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Moment for Music

Welcome to the 2018 Moment for Music Online Guide

(Check back soon for an updated 2019 version!)

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March 1st – Birthday of Glenn Miller

“Chattanooga Choo-Choo”
Arr. Harry Warren and Gordon Mack
Recorded by: Glenn Miller

Tennessee | Popular Music

Our first moment for music is a song written about our very own city!

“Chattanooga Choo-Choo” tells the story of someone traveling on a train from New York City to Chattanooga. A musician named Glenn Miller, who was born today in 1904, recorded the Swing tune in 1941 and it soon sold one million copies. Miller and his Orchestra were the first musical group to be given an actual gold record  because their popular song sold so many copies.

Listen to “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”. What sounds help you to know the song is about a train?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 2:05

Other Activities:
  • Chattanooga Choo-Choo is still a poplar song that Swing and Big Band ensembles play at concerts. Research and discuss what makes a song a “Swing” tune.
  • Read the lyrics of “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”. As a class, discuss the story told through the lyrics. Identify the refrain and stanzas. Imagine and discuss how taking a train ride today may be different from the train ride in “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”.


March 4th – National Anthem Day (March 3rd)

“The Star Spangled Banner”
Lyrics: Francis Scott Key, Tune: British Folk Song
Recorded by: Jimi Hendrix

American | Folk | Historical

The United States will celebrate its 242nd birthday this July, but it didn’t have an official national anthem until 1931. On March 3rd, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a law saying “The Star Spangled Banner” was the official anthem of the United States.

The words to the song come from a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, during a battle between American and British troops. In the morning, Francis Scott Key saw that the large American flag was flying over the fort, signaling an American victory! He was so inspired that he wrote a poem on the back of a letter he had in his pocket.

Many people have played or sung the National Anthem. One of the most famous versions
is by Jimi Hendrix, and it is played entirely on electric guitar. He uses special effects to help
represent lyrics such as “bombs bursting in air” and “rockets red glare”.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 0:58

Other Activities:
  • Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s website about the National Anthem
  • Research National Anthems from one country from each inhabited continent. How are they like ours?


March 5th –

“Main Theme” from Star Wars
John Williams

Modern Composer | Instrumental

People are still writing music today – they are called composers. Sometimes they spend a long time in school learning how to read and write music and what instruments or voices sound good together. Sometimes, it’s just something they are good at doing naturally. But everyone who works as a composer has one thing in common – they love music!

One composer that lots of people like to listen to writes music for movies. His name is John Williams and you might have seen some movies with his music. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurrasic Park, The Book Thief and The BFG are just some of the movies he has written music for. He was born in New York, but soon moved to Los Angeles with his parents. After serving in the Air Force, he went to a famous music school named Juilliard in New York to study music. He has written music for more orchestras, TV shows, and for 100 movies.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:24

Other Activities:
  • Learn about the lives of other modern composers and listen to their music.
  • A composer is only one job you can have as someone who loves music. Explore other jobs that you could have if you want to have a job in music.


March 6th –

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Recorded by: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Classical | Instrumental

One of the most famous composers is Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. We usually shorten all of that to just “Mozart”. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756 and began writing music when he was 5 years old. During his life, he wrote fifty symphonies, almost twenty operas and hundreds of other pieces of music.

Mozart spoke German, so one of his most famous works is called Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which means “a little serenade” in English. Listen to this piece. What family of instruments do you hear?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:34

Other activities

• Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is a fast, lively tune. Play examples of other fast music and slow music and have students move at the appropriate speed.
• A modern composer named PDQ Bach (his real name is Peter Schickele) wrote a piece called Eine Kleine Nichtmusik which takes Mozart’s piece and inserts quotes from other musical pieces like “Mexican Hat Dance” and Overture to William Tell underneath it. Listen to Eine Kleine Nichtmusik. Can you hear Mozart’s original piece and name some of the other tunes?


