Instrument Petting Zoo

Safari through the sounds of the Symphony!

Interested in requesting the Instrument Petting Zoo? Here’s what you need to know!

Zoo visits are filled in the order requested using the form below. Please note that a request must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the Zoo date to be considered. The IPZ is available for schools, after school programs, community groups, community festivals, or other organizations and can be customized to fit your organization’s desires.


Classroom Zoo

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The Modesto Symphony Orchestra Instrument Petting Zoo classroom program is a great way to introduce third through fifth grade students to the different instrument families and provide potential future musicians the opportunity to test out instruments. The classroom program lasts about 45 minutes and an organization may schedule 3 presentations at one site with 10 minute breaks in between each. We recommend no more than 30 students per presentation. Classroom zoos are only offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Our safari will begin with MSO staff members giving a general introduction to the entire class about safety, etiquette, how to rotate from station to station, an overview of the instrument families, and playing a few notes to familiarize students with instrument sounds.

Instrument Stations

Students will be divided into five groups prior to the IPZ introduction (preferably before the MSO staff arrives). Each group will rotate to five stations set up around the room. Four stations, made up of each instrument family, will have instruments that the students may hold and play with the assistance of the MSO staff and/or classroom teacher and/or volunteer. The fifth station will have a musical activity to avoid over-crowdedness at the other stations. When students hear the timer go off, they will rotate to the next station.


After the final rotation students will return to one group and sit in the “center” of the classroom. The group will collectively discuss their favorite instruments, which was easiest or hardest to play, etc., before being encouraged to join their school band or orchestra programs. The music/band/orchestra teacher may speak about their programs during this time as well.

For a Classroom Zoo organizations must:

  • Provide a large, open space (such as a gym or cafeteria) where students can move around easily.

  • Provide five long tables for instruments/ activities.

  • Provide at least one staff member who will escort MSO personnel to the presentation area and must be present at all times. It is very useful if a music teacher is available to help with instrument demonstrations.

  • Provide additional volunteers, if available, to help guide the students from one station to the next.

  • Make sure that the administrator is aware of the Instrument Petting Zoo visit and no assemblies or school events will conflict with selected presentation times.


Community Zoo

The MSO’s Instrument Petting Zoo is also available for festivals and other community events! The community zoo is less structured than a classroom zoo and provides kids and adults the opportunity to explore any instrument of their interest with the help from MSO staff and volunteers.  For community events, the MSO will provide a pop up tent. Please note that community events must be at least 2 hours.

For a Community Zoo, event coordinators must provide:

  • Two or three long tables for instruments

  • Two or more chairs

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra’s Instrument Petting Zoo is sponsored by MOCSE Federal Credit Union.