Our Tucson Bookmans locations hosted the Civic Orchestra of Tucson as part of our Summer Kids Events series. They offer a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to try out real orchestra instruments including horns, trumpets, violins basses and xylophones during their very hands on demonstrations. When they unleashed all the excited kids on their instrument petting zoo it was like, well like feeding time at the zoo.

civic orchestra of tucson

Formed in 1975 The Civic Orchestra of Tucson offers local musicians the chance to play live with a full symphony orchestra. “Bookmans is about second chances and so is the Civic Orchestra,” says member and general manager Bob Kovitz. This 60 member volunteer orchestra welcomes both professional musicians as well as musicians with a “day job” in their preforming orchestra. Find them online for a schedule of their free performances for the 2015-2016 season.

Summer Kids Events and Civic Orchestra of Tucson

We asked Bob how the petting zoo program began. He explains, “35 years ago we started the Young Artists Competition for kids as young as 7 or 8 up to high school to play in front of judges and win cash prizes. They were also offered solos in the Civic Orchestra.” Wanting to involve kids even younger, they expanded their involvement to offer the Instrument Petting Zoo at parties and local events. “Kids hear ‘don’t touch’ so often we wanted to offer the opposite, ‘please touch.'” This idea in practice leads to rooms full of happy kids boldly trying out instruments that are sometimes bigger than they are.


While the kids enjoyed playing the instruments, their parents proudly watched. “She is so brave!” exclaimed one parent. “I don’t know if I could play that thing.” The kids were more than willing to try.