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The University of Texas at Austin

Jazz Appreciation

The University of Texas at Austin via edX

This course may be unavailable.


Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker. John Coltrane. You’ve heard their names, but do you know what makes them great? In Jazz Appreciation, you will learn what these artists and many others contributed to America’s great original art form, revered the world over for its innovation and creativity. Jazz emerged during a time of tremendous change and upheaval in American society; this course will also discuss how its evolution both reflected and contributed to those changes.

Much more than a lecture series, Jazz Appreciation weaves in musical performances and examples that will deepen your understanding of the musical process and develop your ability to identify and analyze different jazz eras and great jazz soloists. It also incorporates cutting-edge adaptive learning technology that will allow you to practice your new knowledge and skills, at your own pace, until you reach mastery.

Join this course to enhance your enjoyment of jazz by developing an informed understanding and deep appreciation of the art.

Please note: This course includes a wealth of music. In sensitivity to artists’ rights, course videos including music are available for a limited time only. Materials are released weekly on Saturday mornings, and videos are removed nine days later, on Sunday nights. Please plan to keep pace with the course in order to get the most out of it.


Primary Goal of the Course: Learn how to listen, think, and speak intelligently about music, particularly jazz.

Course Description: An introduction to and discussion of the jazz idiom, emphasizing listening skills and comprehension of the process of improvisation. Particular attention will be paid to musical contributions of leading jazz artists throughout the history of the music.
Topics for each week are as follows:
  • Week 1 Introduction/How Jazz Works/Jazz History Overview
  • Week 2 Developing Listening Skills: Hard Bop
  • Week 3 Refining Listening Skills: Cool Jazz and Bebop
  • Week 4 Bebop and Swing: The Classic Jazz Eras
  • Week 5 Ellington and the Beginnings
  • Week 6 Louis and Miles
  • Week 7 Miles and 'trane
  • Week 8 'trane, Free Jazz, and Mingus
  • Week 9 Keyboard Giants: Monk, Evans, Hancock, and Corea
  • Week 10 Fusion and Stars of Today
Schedule of Video Availability
We believe the study of jazz is incomplete without a variety of musical examples, so our course videos include many short excerpts from important jazz artists and eras, in keeping with fair use principles. We are excited to offer access to videos rich with musical examples that provide a valuable learning experience for students. To balance the artists' rights with the principle of open access to education, most videos will be posted for a limited time.
As the course progresses, videos from previous weeks will be replaced with downloadable transcripts of the videos. These transcripts include written information on the musical excerpts discussed. To get the most benefit from the course, please watch the videos as many times as you would like during the following availability schedule:
  • Week 1: Jan 19-27
  • Week 2: Jan 23-Feb 1
  • Week 3: Jan 30 - Feb 8
  • Week 4: Feb 6-15
  • Week 5: Feb 13-22
  • Week 6: Feb 20 - Feb 29
  • Week 7: Feb 27 - March 7
  • Week 8: March 5-14
  • Week 9: March 12-21
  • Week 10: March 19-28
Last day to complete all coursework: March 28, 2016

Taught by

Jeffrey Hellmer


5.0 rating, based on 9 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Jazz Appreciation

  • Real pleasure. The course is demanding, but it's also one of the best designed courses I've ever participated. I loved the technical aspects, the instructor is great and videos are fascinating. I loved how the course systematise the knowledge, shows trends and ideas, describes and esplains the evolution of jazz.
  • Emmett Stein
    Excellent introduction to eras and main players of jazz, from the early 1900s to the present. Prof. Hellmer was engaging, discussion boards were active and the learning tool Cerego, though slightly repetitive, did reinforce facts about jazz well. Very much recommend the course.
  • Aana
    One of the best courses I have ever taken. Brilliantly presented and executed. Professor Hellmer is a professional jazz pianist and a rather engaging educator. I highly recommend this course.
  • Class Central user
    This course introduces the eras of jazz and the key players in each. While it includes a bit of depth on several artists, it mostly concerns the breadth of jazz. It is a great introduction, but I am really hoping for a followup!
  • Having no real knowledge or experience with jazz, I found this course to be very helpful. Great instructor. Learned a lot!!
  • Profile image for Susan Woudenberg
    Susan Woudenberg
  • Tony Soprano

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