Listening to the Jazz of the Jazz Age

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12145

Does music influence the culture or does culture influence music? What do you think of music that maybe your grandparents listened to? Learn about a truly American musical form and learn some history!


Musical Arts, United States

Fine Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What are some of the songs that make you really happy?
  • What are songs that make you really sad?
  • How does music exert this strange power over our thoughts and feelings?

West End Blues - Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five - Chicago 1928

Out of all the cool jobs in the world — and there are many — being a musicologist has to be one of the coolest.

A musicologist is someone who collects and studies music from many different times and places. They analyze the way music is made, what it means, and the place music holds in societies.

One of the basic questions a musicologist has to ask is, “How does a song work?” In order to answer that question, the musicologist has to break down the different parts of the song to help understand how the melodies, chords, lyrics, and other elements come together.

Learn more about how to listen to music in order to understand how it “works.” Read one or both of the following articles. As you read, write down a step-by-step process for analyzing songs. Your process should include three or more steps:

Share the steps you determined with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss together:

  • What are the most important songs to you and why?
  • What are the meanings you associate with that music?
  • When people listen to that music in a hundred years, what will it tell them about the times from which it came?

Every era produces its own special music. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you can differientiate music that comes from the 1980s from music that came from the 1960s or the 1950s. The music of each era has its own “sound,” and it tells us about the times and people who produced it.

In the Got It? section, listen to some of the music of the Jazz Age — the Roaring Twenties — and practice your musicology skills!

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