Grade 4 – Jazz Chant (Part 1)

Last week, I introduced my students to Jazz  Chant. Before I taught this lesson, I did some background research on this new topic. Basically a jazz chant is natural language performed in a rhythmic way. It’s almost like rap but the difference is the use of language. My understanding of natural language is language that is use everyday. This Jazz Chant is particularly useful as a tool to teach proper English and other aspects of English. The creator of the Jazz Chant is Carolyn Graham. A quick search at Youtube and Google can lead you to many information about this Jazz Chant and how it came about. I really find this very fascinating. This is a real example of how an element of music (rhythm) is incorporated into the use of language.

In this video, Carolyn Graham explains briefly about her creation.

Below is a series of video from a workshop conducted by Carolyn Graham. It has some useful tips on how vocabulary and grammar can be taught.


In some parts of the world, Jazz Chant is popularized through performance and competitions. Just like the ones below

I love the fact that there is such good materials to go around in the internet. The Jazz Chant has really caught my attention.

Now, back to my lessons. Part of the tuning of the lesson is showing my students an example of  Jazz Chant. I informed them that they must observe what was performed and how it was performed. I did not tell them what is was though. Most of them got the idea that the phrases/sentences were repeated. It was performed in a rhythmic way. Then again what was most attractive about the performance was the choreography and the energy of the performers.

I told the class that there was something lacking in the performance (melody). Even after some promptings, the class did not give me the answers I want but finally get it that there wasn’t melody in Jazz Chants.

I conducted a very simple activity on creating a Jazz Chant. I asked my students to give me a theme. One said greetings. So I said that it was a very good topic for starters and here is what I did. I got the whole class to clap with me at a moderate beat. Then I went around the class asking each student the following.

Teacher: What’s your name?          

Student:  My name is (_____)

(The underline words indicate the down beat.)

The students were very excited that I went around the class. Most of them were able to answer me back in beat and they really got the idea. After this session, I got them to write a small reflection in their exercise books.

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