The Instrumental Petting Zoo: Spit!

Photo Credit Anyjazz65

This is the third post in a mini series regarding the concept of an instrumental petting zoo.  In previous posts, I discussed the concept of the petting zoo as well as how to select and find instruments.

One of the most vital concepts to the success of the petting zoo is sanitation.  With so many sicknesses and diseases spreading, your petting zoo will be shut down if the parents are not convinced that the zoo is being handled in the most sanitary means possible.  To that end, Jana recommends that you have the following supplies:

  1. Paper Towels
  2. Rubber Gloves
  3. Hand Sanitizer
  4. Disinfectant spray
  5. Sterisol Germicide Concentrate

Multiple bottles of hand sanitizer should be placed at every station and all volunteers should wear rubber gloves and either change gloves between each child or put hand sanitizer over the gloves.  The most important sections to disinfect are the brass and woodwind sections as the spit lends itself to a higher risk of germs.  For the brass instruments and bodies of the woodwind instruments, liberally spray disinfectant spray onto the paper towels and wipe them down gently.  You can reuse reeds for the woodwind instruments, however they must be soaked in a concentrate of Sterisol for about twenty minutes before they can be used again.  Jana warns the kids prior to the start of the event not to grab anything as they might grab something that has not been disinfected.  They must wait until a volunteer hands it to them.


The Instrumental Petting Zoo

Photo Credit Anton Broberg Holm
Photo Credit Anton Broberg Holm

A few weeks ago we had a guest speaker at The Master’s College, Jana Gruss, who introduced us to the concept of an instrumental “petting zoo”.  While the idea seems somewhat far fetched, Jana shared how instrumental (pardon the pun) the idea has been in exposing children to music and recruiting them into bands and orchestras throughout the schools.  As music leaders, we should be the Pied Piper of music to others, sharing the passion we have for our craft and drawing others to it.  I hope to use the next few posts to share this wonderful idea:

The key idea behind the instrumental petting zoo is getting the children to discover the sound they love the most.  Are they a blower or a non-blower?  Do they like the soft, flute-like sound or the loud, brassy sound?What feels most comfortable to them?  There is no right answer to these questions and every child will be different in their preference.  It is important not to pressure them toward one instrument or another, but to let them choose an instrument and sound that they can fall in love with and enjoy playing for years to come.


The Instrumental Petting Zoo: Tips and Tricks

Photo Credit Rachel

This is the conclusion of a mini series on the Instrumental Petting Zoo.  In previous posts, I shared the concept of the petting zoo, how to select and find instruments, and tips for dealing with spit and cleanliness.  At the end of Jana Gruss’s presentation, she called up several volunteers to demonstrate how to teach the kids to play the various instruments. I thought I would conclude this mini series by sharing some of her ideas.

It is important to remember that the main goal of the petting zoo is to expose the children to the various instruments and help them pick the sound and feel that they like best.  To that end, it is very important that the kids are able to make decent sounds as quickly as possible.  Too many failures will cause them to become easily frustrated.  Jana also recommends using silly phrases and terms to describe how to hold or play the instruments.  This keeps the event light-hearted and makes it a fun experience for the children.  I have included some of these expressions below.