WICN Jazz Education: Spring 2020 Semester

Written by on February 14, 2020

This Spring, WICN’s commitment to Jazz education resumes with a course focusing on the History of Jazz! Professor Ben Young will take you through more than 100 years of Jazz history, examining specific styles and artists and the cultural impact woven throughout American history.

Classes are held on Thursdays, 6-8 pm, in WICN’s Studio 50 (50 Portland Street in Worcester)Instructor Ben Young will teach the course, which meets on March 26, April 2, 9, 16, and 30, and May 7, 14 and 21. (No class on April 23rd)

Why care about Jazz? 
·      Fundamentally, because Jazz is hot stuff that still communicates. The sounds that inspired us to dance and feel over the last 100 years remain powerful and captivating—even for modern listeners who didn’t grow up with the music. 
·      Jazz helps us to listen better. We follow the musical lines as they flow, and marvel at these astounding achievements of real-time creativity—i.e., improvisation
 ·      For those who are musicians, studying the essential examples from the 20th-century masters helps us know what to strive for as we become better musicians ourselves
 ·      The essential lessons of Jazz’s history help us to understand the cause-and-effect behind the musical universe we inhabit now. What happened in Jazz led to what has happened in boogie-woogie, rhythm & blues, rock ‘n’ roll, funk, soul, disco, and hip hop, and whatever’s next.
·      Jazz 101 gives real evidence and focus to complement the classroom version of American history: Jazz culture overlaps the shaping of not just American cultural history but sociology, economics, politics, ethnic studies, and of course the flow of art history


This is a sequence of weekly listening sessions designed to introduce listeners to the important factors in Jazz music: Where did the music come from, and how does it work? For nearly two decades, the course has been a cornerstone of the celebrated Swing University curriculum at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and now it is being offered by veteran faculty at numerous locations in the Northeast.

Jazz 101 meets once a week for two hours at each session, and the course goes on for eight weeks, walking you through the entire history of Jazz—from horse-and-buggy days to 2020. It’s designed to suit the needs of absolute beginners who want to know more, and also long-time fans who could use a brush-up on the entire breadth of the music’s history. We start from scratch; no question is too basic.

The classroom situation is intentionally very low stress: There are no qualifications, no entrance exam, no homework, no test, no paper; no one will call on you in class—Just come and listen to the sounds and the stories. We want you to walk away from Jazz 101 with a clear understanding of how into the entire family tree of Jazz’s stylistic development intersects with the figures and music in your experience—but you can be as anonymous as you might like in class.

Please bring along your friends and family—even to folks who aren’t inclined toward Jazz and need to be convinced. The course is aimed at adult listeners but also will benefit a high school or even advanced middle school students.

Jazz 101 will meet at WICN Public Radio in Studio 50 on 50 Portland Street, Worcester, MA; it will be taught by Ben Young, staff lecturer at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz at Atlas, and the Freehold Hot Club.

** If you know of a College or High School student who would like to attend this class please let us know.

Click Here to Purchase Tickets
If you have any questions about your Member status please give us a call at (508) 752-0700

This class is funded in partnership with:


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