Music Education Outreach
McGowen Elementary School, McKinney, Texas
April 6th 2009

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Article by: Kenneth Brown

On April 6 using the traveling organ, the chapter held another theatre organ demonstration at the McGowen Elementary School in McKinney, Texas. There were approximately 100 students and their teachers in the audience. With Mike Tarzis and Al Cavitt sharing host and organ playing duties, they put on quite an interactive program with the students. The feature we added in this program was to show a talkie cartoon about 7 minutes long but with the sound turned off. Then Mike accompanied the film on the traveling organ to demonstrate how silent films were shown with organ providing the music. The students' faces, as well as their teachers, were rapt in attention. After the film additional information was presented on how to accompany films.
Then we had some of the students come up to play. All the students that played were piano students. We observed an interesting phenomenon. When the children tried to play the organ with organ stops on, they were very hesitant or tentative. So---we then started them off with just the piano stop. This sound was familiar to them and they had no hesitation. As they played we gradually added in various organ voices. You could see their eyes widen as they got the idea. All in all it was a very successful program for both the school and the chapter. We have been invited back for next year.
A final comment. During the past year I have documented the activities and progress of our chapter as a reporter would do. This time, with my report on our program presented at the McGowen School, I have an observation to add. As I was standing there in the gym with the students, their rapt attention and involvement in the program demonstrated to me that this is where part of the future of the theatre organ lies. The more exposure we can provide to our children of the beauty and fun in the theatre organ genre the more interest we can create. Hopefully, with our encouragement, a few from each year will become interested enough to find out more about this curious American instrument - the Theatre Organ!

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McGowen Elementary School student
(Photo by: Kenneth Brown)
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