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.

An instrumental petting zoo is probably the most intentional and fun way of connecting kids to an instrument of the orchestra and I can personally testify to its effectiveness.  Through a series of petting zoos that Jana used to run through my church, Grace Baptist, my younger sister Emily fell in love with the flute.  She began bartering babysitting for flute lessons and now plays in the Grace Baptist Church Praise Orchestra.  Emily also intends to continue her flute studies at The Master’s College in the near future.

I am so excited about this concept and am looking forward to sharing more about how to run a petting zoo in future posts.

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