Explorations in Jazz

Ref: C2227830

This course provides ten case studies in various aspects of Jazz to supplement our understanding of the music, its history and its performers. We begin by considering 'Jazz and the Blues', an element of early Jazz that has always remained an integral part of the music, and 'The Spanish Tinge', another early influence that continues to feature strongly. We review 'Piano Jazz' to see how musicians' styles developed from WW1 and into modern times. We consider 'Women in Jazz' and the contribution female performers have made to the music as well as the big bands from 'Kansas City' and elsewhere in the mid-West. 'Vocalese' is an interesting development after WW2 and the emergence of 'Smooth Jazz' marks the end of a succession of new styles in the twentieth century. We end by considering some important 'Collaborations' between musicians, aspects of 'Humour in Jazz' and a selection of musicians who contribute to 'Contemporary Jazz'.

Course aim

To investigate particular aspects of Jazz and its development and, through numerous musical examples, gain deeper insights into the musicians, their lives and work.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • You are expected to have some enthusiasm for Jazz and and interest in exploring the background to the music.

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

  • Describe how 'the Blues' and 'the Spanish Tinge' influenced the origins of Jazz and its later development, giving examples of these flavourings in later performances of the music.
  • Describe the features of different piano styles as performed by men and women in Jazz and name some of those musicians (of both sexes) who were especially prominent.
  • Identify some of the musicians who are particularly associated with the 'territory bands' and features of their music that made these bands different to those of New York and elsewhere.
  • Define 'Vocalese' and 'Smooth Jazz' as post-WW2 phenomena, stating the names of some particularly prominent practitioners of each musical style.
  • Give examples of musicians who achieved greater fame through collaboration and others who featured humour in their performances, describing the character(istics) of their humour.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • The WEA tutor will encourage you to be actively involved in your learning, taking the quiz after each session and reading the background material provided. You are expected to be an active listener to Jazz - live and/or recordings - outside the sessions or willing to be converted!

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be able to keep a digital portfolio of your work on WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas.
  • 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
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • A selection of materials will be provided on Canvas to support your learning and enjoyment of the course You are urged to have a pen or pencil and a notebook to hand during the sessions so as to jot down important ideas as these arise.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • 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
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

Explorations in Jazz


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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