This article is copyright 1998 by Antonio J. García and originally was published in the American Orff-Schulwerk Association Orff Echo, Vol. 30, No. 3, Spring 1998. It is used by permission of the author and, as needed, the publication. Some text variations may occur between the print version and that below, and data was current as of the publication date. All international rights remain reserved; it is not for further reproduction without written consent.

The Joys of Jazz: A Resource for Orff Educators

by Antonio J. García

Chances are you're not reading this with the aim of becoming a jazz musician. Instead, you'd like to be familiar enough with the concepts of jazz–especially improvisation and rhythms–that you can employ jazz-related techniques in your Orff sessions. If you agree with the AOSA that "learning about music–learning to sing and play, to hear and understand, to move and create–should be an active and joyful experience," then jazz is a genre you should explore for your work.

My primary interaction with Orff instruments has been within continuing education workshops I have presented for music therapists at the state, regional, and national levels: we focus on practical uses of blues lyrics and melodies, modal chord progressions, and swing and Latino rhythms as vehicles to assist clients. But I also involve Orff in jazz workshops I lead for children; and as you might guess, they take to improvisation and rhythmic exploration with more energy and less inhibition than any adults!

Where, then, can Orff practitioners turn for resources that can broaden their knowledge of jazz?

Reference Books/Catalogs

An increasing number of jazz-educational resources are available each year. The following provide such an overview that an Orff educator possessing all four may have more annotated jazz information at hand than the nearest jazz educator might:

Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study (ISBN 1-56545-102-3) was developed by the Curriculum Committee of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) and published in October 1996 by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) for the expressed purpose of gathering into one book as comprehensive a look at instructional approaches and resources as possible in such a concise and inexpensive text. Over a six-year period, fifty individuals from five countries volunteered to contribute to the 88 pages of information within the guide. Of particular use will be the "Jazz in General Music" chapter pertaining to the very young; the "Scope and Sequence of Instruction" grid which summarizes an approach to jazz instruction through six levels of experience–plus the "Teaching Recommendations and Suggestions" that follow it; and "Resources for Jazz Education" listing books, recordings, journals, web resources, and more.

Teaching Jazz is available for $14.60/MENC members, $18.25/non-members, by calling MENC at 800/828-0229, faxing 888/275-MENC, or writing 1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Reston, VA 20191-4348.

Jamey Aebersold Jazz is a company dedicated to making jazz education resources readily available. Its free, 60+ page catalog is extremely organized in presenting listings of more than 70 "play-along" CDs/booklets (which provide recorded rhythm-section backgrounds), instructional books set by category; audio and video recordings; and more. In addition, Jamey sends with any order a copy of his complimentary Jazz Theory Handbook–an outstanding 45-page booklet which includes reference lists of chord/scale relationships, exercises, recommended recordings, and more. For the serious listener, his business runs the Double-Time Jazz record company as well.

Someone wanting to improve their ability to "comp" at the piano from chord symbols–or someone looking for a "play-along" recording of blues or Latin music–need only turn to the appropriate catalog page for ready resources. This outstanding, free reference should be on everyone's bookshelf and is available by calling 800/456-1388 or writing P.O. Box 1244, New Albany, IN 47151-1244.

• The DESCARGA catalog is to Latino music what Aebersold's Jazz Aids and Double-Time catalogs together are to jazz music: a one-stop shop for CDs, videos, texts, and other resources. DESCARGA means "jam session"; and the catalog is neatly jammed with Latino folk and pop music as well as jazz. For this $5.00, 200-page catalog, call DESCARGA at (718) 693-2966 or write 328 Flatbush Avenue, Suite 180, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

Survey of Teaching Materials for Jazz Improvisation is a compilation of over 700 reviews created by Dr. John Kuzmich, Jr. for the IAJE Jazz Educators Journal–including his remarks on numerous resources which focus on areas of jazz education beyond improvisation itself. The 75-page book is an incredible bargain at only $7.00 (+ $3.50 postage) through IAJE but is also available to MENC members for a mere $5.60 (see listing above).


