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Third-Graders Build a Model Pipe Organ
Who doesn't love the sound of a pipe organ?? Thanks to the Corvallis-based nonprofit Orgelkids USA, 200 third-graders at Two Rivers-Dos Ríos Elementary School are the first students in the western hemisphere to build their own classroom-sized version this week!
Two Rivers-Dos Ríos music teacher Dana Mahoney recently received a two-year grant from the Lane County Cultural Coalition, with help from the Springfield Education Foundation, to bring the Netherlands-based Orgelkids organization (Orgelkids translates to "pipe organs for children") to her classroom. Students used a kit created by the group for this purpose to assemble a working, two-octave pipe organ in class, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills while learning about the noble pipe organ. Volunteers from the Eugene Chapter of the American Guild of Organists were also on hand to assist. The experience will be followed by a field trip to UO's Beall Concert Hall in mid-January where they will be treated to a private demonstration and mini-concert, then a trip to see and hear the magnificent pipe organ in Eugene's United Methodist Church.
"It was a fun group today," said Erin Scheessele, executive director of Orgelkids USA, after the first day of assembly. "The Frame Team was as excited as I was to use carpentry techniques going back 7,000 years (tusk tenon joints)."
The Eugene connection: From 1977 to 2005 Eugene was home to world class organ-building firm Brombaugh and Associates, Inc., which built pipe organs found internationally from Japan to Sweden, in colleges and universities such as Duke University and Oberlin, as well as locally (Eugene's Central Lutheran Church, frequently featured during the Oregon Bach Festival). When Brombaugh retired in 2005, however, his workshop shut down, and his craftsmen, for the most part, dispersed.
Recently, two of the remaining organ-builders from the Brombaugh workshop have begun to ply their trade once more, building educational kits designed in the Netherlands to serve as a pilot program for the entire United States aimed at reviving interest in the craft.
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For more information about Orgelkids, including photos and videos, visit OrgelkidsUSA.org.