To play along, download music and the full score or listen to the recording of the music visit the music section of this website.  For educators looking for lesson plans and anyone wanting to build a junk instrument to play along on the night, check out the links below. Check out the full score or choose a part!

For teachers and educators we've compiled a lesson plans, in writing, science and music.

Download PDF's for the classroom which will explain to make a junk instruments and play along to Jupiter, Mars & Neptune during the performance.

We've also created some video's made specially for children by Monica Trapaga our Global Orchestra Ambassador.

Lesson Plans

Combining Music and Science: The Planets by Gustav Holst

Interdisciplinary lesson plan for general music class: students combine their studies in science of the solar system with the music of Gustav Holst.

Materials needed:

·         CD player and a recording of The Planets, a musical suite by Gustav Holst.

·         Study materials about the solar system.

Student objectives:

·         Students can define terms: suite, program music.

·         Students can answer questions about the various planets in the solar system.

·         Students can describe the music of each movement of The Planets.


Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was one of England's most well-known composers. His works run the gamut from symphonies and operas to literature for military band. His First Suite in B-flat for Military Band, Second Suite in F for Military Band, and Hammersmith are considered by many to be three of the masterpieces of concert band literature.

Holst's most popular work was an orchestral suite titled The Planets. Written in 1915, The Planets is a suite of seven tone poems, each symbolizing a different planet. The first movement Mars, the Bringer of War - is a loud and raucous piece based on a pulsating 5/4 rhythm. Mars appears to have influenced many other space-like compositions, and upon hearing it, the listener might wonder if it was the inspiration for composer John Williams and his music for Star Wars.

Mars is followed by Venus, the Bringer of Peace, and Mercury, the Winged Messenger. The fourth movement is happy, playful music that celebrates Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. This is followed by the more solemn Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. The final two movements are Uranus, the Magician, and Neptune, the Mystic.

Student Activities:

1.     Study the planets of the solar system, diagram their positions and sizes, draw or make models.

2.     Read biographical information about Gustav Holst.

3.     Listen to a recording of The Planets.

4.     List descriptive words while listening to each movement.

It might be best to listen to the music before giving the title of the movement so that students are freer in their responses. Then after linking the descriptive words to the actual title, listen again. Depending on the age of the students, this project could be drawn out over several weeks, or perhaps the focus could be limited to one or two movements of the work. The most well-known movements are Mars and Jupiter so these would be good choices.

Listening activities on THE PLANETS by Gustav Holst

The suggested listening activities are designed to focus on listening and to stimulate students to use both analytical and imaginative thinking. In addition, teachers may encourage students to translate what they have heard into some type of tangible art work.

It is not necessary to use all activities suggested for each planet in order to provide a valid learning experience. However, activation of both the left and right brain will make the learning more meaningful and memorable.

1.  Predictive thinking

Before listening to the music for each planet, reveal the title and ask the students to predict what they think the music will sound like. Encourage the use of musical terms where possible. Consider all the concepts of music.

After listening, have the students report on how accurate their predictions were. Did composer Holst, capture each planet's traits in his music?

2.  Analytical Thinking

1st Listening - Each worksheet is designed to focus attention on specific elements within each piece. Students are given freedom to write down events in the movement that impress them aurally. Encourage use of musical vocabulary - be sure students clearly understand the task demanded by each analytical listening activity before playing the CD. The teacher should work on the sheets with the students to develop an "answer key".

2nd Listening - After doing the analysis task, the teacher may provide another opportunity for analytical listening. This time the students should "check their answers" from the first listening as the music plays. This second playing will help them to correct errors, and it will help to reinforce elements that they noticed during the first listening.

3.  Imaginative Thinking

Set the Scene for Imaginative Listening - The classroom environment must be conducive to this type of listening so that creative thinking is stimulated. Some ideas for creating room ambiance:

·      Stick up some "glow in the dark" stars and planets on the ceiling and turn out the lights.

·      Punch pin holes in an opaque piece of paper, and place the paper on an overhead projector. Throw the projected image out of focus. A starry effect will be achieved. Moving your fingers in front of the projection beam element will create a "shimmery" effect.

3rd Listening - Students should be given the chance to listen to the music in a manner which activates their right brain hemispheres. They should be allowed to get into a physically comfortable position, which could mean lying on the carpet with eyes closed. Provide them with the stimulus suggested in the lesson plan, and play CD

4th Listening - ask the students to listen imaginatively, they can show what they imagined through an artistic medium. They may write a poem, draw, or create some choreography. During this creative application stage, the music should be playing in the background.

Present the created works to the rest of the class. As students present or display their works, the music should be playing. The teacher and students in the "audience" should give feedback on how well the creators captured the essence of the music in their work.

4.  Enrichment, Extension and Integration

After experiencing the above listening activities, students can view video clips which contains the music by Hoist and NASA photographs from Voyager and other space probes as well as scientific animation of the planets and their satellites. (Voyage to the Outer Planets and Beyond)

PDF of the teacher resource:

NASA Footage:

Creative Writing Activities on Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter

The following points are designed to help students develop creative responses to Holst's Planets

·      About Holst's The Planets, it has been said that each movement is a portrait of one particular aspect of personality. Identify a particular aspect of your personality; such as out-going, talkative, aggressive, shy, timid, confident, aggressive, etc. and create a free verse poem describing how you express that trait.

·      The planets often inspire artists. How do you imagine the scenery looks on each planet? Draw your imaginary settings and write a detailed description of them.

·      As you listen to the movements of Holst's The Planets record the mental images that come to mind. Then create a series of haikus that incorporate some of your images.

·      Research and gather facts about each of the planets. Then create an acrostic for each planet that includes descriptive facts about it:

About the same size as earth, has canals

             Bringer of war, close to earth (etc)

·      Holst's inspiration for his planets was the astrological significance of the planets. Using the names of the planets Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, create a date span and original horoscope reading for all who fall under each sign.

·      Collect as many facts about space as you can. Use this information in an original science fiction story. Read your story to the class whilst playing an excerpt of the Planets in the background.

·      Study a legend. Write your own legend about how a planet came to be.

·      Design a BIG BOOK for little children that tells the story of Man and Flight.

·      Read poems and or song lyrics about space. Create your own poetry about space or lyrics to a song about space. You might use familiar songs tunes and re-write the words.

·      What if Mars the Bringer of War knocked on your door with a message? What would it say? Write a detailed description of the message's content.

·      Research what an astronomer does. Then imagine you have the opportunity to interview one. Create a list of ten questions and using your research, write the answers then role play your interview with a friend.

VENUS, the Bringer of Peace

Using the title and what you already know about Venus, PREDICT how you think this music will sound before you listen to it. 

Using your analytical brain
Venus, the second planet from the sun, is the brightest planet in the solar system. It is named after the Roman goddess of love. Venus is sometimes called the morning or evening star because it is so bright. Venus is bright because it is covered by white clouds which reflect the sun. These clouds hide the planet's surface, and so the planet seems mysterious to us.

While you listen to this music about the planet Venus, draw a constellation that describes things you hear in the music.

Links to Other Online Resources


Global Orchestra Ambassador Monica Trapaga Teaches Us How To Play Along To Mars Using Objects You Can Find At Home