March 7th –

“Eagle Song”
Traditional Native American/First Nation
Recorded by: Red Shadow Singers

Folk | Other Cultures

America has had music as long as people have been living here. The First Nations or Native American people created and performed their own style of music. In their music, people often sing, alone or together. Percussion, especially drums or rattles, was important to help keep a steady beat. You might hear often something that sound like a recorder, but is actually a Native American flute. First Nations/Native Americans used music in many different ways, but one of the most important ways was to pass on a story from one person to another.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:18

Other activities

• There were many different tribes that lived in America and each developed their own style of music, told different stories, and used music for different purposes. Learn about the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes that lived in Tennessee and their music.
• Songs and dances were often shared at gatherings called “Pow-wows”. Learn more about what happens at a Pow Wow and, if possible, attend one. One in Chattanooga will be held on March 25 & 26 (


March 8th – International Women’s Day

“St. Louis Blues”
W.C. Handy
Recorded by: Bessie Smith

Tennessee | Vocal | Female Musicians

Did you know that famous musicians have been born and lived right here in Chattanooga? One of the most famous singers of the 1920s and 30s was a woman named Bessie Smith who was born right here! She grew up dancing and singing in downtown Chattanooga and became famous for singing a type of music called “the Blues”. She was so good that people called her “The Empress of the Blues”. We have a museum in town that is named after her and has some of the things she owned – the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

Listen to Bessie Smith sing “St. Louis Blues”. Famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong plays a high trumpet called the cornet in this song too. What about the music helps you know this song is a blues song or that the singer is sad?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 0:51

Other activities

•Plan a trip to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and explore their exhibit on Bessie Smith and others on display.
• There have been many famous female singers and musicians, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries. Research female singers from different musical genres and present their biographies to your class.


March 11th –

Gregorian Chant
Recorded by: The Benedictine Monks of St. Pierre

Historical | Vocal/Choral

People have been singing for a very long time. One of the earliest types of singing was a special kind of music that was used during religious services called “chant”. A chant is usually slow and the people singing sing the same notes – there is no harmony. Chants became especially popular in Medieval times and a man named Pope Gregory I made a set of rules about chants so many people could read the music and sing. Some types of chant were called “Gregorian chant” after him.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 0:56

Other activities

• Take a sentence from your favorite book and write a chant melody to go with it.
• Gregorian chant music looks different than our music looks today. Compare and contrast written Gregorian chant music and a piece of music from today.


March 12th –

“Hallelujah” Chorus from The Messiah
George Frederic Handel
Recorded by: The London Philharmonic and Philharmonic Choir

Choral/Vocal | Historic | Baroque

George Fredric Handel was born in 1685 in Germany, but lived most of his life in England. He wrote music during the “Baroque” period of music and invented a new type of music called the oratorio. An oratorio tells a story through music like an opera or a musical, but there are no sets or action. Handel’s most famous oratorio is The Messiah, which has a piece called “Hallelujah” Chorus. It is sometimes heard in Christian churches, but you might hear it on commercials or television shows when someone is very excited!

One fun tradition of the “Hallelujah” Chorus is that many people stand when it is played. When it was first played in London, the King of England was so excited by the beginning that he stood up. Since everyone was required to stand up when the king did, the whole audience stood up too! People have been standing up for the “Hallelujah” Chorus for more than 200 years.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:28

Other activities

• Handel wrote the music so that each time someone sings “Hallelujah” it is the same rhythm as if they had said it. Choose one of your favorite words and write the musical rhythm of it.
• Handel lived during the same time as another Baroque composer, J.S. Bach (Moment for Music on March 21). Create a Venn diagram or a list that shows the similarities and difference between the two composers.


