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Lucinda Breeding

Please touch the instruments

University hosts close encounter of children, music

You wouldn’t think children would get just as excited over a musical instrument petting zoo as they do with a petting zoo of animals, but University of North Texas music professor Don Taylor said even a “honk!” on an oboe can elicit a giggle.

The fifth annual Music Instrument Petting Zoo invites local families to the campus where they’ll meet an orchestra and then test out the instruments.

“It’s very playful, very laid-back,” Taylor said. “Our goal is very oriented toward parents and children just having a good time seeing the instruments and playing them for the first time. It’s funny, because when I ask the children what their favorite instrument was at the petting zoo, a lot of them said, ‘Well, I liked all of them.’”

The petting zoo, sponsored by Pender’s Music Co., starts with a concert by some of the College of Music’s best graduate students. Volunteers will guide families through the petting zoo sections, where elementary school-age children have a chance to look at, handle and play instruments. The sections will represent the sections of an orchestra: strings, winds, brass and percussion.

Members of the North Texas Student Music Educators volunteer at the petting zoo, directing folks through the building and helping children test out instruments.

“I didn’t touch a musical instrument until I was in seventh grade,” said Joey Lewis, a junior music education student. Lewis’ principal instrument is the clarinet.

“It was intimidating,” he said. “I had to gain a lot of ground faster than the students who had been playing from a younger age.”

Marissa Louthan, a junior and president of the student educators group, said the petting zoo could urge the students to consider taking band or orchestra classes in middle school, or joining the Denton school district’s string program while they’re still in elementary school.

“I think it’s the firsthand experience that can really get them thinking about music and playing an instrument,” she said.

— Lucinda Breeding


•  What: A concert and introduction to orchestral instruments for second- through fifth-graders

•  When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday

•  Where: Recital Hall in the UNT Music Building, at the corner of Avenue C and Chestnut Street

•  Details: Free, but registration is required. Register online at All children must be accompanied by an adult.