Great State: Introducing New Horns at OCU’s Annual Petting Zoo

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- If this was all there was.

If all these grade school kids got to do on their field trip was listen to a band concert you might hear a few of them talk about it later, but that's all.

Oklahoma City University Band Director Mathew Mailman has known for a long time that his group needed to do a little more than just play to truly inspire.

As a college kid himself, he helped out with something called an 'instrument petting zoo'.

For the past 14 years he's had a zoo of his own.

"Not only are we hoping to create new musicians," says Mailman, "but hoping to create new consumers of music and art as well."

There are more than 200 3rd and 4th grade kids in this big room on campus.

Matt brought in some extra instruments and a few borrowed from a local supplier.

After sanitizing each horn, his students gave quick lessons on how to blow through one end and make sound come out the other.

"It's kind of cool when you blow it," says one 4th grade boy after trying a trumpet for the first time.

"I like clarinet," adds another student.

"I like either the flute or clarinet," adds a third.

Flutist Abigail Miller remembers herself as a 3rd grader.

Her grandparents were both band directors, but she had her own reasons for choosing what instrument to play.

She says, "I liked the flute because it was the smallest and shiniest."

Some of the visitors to this petting zoo will go on to play an instrument.

A few will stick with it.

The very best may even join the OCU Wind Philharmonic.

All music arises from such humble beginnings.

The annual OCU Instrument Petting Zoo brings in more than 800 children from Edmond and Oklahoma City each year.

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