March 13th –

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Arr. Roland Carter
Recorded by: The Boys Choir of Harlem

Tennessee | Modern Composer | Choral/Vocal

People are still writing music today – you could be a composer! There are many people who live in Chattanooga who are composers. One man that many people around the world know is Roland Carter. He was born in Chattanooga and was a teacher for many years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

One of his most famous pieces is “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Many other people had put music to a poem written to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It was so popular that it was named “The Black American National Anthem”. Carter took those people’s music and the poem and re-imagined them. He arranged a new song which many choirs sing. It was sung last Fall when the new National Museum of African American History opened in Washington D.C.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:39

Other activities

• Since Roland Carter taught at UTC, the university’s choirs often sing his music. Attend a concert where they are performing his works.
• Research other African American composers like Scott Joplin, William Grant Still, Dorothy Rudd Moore, and Harry T. Burleigh.


March 14th-

Symphony No. 5
Ludwig van Beethoven
Recorded by: Berlin Philharmonic

Romantic | Instrumental

Beethoven was born in Germany in 1770 and learned to play the piano very well. When he was 13, he began to compose music and to conduct orchestras. He moved to Austria and met Mozart, who said “You will someday make a big noise in the world!” Beethoven started to lose his hearing and eventually, he couldn’t hear anything. But he figured out a way that he could still write music and he only heard the music in his head. But, Mozart was right – Beethoven is one of the most famous composers ever.

His most famous symphony begins with four notes – three shorts and one long. Listen to Symphony No. 5. What do those notes make you think of?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:26

Other activities

• Listen to Symphony No. 5. Can you identify the instrument families that are playing?
• Many composers and musicians still write and perform music but are deaf or blind. Visit the National Resource Center for Blind Musicians’ website ( to learn more about different ways of reading music. Visit to learn about a group of students who are deaf that write and perform their own music.


March 15th –

Recorded by: Aretha Franklin

Vocal | Female Musicians

On Saturday, March 17th, the CSO will perform our “Women Rock” concert celebrating the women who changed rock and roll forever! The concert will include, among others, the iconic songs of Aretha Franklin. Known as the “Queen of Soul”, she was born in Memphis, Tennessee, just on the other side of the state. She started recording gospel songs when she was only 14 years old, and continued making music for six decades – that’s 60 years!

In 1967, her career took off when this song – Respect – was released. Aretha’s powerful vocals are supported by a rhythm band prominently featuring the saxophone.You can also hear “background vocals”, which are sung by Aretha’s sisters, Carolyn and Erma. She was the recipient of the USA’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and eighteen Grammy Awards! She was also the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Recommended Short Clip: 1:12 – end

Other activities

• Aretha started performing professionally when she was not that much older than the students in your class. Begin a discussion of what it would be like to be a professional singer.
• This song talks about Respect. Discuss what that means and how it is important in our lives today.


March 18th – Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17th)

“The Wind That Shakes The Barley”
Robert Dwyer Joyce
Recorded by: The Chieftains

Folk | Other Cultures

Music is found in each country around the world and sometimes it is very different than the music we listen to in America. Celtic music comes from Ireland and may sound similar to some of our music. Celtic music uses a violin or fiddle and guitars. It also uses lots of flutes, recorders, and whistles, other string instruments like a harp or mandolin, accordion, and a drum called a bodrahn.

Listen to “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”. What instruments do you hear that you
already know? Which sounds are unfamiliar?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:24

Other activities

• Learn more about the history and culture of Ireland and why music was such an
important part of their lives.
• Choose one of the traditional Celtic instruments and learn how it is made and what it sounds like.


March 19th-

“Oye Como Va”
Tito Puente
Recorded by: Tito Puente

Folk | Other Cultures | Vocal

For a long time, people have loved to listen to music that comes from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, and other countries in South America. Many times listeners would add dance steps to the music and soon people were dancing the cha-cha, the samba, and the mambo.

One musician who helped to make these sounds popular was Tito Puente. He was born in Puerto Rico and when he was little, neighbors complained about his beating on pots and windows, so his mother sent him to piano lessons. When he was 10, he started to play percussion instruments. He became so good that people called him “El Roy de los Timbales” or the King of the Timbales which are small drums. Puente went to school at a famous music school in New York called Juilliard and learned how to write music. One of his most famous songs is “Oye Como Va”.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:19

Other activities

• Latin American music often makes people want to dance! Learn the basic steps of the cha-cha, the mambo, or the samba.
• Puente was called “El Roy de los Timbales”. What other percussion instruments are used in Latin American music?


