Virtual Outreach in the School of Music

Kayla Modlin, Higday Mozart Outreach Graduate Assistant

The Paul D. Higday Mozart Trust was established by its namesake “to make the pleasure of music and in particular the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart more readily available to the general public in the city of Columbia, MO and the surrounding areas.” In Spring 2011, the directors of the trust, seeking to expand the reach of Mr. Higday’s legacy, contacted then-director, Dr. Robert Shay, to propose an assistantship that would fulfill and expand the mission of the trust. The talks led to the launch of the Higday Mozart Outreach Concert Series, which brings classical musical performances by MU students to young audiences throughout the Columbia area.

Outreach for the 2020-2021 academic year was much different than in past years due to the pandemic. With the help of student volunteers, we were able to complete 9 virtual outreach events in addition to creating a virtual instrument petting zoo video.

Teachers were paired with an MU music student based on information they provided about their class. The MU volunteers took responsibility in contacting the teachers, scheduling their own meeting times, and figuring out what would make a good performance for each particular classroom. After the performance, the volunteer joined the class via Zoom. This way the classroom still had the opportunity to learn from and engage with the volunteer and ask as many questions as they liked. Students from the vocal, string, and wind departments were able to connect with classrooms across the state and encourage students with music, despite the distance.

Graduate student, Andrew Wiele, performed for two of Eileen Sharp’s music classes at Rock Bridge Elementary School in the fall. Sharp said that her students greatly enjoyed the performance and appreciated the chance to talk with Andrew afterward.

Even without meeting in person we were able to continue our Instrument Petting Zoo for a second year – this time in video format. Student volunteers across all academic levels submitted short clips of themselves demonstrating their respective instruments, which were combined into one long video of approximately 45 minutes. With their help, a variety of instruments across the brass, woodwind, percussion, and string families were included, along with different styles of music associated with those instruments. The video was published on the School of Music’s YouTube channel and was sent to all K-12 music educators in Missouri. By providing the petting zoo publicly for free, it can reach any interested viewer, not just classrooms, and it is available without the hassle of scheduling.

Higday petting zoo

If you would like more information about booking an outreach event for your school during the 2021-2022 school year visit the Higday website or email


Higday & Mizzou Instrument Petting Zoo
Higday cover photo