The Jazz Century

Ref: C2225626

A decade-by-decade jazz journey, from 1900 to 1999, with guided commentary/discussion and numerous musical examples. From the dance halls and sporting houses of New Orleans to Carnegie Hall and the greatest concert stages around the world, jazz has travelled far both geographically and culturally. Its exponents have reflected the social realities of life in the USA and the turbulence of major changes in that society to produce a stunning diversity of style and expression. America's greatest indigenous musical form, but soon to be a World Music, who were the men and women behind the development of jazz and what did they contribute? What would jazz become by the end of the twentieth century? This course celebrates some of the many pioneers who have kept us dancing and enriched our lives.

Course aim

To discover the origins of jazz and how the music developed during the twentieth century so as to enhance your appreciation of musicians' achievements and influence.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • No musical skills are required, but it is assumed that class members will be interested in music (popular and highbrow) as a form of expression in an historical context.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • State the main types of music from which jazz originated.
  • Distinguish, at least broadly, between the styles of jazz from different decades of the twentieth century.
  • Identify the main characteristics of 'collective improvisation' and other later approaches to jazz in performance.
  • Explain what happened to jazz in the decade or so after World War 2.
  • Describe how jazz musicians responded to the increasing dominance of other forms of popular music from the 1960s.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • The tutor will encourage you to pursue your own explorations based on your emerging interests as the course unfolds.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • Confirmation at the mid-point of the course that you are making some (or much) progress, or otherwise. A note about your progress will be provided at the end of the course on the Student Learning Record, with suggestions for further research.

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Hand-outs will be available to support your learning during the sessions. Bring a notebook and a pen or pencil to each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Put yourself forward as a prospective WEA tutor.

Download full course information sheet

The Jazz Century


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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