Melody Maker by Marcia Dunscomb is simply the best "idea book" I have found for jazz activities that relate to children. She wrote the book with the intent of providing educators with accessible means to teach general music concepts to kids via jazz-related exercises on the piano; but most of the material can be easily adapted for a variety of age groups and appropriate intents, especially on Orff instruments. Excerpts can be found in the Teaching Jazz curriculum guide above (for which she served as a contributing author); and her ongoing dedication as IAJE's Children's Curriculum Interest Chair prompted my recommending that she author the accompanying article for you in this issue of The Orff Echo. She self-publishes this 61-page book for approximately $10 a copy; call 954/441-2330, fax 954/441-2316, or write 11605 Palmetto Way, Cooper City, FL 33026.

Afro-Cuban Rhythms for the Drumset by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner is intended for drummers but provides such an enticing and understandable education for anyone else interested that it is simply impossible to resist. Any Orff educator wishing to layer exciting rhythms that are authentic to the Afro-Cuban traditions will find a ready instructor in the form of this 64-page book (complete with bibliographic references for further reading) and accompanying recording. Published by Manhattan Music, it is available for $26.95 via DESCARGA (above)–as are similar books on Brazilian and West African rhythms.

Audio Recordings

How can I possibly name just a few recordings? Nonetheless, you may find the ones in the adjoining sidebar particularly useful: some for use during actual Orff sessions (such as Miles Davis' Kind of Blue or the various artists' The Mambo Kings), others for the important perspective.


While you may not use videos in your Orff sessions, the recordings in the second sidebar will bring to life the excitement and expression of jazz–and give you ideas about your own session plans.


There are increasing numbers of educational CD-ROMS: enhanced CDs which include not only music but, when inserted into your computer's CD drive, offer interactive, audiovisual lessons. A subject addressed well via this medium is jazz history; so for your own perspective, consider:

The Instrumental History of Jazz by Dr. Willie Hill, Jr., produced in association with IAJE and published by N2K Encoded Music, is a 2-CD set (22tracks) with a 56-page accompanying booklet that takes you from ragtime to the present (ISBN 6-17701-00042-2). Mac and PC-compatible versions list for $36.00 at your local record store but are available to MENC members for $28.80 (see above listing). Dr. Hill takes the office of IAJE President for a two-year term effective July 1998.


While there are many jazz periodicals, the best for educational applications is the standard-bearer for the International Association of Jazz Educators:

• The IAJE Jazz Educators Journal is published bi-monthly to members as part of their $50.00 Active Dues ($20.00 Student) and includes pedagogical articles, resource reviews, interviews, information directories, informative ads, and so much more in the approximately 100 pages per issue. Contact IAJE at Box 724, Manhattan, KS 66505-0724; phone 913/776-8744; or fax 913/776-6190. (Note that this area code is soon scheduled to change to 785.)


It can be very refreshing to attend a conference or other meeting of a related educational association that you don't usually frequent. I have learned a great deal about teaching and creativity from gatherings of English teachers, corporate businesses, music therapists, harpists, and Boards of Education; and I encourage you to attend at least one workshop or conference which includes jazz offerings:

IAJE Conference: Four days of clinics, concerts, and exhibits brought some 6,000 attendees to Chicago when I hosted the 1997 event; and 1998 was in New York (early registration fee of $140.00, or $50.00 for students). The upcoming 1999 conference (January 6-9) will be in Anaheim, CA, to be followed by New Orleans in 2000 and Philadelphia in 2001. In addition, the IAJE Journal includes a listing of officers in your region who coordinate activities in your state, whether within MENC state conferences or independently–and at low or no cost.

Biennial MENC Conference: Thanks to the ever-increasing partnership between IAJE and MENC (facilitated in large part by Dr. Willie Hill), you'll find more jazz clinics available than ever before in Phoenix April 15-18, 1998 (including my own session on the Teaching Jazz guide). The early registration fee is $120.00 ($50.00 Collegiate Student).

The Midwest Clinic: What seems the largest music conference on the planet (with over 12,000 persons attending across five days) occurs each December in Chicago. 1997 attendees heard jazz workshops offered on improvisation, Latin percussion rhythms, instructional CD-ROMs, bass lines, horn styles, music for ensembles, and more. At the $50.00 fee ($10.00 for students), this event is an incredible bargain. Upcoming dates are December 15-19, 1998; December 14-18, 1999; and December 12-16, 2000.

