We’re already in the middle of April! Today, we’re going through one of the songs from our April playlist (if you missed it, you can check it out here), What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong. This song goes perfectly for April, because it’s by one of the most influential jazz artists of all time, and April is Jazz Appreciation Month. It’s also a great song for Earth Day, as we reflect on the lyrics.
If you haven’t spent much time listening to jazz before with your children or students, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce them to jazz! There are so many great resources available to use, like children’s books and listening maps. I’ll be sharing several different resources with you today, as well.
Let’s get started:
When I do listening lessons with students, I like to begin with having them listen to the chosen song without giving any information. If the song isn’t very long, I’ll play it through in its entirety. If it is longer, I’ll just play a short clip. With younger children, I will sometimes have a movement activity for the initial listening.
After listening to the song once, it’s a good chance to talk about what they’ve heard, and to give some background information about the music. You’ll listen to the song several times.
Introducing What a Wonderful World:
(here are some questions to get them talking)
- have you heard this song before?
- do you recognize the voice of the singer?
- did you hear any repeated phrases or words?
- written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss
- originally recorded by Armstrong and released in 1967
- was a big hit in the U.K, but not originally a hit in the U.S.
- born August 4th, 1901 in Louisiana
- big influence in jazz music, as well as pop music as a whole
- composer, singer, trumpet player
- very distinct voice
*listening map/puzzle-this is my favorite! I used to do this activity with my kindergarten and first grade students in the springtime. Many of them recognized the song as the music played. This was always a class favorite!
Here’s what I did: I passed out pictures to different students to match the lyrics of the song. Each picture had a magnet on the back, and as we listened to the music, they would run up to the white board and place their magnet picture on the board as they heard the matching lyrics. The downside to that is there aren’t always enough pieces, depending on class size (I think I did 19 pictures and had some students share). Another way I’ve done this is to divide the class into groups and give each group a ziploc baggie filled with the different pictures. Then, they have to unscramble them as a group while listening to the song. You could also play a bingo type of game by adding pictures of things that are not featured in the song. Then, they have to listen and select only the cards/pictures they hear.
*play along-grab some of your favorite instruments for some fun jamming along with the music! Tap rhythm sticks to the beat, or try tapping different 4 beat patterns
*move– play the music and see what moves your children (or students) come up with!