The Jazz Snaps

State Standards

  • 11.5 Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s.
    • 1. Discuss the policies of Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.
    • 5. Describe the Harlem Renaissance and new trends in literature, music, and art, with special attention to the work of writers (e.g., Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes).
    • 6. Trace the growth and effects of radio and movies and their role in the worldwide diffusion of popular culture.
    • 7. Discuss the rise of mass production techniques, the growth of cities, the impact of new technologies (e.g., the automobile, electricity), and the resulting prosperity and effect on the American landscape.
  • 11.6 Students analyze the different explanations for the Great Depression and how the New Deal fundamentally changed the role of the federal government.
    • 1. Describe the monetary issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that gave rise to the establishment of the Federal Reserve and the weaknesses in key sectors of the economy in the late 1920s.
    • 2. Understand the explanations of the principal causes of the Great Depression and the steps taken by the Federal Reserve, Congress, and Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat the economic crisis.

Project Summary

For this assignment, we began by learning about the Jazz Age in the 1920’s. Students were placed in groups of three to four and assigned a “producer” who was essentially the project leader. Together, we were tasked with writing five original songs, ten song titles, and creating one music video. In our particular group, we worked by distributing the tasks among ourselves. Eric and Kevin took on two songs and several song titles. I for my part, took on the music video production, cover, and last of the five songs. We arranged to visit one of the nearby parks where we could film our music video. The entire video was essentially a series of wild acts of totally unscripted, unchoreographed raucous wild activity that gave good effect to Beethoven’s Fifth.

How and What I Learned

I worked on this project with resolute determination, letting the mind flow with the rhythm of the music. I used resources that we received in class, and our own textbook to create a set of lyrics that matched the tone and mentality of the 20’s era as best as possible. Using technology that I had access to at school allowed me to assemble a video that looked well done. Repetition of knowledge was a great way for me to imprint facts, figures, and other prominent information about the twenties into my head with a near permanent “stick”.

From this project, I learned a great deal about the 20’s era, also known as the Roarin’ 20’s. Jazz was a big factor in the development of the 20’s boom, giving rise to new trends in culture, music, and life in general. White folks flocked from far flung folds of the map simply to see a jazz band play. Also during the twenties, the Harlem Renaissance brought about a wave of new African American literature, making such writers as Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes. The first film with synchronized sound was released, The Jazz Singer. The people of America were joyous and prosperous, at least on the surface. Underneath, the debt of our country grew by magnitude. Buying on margin and installment buying was putting faith in the economy with money that didn’t exist. What seemed a strong, thriving economy was really a festering sore, full of metaphorical pus, waiting to burst explosively.


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