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Where the most Inspired Musicians
become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

Fall 2023 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


The Beginner Jazz Rhythm Section: From Beginning to Swinging


September 18-December 8, 2023

Course Code



3 Graduate Credits


$1,125 is due in full with registration. A $15 Early Bird Discount will be applied until August 31.


This graduate-level course is designed for music educators who are looking to develop their skills in teaching beginner jazz rhythm sections. The course will focus on the foundational aspects of the rhythm section in jazz music, with specific emphasis on the roles of the piano, bass, and drum set.

Through a combination of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities, participants will gain an understanding of the basic techniques and concepts necessary for teaching these instruments to beginner students. Topics covered will include rhythm and timekeeping, harmonic structures, improvisation, and ensemble playing. Participants will also learn how to effectively integrate the rhythm section into a jazz ensemble, including strategies for communication and collaboration with other musicians. Additionally, the course will cover techniques for creating effective rehearsal plans and providing constructive feedback to students.

Throughout the course, participants will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practical settings, such as through demonstrations, performances, and peer feedback sessions. By the end of the course, participants will have developed a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of teaching beginner jazz rhythm sections and will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively teach their students the fundamental roles of the jazz band rhythm section to their students.


Chat Session

The course will be a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous classes. They will be conducted via ZOOM. Monday 6:00PM-7:00PM Central.


This course is designed for music educators who have a basic understanding of music theory and performance. No prior experience teaching beginner jazz rhythm sections is required.

Required Text(s)

Provided by the instructor.

Learning Platform Information - Online Courses Only

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

The evening  before your class begins, 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

Please see specific software/hardware requirements in the course description.

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).


Roosevelt 103

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin

Walter Dyett Chair for Jazz Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin III believes “being an educator is not a career, it is a lifestyle.” His approach to teaching is one that is intentional and full of care and love. He believes music education should be a vehicle to promote not only musical excellence, but also unity and diversity.

In 2017 he founded the Griffin Institute of Performing Arts NFP where the transformative abilities of the arts are used to lift the lives of students and families throughout southern Cook County and beyond. In addition, he serves as the Walter Dyett Chair for Jazz Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion at VanderCook College of Music, and he is the Youth Ensemble Director for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

Dr. Griffin’s student-center approach to music education has been adopted by educators around the world. His belief is that a unified band room is just as important as musical excellence, and when they are both combined, the results are life changing. He has been recognized on many occasions for his methods contributions to the field of music education from a hometown street in Harvey, IL renamed “Roosevelt Griffin III Ave.” to a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Golden Apple Foundation in 2014. He has received several additional honors: “Best Music Educator” Semi Finalist from the Grammy Foundation and Recording Academy, “Outstanding Alumni” award from Northern Illinois University Alumni Association, and “Distinguished Alumni” from Concordia University. Most recently, he received the “2022 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year” from the Jazz Education Network and Berkley College of Music and the “2022 Think Big Educator Award ” from the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

His transformative approaches have also been highlighted in multiple publications including the ASCD video by Eric Jenson, Teaching with Poverty in MindTeaching Music Magazine, Downbeat Magazine and JazzEd Magazine. Griffin co-authored Teaching Music through Performance: Beginning Jazz Ensembles and Rehearsing the Jazz Band.

Griffin earned his BM in Music Performance (Tuba) and Illinois Teaching Certificate K-12 (Music) from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL (2001). He completed his MA in School Leadership and

Type 75 Certificate from Concordia-Chicago (2011) followed by an EdD in Organizational Leadership at Argosy University in Chicago, IL including a sabbatical at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (2015).

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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