The WSS Instrument Petting Zoo!

Thank you so much for your interest in our Instrument Petting Zoo! We are no longer accepting Instrument Petting Zoo requests for Spring 2019. Please email if you would like to be placed on the waiting list for next year.

The Winston-Salem Symphony’s exciting Instrument Petting Zoo travels to area classrooms, community events and WS Symphony performances to give both children and adults the opportunity to see and hear the different instruments of the orchestra—up close and personal!

Children playing trumpet at the Instrument Petting Zoo, supported by Music & Arts

Classroom Zoo

The Instrument Petting Zoo is available for Forsyth County classroom visits during the school year. Fifth grade students have priority over others as they will soon be registering for middle school music classes. Outside of Forsyth County? Never fear! You can request our Rent-A-Zoo Program! Keep scrolling to learn more.

Zoo visits will be filled in the order requested using the form below, with no request considered less than two weeks prior to the Zoo date. A maximum of two 30-minute sections may be held during one visit, with each section ideally consisting of no more than 25 students. 10 minute breaks must be allotted between each session.


How It Works:

  1. Groupings
    A classroom of students (no more than 25) will be divided by the teacher into 5 groups by color. Students are to sit in front of the station which corresponds to their color.

    • First table—Strings (Blue #1)
    • Second table—Woodwinds
    • Third table—Percussion (Green #3)
    • Fourth table—Brass (Yellow #4)
    • Fifth table—Activities (Black #5)
  2. Introduction
    WSS volunteers will give a general introduction (5 Minutes) to the entire class about general safety, etiquette, how to rotate from station to station, an overview of the instrument families and play a few notes to familiarize students with instrument sounds.
  3. Instrument Stations
    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 WSS volunteer. The 5th station will have a different activity to alleviate over-crowdedness at other stations and provide an additional learning experience. Students will be given sheets in which they can check off which instruments are a best fit for them based on the ease in which they were able to create a sound.
  4. Timing
    If total class time is 30 minutes, students will have 4-5 minutes at each of the five stations. If total class time is 40-45 minutes, students will have approximately 6-7 minutes at each of the five stations. With larger classes, the longer zoo is beneficial, but in general, thirty minutes is sufficient. A timer will be used to help with the rotation. Once the timer goes off, students are to move to the next station.
The school will need to provide…

  • Five 6 foot tables
  • 6 Chairs
  • 1-2 Additional Volunteers
  • At least one staff member who must be present at all times.


An aspiring trombonist at the zoo.

“I am thrilled that EVERY Jefferson Elementary School student who participated in the WSS Petting Zoo correctly identified the four families of symphonic instruments on the listening portion of the WSFCS Music EOG!! Thank you WSS!!”

—Rene Williams
Music Teacher, Jefferson Elementary School

Community Zoo

The instrument petting zoo is also available for festivals, afterschool programs or other community events and happenings! Children and adults may come explore any instrument of their interests with help from our volunteers in an atmosphere that is less structured that that of a classroom visit. Those who wish to schedule a petting zoo visit to a local community event must complete the form below, and are expected to provide the same items/staff/volunteer needs as that of a school visit.

Did you know you can also RENT the Zoo? See our rental agreement with à la carte options to learn more.

Goals and Outcomes

The goal of the WSS Instrument Petting Zoo is to encourage participants to view themselves as having the potential to play musical instruments

  • by allowing young people to handle and produce sounds on orchestra instruments
  • by hearing recorded excerpts of instruments
  • by using the preparation and follow-up materials and special activities for deeper understanding.

Letter of Agreement/Education Packet

Schools, organizations, teachers will receive a letter of agreement stating what can be expected from the instrument petting zoo visit as well as what is expected of them in this process. This may include expectations of space, temperature, adult supervision and more. Additionally participants may receive a packet of educational resources and activities to accompany the petting zoo experience.

How will they know what to do?

Never fear, the Instrument Petting Zoo is supervised by well-trained and qualified Winston-Salem Symphony volunteers. Many of these volunteers are qualified musicians or educators who love music and enjoy working with kids. They will guide your students/participants in the right direction. Coordination of the instrument petting zoo is facilitated by a volunteer petting zoo coordinator and transportation is thanks to designated volunteer “Haulers.”

Volunteer Availability

Because the instrument petting zoo is 100% facilitated by volunteers, scheduled visits will be dependent on volunteer availability for requested visit date. If volunteers are unavailable, we will do our best to find an alternate date and time that works well for everyone.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of all participants is a priority of the Winston-Salem Symphony. The possible transmission of communicable diseases is an ongoing concern. To ensure consistency in the methods used to sanitize, disinfect musical instruments and prevent the transmission of those diseases, all volunteers are trained to properly sanitize all instrument mouthpieces, reeds and other equipment between uses. You can view our cleaning procedures here, used by WSS volunteers and staff in DISINFECTING and SANITIZING musical instruments.

How’d We Do?

We’d love to hear your feedback about your petting zoo experience using the surveys located below:

Community Petting Zoo Evaluation
School Petting Zoo evaluation
Volunteer Satisfaction Evaluation

You can help us with grant writing by also sending a copy of your school newsletter that mentions the Zoo, sending student “thank you” notes, or sending a few great examples of your students Zoo worksheets!

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This project was supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

The Winston-Salem Symphony receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Educational initiatives made possible with funding by Wells Fargo, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and The Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Schools.