Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jazz for Baby

There are actually quite a few resources out there to introduce Jazz, Jazz history, and Jazz concepts to young children.  There are plenty of pieces of music that can be played as-is for baby but to introduce child-friendly jazz to young children is probably easier than you think.

Many of the Jazz greats actually preformed sing-along children's songs of the time in a jazzed-up way.  Ella Fitzgerald did versions of A-Tisket-a-Tasket, Old Mother Hubbard, the Muffin Man and Old MacDonald.  All four of these songs are on "Ella's Playhouse" from Universal Family (  There are also songs like, Potato Chips, No Banana, Us Chickens, and Hot Canary that are really fun for kids too (they always got my preschoolers up and moving).  Another favorite in our house is Pennies from Heaven. I know a CD called "A Child's Celebration of Jazz" was once made because I had access to it at the Preschool when I worked there, but did not find it online.  If you do find it - please let us know.

There is also a company called, "Baby loves Music" that has a whole Jazz series.  They produce Board Book/CD combos that teach Jazz concepts with music that will definitely be enjoyed by your preschooler.  With titles like, "Charlie Bird Counts to the Beat" and "Miles the Crocodile Plays the Colors of Jazz" you can't miss.  We enjoy "Peanut Butter and Jelly" from "Ella Elephant Scats Like That".  The concept that it is cool, fun, and educational to make up your own words in a song was ALWAYS popular with my three and four-year-old kids!  The company also works with Verve to produce albums that are just great for the music like "On the Road" and "Nursery Rhyme Time".

With your Toddler, please allow me to suggest "Mumbles".  Introduce the idea of "scat" - you can use "Ella Elephant Scats Like That" as a great introduction.  Then, listen to the song "Mumbles" by Oscar Peterson together and then make up your own "mumbles" as you "sing" along.  Most little ones get a kick out of this.

Additionally, there are wonderful videos online.  For example, this "jam session" between a Sesame Street Owl and Yo Yo Ma -  

Or this performance by Gladys Knight and the Pips

or this collaboration between Ray Charles, Bert and Ernie  

Here is more from the Sesame Street Site itself

Lastly, for your older student (4 years - Late Elementary) PBS also has a great series of lessons, videos, and information about Jazz History, Jazz Concepts and Skills and some of the greats.  Check out and the related lesson plans at

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