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The Golden Age of Jazz (6 Week Foundation Course) at American College Dublin

The Golden Age of Jazz: a foundation course on the roots and musical development of America’s unique art-form.

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Instructor: Melanie O’Reilly

Course Overview:

This course offers an introduction to the foundations of jazz from its early origins, through the Jazz Age of the 1920’s to the Swing Era of 1935 to 1947, a uniquely innovative period of creativity when jazz was the popular music in America. During this 6 week course, students will learn of the roots of jazz, how it developed and what were the unique circumstances that gave rise to its extraordinary evolution. They will learn the importance of the legendary bandleaders and singers who were at the core of this golden age, and by learning of their pioneering influences, students will come to understand and appreciate the rhythms, the structure and the spirit of jazz. Through exploratory sessions with audio recordings, as well as early visual films and images from various historical resources, students will identify the jazz greats such as Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Anita O Day as well as lesser known jazz artists, and will learn of their musical legacy. By the end of the course, students will have an enhanced knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of jazz, its evolution and essential contribution to culture and popular music.

Course Schedule:

Thursdays: April 21st, 28th, May 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th

Start time: 7pm. Duration: 2 hours

A 6 week course in total, students will have be invited to do the following:

By Week 3: they will be asked to compare and contrast 2 different bandleaders of their own choice, – how they differ and why their music appeals.

By Week 6: students will present a short essay on one of the jazz singers of their own choice; what is unique about their singing and performance. Each week, students will engage with active discussion at the latter part of the class, and will be encouraged to participate in vocalising some musical exercises in order to understand the key basic elements of rhythm and harmony in jazz. This will be fun as well as informative!

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Course Requirements:

Admission to the course is open to all over 18 years, and all who have an open mind. Though it is not necessary to be able to play an instrument, students are encouraged to bring one if they are of medium level.

Course Skills:

On completion of this course, students have an enhanced knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of jazz and its development, of the essential musical ingredients within jazz, and will have a heightened awareness and experience of the power of collaboration and improvisation.

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