Jazz Pedagogy



Will Coppola, Instructor

University of Washington

Winter 2018

Course Information

  • Winter 2018

    Instructor: Will Coppola

    University of Washington

     School of Music, Room 35


  • Class Meeting Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9:30-10:20am
    Class Location: Music Building, Room 35

  • Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:30am, and by appointment
    Office Location: Music Building, Room 28A

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide undergraduate and graduate students a basic foundation for the skills necessary to effectively teach and perform jazz music. Students will develop their own personal musicianship skills within the jazz idiom (including performing, arranging, and basic improvisation), in addition to learning how to develop these musical skills with middle and high school-aged students. This course is intended to benefit the certification-track music education major, but non-music education majors are welcome to enroll as well (subject to class size limitations and prerequisites*).


Specifically, this class is intended to advance students' skills in the following areas:

  1. Developing a familiarity with jazz pedagogy methodologies and resources;

  2. Developing techniques for teaching and rehearsing both large and small jazz ensembles;

  3. Gaining familiarity with important jazz ensemble repertoire and literature;

  4. Understanding how to develop and maintain a successful school-based jazz program

  5. Improvising over basic jazz forms and harmonic structures;

  6. Arranging simple jazz tunes for ensembles of varying formats.


Success in this class will be achieved through the student's interactions with the selected readings, participation in class discussions, learning to perform and improvise (to a basic level) over important jazz forms and harmonic structures, and developing simple arranging skills for a school-based ensemble.


*Students are required to have taken and passed an intermediate music theory course, as much of the material will rely upon a generous understanding of music theory. Students outside of the music education program may request an add code from the instructor. Preference for add codes will be given to (1) Jazz Studies majors, (2) music majors in general, and (3) non-music majors, respectively.

Course Materials

Required Text:

  • Dunscomb, J.R & Hill Jr., W.L. (2002). Jazz pedagogy: The jazz educator's handbook and resource guide. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Publishing Co. 

  • Beach, D. & Shutack, G. Essential rhythms for jazz ensemble. Delevan, NY: Kendor Music. Conductor score available for free at


Required Materials:

  • Your instrument

  • Notebook with music ledger paper and pencil


Additional Readings (Provided by Instructor):


Supplementary Texts:

(Not required; assigned readings will be made available to the students via PDF. Books are also available on loan from the instructor's personal library for a limited time):

  • For Jazz Theory:

    • Levine, M. (1995). The jazz theory book. Petaluma, CA: Sher Music Co.

  • For Jazz Improvisation:

    • Aebersold, J. (1967). How to play jazz and improvise: Volume 1. New Albany, IN: Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Inc.

    • Reeves, S.D. (2001). Creative jazz improvisation (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • For Jazz Arranging/Composing

    • Lindsay, G. (2005). Jazz arranging techniques. Miami, FL: Staff Art Publishing.

    • Pease, T. (2003). Jazz composition: Theory and practice. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

    • Pease, T. & Pullig, K. (2001). Modern jazz voicings: Arranging for small and medium ensembles. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

    • Pullig, K. & Lowell, D. (2003). Arranging for large jazz ensemble. Boston, MA: Berklee Press.

    • Wright, R. (1982). Inside the score: A detailed analysis of 8 classic jazz ensemble charts. Delevan, NY: Kendor Music.

  • For Jazz History

    • Gioia, T. (1997). The history of jazz. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Class Expectations

As a teaching preparation course, attendance and participation are expected for each class session.  If you know you will be absent for a class meeting, please notify the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the absence. You are responsible for making up any work you may have missed during your absence.


Please note that I understand that students enrolled in this course will have vastly different backgrounds and experiences with jazz music. Expectations and grading criteria will be based upon each student's individual growth and development over the course of the ten weeks. While some students may be able to improvise fluently and write complex jazz arrangements, you should not feel dismayed if you do not yet have confidence in these skills. Everyone will learn at their own pace!


Tips for Success:

  • In order to grow musically, it is required that you practice the improvisational techniques that we cover in class to develop your own abilities with improvisation.

  • Be sure to keep up with the listenings. A list will be distributed in class. Please be sure to listen to these selections throughout the quarter so that you develop a familiarity with them.

  • It is your responsibility to take notes of the materials covered in class. Often, important theory concepts will be covered only in class because of the complexity of most jazz theory textbooks. Please be sure to take notes and ask questions if something is unclear.

  • Do not wait for the last minute to start your arrangement project! Thinking of your idea might be simple, but don't underestimate the time it takes to complete the writing and voicings, and prepare your score for submission!


Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability or temporary health condition, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) at 206-543-8924 or, and/or visit Links to an external site. for more information. If you have a letter from DRS indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss accommodations needed for this class. This letter may also be sent to me electronically. I cannot provide special accommodations unless I receive approval from DRS.