Activity 7:
Jazz and the Big Band Era

Throughout the book, Bud carried around flyers for the band Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastors of the Depression!!!!!! They were described as "Masters of the New Jazz."


Invent a band that might have been traveling at the same time as the band in the book. Create a name for your band. Identify the members and the instruments they play. Create a poster for your band.

Process and Resources

  1. As a small group, use the Styles of Jazz site to find out what kind of Jazz you'd be playing in the 1930s. Learn more about the different styles of music at Jazz 101.
  2. Explore the different instruments used in Jazz. Each group member should choose an instrument to play.
  3. Choose some Jazz music that sounds like what your group would like to play. For example, your group might sound like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, or Count Basie. Or, you could choose one of today's bands that is planning similar music such as Brian Setzer's Orchestra or Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
  4. There were many great jazz musicians traveling around North America during the Great Depression. Why do you think jazz was so popular? In the book, Bud talks about a need for happiness during sad times. Do you agree? If you could meet a famous musician from the 1920s to the 1940s, who would you choose? Why? Write a letter inviting this famous musician to play with your group.

Project Guidelines

Use the following guidelines in selecting your music:

  • Be sure that your musical selection has roots in Jazz such as traditional jazz, big band, or swing.

Use the following guidelines in creating your poster:

  • Include the name of your group and each member, your style of music, a slogan, and other information that might persuade people to come see your band.
  • Use a digital camera photograph on your poster.
  • Underneath the picture on Bud's poster, someone wrote a phrase about the location and time of the concert. Skim Chapter 1 and locate this phrase. Use it on your poster.
  • Be sure to check your neatness and spelling.

Use the following guidelines in creating your invitation:

  • Use the elements of a formal letter
  • Include information about the musician and statements that might persuade the him or her to join your group
  • Be sure to check your spelling and grammar.


Use the following activities to share what you've learned:

  • Play your musical selection. Share your poster as part of a Jazz Day.
  • Share your invitation over the Internet with another class. Ask them to respond as if they were the musician
Teacher Resources
Student Resources

Developed by Annette Lamb, 3/00.