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Haunting Days

of Halloween

About the Program:

With Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats


What if supernatural creatures were real and have been walking among us in disguise? What if the days surrounding Halloween are their days to shine just as they are? This is the world that comes to life in Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats in Concert: Haunting Days of Halloween. Find yourself bedazzled by this bewitching performance filled with wickedly adventurous stories and songs, perfect for the season. Get ready to be pulled into the call of the supernatural wild!

Learning Goals

  • You’ll make connections between music and storytelling, or how songs can tell stories and create characters.

  • You’ll explore cultural aspects of music by listening to and recognizing seasonal songs.

  • You’ll analyze music by recognizing basic contrasts in music, including fast/slow and loud/soft.

  • You’ll express personal feelings evoked by a musical experience.

Storytelling Through Music

How can music tell an exciting story? Music can make us feel different moods or emotions that help us connect to a story, place, or character. In addition to the lyrics, or the words that are sung, musicians can use tools like dynamics (how loud or soft the music is), tempo (how fast or slow the music is), and different scales (the notes used in a particular song) to show all kinds of emotional and storytelling ideas.

Some other music elements that help tell the stories in the concert are:

  • Arrangement: An adaptation of a piece of music for performance in a different way, especially on different instruments for which it was originally composed (like for the song “Mysterious Mose”) 

  • Call and response: A musical approach in which a melodic or rhythmic phrase is exchanged between two parts; also called “question/statement” or “answer/solution” (listen for this in “My Mommy is a Mummy”)

  • Rhythm: A repeated pattern of strong and weak beats; they may make you want to tap your foot or clap when you hear the music

Music Excerpts

Here are the songs performed in this video, along with tips for what you can listen for during each song.

  1. “It’s Halloween” - From a narrator’s perspective, this song captures the anticipation and excitement felt as Halloween draws closer. Listen for...lyrics that create a musical story of familiar creatures coming alive (“Zombies wake, ogres shake, werewolves dance on moonlit lakes...”).

  2. “Haunting Days of Halloween” - This song is from the creatures’ perspectives, ready to celebrate with calls of the supernatural wild. Listen for...a style that blends jazz, hip hop, and classical music.

  3. “Flick of My Wrist” - This is a story of a young witch who gets carried away by her own powers, having grandiose ideas without thinking of the consequences. She's in for a big surprise! Listen for...the way the music changes when the witch realizes she’s made a mistake!

  4. “Mysterious Mose” - This is a classic cover of a 1930 song about a ghost, originally written by Walter Doyle. Listen for...a siren whistle that weaves through the song when Mysterious Mose is near!

  5. “Howl to the Moon” - This is the story of a lonely werewolf who longs for the full moon each month so that he can get together with his friends and dance the tango. Listen for...the way the dynamics change from soft (when the werewolf is lonely) to loud (when the werewolf is howling).

  6. “My Mommy Is a Mummy” - A mysterious storm rolls through and the next morning, mommy wakes up as a mummy! But the mummy mommy continues her daily routine as if everything is normal, making for a very bizarre day. Listen for...a steady beat. Can you tap along?

  7. “It’s Halloween (Reprise)” - This closing piece returns to the final choruses of the first song. Listen for...the familiar melody from the first song. Hum or sing along if you remember it!

Setting the Seasonal Goals

Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats share stories about all kinds of Halloween creatures. How can we tell that the music feels right for the Halloween season?

Watch and listen for:

  • Spooky sound effects: growling, howling, music that sounds like tiptoeing steps, music that sneakily slides around, and more! When do the musicians use their instruments and when do they use their voices to create these sounds.

  • Use of the minor scale. While there are several kinds of scales, two of the most common are major and minor. Songs that use major scales use a set of notes that usually sound happy together. Songs that use minor scales often sound sad or scary. Learn more about what makes music sound spooky through Your Brain on Music: Chills & Thrill.

  • Different dynamics and tempos. Quiet, soft music can sound like someone is sneaking around or calming down; while fast, loud music can sound like a playful exchange between characters or a big, exciting moment. How do these things work with the stories of each song?

Jazz as an Artform

Jazz music is a type of American music loved throughout the world, known for its captivating rhythm and for allowing musicians to add their own unique ideas each time they play. It began about 100 years ago in America when African American musicians combined ideas from all different kinds of music to create something new and exciting. Jazz music can be made with all different types of ensembles groups of musicians who play together—but it often includes drums, a keyboard or guitar, a low instrument like a string bass, and other instruments like trumpets, trombones, and clarinets. Jazz groups, especially those with singers, will often write their own music as well as do their own versions of well-known songs. Some famous jazz musicians include Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tito Puente. You can explore more about the artform through our Jazz & Blues Collection.


Here are some fun things to do and think about before, during, and after watching the video:

  • Jazz music is full of fun rhythms. If you find yourself tapping your toes, you’ve probably found the song’s steady beat. How many ways can you show the beat  with your body?

  • These songs feature a story about a witch, a werewolf, a ghost, and a mummy. Based on the story and the song, what do you think these characters look like? Draw out your ideas! If you could make a costume for one of the characters based on things you have at home, what would you create?

What other magical or spooky character might be out and about around Halloween? If they had a song, what would it be like? Fast? Slow? Loud? Soft? Would you use a happy-sounding major scale, a spooky-sounding minor scale, or something different? Would you have any sound effects like spooky or magical noises? How would you choose music that would help people understand your creature? Share your ideas with family or friends.

Take some time to listen to music from other holidays to see how they might be different from the eeriness or creepiness of Halloween songs. For example, a winter song, like “Sleigh Ride,” might use a happy-sounding major scale and bell sounds that make you think of sleigh rides or snowflakes. A song for Independence Day, like “Stars and Stripes Forever,” might use a march-like beat and brass instruments to make you think of military parades. What about the music from Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats makes it fit for Halloween? Can you find what makes other Halloween favorites from different types of music, like pop songs and classical orchestra pieces, sound spooky? Learn more about matching music to a seasonal mood through Soundtrack to the Seasons. 

About the Artists


Based in Brooklyn, New York, Lucy Kalantari is a Grammy® Award-winning songwriter, composer, and producer. Lucy grew up in a bilingual household, having been born in the United States to Latinx parents (Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father). While she writes primarily in English, her music includes bilingual representation. Lucy studied composition and production at the Purchase Conservatory of Music and was the first female Chief Engineer that ran multiple studios on campus. While she has made music across different genres, including industrial rock, it was her introduction to the ukulele by a colleague that inspired her writing to lean into sounds of the jazz age. Lucy writes kids independent music that has won multiple awards, including her album, All the Sounds, that won a Grammy for Best Children’s Album in the 61st Grammy® Awards.

Lucy is the frontwoman and bandleader of the group Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats. In the video, you’ll see her sing and perform on the ukulele and keyboard. The Jazz Cats include Linus Wyrsch (clarinet), Larry Cook (bass), and Rich Kulsar (drums).


This video concert also features two talented young people as guest performers: Darius Kalantari (cello—and Lucy’s son!) and Alex Nam (violin). At seven years old, it is clear to all who know Darius that he has a special connection with the cello; and he has not stopped playing since he picked it up at the age of 3, except for homework and LEGOs. Alex Nam, a 16-year-old musician from Brooklyn, New York, is currently studying chamber music and conducting, and is the concertmaster of the Brooklyn Youth Music Project’s advanced orchestra. Alex is passionate about chamber music, basketball, and his dog named Kimchi.

To learn more about Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats, visit their official website,

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