Jazz Appreciation Month: April
Announced in July 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History with the support of the U.S. Congress, numerous federal agencies and departments, non-governmental organizations, foundations and broadcasting networks. For more than 30 years the Smithsonian has operated the world's most comprehensive set of jazz programs—including a collection of jazz artifacts, documents, recordings and oral histories; curates exhibitions and traveling exhibitions; and even operates its own big band, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
Jazz Appreciation Month is celebrated in April for two reasons: First, April maximizes JAM's educational potential because it is the end of the school year when schools can not only participate, but student jazz ensembles can culminate year-long preparations and play at their best. Secondly, April is also the birth month of a number of leading figures in jazz: Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Johnny Dodds, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Tito Puente, and Herbie Hancock.
The American Federation of Teachers has long supported a content-rich, coherent curriculum that includes the arts and music. In 2006 our quarterly journal, American Educator, focused on the importance of music education in our schools in the issue entitled The Neglected Muse: Why Music Is an Essential Liberal Art. This issue also included an interview with jazz great Wynton Marsalis.
In addition, the February 2011 issue of American Teacher offers a feature story on the importance of instruction in the arts. View that article here.
The AFT is proud to be a national collaborator for Jazz Appreciation Month.