Enrichment Studies - Fine Arts for homeschool families

Duke Ellington

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Duke Ellington


Born April 29, 1899 in Washington DC, composer, bandleader, and pianist Edward Kennedy (“Duke”) Ellington was recognized in his lifetime as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers. Duke began learning to play piano at age 7, and his earliest influences were the ragtime pianists. He made his professional debut at age 17. Duke Ellington is known for many interesting styles of music. He composed jazz symphonies, such as Harlem, and Black, Brown, and Beige. (both featured on this page in videos) He is known for his “call-and-response” styles, shown in such pieces as Cotton Tail. He was also great at improvisation. Ellington’s work has most certainly been a major influence in the modern jazz world. His many honors and awards included honorary doctorates from Howard and Yale Universities, membership in the American Institute of Arts and Letters, election as the first jazz musician member of the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Click here to read the bio

This bio is probably best for middle and high school.  Includes video. 

This bio is better for elementary and middle school students.

Biographical Timeline graphic

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Fun Stuff

Duke Ellington Coloring Page

Print to color OR color online!

Duke Ellington coloring page 2

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Educational Helps

Free Homeschool & Notebooking Resources

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You can get free biography notebooking pages here, when you sign up for a free account using this special referral link.  Once you get your account set up (very quick) you’ll see the Biography Template Notebooking pages, which are useful for any person you are studying.  You can also get notebooking pages that are music themed and to keep track of songs listened to as well: under Free Art/Music you will see Free Music Notebooking Pages and Free Song Notebooking Pages.

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Find famous quotes by Duke Ellington here.

You can turn any of these into a penmanship or copywork page here.

Lesson Plans graphic This lesson plan is geared for grades K-4.  Based on the book Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra. (affiliate link)

Jazz Roots Learn lots about early jazz history here!

Jazz with Wynton Marsalis Learn about the history of jazz, blues, swing, and more at this fun site!

Free Music

We have a nice selection of free music for you.  Amazon Prime Music selections are available for free listening for Amazon Prime members, and they offer online listening as well as a phone app!  Affiliate links may be used. Learn more about Amazon Prime Music here.

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music


We have selected a variety of videos for you to enjoy that we believe are valuable and offer a good range of styles and information about this person and their work.  Occasionally the videos we choose malfunction or become unavailable.  If you see a video that is not working, please click here to contact us  (a new window will open) and let us know what page you are on and what wasn’t working.  Thank you.

This is the first song Duke ever wrote!

This video is a famous recording called “Jam Session.” It features several other prominent jazz musicians. Filmed in 1942!

It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing):  Super fun song!

Cat Anderson is one of the best trumpet players of his time, check him out!

Duke Ellington’s band played all over the world. Here they are in Switzerland!