The Eagle Has Landed

by John Riggio

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. On July 20, 1969, the lunar module touched down on the moon, and Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, uttered the now famous words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." It's difficult to quantify the momentousness of that occasion.

This song commemorates that historic event. The dramatic setting, intensity, and grandeur of it are as you might expect, given the subject matter. Nonetheless, most of the piece is sung in unison, though there are a few optional divisis, including the 3-part division of the last note. You may consider the range a little challenging for some of your singers as it goes from low A to high D. But as always, we feel that letting your kids sing along with ours on the recording will make it easier and certainly quicker to learn. (At 47 a suggested optional E is written for the low A if you prefer to use it.) You'll also note that the song is nearly four minutes in length, but again, we're singing about something mind-bogglingly huge, so that length seems not just natural, but necessary.

Make sure your singers enunciate clearly to tell the story for those listening. To further enhance the tale, use posters, photographs, slide shows, or other graphic representations with images of the moon, Apollo 11, the lunar module, the astronauts, the earth as seen from the moon, the footprints, the flag, and so on.

Across the curriculum: One giant leap for mankind

As you teach this song (sharing it with the classroom teacher, of course), try to impress upon your students what an amazing accomplishment the first moon landing was. No one had ever done it before. Technology was severely limited compared to today. (Your smartphone is far more powerful than the Apollo guidance computer.) There were challenges to overcome, from fuel consumption to battery life to orbital mechanics. Yet somehow they made it there. They succeeded against the odds. Upon stepping on the surface, Buzz Aldrin called the surface of the moon "magnificent desolation."

As of this writing, we haven't been back to the moon since 1972, but perhaps we will go there again, and maybe to even more distant worlds, like Mars.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.