Today the Organ Fund group and other helpers from the Parish ran our very first Pipe Organ Education Day. This one was specifically aimed at the Year 5 and 6 children of St Mary & St Giles Junior CE School.
There was a dual purpose to the day:
Firstly we wanted to give the children the opportunity to see inside the organ and learn more about it, as most of them, when coming to termly services in the church, were only aware of the organ as something that their Deputy Headteacher played and it looked like two rows of white pipes! (the facade is very dull).
Secondly, we need a logo for the Organ Fundraising appeal, and what better way to get one than to enlist the help of creative local children.
So we set them a challenge: to learn all they could in the space of 55 minutes about the organ in our church, and then to return to school and design logos in their Art Classes during the next week. We told them there will be a prize for each class (4 classes) and that the winning logo would be chosen from the four winning logos from each class.
The first class of Year 6 children arrived at 9.00 am and showed great interest in the organ. To a certain extent we were feeling our way with them, as they were the first to arrive, but despite that the session went very well. We had provided three activities and they rotated around each of the three, so didn't miss out. Mr King and Mr Page introduced one group to the workings of the keyboards and stops of the console, and also demonstrated the swell shutters opening and closing. Mr Storer, Mrs Salter, Dr Evans, Mrs Kidd and Mrs Page showed them the blower fan, reservoir, actions and pipes. Mr Storer had taken some of the facade pipes out from in front of the Great and Choir sections so they could look into the organ chamber without having to go in. The third activity was the University of Bradford online video of Dan and the Magic Musician, which basically introduces the child to the concept of the King of Instruments in a fun and engaging way. Mr Scrutton had set this up in the vestry, and after they had seen the video they got the chance to blow some flute pipes, then had the important task of ringing the bell to indicate that changeover time had arrived.
The Headteacher Mr Morgan arrived with the next Year 6 class, and went round with one of the groups. This lucky group had the fun of watching him blow a flute pipe, which caused some amusement. The first Year 5 class arrived next and were full of questions about the organ. We then had a well earned break for lunch before returning to the Church for the second Year 5 class. They were also full of good questions, however fortunately because of the mix of adults involved in running the day (including two organ builders) we were able to answer all the questions the children posed.
One of the nice things about the day was watching the reactions of Teachers and Teaching Assistants to seeing inside the organ - it opened their eyes too. We had already planned that we will do future Pipe Organ Education Days, but this was confirmation that indeed it would be appreciated by adults and children alike, so watch this space for details in due course.
The photographs on this posting necessarily show mainly back views of the children, as some parents prefer that their children's faces are not published on the internet. However despite that, I think you can see the level of interest and engagement on the part of the children, and Mr Storer, Mrs Salter, Mr Page, Mr King, Mr Scrutton, Dr Evans, Mrs Lovesey, Mrs Kidd and Mrs Page all enjoyed the day too!