Join us for a collaboration between the Montana Natural History Center and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra in our four-episode video series, Nature’s Notes! We will explore the connections between music and some of Montana’s most beautiful, natural music and sounds in nature.

In these videos, designed for families and kids aged 5 -12, you’ll hear all about our favorite instruments, listen to an orchestra, learn about the natural world, explore a nature activity, and even practice making musical instruments of your own! We will release a new episode each month, showcasing a different connection between instrument sections of the orchestra and sounds of nature in Montana.


Episode 1: Wings & Woodwinds

In our first episode we’ll explore connections between woodwind instruments and the sounds of Montana birds. Learn how birds can make more than one sound, how sound passes through instruments, and the beauty of how different birds and instruments sound when played together! In this episode you’ll also build your own woodwind instrument and a glider to fly through the skies! 

Straw Pan Flute Activity  |  Paper Glider Activity

Episode 2: Trumpets, Trombones, and Bears, Oh My!

This episode explores some of Montana’s largest residents: mammals! We’ll explore connections between these furry creatures and brass instruments in an orchestra. You’ll learn how different brass instruments make their unique sound, and figure out why Montana mammals use interesting sounds of their own to communicate. In the accompanying activities you’ll build your own musical instrument and explore the natural world through mapping its sounds.

Popsicle Stick Harmonica Activity  |  Sound Map Activity

Episode 3: Drumming, Humming, and Thrumming

Take a deep dive into the world of insects! In this special episode of Nature’s Notes, we’ll go on a field trip to the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium to see some of these curious creatures up close and personal. It turns out that insects make a lot of wild sounds—much like percussion instruments in an orchestra. After visiting with a percussionist and his instruments, we’ll also build a pair of clacking, tapping castanets, and we’ll learn how to observe some of the tiny creatures just outside our door.

Bottle Cap Castanets Activity  |  Invertebrate Investigation Activity

Episode 4: Strings, Streams, and Pizzicato Springs

Where would we be without water? Whether it’s a river, creek, lake, or even a geyser, water is a really important part of our landscape. Tune into our final episode to see all the ways that water can affect life here in Montana and learn about some of our local animals who interact with it. You’ll also get to meet some very talented musicians who show us what string instruments are all about! At the end of the video, you’ll practice building your own colorful instrument, plus you’ll see firsthand the bold effects water can have on our landscape.

Musical Water Glasses Activity  |  Erosion Activity

While our Nature’s Notes series is free of charge, we ask that you kindly consider a donation for the download and use of these activities and videos. Our staff from the Missoula Symphony Association and the Montana Natural History Center are hard at work developing content, and your donation goes a long way toward creating these exciting new programs.

All donations will be shared equally between the Missoula Symphony Association and the Montana Natural History Center.

Donate to support MNHC and MSA, and we’ll email you the link to the videos. Thank you for your support!

Access the videos for free if you can’t donate at this time. Thank you for your interest in natural history and music!

Thank you to our sponsors and partners!

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