Jazz Band Teaching Guide


A Really Rough Guide to Directing and Instructing Middle and High School Jazz Ensembles, by Dr Keith Kelly.

Jazz music is about inclusion and expression! Jazz, at its core, is simultaneously a social endeavor and expression of one’s individual spirit.

Here’s a guide for anyone who is or will be teaching jazz band (aka big band, stage band, jazz orchestra) to school students. It was created by Arizona-based jazz educator and saxophonist Dr Keith Kelly.Jazz Band

Dr Kelly’s guide is based not only on his extensive teaching and playing experience, but on his doctoral research1 into how jazz is taught and learned in schools. His research was designed to answer some pretty important questions about jazz education that, surprisingly, had not really been studied before:

1. What are the ways in which secondary students learn to play jazz?
2. What are the points of contact between secondary students and the jazz world?
3. What do these points of contact contribute to secondary students’ education in jazz?

The guide is not, as Kelly points out, the only way to teach, nor does it cover everything. But is is definitely useful and well worth a read. “If you are ever in a position that requires you to teach a jazz big band”, says Dr Kelly “this is designed to be a  first resource. Your next responsibility is to seek out experts and to gain all of the valuable experience you can by participating in jazz ensembles, workshops and clinics”. Dr Kelly has generously let us share this useful resource for teachers.

Read or Download the free guide:

I’m Going To Teach Jazz Band, a rough guide by K Kelly


Dr Keith Kelly

Saxophonist and educator Keith Kelly, a San Francisco Bay Area native, holds a BM in Performance (Saxophone) and a BM in Music Education from the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific, an MM in Music Education (Jazz Studies) and DMA in Music Education (Jazz Studies) from Arizona State University. As a woodwind specialist, Kelly has performed with: The Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Phoenix Theater, Natalie Cole, Bear Valley Music Festival Orchestra, Berkeley Saxophone Quartet, Casey Hurt, Califone, and various indie rock acts. As an educator, Kelly has taught public school band, orchestra, choir, and jazz band, works frequently as a clinician in K-12 and collegiate environments, and at state and national music education conferences. Kelly has directed the Young Sounds of San Joaquin, Tri-Valley Jazz Workshop, and is currently director of the Union Jazz Institute. As a researcher, his focus is on teacher preparation, access, gender and music participation, and the early history of public school jazz education.



1. Kelly, K. (2013). A New Cartography: Learning Jazz at the Dawn of the 21st Century. Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University, UMI Number: 3559620.





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