Section 5: Art

Intersection of Jazz, Music Education, and Care in the Time of COVID-19

by Devon Gates

This portion of the syllabus focuses on the intersection of jazz, music education, and care in the time of COVID-19, all through a socially progressive lens. Over the course of the semester, I designed and implemented workshops introducing students to jazz at my local middle school, introducing students to jazz in a more relatable light, and emphasizing Black female artists. I also took on private lesson students, and worked with Berklee’s Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice on an ongoing project to develop a book of compositions all by female jazz composers. Additionally, I was able to perform for and engage with several womxn-focused organizations doing virtual programming, including the Cambridge-based WomenX. Through these experiences, I aimed to engage with the issues facing jazz pedagogy on a multi-pronged level, taking into account the sources I have researched in addition to my personal experiences as a Black female student in an increasingly white male-dominated music, and engagement in my own musical communities (the public music education system in my hometown of Atlanta, GA, the female jazz community at Berklee and in Boston, etc). These resources provide a closer look into the social factors impacting all levels of music education (and jazz pedagogy in general), in addition to some of the strategies educators are using to combat both systemic obstacles and the challenges presented by COVID-19. Sources like the Berklee “lib guide”, Teal article, and Berliner open letter provide much-needed context on issues of gender discrimination (harassment, tokenization, etc.) in jazz and jazz higher education, while the Mary Lou Williams documentary and Women in Jazz playlist highlight the achievements of female artists in the field. The Rolling Stone, Lindner, and Richards pieces and NAAM podcast, for example, contextualize the direct impact of COVID-19 on music educators and the jazz scene. Monson and Rossonello call attention to the threat posed to jazz, a historically Black American art form, by the increasing institutionalization and gentrification of the music, which remain ever-present but were especially brought into focus by the Black Lives Matter protests of this summer. Allsup, Edgar, and Strauss call to attention to direct link between education and care through socially conscious pedagogical practice. Together, these resources aim to show that care is crucial to effective music education; that it manifests in socially informed pedagogy and investment in forming meaningful relationships between students and teachers, and that care networks form the basis of musical communities and their collaborative work.

Interview Transcript


093- Music Haven’s Mandi Jackson Chats Virtual Learning for Connecticut Music. 2020, Talking Up Music Education. NAAM.

Jazz and Gender Justice: Essential Reading, 2020, LibGuides. Berklee College of Music.

Allsup, Randall Everett, and Eric Shieh, 2012, Social Justice and Music Education: The Call for a Public Pedagogy. Music Educators Journal 98(4): 47–51., accessed October 18, 2020.

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band, 2015, Kanopy.

Berliner, Sasha, 2017, An Open Letter to Ethan Iverson (And The Rest of Jazz Patriarchy). Sasha Berliner. Sasha Berliner.

Edgar, Scott N, 2014, Ethics of Care in High School Instrumental Music. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 13(2): 112–137.

Hissong, Samantha, 2020, The Week the Music Stopped. Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone.

Lindner, Emily, 2020, How COVID Changed The Look Of Music Education. Recording Academy. ow-covid-changed-look-music-education.

Monson, Ingrid, 1995, The Problem with White Hipness: Race, Gender, and Cultural Conceptions in Jazz Historical Discourse. Journal of the American Musicological Society 48(3): 396–422.

Richards, Chris, 2020, The Coronavirus Is Devastating a Uniquely American Art Form. The Washington Post. WP Company.

Russonello, Giovanni, 2020, Jazz Has Always Been Protest Music. Can It Meet This Moment? The New York Times. The New York Times.

Strauss, Valerie, 2019, Here’s What’s Missing in Music Education: Cultural and Social Relevance. The Washington Post. WP Company.

Teal, Kimberley Hannon, 2019, Mary Lou Williams as Apology: Jazz, History, and Institutional Sexism in the Twenty-First Century. Jazz & Culture 2.

West, Michael J, 2020, How Jazz Is Coping with COVID-19. JazzTimes.

Women of Jazz. Spotify.