This morning began early with a Dean’s meeting at 7:00 am, and although I’m not the Dean of the Hawaii American Guild of Organists, I was sent by the chapter to represent them since I am the only person from Hawaii at this Region IX Convention. It seems that getting young people interested in the organ is a universal challenge and I was very interested to hear what the other chapters are doing in this regard.
It’s not too difficult to notice that the majority of organists at this convention are, let me say, in the mature years. In fact, the Dean of the host Bakersfield chapter said, “We have 25 members in our chapter and we are OLD. I’m 78 years old and I think I may be one of the youngest members!”
So this morning I was very glad to attend a lecture-demonstration by Robert Ampt and his wife, Amy Johansen (who by the way, is the sister of Jane Johansen, a former organist of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.) The concert was called “Introduction to the Organ for Children” and there were perhaps 30-40 children of all ages in attendance. By all accounts, it was very entertaining and informative. Mr. Ampt was the narrator and with his wife at the organ, they “hammed it up” with a fast-paced program of music. One thing I learned was that they didn’t play complete pieces of music, only excerpts. The program included snatches of the famous “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” (Bach); “Rex: The King of Instruments” (Daniel Burton); “She’ll be coming round the mountain” (Ampt); “The Football Song” (Ampt); and a piece for four hands and four feet “Niagara” by Louis Godard where everyone was invited to clap along with the music.
All the children lined up afterwards to get a chance to play the “Monster Organ,” and each one got exactly 15 seconds to sit at the “cockpit.” It’s given me lots of ideas I’ll be happy to share with my colleagues in Honolulu. By the way, Robert and Amy will be in Honolulu the week that I return, and I’ll hope to get a chance to talk to them further.