I had the wonderful opportunity during my time at the University of Missouri to conceptualized, implement, and secured funds for the largest Instrument Petting Zoo I have done to date! The Higday + Mizzou Instrument Petting Zoo is made possible through the combined efforts of the University of Missouri School of Music and The Paul D. Higday Mozart Trust. In its first year, the Zoo reached over +4,600 children and their families!
What is an Instrument Petting Zoo?
Orchestras and Universities sometimes offer a wonderful program called an instrument petting zoo (such as The University of Missouri’s The Higday + Mizzou Instrument Petting Zoo). These programs feature hands-on experiences with real instruments from the orchestra! From bassoons and trumpets to violins and xylophones, they’ve got it all!
What is it? It is an hour-long event that is able to travel around the community to introduce children to the various instruments of the orchestra. The goal is to provide the youth of the community the opportunities to experience live music by giving as many students as possible hands-on experience to play and try musical instruments in a supervised environment and potentially incorporate it into their lives. Why call it a petting zoo? Even though no real animals are involved, the Instrument Petting Zoo still lets children and parents alike touch and play musical instruments in a low stress and fun environment. With so many new instruments, it can seem like a zoo! Where is it? The Zoo is held at schools, typically in their gymnasium, auditorium, or multiple classrooms depending on what is available. Sometimes you can find it at special events in town like the local farmers markets on weekends! Who are we? The Team is generally made of volunteer musicians and educators from the local community and universities. The people we impact: A typical event will reach out to 30-100 students at a time, depending on the size of the auditorium or classroom. Even teachers and parents can enjoy the zoo! Instruments will be set up at stations (sorted by instrument family) with volunteers to instruct, demonstrate, and supervise.