March 20th – First Day of Spring

“Primavera (Spring)” from Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires)
Astor Piazzolla
Recorded by: Astor Piazzolla

Other Cultures | Instrumental | Dance

Today we celebrate the first day of Spring! Music is often written about a certain person, thing, or other idea that inspires the composer. In today’s musical moment, we’ll hear one composer’s take on the Spring season. Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) is the work of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) who is considered the master composer of tango, revolutionizing the form into a new style called tango nuevo. The Four Seasons are four tangos that were composed separately and originally treated as independent works, although Piazzolla occasionally performed them together. In each of the tangos, Piazzolla contrasts striking rhythmic figures with elegant, understated melodies. He blends classical, jazz, and traditional Argentine elements in this popular work and gives an impression of the four seasons from the perspective of a citizen of Buenos Aires (Porteño). “Primavera” was composed in 1970, and has since been arranged for many different ensembles. This version features Astor Piazzolla himself on the accordion!


Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:50

Other activities
  • Latin American music often makes people want to dance! Learn the basic steps of the tango and listen for how Piazzolla’s music compares to other tangos.
  • What unique timbres and effects do you hear in this music?
  • Listen to the other three seasons and also to different arrangements of the same music. Compare/contrast.
  • Compare/contrast with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

March 21st – Bach’s Birthday

Toccata and Fugue in D minor
J.S. Bach
Recorded by: Klemens Schnoor

Baroque | Organ

Yesterday, we learned about Antonio Vivaldi and listened to “Spring”. Today, we’re celebrating the birthday of someone who lived during the same time, but led a very different life. Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Germany and learned to play the violin. But, he became famous for playing the large pipe organ. He said one time “There is nothing remarkable about [playing the organ]. All you have to do is hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself!” Maybe easier for Bach than for some of us! He wrote hundreds of musical pieces and came up with a way to make sure the piano plays the right notes (the Tempered Scale).

Listen to this piece which has a funny name- “Toccata and Fugue”. You may think it sounds like music we would hear at Halloween, but today, we’re using it to say “Happy Birthday, Bach!”

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:12

Other activities

• The organ is able to make many different sounds by changing the amount of air that goes through many different pipes. Listen again to Bach’s Toccata and explore other famous works written for the organ. Can you hear the different sounds?
• Research the history of the pipe organ and how it is made.


March 22nd –

“Tennessee Waltz”
Redd Steward and Pee Wee King
Recorded by: Patti Page

Tennessee | Vocal

Tennessee is a musical state! On the west side of the state, the city of Memphis is known for its blues and rock ‘n roll. On our side of the state, many people listen to and play a type of music called bluegrass. But all over, Tennesseans like country music. In 1965, we made a country song “Tennessee Waltz” one of our official state songs.

A waltz is a type of dance that has one strong beat followed by two weak beats and that rhythm repeats for the whole song. As you listen to the “Tennessee Waltz”, quietly tap the beat.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:14

Other activities

• There are many other songs written about cities in and the state of Tennessee, including ten that are the state’s official state songs. Listen to and learn about other songs about the state of Tennessee and its cities. To see the lyrics to our state songs, visit the Tennessee state website at
• This waltz is slow, but there are many that are fast waltzes! Listen to different waltzes (try Johann Strauss Jr.) and tap the different beats.


March 25th –

blue cathedral
Jennifer Higdon
Recorded by: The Oberlin Conservatory Symphony Orchestra

Modern Composer | Female Musician | Instrumental

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn in 1962 and taught herself to play the flute when she was fifteen. She started private lessons in flute when she was eighteen and began composing music when she was twenty-one. As a Contemporary composer, she has written music for orchestras, small ensembles, choirs, solo vocalists, and wind ensembles. She continues to write between five and ten pieces each year!

Her piece blue cathedral is one of the most performed works for orchestras and has been performed over 400 times since its premiere in 2000.

