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Instrument Petting Zoo

The Instrument Petting Zoo (IPZ) is a collection of instruments that are installed at public and private schools, farmer’s markets, festivals, parks and recreation programs, music camps, and special events with the express purpose of letting young people play them: the sign says ‘please touch the instruments!’

Instruments can often be the keys that help open doors to the world of traditional music and dance for children, which is at the heart of what YTV is about. The Instrument Petting Zoo is designed to facilitate the discovery of instruments, the music they can make, and the movement that goes with the music.

YTV has an Instrument Petting Zoo to help ensure that children have opportunities at schools, libraries and community events to see and hear instruments used in traditional music and dance, to learn about and listen to them, and to interact with and try them out. We also believe that children in hospitals, orphanages, residential schools and other institutional settings should have the same access and opportunities.

YTV started by operating a fiddle loan program, a collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center and instrument donations from Judy Allan/the Leslie A. and Harold E. Greene Fiddle Loan Program. After establishing the loan program, we continued to receive instrument donations, not just fiddles. With inspiration, coaching and encouragement from Todd Crowley, founder and director of ‘Todd’s Instrument Petting Zoo’ and installations at Trad Camp, YTV established an Instrument Petting Zoo of its own.

The Instrument Petting Zoo includes a wide variety of traditional acoustic instruments: mostly stringed instruments like fiddles, ukuleles, guitars, banjos, mandolins, autoharps, cellos, basses, etc. but also drums, kazoos, maracas, recorders, thumb pianos, tin whistles, and more. Many of the instruments come with a story that we share during installations of the Instrument Petting Zoo.

‘The 3 fiddles from the Wrenner Family are well-loved student instruments. Rylee, now an accomplished classical violinist as well as fiddler, worked her way through several practice instruments….. She moved on to bigger and better instruments and these donated instruments are happy to make their home in the Instrument Petting Zoo where other little fiddlers can learn to play them.’

If you would like to host an Instrument Petting Zoo installation at an event, have acoustic instruments in playable condition that you would consider donating, or would like to find out about volunteering as a zoo-keeper, contact Mark Sustic.

The Instrument Petting Zoo is supported by many individuals, families and organizations – those who donate and maintain the instruments, the Mockingbird Foundation, Randolin Instruments, Vermont Violins, Vermont Folklife Center, the Leslie A. and Harold E. Greene Fiddle Loan Program, Bean’s Violins, the Integrated Arts Academy, installation sponsors and volunteers, and many others.