And remember that you can often order tapes of sessions you're unable to attend in person. If you're confident of the topic and presenter, this can be an excellent means to pick up new information.


Jazz sites abound on the Internet. Their addresses change frequently and thus may already be out of date by the time you read this:

Bulletin Boards (also known as "newsgroups") are computer-generated sites for dialogue on a chosen topic by participants. Each bulletin board focuses on a single topic; one of the most applicable for jazz is <>.

Listservs are e-mailing lists to which you can subscribe for a regular flow of information and discussion. Some of the pertinent lists include <JAZZ@TEMPLEVM.BITNET> and <MILES@HEARN.BITNET>.

Web Sites can contain historical information, discographies, sheet music volunteered by composers, lists of jazz media, files dedicated to individual artists or groups, and more. They are usually cross-referenced; so finding one or two sites can leadyou to a seemingly infinite series of linkages in the network. Useful sites include IAJE's own at <> and the WNUR-FM Jazz Information Server at <>.


There's no teacher like it:

Lessons: Consider taking a few improvisation or rhythm private lessons from a highly recommended jazz educator (or advanced student) in your area. Make your goals clear to them.

Ensembles: Join or create a group that offers you experience: a school or community jazz band or an ethnic music percussion ensemble.

...and Now What?

With all these excellent resources at hand, you can explore the facets of improvisation and rhythm that most apply to your current and future Orff work. Ask various jazz educators for their advice as needed; and remember, the most important step is just to listen to the music!


Selected Audio Recordings






Armstrong, Louis


The Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, Vol. III

Columbia CK 44422


Basie, Count

Jazz Ensemble

The Best of the Count Basie Big Band

Pablo 2405-422


Bauza, Mario

Afro-Cuban Ensemble

Afro-Cuban Jazz

Caiman 9017


Davis, Miles


Kind of Blue

Columbia 40579


Ellington, Duke

Jazz Ensemble

At Newport

Columbia 40587


Evans, Bill


Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Original Jazz Classics OJC 140


Fischer, Clare &

2 + 2

Vocal Jazz Ensemble/Brazilian

Salsa Picante

Discovery DS-817


Fitzgerald, Ella


Duke Ellington Songbook

Verve 837 035, 6, 7, & 8 -2


Gilberto, Joao

Instr. & Vocal/Brazilian

Stan Getz & Astrud...

Verve/Polygram 810048


Gillespie, Dizzy


Shaw 'Nuff

Musicraft MVSCD-53


Hendricks, Jon



enja EJA-CD-4032


Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross

Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Sing a Song of Basie

Impulse GRD-112



Afro-Cuban Ensemble

Machito & His Afro-Cubans

Fania 73


McFerrin, Bobby


with Chick Corea

Blue Note B21Z-95477


McPartland, Marian


Plays the Benny Carter Songbook

Concord CCD 4412


McRae, Carmen


Carmen Sings Monk

Novus 3086-2-N


Puente, Tito

Afro-Cuban Ensemble

The Mambo King 100th LP

Sony 80680CD


Toshiko Akiyoshi—Lew Tabackin Big Band

Jazz Ensemble

The Toshiko Akiyoshi—Lew Tabackin Big Band

Novus ND 83 106


Uptown String Quartet

Jazz Strings

Just Wait a Minute!

Mesa/Blue Moon R479174


Various Artists

Afro-Cuban Ensemble

The Mambo Kings

Electra E2 61240


Vaughan, Sarah


Live in Japan

Mainstream 2-J2K-57123


Woody Herman Orchestra

Jazz Ensemble

The Thundering Herds 1945-1947

CBS 460825


Williams, Joe


Here's To Life

Telarc Jazz CD-83357


Wilson, Cassandra


Blue Skies

JMT 834 419-2


Selected Video Recordings








A Night at Kimball's East



Concord 44472

Pancho Sanchez

Latin Jazz Small Band

60 min.


Carmen McRae Live


Public Media Home Vision

Carmen McRae


82 min.


