Build a Musical Instrument

Build a Banjo
String instruments are played in music we hear from across the world, even today. All string instruments, including the banjo, produce sound when their strings vibrate. Musicians can rub the strings with a bow, pluck or strum the strings, or even hit the strings to produce music. In this activity you will create your own banjo instrument and explore the sounds it generates when you play it. Time to tune up and get ready to play!

Build a Harmonica
Appalachian music had roots from all over the world! Instruments from all over the globe found their way to the Smoky Mountains and eventually into their music. The top-selling instrument in the world is the harmonica! The harmonica was created by a German boy in 1821 and has become a household item. In this activity you will add the harmonica to your musical repertoire, design, and explore your own mountain harmonica instrument made from supplies at home.

Learn to Build a Banjo
Learn to Build a Harmonica

Spring on Fodderstack Mountain

Watch the leaves unfurl in Walker Valley

Relax to banjo music as you get to see spring blossom on Fodderstack Mountain over the course of a month. The mountain goes from almost no green to full leaf out over the course of this short video.


Epic Lyrical Journey

Follow the monarch butterfly on an incredible journey from meadows and habitats across the U.S. and Canada, down to the Oyamel forests near Mexico City. Join intrepid 5th graders as they venture out with nets and tags into the world of monarch migration, one of nature’s seemingly impossible feats. You’ll learn all about Monarch Butterflies and the threats that they face. This music video collaboration was created by Tremont Institute and 5th grade students at Walland Elementary in East Tennessee.

If you produce your own music video about an environmental challenge, we’d love to see it! Tag Tremont on Facebook, Twitter @GSMITremont, or Instagram @tremontinstitute!


Song of the Smokies Icon

More than just a cute fuzzy mascot, black bears are part of the culture, history, and natural ecosystems throughout the southern Appalachian mountains. But who speaks on behalf of the bears? Check out this music video that finally gives bears their say! It was created by Tremont Institute in partnership with Gamble Montessori High School in Ohio. Explore the history, life cycle and threats facing black bears, one of the most iconic species in the national park!

If you produce your own music video about an environmental challenge, we’d love to see it! Tag Tremont on Facebook, Twitter @GSMITremont, or Instagram @tremontinstitute!


In Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church the East Tennessee Old Harp Singers and Guests assemble to sing. Old Harp Singing is a communal way of singing in the shape note tradition.


Listen to Smokies local old-time string band, Boogertown Gap, sing traditional Appalachian folk music.



Check out the collaborative virtual magazine for Smokies lovers brought to you by Smokies Life and Great Smoky Mountains Association.