Recommended Short Clip: 1:35 – 2:42

Other activities

• A lot of music played by orchestras was written by men. But, women have been writing music for a long time too! Pick one of these composers and find out more about her life: Joan Towers (1938-present; Contemporary composer); Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847; Romantic composer); Hildegard von Bingham (1098-1179; Medieval composer); Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979; Impressionist composer); Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
• You can be a Contemporary composer too! Using what you know about rhythm and notes, compose a short musical piece.


March 26th –

“Man in the Mirror”
Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett
Recorded by: Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson was a famous pop singer for more than forty years – so famous that he was called the “King of Pop”. He began singing with his older brothers in a band called the Jackson 5 and then became a solo singer. He made videos for many of his songs which helped spread their popularity. Jackson liked to dance on stage during his performances and especially liked to do “The Robot” and invented “The Moonwalk”.

Jackson recorded many famous songs, including “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It”. But one song he is well known for is “Man in the Mirror”. Listen to the song. What do you think the words in the chorus are asking you to do?

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 1:34

Other activities

• Michael Jackson invented the dance step called “The Moonwalk”. Watch Jackson do the step and try it for yourself!


March 27th –

Traditional Japanese Folk Song
Recorded by: Melinda Carroll

Folk | Other Cultures

One of the trees native to the country of Japan is the “Sakura” or Cherry Blossom. On March 27, 1912, the leader of the Japanese city of Tokyo gave 3,000 Cherry Blossom Trees to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the friendship between the two countries. Every year, these trees bloom with bright pink and white blossoms and usually bloom in March or April.

Students in Japan sing a song that is all about these trees and celebrates the arrival of Spring.

Other activities

• “Sakura” is written using the pentatonic scale. Use solfege to sing the “Sakura”.
• “Sakura” was very popular in Japan between the 1600s and the 1800s. Learn about life and culture in Japan, especially in the late 1800s.


March 28th –

“Rocky Top”
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
Recorded by: The Osborne Brothers

Tennessee | Vocal

We often use the same song to get excited or help us calm down. Schools do this too – does your school have a school song?

Sports teams do it too! One song that we hear a lot in Tennessee is the song “Rocky Top” which the University of Tennessee in Knoxville uses at their games. “Rocky Top” was first a country song that has three verses which talk about how great living in Tennessee is and how much the singer wishes they could go back to living an easy life on Rocky Top.

Recommended Short Clip: 0:00 – 0:48

Other activities

• The version of the song played today has a singer singing the lyrics. But the version that we hear a lot from the University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Band does not have a singer. Listen to the two versions. Pick your favorite version and write a review of it.
• There are many other songs written about cities in and the state of Tennessee, including ten that are the state’s official state songs. Listen to and learn about other songs about the state of Tennessee and its cities. To see the lyrics to our state songs, visit the Tennessee state website at

March 29th – The End of Mercury’s Year (88 Days)

“Mercury” from The Planets
Gustav Holst
Recorded by: Saint Louis Symphony

Program Music | Instrumental

Earth is a pretty cool planet and as you know, it takes 365 days to go around the sun. Another planet in our solar system is celebrating their New Year’s Eve today! Because the planet Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it only takes 88 days for it to circle the sun. Tomorrow will be the 89th day in our year, but the 1st in Mercury’s New Year.

One composer who really liked to study planets and stars was Gustav Holst who lived in England. One of his most famous works is The Planets which he took the seven planets (he left out Earth and Pluto had not been discovered yet!) and wrote one piece of music that he thought described the planet. Mercury is the smallest planet and named after a Roman god that was a speedy deliver of messages.

Listen to Holst’s imagination of what Mercury sounds like in music – do you agree with what he thought?

Recommended Short Clip: 1:28 – 2:50

Other activities

• Learn more about the other planets in the solar system, and then listen to Holst’s musical interpretation of them. Do you agree with his musical description?
• Many of the planets are named after ancient Roman deities. Learn about these deities and decide why each planet would have been named after them.



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