By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
As you may have read my recent post, there are at least 18 things you can do to introduce children to pipe organ.
Ken, Andreas and Irineo had interesting and valuable ideas for children and pipe organ. I'm re-posting their comments (in italics) to make this additional resource full of ideas (thank you all for your generosity of sharing ideas).
Hi Vidas: Love your article. But you're way to progressive for churches, and least here in US. When I was young, we weren't allowed anywhere near the organ console, let alone the organ chambers. Adults in charge think it is their
own private BMW or something similar, only adults can play it, and children will just wreck it if they get near it.
Most smaller churches here in US only have electronic organs anyway, and organists who are untrained, are poorly paid because there is no money.
And most think it is a big piano. It wasn't until I was in college in Rochester, NY at Rochester Institute of Technology, that I heard a real pipe organ, and eventually was allowed to play one. I was piano accompanist for my large high school choir, and had been playing since 3rd grade. Didn't matter much, at home.
Sorry if this reply is a bit disorganized or confused, but I think
you get the idea. The actually story is just too long.
Keep up the good work.
All the best, Ken Barta
I think it's very important for adults be generous and let the children see the organ, touch it, play (with adult supervision, of course). Otherwise the idea of pipe organ will not be accessible to them and they will miss out on the joy it provides.
Here's what Andreas wrote and warned against putting lead pipes into mouth:
1 Let them visit an organ builder facility, if not too far away. It must have been 83 or 84, perhaps 85, when our music teacher in high school organized a voluntary visit to the Schuke organ facility in Berlin (Zehlendorf). Not mandatory, but some small extra credit. You probably know the name Schuke.
2 Ask an organ builder for scrap. I bought my pedalboard and bench from an organ builder in Western Ohio that was managing an organ of a church that went bankrupt. The bench has some hollow space in it, and I was paying for shipping by volume and not by weight, I asked him if he could put some scrap pipes in it. And he did, at no extra charge, they'd have to throw them away anyway. I now have a lead pipe, a wood pipe, and a metal reed pipe. That can be fun for kids, but perhaps put some plastic or tape over the mouthpiece, as lead is poisonous. That's why I would be careful with your comment to blow a pipe, because most beginners playing the flute / recorder SUCK at the mouthpiece, some even lick it. You are supposed to "fold" your lips a bit and always keep the outer part dry and touch the mouthpiece ONLY with the dry outer lips. Never inside, never tongue -- although you use the tip of the tongue for some staccato. Don't do that with an organ pipe, the inner lips or tongue should NEVER touch the lead. Many Roman emperors died from lead poisoning, as they drank too much wine with their metal cups, not knowing yet that lead is poisonous. We are now able to ascribe many emperor deaths to lead poisoning.
3 let them watch some tubes. There is one that shows how organ pipes are made: they have a mold, and they pour liquid lead over it, let it cool, then bend it and cut it ... and you can re-use the cut-offs, as you can put them back in the melting pot ... a lot of really cool stuff on YT.
Then perhaps also include that some wood pipes may have a metal mouthpiece, or "overlay". Maybe that's not lead, I can't tell which metal it is. But the woodpipe I have has a small metal piece at the mouthpiece, so that could be touched by lips or tongues of a child.
The best would be to make some small adapter from plastic, or perhaps a
straw? Let me experiment with that. I'm sure you could find some straw or plastic flex tubing to put over the mouthpiece, so you can blow through it without touching it with lips/mouth/tongue. bamboo? coffee filter? Let me look for something, I have five junk boxes.
As you can see, my wood pipe has a metal tip. Everyone has some junk in the household. Although I don't know which metal that is, perhaps not lead, you're safe with:
1 some plastic flex tubing. I have a vacuum pump to seal food plastic bags. It has an auxiliary suction outlet, and you can take that -- it even has a pip that fits directly into the pipe's mouth piece.
2 a plastic cover from a Glade scented air container. Cut off the tip with a scissors, and fit the round opening over the mouthpiece.
3 at worst, use a toilet paper roll :)
In the end, you can simply take the metal piece out (pull, screw, ...), saw it off, or just break it off. The wood pipe is long enough, and it's scrap anyway.
You can show kids stuff like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV2T3wAvNnU (explains why the sound
depends on using lead and tin)
From that you could go into physics, math, or show comparisons: a flute/recorder is similar, in that people use their fingers to "close" the pipe to create different notes. Or the children's slide whistle, which is basically like gedackt organ pipe.
I especially like Irineo's idea to take children into organ chambers while it's being played. I might try this myself in the future but I do have to be careful about dusty environment and falling down from 2nd or 3rd levels of the organ:
Watch and listen to a professional organist play an easy/catchy tune at the organ. It shall make it easier for children to memorize the sounds they hear. For instance the Pastorale in F major BWV 590, being as sweet/soft/gentle as it is.
Listen to a professional organist improvise a sweet tune using some soft flue stops, like the Holzprinzipal or Unda Maris.
Take a few children inside the organ case while a tune is being played. It's both an acoustical as well as visual experience.
Just my 2 cents, maestro.
Greetings as usual.
Very truly yours,
Thank you, my friends for so many great insights you so generously share with our little community of organists around the world. I just hope people will be inspired to try some of them in real world situation.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.