June 1st, 2005
Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For
Lesson Overview


In this lesson plan, students will learn the basics of jazz appreciation.
They will hear performances by various artists including Ella Fitzgerald,
learning about jazz styles, the roots of jazz, and the characteristics
of different types of jazz. They will also consider the culture of
jazz and its relationship to African-American culture and history.

Grade Levels


Subject Areas

Music Appreciation, Music History


Students will:

  • learn some basic characteristics of jazz and various jazz styles.

  • use research tools to locate information and music recordings.

  • share their findings, including selected music pieces, with the

  • create a 20th century timeline of music and historical events.

  • evaluate the relationship between jazz and African-American history
    and culture.


  • Access to a library with a good selection of jazz CDs
  • A portable CD player in the classroom
  • A videotape of American Masters: Ella Fitzgerald
  • VCR and monitor
  • Posterboard or a roll of paper and markers (to create a long piece
    of paper to hang on the wall for drawing the timeline)

Selected Websites

You can bookmark these sites for student research or
for your own information.

on PBS.org

A web companion to the documentary by Ken Burns. Includes a
jazz timeline, music clips, bios of key artists, and other information
students will find useful in their research.

from “Say It Loud: A Celebration of Black Music in America”

A breakdown of the people and events that have shaped the history
of black music. Focuses on the 20th century.

Stamp on Black History

A tour of black history told through stamps, created by students
as part of ThinkQuest. Includes information on black music and bios
of some significant artists.


See Ella Fitzgerald’s life on a historical timeline.



and applies appropriate criteria to music and music performances

  • Identifies specific music events (e.g., entry of oboe, change
    of meter, return of refrain) when listening to music
  • Understands how the elements of music are used in various genres
    and cultures
  • Understands the basic principles of meter, rhythm, tonality, intervals,
    chords, and harmonic progressions
  • Knows criteria that affect the quality (e.g., use of elements
    to create unity, variety, tension/release, balance) and effectiveness
    (e.g., expressive impact) of music performances and compositions

the relationship between music and history and culture

  • Understands distinguishing characteristics (e.g., relating to
    instrumentation, texture, rhythmic qualities, melodic lines, form)
    of representative music genres and styles from a variety of cultures
  • Understands characteristics that cause various musical works (e.g.,
    from different genres, styles, historical periods, composers) to
    be considered exemplary
  • Understands the functions music serves, roles of musicians (e.g.,
    lead guitarist in a rock band, composer of jingles for commercials,
    singer in Peking opera), and conditions under which music is typically
    performed in various cultures of the world

History/Historical Understanding:

and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns

  • Knows how to construct and interpret multiple tier time lines
    (e.g., a time line that contains important social, economic, and
    political developments in colonial history; a time line that compares
    developments in the English, French, and Spanish colonies in North


and uses information for research purposes


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