture series, Jazz Appreciation weaves in musical performances and examples that will deepen your understanding of the musical process and develop your ability to identify and analyze different jazz eras and great jazz soloists. It also incorporates cutting-edge adaptive learning technology that will allow you to practice your new knowledge and skills, at your own pace, until you reach mastery.

Join this course to enhance your enjoyment of jazz by developing an informed understanding and deep appreciation of the art.

Please note: This course includes a wealth of music. In sensitivity to artists’ rights, course videos including music are available for a limited time only. Materials are released weekly on Saturday mornings, and videos are removed nine days later, on Sunday nights. Please plan to keep pace with the course in order to get the most out of it.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Learn how to listen, think, and speak intelligently about music, particularly jazz
  • Gain knowledge and insight into the lives and music central jazz figures
  • Learn to aurally identify important musical aspects of recorded and live jazz
  • Learn to recognize and describe the differences between various jazz styles including cool, modal, hard bop, bebop, early jazz, and swing
  • Gain an understanding of jazz history as well as its relationship to American history and culture
Primary Goal of the Course: Learn how to listen, think, and speak intelligently about music, particularly jazz.

Course Description: An introduction to and discussion of the jazz idiom, emphasizing listening skills and comprehension of the process of improvisation. Particular attention will be paid to musical contributions of leading jazz artists throughout the history of the music.
Topics for each week are as follows:
  • Week 1 Introduction/How Jazz Works/Jazz History Overview
  • Week 2 Developing Listening Skills: Hard Bop
  • Week 3 Refining Listening Skills: Cool Jazz and Bebop
  • Week 4 Bebop and Swing: The Classic Jazz Eras
  • Week 5 Ellington and the Beginnings
  • Week 6 Louis and Miles
  • Week 7 Miles and 'trane
  • Week 8 'trane, Free Jazz, and Mingus
  • Week 9 Keyboard Giants: Monk, Evans, Hancock, and Corea
  • Week 10 Fusion and Stars of Today
Schedule of Video Availability
We believe the study of jazz is incomplete without a variety of musical examples, so our course videos include many short excerpts from important jazz artists and eras, in keeping with fair use principles. We are excited to offer access to videos rich with musical examples that provide a valuable learning experience for students. To balance the artists' rights with the principle of open access to education, most videos will be posted for a limited time.
As the course progresses, videos from previous weeks will be replaced with downloadable transcripts of the videos. These transcripts include written information on the musical excerpts discussed. To get the most benefit from the course, please watch the videos as many times as you would like during the following availability schedule:
  • Week 1: Jan 19-27
  • Week 2: Jan 23-Feb 1
  • Week 3: Jan 30 - Feb 8
  • Week 4: Feb 6-15
  • Week 5: Feb 13-22
  • Week 6: Feb 20 - Feb 29
  • Week 7: Feb 27 - March 7
  • Week 8: March 5-14
  • Week 9: March 12-21
  • Week 10: March 19-28
Last day to complete all coursework: March 28, 2016

Meet your instructors

Jeffrey Hellmer
Director, Jazz Studies
The University of Texas at Austin

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