A few years ago, Karl Bachman of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists took visiting organist Nathan Laube to dinner in a local Honolulu restaurant. When the waiter asked why he was here, Nathan answered that he was here to play a concert on the pipe organ. You got it, the waiter had no clue what a pipe organ is.
And I don’t how many people have walked into the nave of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu and said to me, “That’s a big piano!” (No, that’s a pipe organ!)
All of which means that our work is cut out for us to educate people on what our instrument is, not to mention to getting more people to study the organ. So, drum roll, please!
I am so excited to announce that Orgelkids is coming to Hawaii!
What is Orgelkids, you may ask? I know that “Orgel” is the German word for “organ.” Shouldn’t that be, “What are Orgelkids?” Actually not.
Orgelkids is an educational pipe organ curriculum and kit dreamed up by Dutch organist Lydia Vroegindeweij. Lydia enlisted the help of organ builder Wim Janssen to build the first Orgelkids kit. With Orgelkids, young children are empowered to assemble a working two rank, 2-octave pipe organ in under an hour. Orgelkids can be deployed to schools, music festivals, Maker Faires, museums, bringing the King of Instruments to children.
A couple of years ago, I watched the following video (in Dutch with English titles)
And my first thought was, we need an Orgelkids kit here in Hawaii! With the support of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists, the Executive Board signed a contract to purchase a kit. The cost is $6,000 plus shipping and the cost of a shipping storage crate. Just today, we received an email from Erin Scheessele, the Executive Director of Orgelkids USA, who sent us the first picture of the Hawaii instrument! It is being built by Terry Lambert and Christo Fralick, located in Eugene, OR. They both worked many years with John Brombaugh as members of his organbuilding firm. Chris was John’s workshop foreman for over 12 years.
We hope to get donations and grants to help us take this kit all over the major Hawaiian islands, to introduce more children to the wonderful world of the pipe organ—just like the kids in this video.
As stated on the Orgelkids USA website:
- is designed to capture interest at a younger age than AGO’s existing programs. Orgelkids can be used with kindergarten groups on up.
- lowers the threshold for participation: Orgelkids has no requirements for its audience beyond curiosity.
- is mobile. It comes to the audience rather than vice versa. Orgelkids can be shared at Maker Faires, music festivals, science and engineering festivals, and museums.
- can integrate with the existing programs
- is hands-on and appeals to both musicians and builders. Orgelkids captures the zeitgeist of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), DIY (Do It Yourself) and Maker movements.
Stay tuned—we’ll let you know when our Orgelkids arrives!