Staff File Photo / Local composer Jonathan B. McNair plays on an interactive sound sculpture that he created called Heavy Metal at Coolidge Park. For International Make Music Day, McNair will show participants how to make music using flower pots.

Monday is International Make Music Day, and Chattanooga is stepping up in a big way. Which means you, whoever you are, have several opportunities to play along.

No instrument? No problem.

No talent? Still no problem.

Organizers of some events will be coaxing sounds from flower pots and lake rocks, so no worries on not being as proficient as the next performer. Though you can expect to learn there's method to this musical merriment.

Award-winning composer Jonathan McNair, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will be leading Flowerpot Music at 7 p.m. near the Coolidge Park stage.

This method of music-making was created by celebrated composer Elliot Cole and first directed by percussionist Peter Ferry, according to McNair.

"Its purpose is to welcome interested people to join in a guided experience of making beautiful sounds with (empty) flower pots," he says.

Sounds simple enough. And McNair says it's not necessary to read music or have a musical background to take part.

"Flowerpot Music is designed to feel almost like playing games and can be performed successfully by first-timers or by professionals," he says.

McNair will begin the session by coaching the assembled group on the simple instructions published by the composer, then participants can make a reminder notecard (provided) to help them remember what comes next when they begin to play.

McNair, whose music has been performed across the United States and internationally, has made music with flower pots "occasionally" since 1983, he says, including a work choreographed by Ballet Tennessee in 2012 for the centennial of composer John Cage. He also has used flower pots in workshops with children.

If flower pot percussion isn't your thing, maybe you'd prefer rock music.

The first event of the day is called Stones/Water/Time/Breath, a reflective piece by composer Dean Rosenthal that uses nature to create art — in this case, stones at a body of water (Rosenthal also has a winter score played on ice). Local author Ray Zimmerman will lead this experimental performance at 8:30 a.m. in a small cove near the swimming beach at Chickamauga Lake.

"Essentially, he wrote a score in which stones become percussion instruments by tossing them into the water," Zimmerman says. "It does have its own rhythm. They're not just thrown in randomly."

Zimmerman says he was surprised when the Make Music Chattanooga organizers asked him to participate since washboard and spoons are the only instruments he's mastered since his saxophone-playing childhood years.

He has recruited a couple of people to help with the performance — "It is not a solo," he emphasizes — but believes audience participation may be possible "for anyone willing to take it seriously and keep their stone-dropping in rhythm with the rest of the performance."

Other local events include an Electric Guitar Parade, a Summer Solstice Jam and performances by multiple local musicians and arts groups, such as Opera Tennessee and Chattanooga Girls Choir. All open branches of the Chattanooga Public Library will have musical activities happening all day.

For information on the day's events, visit

Make Music Day, held annually on June 21, is celebrated in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. Learn more at

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.