Music is an artistic bridge to success in science and mathematics. Students who study music are known to perform better in STEM subjects. They put the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math/Music/More) in STEM! Indeed, performance in all subject areas is improved. Our unique programs inspire kids to explore the science and art linkage that the pipe organ exemplifies.

Pedals, Pipes & Peals

FREO sponsored its inaugural education program in 2017. The program, called “Pedals, Pipes & Peals,” is a summer musical experience for students grades 1-8. Young people discover music and performance through various instruments through the lens of the monumental Erben pipe organ.

This year we invite kids in grades 1-8 to build a pipe organ with us for Make Music Day on Monday, June 21, 2021 at 5:30 pm

> Free Family Registration Here

See Photos from Pedals, Pipes & Peals 2019

See Photos from Virtual Organ Lesson and Tour 2020

Activities can include English handbells and chimes, violin lessons, keyboard instruction, as well as creative arts projects and interactive science workshops. Kids even construct their own small mechanical pipe organ! This project takes the apartment-size components of the Erben and creates a hands-on, minds-on activity for students. The program concludes with a festive student performance and reception for the whole community.

Pedals, Pipes & Peals 2019 camper Alyssa Cheatham on her summer music experience listening to the 1868 Henry Erben pipe organ at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Soho, NYC. In the background is the Orgelkids USA working pipe organ that the children build during camp. This tracker organ works on the same principle as the historic Erben organ, with mechanical connection between keys and pipes, and hand-pumped bellows.

Participants in the 2018 Pedals, Pipes and Peals organ camp are building an Orgelkids pipe organ

Participants explore various principles of sound production, with the “King of Instruments” as the laboratory. The kids are able to walk inside the Erben organ as Jared plays to see all of the mechanisms that allow the organ to speak: bellows, pipes of different shapes and materials, stops, keys, pedals, and more. They learn how the organ breathes and replicates the sounds of orchestral instruments, while appreciating it as a NYC-made historical and technological artifact, dating from a time before the invention of recorded sound.

FREO camp participants help Jared pull stops on the 1868 Henry Erben organ

FREO was excited to offer this unique educational program again in 2019, and expanded it to kids entering grades 1 though 8. Due to popular demand, Jared gave more opportunities for students to pull stops and play the organ itself!
See photos from the 2019 camp here.

Building upon our success in the past three years, the 2020 camp is sponsored in part by public funds from the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development in partnership with the City Council (Margaret Chin, Council Member). The camp is open to all and scholarships are available. Please email us at [email protected] for more information.

Charles and Catherine Scorsese Music Camp Scholarships

For his support of the Friends of the Erben Organ, on the eve of his 76th birthday, FREO presented Martin Scorsese with an award in the name of his loving parents. The scholarships enable children of diverse backgrounds from around the city to experience the beauty of this 150-year-old New York masterpiece, the 1868 Henry Erben organ, and discover the music within them. FREO is extremely grateful for his generosity in agreeing to be our Honorary Chair and assist our fundraising efforts.


Tens of thousands of people every year get up close to encounter the Erben, an functional art object that only NYC could make. If you are interested in taking a tour of the catacombs by candlelight as well as the Erben organ, contact Tommy’s New York Tours.
Other tours, learning programs, and performances take place throughout the year. Check out our News & Events for more information and join our Facebook page to find more events.

The Orgelkids kit pipe organ is used in our camp and for year-long education opportunities.

Erben Field Trip

Part of our outreach is teaching people, both young and old, about the pipe organ. The pipe organ’s history of over 2,000 years of technical and artistic development is a treasury of multidisciplinary learning. We commissioned an Orgelkids kit in for our camps, but also invite other educators and organizations to experience it throughout the year. To maximize the potential learning and exposure to pipe organ, as well as the history of music in New York, we offer the Erben Field Trip to schools.

The Erben Field Trip experience lasts three hours at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral and includes:

* A tour of the organ and short music performance on the majestic 1868 Henry Erben pipe organ, which has 2,500 pipes. Kids would see the historic instrument up close and get to go behind it to see the internal works. This would prime them for building the Orgelkids kit, as the kit organ has the same type of action and components as the large Erben: pipes, suspended tracker action on the keyboard, organ stops and bellows. If you have any students who play piano, they would be welcome to try their pieces on the Erben.

* A short candlelight tour of the spooky (but not scary) historical catacombs underneath the Basilica, the only catacombs in Manhattan and one of only a few such sites that exist in the United States.

* Building of the Orgelkids kit organ with expert instruction by Friends of the Erben Organ. We touch upon the history of organ building; physics of sound; a way to join pieces of wood without using glue or nails, and more.

* Eating delicious pizza from Lombardi’s in Little Italy, the first-ever pizzeria in America.

Please contact [email protected] for more information. We promise an unforgettable day steeped in history, music and fun.