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24 February 2019

Instrument Petting Zoo at Smilie Memorial Elementary School 2/22/19

Thanks to the staff and students at the Smilie Memorial Elementary School in Bolton for hosting the instrument petting zoo on Friday, February 22.  Somewhere between 80 and 100 children had the chance to be inspired with and learn about how instruments are used in traditional music and dance.  And thanks to Yasi and Oli Zeichner for helping Mark with zoo keeping and presenting.

We experimented with a bit of a format for this installation.  In roughly half hour segments we took 10 minutes to talk about and introduce each instrument, and each type of instrument (physical features, some history, how to hold and play, etc.).  Then the children got to interact with instruments for about 10 minutes guided by the zookeepers. And we finished up with a song that everyone learned together and played with on the instrument of their choice. For the second time through the song, they switch/switched instruments with someone next to them.

The petting zoo is a labor of love, but it is definitely a lot of labor. It needs to be picked up when it’s convenient at Integrated arts Academy, where the instruments are stored, often on a day other than the date of the actual installation.  Then it needs to be driven to wherever the installation is, unloaded, positioned, tuned.  After the installation everything gets packed up, identified as for repairs/adjustments, loaded into a vehicle, and arrangements made to drive it back to storage and shelved at Integrated Arts Academy, usually the end of the next school day.

Interested in getting involved with the petting zoo?  We’d love to have you:))