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(May 19, 2020) Stony Brook, NY – The Staller Center for the Arts is bringing their Instrument Petting Zoo together, virtually, to connect with student musicians and young children during the age of COVID. Kids and parents can get up-close-and-personal with instruments of all kinds, right in their living room. The Instrument Petting Zoo (IPZ) typically travels to libraries, schools, and other non-profits all over Long Island. During an Instrument Petting Zoo program, children can see, listen, touch, and play instruments from around the world. This program helps inspire an appreciation of music and instruments and helps children understand classical music from an early age. The IPZ team is introducing their instruments online, through fun, educational videos, accompanied by free at-home materials to participate from home.
The Instrument Petting Zoo is one of the Staller Center’s outreach initiatives. The IPZ started in 2015 to help introduce children and families to classical music, and to reach out to underserved school districts and those districts where music and arts education has been cut or drastically reduced. Working with Stony Brook’s Department of Music, the Staller Center hires a team of graduate student musicians and trains them as instructors. During the past several years, the IPZ has reached thousands of children across Long Island. Most of the time, it is the child’s first experience with classical music and instruments.
Since its inception, the IPZ has visited nearly 5,000 students across Long Island and revisits nearly 60 non-profits and over 70 local libraries annually. The IPZ program benefits not only the young attendees and family members but provides experience for aspiring Stony Brook Music students and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) candidates. Ernesto Balarezo, a bassoonist for the IPZ, says that he loves to work with all of the children, but his favorite part so far has been working with kids with disabilities. “My experience with the IPZ is unbelievable,” Balarezo says, “it is something that is beyond my understanding as a human being, how music can touch their souls, their hearts, their minds.” James Dissinger, a trombonist for the IPZ, says, “it is really an incredible experience to work with so many young kids on long island in so many different communities and to be able to introduce them to music.”
During this age of quarantine, the Instrument Petting Zoo continues to engage and connect with children through music and art. The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at the Staller Center is also offering a variety of hands-on, at-home art activities for children and families to do, including a quilting project, a painting worksheet, and art exhibitions all available online.
Staller Center for the Arts