Throughout its history, Jazz musicians have borrowed melodies from pre-existing pop or folk songs, musicals, and movies they’ve loved and used them as Heads; the foundation of their improvisations. In this activity, students will listen to original pieces and their jazz reinterpretations, use musical language to describe the pieces, use thinking maps to compare and contrast the two, and explain their preference between the two.

On the tabs to the left, you will find the Compare & Contrast Playlist, introduction videos to some common Jazz instruments, and a set of playlists for further listening for various subgenres of Jazz.

Questions? Please contact

Compare and Contrast Playlist

  1. Select one pair of pieces from the playlist (eg. My Favorite Things)
  2. Use musical language to describe the commonalities and differences of the two pieces. You can use the Compare & Contrast Thinking Map to guide your thinking.
  3. Use the thinking map to help write a brief paragraph describing your preference, noting what you like and notice about your selection.

While just about any instrument can be used for Jazz, watch the videos below to be introduced to some of the common ones!



Want to hear more? See the playlists below!


Free Jazz







Afro-Cuban Jazz