American Songbook at
New Field Elementary - Ravinia (2013)

The Question

What is Jazz and how does it relate to Chicago’s history? What is the difference between standard rhythm and swing rhythm? What are different dance styles from the Jazz Age and how can students incorporate them while singing?

The Objectives

Students will describe how jazz music made its way into Chicago

Students will learn how Chicago recovered after the Great Fire

Each class will learn more information about their Class Artist

Each class will create lyrics for the New Field verse of their Class Song

The Process

Students at New Field Elementary school were in the midst of learning about Chicago’s history when Fifth House Ensemble began their residency. This Ravinia Reach*Teach*Play American Songbook residency explored how jazz music impacted Chicago’s history.  Each class was given a famous jazz musician to study, and selected from great artists Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Guy, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and B.B. King.  5HE members worked with students to complete a new set of lyrics and choreographed movements to their class song.


The Impact

“Through Ravinia’s Reach.Teach.Play program Fifth House took the students of New Field Elementary on a trip through the history of Chicago and into the heart of Jazz in the US. As souvenirs from the journey they now have a rich understanding of Chicago’s origins, the events that shaped our town, and the music that brought us all together.”  – Eric Snoza, Fifth House Ensemble bassist

The Final Project

As a part of their final Ravinia performance, New Field classes performed their selected jazz song with choreographed motions in front of the rest of the school with confidence and excitement. The entire group also sang their original song with its newly composed lyrics.