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Spring 2021 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Experiencing Jazz


February 8-May 9, 2021

Course Code

7181 & 576


2 - 3 Graduate Credits


$1,065, due in full with registration Course Code 7181 for MECA Students. $1,140, due in full with registration Course Code 576 for MMEd Students.


A study of jazz from its African and European roots through its emergence at the turn of the 20th century as a unique and distinctive American art form. This course immerses students in a journey through time, placing the music within larger cultural and historical contexts as various styles of jazz are studied along with their primary innovators. Sixty streaming audio tracks and other materials are used to provide students with a better understanding of how jazz developed. Special topics include women in jazz and contemporary trends.

  • Improved critical and analytic skills
  • Awareness of the lineage of developments on your instrument or voice and composition/arranging in jazz.
  • Awareness of the history of jazz in terms of its place in American cultural, political, economic and social fabrics.
  • Ability to identify and discuss stylistic trends in jazz through recognition of performance and compositional characteristics.
  • Awareness of the important innovators throughout jazz history and know why they are considered as such.
  • Understand how, where and why jazz developed as it has.
  • Understand issues of race and discrimination in America as they relate to jazz music, musicians and their evolution.
  • Understand how the evolution of recording technology impacted on jazz and its development.
  • Understand the musical styles and cultural practices (including African) that influenced the evolution of jazz.
  • Improvement as a performer and composer/arranger based on a deeper appreciation and understanding of diverse jazz styles and performers. (measurable only through self-reflection)
  • Preparation to teach the course.
  • Improvement as a jazz ensemble director/teacher and public presenter who has acquired a deeper understanding of styles, performance practice and its place in the larger American fabric.
* Experiencing Jazz is offered at two course levels. Students enrolled in the MMEd program at VanderCook are eligible to enroll at the 500 level. Students not enrolled in the MMEd program who wish to earn graduate credit as a MECA Continuing Education student should register at the 7000 level. The difference in credits earned and tuition cost is attributed to the difference in tuition rates for the MMEd and MECA Continuing Education programs. If you are unsure which level is best for you, please contact us directly at [email protected].

Quotes from students who have taken this course:

“I’ve just completed my last-ever graduate course and need to say “thank you” to you personally and to Rick Lawn for last summer’s jazz course. Experiencing Jazz is, in my estimation, one of the best music courses I’ve enjoyed in my long tenure of learning and teaching. It’s designed so well that I’ve been motivated to revamp my own courses.”

“I acquired a more in-depth understanding of the history of jazz. I also was able to see how Rick would present the course material as he shared with us his power points.”

“I feel that I’m walking away from this course with a pretty strong knowledge of jazz history. Though I have taught jazz ensembles for a few years, this is the first time I feel I have a strong knowledge base of the history and sequence of the development of jazz over the last 150 years or so.”

“Rick did a great job of sequencing and organizing the information in a way that made a lot of sense and also spoke about jazz and its place in the culture throughout each stage of its development.”

“I have never had such a thorough course on jazz history. This course filled in MANY holes in my knowledge of jazz history.”

“Rick taught an impressive amount of jazz history with an overload of resources! It was great to immerse myself in his world for these past few weeks. I also always appreciate being allowed to work at my own pace with your online classes. BRAVO!”

“The text was informative and included some excellent online resources.”

“Outstanding course! As a result of this class, I have built a stronger base on which to expand in the future, and have improved as a listener and a teacher.”

“This course has sharpened what I already knew about jazz and helped to frame it and place it within a historical context. I now feel that when I present pieces to my jazz ensemble, I will bring a more accurate and informed know-how to my teaching, which will, in turn, create a more meaningful learning experience for them and authentic performance.”

“Overall, this course was absolutely fantastic, and the textbook is great. The instructor was very gracious and professional…always positive in his responses and more than willing to assist when needed. He responded to all emails quickly and kindly and shared his wealth of knowledge on the subject freely.”

MECA Students
3 Graduate Credits
Course Code 7181
$1,065, due in full with registration

MMEd Students
2 Graduate Credits
Course Code 576
$1,140, due in full with resgistration


Chat Session



Students will use notation software (of their choice) and should be comfortable using it.

Required Text(s)

Experiencing Jazz, 2nd ed.
(book & online access to music pack)
by Richard Lawn

Software/Hardware Requirements

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

Soon after you register, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. 

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

More information about Schoology can be found at

Online course grades are available within two weeks of the course(s) completion.  If you need a transcript, please CLICK HERE to access the online transcript request form. For a faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


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