Staller Center Creates Magic with the Instrument Petting Zoo

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The Instrument Petting Zoo from Staller Center introduces children to musical instruments (photo by Paul Newland).

The Instrument Petting Zoo from Staller Center introduces children to musical instruments (photo by Paul Newland).

More than 1,000 preschool children have experienced the Instrument Petting Zoo created by Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University. Educational outreach staffers, students and professional musicians have brought the Zoo to local libraries, Head Start centers and non-profit organizations so the children can see, hear and learn about the different instrument families and play those instruments with the help of Zoo staff.

“We enjoy exposing young children to musical instruments,” said Paul Newland, Staller Center outreach director. “The children light up at the chance to hold a bow, make music on a violin and press the keys on a flute. We have a wide variety of instruments, including clarinet, cello and trombone. We also expose children to rare instruments like the theramin, an electronic instrument that can be played without even touching it. Exposure to orchestral instruments in a fun, interactive way can help to build a lifelong interest in music.”

The initiative began with seed money from an anonymous donor who has continued to fund the Instrument Petting Zoo as it has gained in popularity.

“We are thrilled that the Staller Center shared this wonderful program with us,” said Sherri Glazer, principal of United Cerebral Palsy Children’s Center. “Many of our children are limited due to their disabilities, so they might not have an opportunity to go to a concert or a music program. The Staller Center brought the magic to us.”

To find out more about the Instrument Petting Zoo, email Paul.Newland@stonybrook.edu or visit the Facebook page.

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