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Jazz Chants

These little jewels help non-native speakers get the "feel" of American English. The student learns the stress, rhythm and intonation patterns by "doing" them. It's a very effective and enjoyable way to learn.

Check out Carolyn Graham's book Jazz Chants. It can be a great help in your classroom. Be sure to get her accompanying tape cassette, as it will give you the sense of jazz, timing and fun that must accompany them. (Address given below.)

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Steps in teaching a jazz chant:
  1. Be sure students know all the key vocabulary.
  2. Write the chant on the board.
  3. Read the entire chant to the class.
  4. Read one line at a time and have students repeat the line until they can say most of the words.
  5. Add the rhythm (clapping, marching, pounding the table or a drum).
    Let the class do the rhythm and say it at the same time.
  6. Let "soloists" say it while everyone else claps.

Island Bar

Jazz Chant #1
Here is a jazz chant I wrote after my trip to Costa Rica. You can insert any country or place instead of "Costa Rica" or "California." You model the first line and the students repeat it. Just snap your fingers or clap your hands to 4/4 time and chant away:

Parrot I went to Costa Rica one fine day.
I went to Costa Rica one fine day.

And what did I find?
What did I find?

Warm, loving people with hearts so kind,
Warm, loving people with hearts so kind.

I have a class in California yes I do.
I have a class in California yes I do.
And what do I find?
What do I find?

Warm, loving people with hearts so kind,
Warm, loving people with hearts so kind.

I do, I do, I do, do, do.
I do, I do, I do, do, do.

After the chant has been learned, divide into two groups.
Group 1 chants the poem: "I went to Costa Rica one fine day..."
Group 2 chants: "Warm people, Loving people, Hearts so kind."

Island Bar


Jazz Chant #2
The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan
Lesson 5, Book 1

Chorus:
Walkin', walkin', walkin' down the road.
Walkin', walkin', walkin' down the road.

  1. I'm going to Jerusalem, walkin' down the road.
    Peace in my heart, not a care in the world.
    Chorus

  2. Along came some robbers, beat me on the head.
    Took all my money, left me for dead.
    Chorus

  3. Along came a rich man, dressed so fine.
    Stuck his nose in the air, he didn't have the time.
    Chorus

  4. Along came a poor man with a heart so kind.
    He took one look at me and changed his mind.
    Chorus

  5. He put me on his donkey, took me into town.
    True friend, true friend, couldn't let me down.

    Fade out: True friend, true friend, couldn't let me down.

    True friend, true friend, couldn't let me down.
    True friend, true friend, couldn't let me down.
    True friend, true friend, couldn't let me down.


G et brave
Write your own jazz chant with your class. Don't worry about trying to make the words rhyme, just snap your fingers for the rhythm and make up stories about your class. They love chanting about themselves.

You can order a catalog or Carolyn Graham's Jazz Chants from:

Oxford University Press, Inc.
2100 Evans Road
Cary, North Carolina 27513
1-800-445-9714

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Updated
September 16, 1999

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