Teens Talk: Jazz and Learning

The son of immigrants from Iran and China, this 16-year-old attends one of the most competitive public high schools in the New York City. He believes that the education system should be, like the internet, “a great leveler. It ought to be able to provide everybody in America with opportunity. But an administrative culture that focuses on standardized testing does us no good at all.”

“There is a difference between knowledge and understanding. My jazz piano teacher has really shown me new ways of thinking about learning. Jazz really required me to use a different set of skills than I’d been using for classical piano, because I had to infuse the music with my own touches. It’s one thing to regurgitate a fancy maneuver you’ve learned. But it’s another thing to be able to improvise a harmonically stable piece by yourself. And if you truly understand something, it’s far more important to you. It’s more likely to be retained. It’s far more likely to have some sort of meaning to you.”



PBS WNET New York Public Media CPB Corporation for Public Broadcasting TED American Graduate