Swinging with some Big Band Music

Online Lesson Plan Listen Up! Swinging with some Big Band Music

lrMelissaLesson Plan by , Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. Berke received both her Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees from Drake University, and her PhD from The University of Arizona. She taught elementary and middle school vocal/general music in Iowa, Arizona, and Nebraska. In addition to teaching in public schools, she has been teaching music at the preschool level for six years in various settings. She has been a clinician at numerous national and regional conferences. Her current research interests include early childhood music education, music education for students with special needs, the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education, and the integration of music and the arts within the general curriculum.



Subject Area:
Music & Social Studies
Suggested Grade Level:
Grades 6-8
Learning Modality:
Auditory & Kinesthetic
Multiple Intelligence:
Bloom’s Taxonomy:
What are these educational concepts?What are these educational concepts?



In this lesson, using a listening map as a guide, students will:

  • analyze the piece, “Jeep Jockey Jump” for instrumentation, formal structure, and stylistic characteristics.



Students should have read the “Pop Culture Goes to War” under the “Farm Life Section” and Glenn Miller bio found under “A Jeep is a Jeep, right?” in the “Machines Section.”

As we visited the Wessels Living History Farm website we found that “jazz was the most popular form of music during the war.” One of the most famous musicians from the 1940s was Glenn Miller. Today we’re going to explore one of his pieces called “Jeep Jockey Jump.”


The Resources

jukeboxSmLinks from within the Wessels Living History Farm site.
[Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you’ll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages.


The Process

  1. Listen to the piece “Jeep Jockey Jump” and try to identify the instruments you hear. (Saxophone, trombone, trumpet, bass, drum set, clarinet-are all great answers, it’s a little hard to discern everything on the recording.)
  2. This time when we listen we are going to use a Listening Guide to help prepare our ears for what we’ll hear. (You may wish to do multiple listenings with the guide.)
  3. Following the use of listening guide, ask the following questions
    1. What instrument is playing the melody in the A section (Trumpets).
    2. Why does the A section keep coming back? (It provides structure by giving your ear something familiar)
    3. What is the purpose of the drum set and bass? (To keep the beat)
    4. You can omit the number of beat for each section and have students count the beats
    5. What is the music term to describe what happens at the end of the piece (ritardando)
    6. Why is the title of the piece “Jeep Jockey Jump”? What is in the music that is reflected in the title?
    7. Which section might sound different if we heard it played by another jazz ensemble? (C)

Learning Advice

Understanding of a piece of music comes from MULTIPLE listenings. To aid in student success, you may wish to play this piece in your classroom several times before you even approach this lesson.

Having pictures of the instruments may be helpful to some students.

Investigate the high school jazz bands in the area. It’s possible that you can have your students attend a live performance of some Glenn Miller Music.

As an extension, listen to another piece by Glenn Miller, such as “Tuxedo Junction.” Have students compare/contrast the two pieces.


Conclusion of the Lesson

Glenn Miller is one of the most well-remembered jazz musicians of the 1940s, and it is exciting to know that someone so famous once lived in nearby North Platte.


Assessment Activity

You can use the questions for large/small group discussion or have students answer individually.

As a follow up, you can have students create a listening guide for another piece on the site.


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