Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Integrating Jazz and Pop Music Survey Results

As you may recall, I posted a survey to find out if music teachers integrate jazz/pop music into their teaching.  Although the results below are taken from the 1,114 responses received (wow!), I can only see the comments and Poll Daddy detailed reports for the first 200 responses.  Many of the first 200 survey participants left insightful comments and I wish I could share them, just not enough space here. The comments of the rest (800+) will go unread as I didn’t want to pay the extra $200.  The initial data below provides plenty of interesting findings and may generate further discussion here.

So, what do you glean from this survey? Are the results surprising? alarming? pleasing? as predicted? Will you change how you teach after seeing the results of this survey? If so, how? Is jazz/pop music a legitimate style to integrate in your curriculum or should it be used to “entertain” students who are losing interest in lessons? Do you feel validated in your present approach to teaching jazz/pop?  Is there a disparity in how you were trained and what you actually teach? What are the implications for the future of music education, publishers and your teaching style? Did I miss one important question in the survey?

I have my opinons, but I’d love to hear yours! 

1) Are you a classically-trained teacher?

  • Yes 92%
  • Somewhat 7%
  • No 1%







2) Do your lessons include more jazz/pop than when you first began teaching?

  • Yes 54%
  • A little 24%
  • No 22%








3) Do you attract additional students because you offer jazz/pop instruction?

  • No 39%
  • Occasionally 29%
  • Yes 24%
  • I do not offer jazz/pop instruction 8%







4) Do you equip your students with skills to play from lead sheets and/or chord/lyric charts?

  • Yes 44%
  • Occasionally 38%
  • No 18%







5) Do you equip your students with skills to improvise?

  • Yes 46%
  • Occasionally 40%
  • No 14%








6) Do you encourage your students to play by ear?

  • Sometimes 45%
  • Yes 44%
  • No 11%








7) Do your students ask to learn and play jazz/pop music?

  • Sometimes 51%
  • Yes 40%
  • No 9%








8) How confident do you feel teaching jazz/pop?

  • Somewhat Confident 58%
  • Very Confident 30%
  • Not at All Confident 12%








9) Are you interested in teacher training and/or a method to help you to help you teach jazz/pop?

  • Yes 41%
  • Maybe 40%
  • No 18%








10) Do you believe that integrating jazz/pop styles into your teaching enhances your students’ musical education?

  • Yes 85%
  • Maybe 13%
  • No 2%

About the Author


  1. […] you recall a survey I posted about integrating jazz/pop styles into your teaching? Click here to view the results. If you have the time to share your opinion, it would be good to […]

  2. Dana

    Leila, I think the results of your survey are telling us a whole lot. It seems to me that we have it backwards when it comes to what’s important to teach in piano lessons. Clearly the traditional approach has been to sort of force feed students musical food they have little or no taste for while using the music they are hungry for as an after thought or as emergency CPR when students lose interest. I think the real reason for this has less to do with what constitutes a legitimate musical education and more to do with what we as teachers are comfortable teaching. I say, let’s break out of our shells and go for it by doing what we ask our students to do everyday – try something new! Great survey! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Leila Viss

    Hi Dana,
    Thanks for the feedback and your opinion. The survey definitely shows enough evidence to suggest that the content of piano lessons are changing. I like your approach and attitude–carry on!

  4. Dan Reardon

    I’m a classically trained Spanish teacher. I’d love to be classically trained as a musician as well, but I do my best to incorporate my passion for music into the Spanish class room. I do think it’s important for a teacher to be a master of their content. Whether that means classically trained, I don’t think it’s a must. However, they should be able to instruct the right way and teach chords and theory.

  5. Bradley Sowash

    The results help me understand that more teachers and students are interested in augmenting their training with non-classical styles that I would have guessed. 51% report students asking for it. Now that says something! And those not asking probably include the young students who are not even aware there’s a difference. Only 12% of the teachers not at all confident about teaching pop/jazz. I would have guessed higher. Bravo. There is faster than the usual glacial movement in the music teaching community toward preparing kiddos to play in a wider variety of styles and settings.

  6. Edna Bloom

    It seems like the students in my student are fairly open to many styles. I do try to incorporate a mix of repertoire, and I am ever so thankful for the many resources now available. Students seem to love the flexibility the gain when they can improvise accompaniments and such. While this takes lesson time away from learning some of the great literature, it is likely to be a skill that will ensure a lifetime of music making. It looks as if most of my colleagues in this area also present a mix. I was surprised that even 12% felt ill at ease teaching pop/jazz.

  7. Edna Bloom

    Oops, I meant “the students in my studio.” Gulp!

  8. Leila Viss

    Thanks for sharing, Edna. I agree that you are providing your students with a skill that will last a lifetime!

  9. Gina McCort

    I teach Voice/Vocal Performance. I was classically trained way back in the ’80’s and found that trying to apply my classic vocal training to the the musical theatre and pop styles I was actually getting paid to perform, VERY difficult.

    As a teacher, I focus 75-90% of my lessons on Musical Theatre and Pop Technique/Repertoire. The backbone of my teaching is classical, with regards to the fundamentals of producing sound. Otherwise, I don’t focus on classical repertoire. If a student is seeking training in classical repertoire, they have lots of options. The students who are drawn to my studio are looking for training the contemporary voice.

    So it seems the ‘movement’ in music training is not just occurring in the Piano world! Just my .02! Thanks for the survey – very interesting.

  10. Bella

    This is a great survey! I’m so glad to see this. I do not market myself as a classical piano teacher, even though that was my training! I teach more Jazz/Pop, and I believe it is totally unfair to ever assume that only Classical music can teach a student proper technique and theory. I still stress music theory, sight reading, and good technique in all of my lessons. I feel strongly that Jazz is the American version of Classical music, so why would anyone refuse to teach/study it?

    Thank you for doing this research. I really hope more educational programs wake up and realize what a great benefit Jazz education is.

  11. Leila Viss

    Good to hear that creativity and jazz/pop instruction is considered crucial to the music education for ANY musician. Thanks for your comments!

  12. white label surveys

    i agree with jazz/pop as the foundation of all music lessons.

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