Middle School Lesson 16: Oscar Peterson

In this lesson you will

  • learn about Oscar Peterson
  • learn about some jazz piano techniques
  • #61 “Hymn to Freedom” – listen, sing, read notes and rhythms


  • I can tell about the life and music of Oscar Peterson.
  • I can read and sing melodies.
  • I can describe Oscar Peterson's piano playing.

Teaching Procedure

1 Read about Oscar Peterson 1

2 Read about Oscar Peterson 2

3 Read about Oscar Peterson 3

4 Read about Oscar Peterson 4

Song Used: Hymn to Freedom

5 Watch Oscar Peterson describe jazz techniques

In this interview, Oscar demonstrates the following techniques:

1. stride piano

2. two-fingered percussiveness of Nat King Cole

3. lyric octave work of Erroll Garner

4. relaxed block chords of George Shearing

5. double octave melody lines

7. tonality-based improvising

Have students take notes on what each of these techniques means.
Pause and replay the video as needed. If students can print, or if you are teaching in-person, there is a worksheet (and answer key) in Supporting Resources.

This is a Safeshare link.

If the Safeshare link doesn't work, search internet for "Oscar Peterson piano lesson".

Note: This video is from 1979, and may use a word that is not appropriate to use today.
Preview the video before showing to students.

Song Used: Hymn to Freedom

6 Listen and sing Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom"

Listen to the choir.

Pause at the end of each phrase and repeat.

Play the video again and sing along.

Video not working? Try our alternate video player!
Song Used: Hymn to Freedom

7 Optional: Name the notes in the song "Hymn to Freedom"

A worksheet is found in Supporting Resources.

If students can print, or if you are teaching in-person, print and have students complete the worksheet.

If not, have students answer the questions during a live online session.

8 Optional if time: Watch this 12-minute NFB documentary on Oscar Peterson