Jazz Scene USA


Shanachie Entertainment

Frank Rosolino Quartet/Stan Kenton Orchestra

Trombone/Jazz Ensemble

60 min.


Jobim: An All-Star Tribute


View Video 1349

Rubalcaba, Hancock, Carter, Hendricks...


60 min.


Live in London



Kultur 13350

Dizzy Gillespie

Jazz Ensemble/Trumpet

91 min.


Marsalis on Music, Vols. 1-4


Sony Video

Marsalis Jazz Ensemble, Tanglewood Orchestra


each 60 mins.


The Mambo King 100th LP


Sony 89312 VID

Tito Puente

Latin Jazz Ensemble

68 min.


The Sound of Jazz



The Jazz Store

Monk, Young, Hawkins, Basie, etc.


58 min.


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Antonio J. García is a Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he directs the Jazz Orchestra I; instructs Applied Jazz Trombone, Small Jazz Ensemble, Music Industry, and various jazz courses; founded a B.A. Music Business Emphasis (for which he initially served as Coordinator); and directs the Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band. An alumnus of the Eastman School of Music and of Loyola University of the South, he has received commissions for jazz, symphonic, chamber, film, and solo works—instrumental and vocal—including grants from Meet The Composer, The Commission Project, The Thelonious Monk Institute, and regional arts councils. His music has aired internationally and has been performed by such artists as Sheila Jordan, Arturo Sandoval, Jim Pugh, Denis DiBlasio, James Moody, and Nick Brignola. Composition/arrangement honors include IAJE (jazz band), ASCAP (orchestral), and Billboard Magazine (pop songwriting). His works have been published by Kjos Music, Hal Leonard, Kendor Music, Doug Beach Music, ejazzlines, Walrus, UNC Jazz Press, Three-Two Music Publications, and his own, with five recorded on CDs by Rob Parton’s JazzTech Big Band (Sea Breeze and ROPA JAZZ). His scores for independent films have screened across the U.S. and in Italy, Macedonia, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, India, Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Israel, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

A Bach/Selmer trombone clinician, Mr. García serves as the jazz clinician for The Conn-Selmer Institute. He has freelanced as trombonist, bass trombonist, or pianist with over 70 nationally renowned artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, and Phil Collins—and has performed at the Montreux, Nice, North Sea, Pori (Finland), New Orleans, and Chicago Jazz Festivals. He has produced recordings or broadcasts of such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Jim Pugh, Dave Taylor, Susannah McCorkle, Sir Roland Hanna, and the JazzTech Big Band and is the bass trombonist on Phil Collins’ CD “A Hot Night in Paris” (Atlantic) and DVD “Phil Collins: Finally...The First Farewell Tour” (Warner Music). An avid scat-singer, he has performed vocally with jazz bands, jazz choirs, and computer-generated sounds. He is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). A New Orleans native, he also performed there with such local artists as Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Irma Thomas, and Al Hirt.

Mr. García is a Research Faculty member at The University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa) and the Associate Jazz Editor of the International Trombone Association Journal. He serves as a Network Expert (for Improvisation Materials) for the Jazz Education Network and has served as President’s Advisory Council member and Editorial Advisory Board member. His newest book, Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading (Meredith Music), explores avenues for creating structures that correspond to course objectives. His book Cutting the Changes: Jazz Improvisation via Key Centers (Kjos Music) offers musicians of all ages the opportunity to improvise over standard tunes using just their major scales. He is Co-Editor and Contributing Author of Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study (published by NAfME) and authored a chapter within The Jazzer’s Cookbook (published by Meredith Music). Within the International Association for Jazz Education he served as Editor of the Jazz Education Journal, President of IAJE-IL, International Co-Chair for Curriculum and for Vocal/Instrumental Integration, and Chicago Host Coordinator for the 1997 Conference. He served on the Illinois Coalition for Music Education coordinating committee, worked with the Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to develop standards for multi-cultural music education, and received a curricular grant from the Council for Basic Education. He has also served as Director of IMEA’s All-State Jazz Choir and Combo and of similar ensembles outside of Illinois. He is the recipient of the Illinois Music Educators Association’s 2001 Distinguished Service Award.

