Help students get lost in their work with Lost Sessions by legendary hip-hop producer Pete Rock. This album of simple, looped, jazzy beats will get everyone’s heads bobbing rhythmically, and the lack of vocals will help keep attention focused on the work at hand. Use this album anytime you want to get your students talking to one another or working on a collaborative project.
Artist: Pete Rock
Album: Lost Sessions
Release Year: 2017 Genre: Instrumental Jazz Rap Vocals: No
Tell Your Students: Pete Rock is considered one of the greatest rap and hip hop producers of all time. Alongside Tribe Called Quest, he played a major role in bringing elements of jazz music into hip hop, helping to create a new genre called jazz rap. Pete Rock build beats layering samples from obscure jazz, R&B, and funk recordings on top of each other. The Lost Sessions album is a 2017 collection of previously unreleased beats without any vocal tracks. See if you can hear the jazz influences as you listen!
The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, by Explosions in the Sky, is inspiring and emotional. It makes us feel something bigger than ourselves. And it does so without any vocals or lyrics. The quiet moments and the building, loud, crashing crescendos come together for an incredible listening experience. Use this album at lower volumes (for real- there is some rock-and-roll guitar shredding here) for individual focused activities like story writing or project research.
Artist: Explosions in the Sky
Album: The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Release Year: 2003 Genre: Post-Rock / Instrumental Rock Vocals: No
Tell Your Students: The band’s name, Explosions in the Sky, comes from a comment that drummer Chris Hrasky made in reference to seeing fireworks on the night that the band played their first set. Despite the huge sounds found on this album, the band consists only of one drummer and three guitar players (sometimes one of the guitars will be switched out for a bass guitar). Even though there are no vocals in the songs, the band designs each song with a narrative in mind. They refer to the resulting songs as “cathartic mini-symphonies.”
Bring some reggae vibes into your classroom with Family Time by Ziggy Marley. The album features a variety of interesting collaborators, including Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, and Paul Simon. Family Time is great choice for whenever you need to lighten the mood for your students. It won the Grammy Award for Best Children's Album in 2010.
Artist: Ziggy Marley
Album: Family Time
Release Year: 2009 Genre: Reggae Vocals: Yes
Tell Your Students: Ziggy Marley is a Jamaican musician most famous for his work in the reggae genre. He is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley. This album Family Time won the Grammy Award for Best Children's Album in 2010, but it was not Ziggy's first family-friendly project. He has also worked on projects including the Raymanvideo game series, the film A Shark's Tale and has performed on Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. (Information from Wikipedia)
When Herbie Hancock was working on the album “Speak like a Child,” the pianist wanted to reflect “a childlike, but not childish, philosophy.” The album has an optimistic sound that makes it the perfect background music for any classroom activity, from quiet reading to engaged whole class conversations.
Artist: Herbie Hancock
Album: Speak Like a Child
Release Year: 1968 Genre: Jazz Vocals: No
Tell Your Students: “Speak Like a Child” is Herbie Hancock’s sixth studio album. It came out in the late 1960s, a time of much social turmoil. With the album, he wanted to show listeners “a forward look into what could be a bright future.” The result is a hopeful, optimistic take on the jazz genre. The album features an interesting pairing of instruments including the piano, which Hancock plays, a bass, the drums, an alto flute, a flugelhorn, and a bass trombone. The entire album was recorded over two days in March of 1968. (Information from Wikipedia)
It is impossible to listen to this album and not smile. Jack Johnson brought along artists like Jack White, Matt Costa, G. Love, and Ben Harper for this mellow, joyful compilation of songs for the film Curious George. This album is an especially great option for group work and transitions.
Artist: Jack Johnson and Friends
Album: Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George
Release Year: 2006 Genre: Folk Rock / Soft Pop Vocals: Yes
Tell Your Students: A musical compilation is the process of producing an album from previously separate sources. This album is a collection of original and reimagined songs. For example, "The 3 R's" is a song from Schoolhouse Rock! with new lyrics added by Jack Johnson. The album features many interesting sounds - piano, ukulele, a chorus of children, electric guitar and bass. For bonus points, listen closely for G. Love's harmonica on the song "Jungle Gym". (Information from Wikipedia)
Need music for your classroom that has a playful, child-like curiosity and energy to it? The original score to Fantastic Mr. Fox by two-time Academy Award winner Alexandre Desplat is just that. Play this original score when you want the vibe in your classroom to be energetic and excited. Note: This is not music to quietly read to.
Artist: Alexandre Desplat
Album: Fantastic Mr. Fox - The Abbey Road Mixes
Release Year: 2010 Genre: Orchestral Film Composition Vocals: No
Tell Your Students: Alexandre Desplat is a two-time Academy Award winning film composer (for 2015's The Grand BudapestHoteland 2017's The Shape of Water). As a child, he learned how to play the piano, flute, and clarinet. A big fan of film, he set his eyes on becoming a film composer, someone who writes the orchestral music for movies. At age 56, he has already composed music for over 100 films. (Information from Wikipedia)
This self-titled album by Lester Young and the Oscar Peterson Trio is the perfect mellow and gentle background track to any kind of quieter work that is taking place in your classroom. Have students read or write with it playing in the background to keep the room focused without being silent.
Artist: Lester Young & the Oscar Peterson Trio
Release Year: 1954 Genre: Jazz
Tell Your Students: This album is actually a 2017 compilation of three separate albums recorded in 1954. Listen for how Lester Young, a pioneer of the saxophone, and Oscar Peterson, on the piano, play off each other on each track. Fun fact: the album is incorrectly titled, as the Oscar Peterson trio is actually a quartet featuring piano, guitar, double bass, and drums. (Information from Wikipedia)
Baralku, the 2017 release from Portland-based producer/DJ Emancipator is full of mellow beats that encourage you to find flow in your work. Put this album on when your students need to really focus, but you don't want it to be so quiet that you can hear the scratch of their pencils on paper.
Release Year: 2017 Genre: Chill Out / Downtempo Vocals: No
Tell Your Students: Doug Appling is a producer and DJ that goes by the stage name, Emancipator. From age four to twelve, Doug studied the violin. Then, in high school, he picked up the electric guitar, bass, and drums. On Baralku, his eighth album, he uses each of these instruments to weave together a tapestry of mellow beats. See if you can pick out each of these instruments in each song.
Sometimes the best way to find joy in work is to put on an album on that brings a smile to your face. Paul Simon's The Rhythm of the Saints is that album. It is not music read silently to, but it is the perfect sound to accompany an art project, group work, or indoor recess.
Artist: Paul Simon
Album: The Rhythm of the Saints
Release Year: 1990 Genre: Rock / World Beat Vocals: Yes
Tell Your Students: Paul Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015. The Rhythm of the Saints is his exploration into the sounds of music from around the world. It is primarily driven by Brazilian, West African, and Central African influences. The resulting album received two nominations at the 34th Grammy Awards - one for Album of the Year and one for Producer of the Year.
This album is a collection of songs recorded over two days in 1961 by Ellington and Armstrong during their only studio session together. Use this album to instantly give your classroom a hip coffeeshop vibe and teach your students that jazz is an awesome genre that all ages can appreciate.
Artist: Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington
Album: The Great Summit
Release Year: 2001 (recorded in 1961) Genre: Jazz Vocals: Yes
Tell Your Students: This album is the meeting of two masters of jazz. In the songs, Duke Ellington plays the piano. Louis Armstrong plays the trumpet and does vocals. The pieces are rounded out with a group of four other musicians playing the clarinet, the drums, the bass, and the trombone. (Information from Wikipedia)