Lakecia Benjamin

"A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin has become one of the most highly sought-after players in soul and funk music. She first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, after which she joined the renowned jazz program at New York's New School University. By that time, she was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which led to gigs and tours with a wide array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James "Blood" Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, the Roots, and Anita Baker."


overview / Lesson plan outline

"The basic concept is to explain to students the role that Jazz played in peoples lives. While it was very sophisticated music that directly reflected the political climate, it also served as entertainment and dance music for all. I will also teach four basic Jazz rhythms; the stomp clap, shuffle beat, swing pattern and the modern funk beat. Throughout the program I will demonstrate how these rhythms are integrated into the styles of the past and today."

Goal: Students will learn or be able to recognize different rhythms and styles that are the basis of Jazz


  • Introductions between students and Lakecia
  • Introduction to Jazz
  • Listening: Band will play selection and ask students to listen carefully and state what they observed
  • Context: Take comments and observations. Teach students traditional "stomp clap" Jazz rhythm, have them perform it
  • Exercise on rhythm with students: All perform the stomp clap and perform call and response
  • Listening:  Band plays a selection combining to rhythms they just learned. Have students perform stomp clap with the band, engage in call and response with vocalist and Lakecia
  • Reflection: Have students reflect on how they felt and what they observed
  • Activity: Have students spend 5 minutes in groups of two coming up with their own affirmations
  • Reflection: Perform our affirmations as a group while the band plays
  • Listening: Perform final song using everything we learned. Students are free to dance and perform with band