Regarding Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading, Darius Brubeck says, "How one grades turns out to be a contentious philosophical problem with a surprisingly wide spectrum of responses. García has produced a lucidly written, probing, analytical, and ultimately practical resource for professional jazz educators, replete with valuable ideas, advice, and copious references." Jamey Aebersold offers, "This book should be mandatory reading for all graduating music ed students." Janis Stockhouse states, "Groundbreaking. The comprehensive amount of material García has gathered from leaders in jazz education is impressive in itself. Plus, the veteran educator then presents his own synthesis of the material into a method of teaching and evaluating jazz improvisation that is fresh, practical, and inspiring!" And Dr. Ron McCurdy suggests, "This method will aid in the quality of teaching and learning of jazz improvisation worldwide."

About Cutting the Changes, saxophonist David Liebman states, “This book is perfect for the beginning to intermediate improviser who may be daunted by the multitude of chord changes found in most standard material. Here is a path through the technical chord-change jungle.” Says vocalist Sunny Wilkinson, “The concept is simple, the explanation detailed, the rewards immediate. It’s very singer-friendly.” Adds jazz-education legend Jamey Aebersold, “Tony’s wealth of jazz knowledge allows you to understand and apply his concepts without having to know a lot of theory and harmony. Cutting the Changes allows music educators to present jazz improvisation to many students who would normally be scared of trying.”

Of his jazz curricular work, Standard of Excellence states: “Antonio García has developed a series of Scope and Sequence of Instruction charts to provide a structure that will ensure academic integrity in jazz education.” Wynton Marsalis emphasizes: “Eight key categories meet the challenge of teaching what is historically an oral and aural tradition. All are important ingredients in the recipe.” The Chicago Tribune has highlighted García’s “splendid solos...virtuosity and musicianship...ingenious scoring...shrewd arrangements...exotic orchestral colors, witty riffs, and gloriously uninhibited splashes of dissonance...translucent textures and elegant voicing” and cited him as “a nationally noted jazz artist/ of the most prominent young music educators in the country.” Down Beat has recognized his “knowing solo work on trombone” and “first-class writing of special interest.” The Jazz Report has written about the “talented trombonist,” and Cadence noted his “hauntingly lovely” composing as well as CD production “recommended without any qualifications whatsoever.” Phil Collins has said simply, “He can be in my band whenever he wants.” García is also the subject of an extensive interview within Bonanza: Insights and Wisdom from Professional Jazz Trombonists (Advance Music), profiled along with such artists as Bill Watrous, Mike Davis, Bill Reichenbach, Wayne Andre, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Jim Pugh, and Ed Neumeister.

The Secretary of the Board of The Midwest Clinic, Mr. García has adjudicated festivals and presented clinics in Canada, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, and South Africa, including creativity workshops for Motorola, Inc.’s international management executives. The partnership he created between VCU Jazz and the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal merited the 2013 VCU Community Engagement Award for Research. He has served as adjudicator for the International Trombone Association’s Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, and Rath Jazz Trombone Scholarship competitions and the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition and has been asked to serve on Arts Midwest’s “Midwest Jazz Masters” panel and the Virginia Commission for the Arts “Artist Fellowship in Music Composition” panel. He has been repeatedly published in Down Beat; JAZZed; Jazz Improv; Music, Inc.; The International Musician; The Instrumentalist; and the journals of NAfME, IAJE, ITA, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Percussive Arts Society, Arts Midwest, Illinois Music Educators Association, and Illinois Association of School Boards. Previous to VCU, he served as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Combos at Northwestern University, where he taught jazz and integrated arts, was Jazz Coordinator for the National High School Music Institute, and for four years directed the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Formerly the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, he was selected by students and faculty there as the recipient of a 1992 “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” award and nominated as its candidate for 1992 CASE “U.S. Professor of the Year” (one of 434 nationwide). He was recipient of the VCU School of the Arts’ 2015 Faculty Award of Excellence for his teaching, research, and service. Visit his web site at <>.

| Top |

If you entered this page via a search engine and would like to visit more of this site, please click | Home |.