Jazz Funeral Songs
In this lesson, students will learn a two-song interpretation of a New Orleans jazz funeral. Students will explain the roles of the drum count offs and the trumpet call, then perform a mournful dirge (“In the Sweet By and By”) and an uptempo spiritual (“Sing On”).
- Explain the functions of the drum count offs and the trumpet call.
- Perform two songs (a mournful dirge and an uptempo spiritual) in the sequence of a New Orleans jazz funeral.
Music – Harmonizing Instruments – Anchor Standard 1 Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Music – Composition and Theory – Anchor Standard 3 Refine and complete artistic work.
Music – Composition and Theory – Anchor Standard 4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Jazz Funeral Traditions is a recommended lesson prior to teaching New Orleans jazz funeral songs.
- PRESENTATION: Jazz Funeral Songs
- VIDEO: New Orleans Jazz Funeral Demonstration II | New Orleans Jazz Funerals: Drum Cadence and Trumpet Call
- HANDOUTS: Score & Lead Sheets: “In the Sweet By and By” | Score & Lead Sheets: “Sing On”
- Play a recording of New Orleans Jazz Funeral Demonstration II from the presentation Jazz Funeral Songs. Tell students they will be performing their own two-song musical interpretation of a New Orleans jazz funeral. Ask students to recall (from prerequisite class) when the dirge is played and when the uptempo spiritual is played in the context of a jazz funeral.
- Tell students that there is a history of nonverbal communication in New Orleans brass bands. This communication allows band members to quickly communicate in large outdoor spaces without needing a megaphone or signs. See the Jazz Funeral Traditions lesson for more information on nonverbal communication in the brass band tradition.
- Show students the New Orleans Jazz Funerals: Drum Cadence and Trumpet Call video of Gregg Stafford explaining why they play the trumpet call (to communicate both the key and the song), and the role of the bass and snare drum roll offs for different tempos.
- Distribute Score & Lead Sheets: “In the Sweet By and By” and Score & Lead Sheets: “Sing On” to the class for the dirge and uptempo spiritual.
- Allow time for students to learn the songs. Confer with each instrument group to ensure proper techniques are used.
- Have students explain the roles of the drum count offs and the trumpet call in brass band music.
- Have students perform the two-song interpretation of a New Orleans jazz funeral.
Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.
© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
Meghan Swartz, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
Mark Braud, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
Gregg Stafford, Master Practitioner and Culture Bearer
JoDee Scissors, Editor and Content Producer