Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘teaching’

What is Around the World in 80 Minutes?

… the exciting title of this new show by Jeannine and David Jordan keeps its promise: as spectator and listener I was taken on a trip around the world that provided glimpses of the beautiful rolling hills of England and its Roman churches, majestic cathedrals in Paris, allowed me to feel part of a procession during Passion Week in Spain, invited me into Johann S. Bach’s Germany, took me into the somber atmosphere of a Polish orphanage during World War II .. and this was only the first part of the ‘trip’ that went on to Nigeria, Lebanon, Israel, Taiwan, Australia… the list goes on! The blend of carefully selected and masterfully played pieces of music and visuals that reflected the music and the characteristics of the countries – or that were simply entertaining and humorous – made the journey enjoyable, fun and unforgettable. This show will undoubtedly be a favorite for many! The organ shines in its seemingly infinite musical expression and potential – who associates ‘La Bamba’ with the organ? From now on – I will! When the journey is over you sit back and think: “I would like to do this again!”   Ulla Mundil, concert attendee


Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

A Continued Conversation

J:  How and why did you decide to become trained in this approach to early childhood music?

Dr. Clark:  When our first son was born, I thought what a wonderful thing for a baby to listen to beautiful classical music! I had observed young Suzuki children playing the violin and piano beautifully, and although I had some misgivings at first (because I couldn’t understand how they could do it!) I began Suzuki piano teacher training.  From there I established a Suzuki piano school at Avondale College – and never looked back.  It was such a joy to see young children playing so well and develop into such beautiful adults over the years.  “Character first, ability second” was Dr Suzuki’s lifelong principle. Some students went on to take up music professionally, others just enjoy playing for fun and going to concerts.


J:  In my experience, one hears of Suzuki teachers in violin and piano, however, you have not only developed a Suzuki organ program in Australia but are a Teacher Trainer for the Pan Pacific region.   Please tell us about this program and why it is an effective way to teach organ.

Dr. Clark:  The Suzuki repertoire and pedagogy was researched and developed over fifteen years ago by Swedish Suzuki Teacher Trainer, Gunilla Ronnberg. Ronnberg was fascinated by the challenge of preparing simple, progressive pieces and teaching techniques for children as young as three years old – something that had never been done before.  See her website here: https://suzukiassociation.org/

I was fascinated by these wonderful developments of making organ playing accessible to very young children (something I had longed for as a child).  I had read and studied the program as much as possible and some of my piano students were keen to learn the organ.  So I began teaching, with Gunilla’s help, quickly building up to a studio of about twenty students followed by six teachers keen to study the pedagogy.

I was already a piano Teacher Trainer, so was awarded organ Teacher Trainer status for the Pan Pacific region. I was fortunate to have the resources and support of a one thousand member congregation at the Avondale Memorial SDA Church, Cooranbong, NSW, on the campus of Avondale College. We now hold summer schools, workshops, recitals, student concerts and teacher training on the campus and interstate.  Our annual Christmas concert attracts an audience of nearly one thousand people.

There are six books in the Suzuki organ repertoire along with the listening resources (two more books are in preparation). Small children begin on the pedal board, the ideal ‘supersized” keyboard, perfect for gross motor movement and spatial development.  Articulation (based on Baroque performance practice), legato and improvisation are taught right from the beginning pieces, along with theory, note reading and sight reading at every lesson when the child is ready.


J:  Where can one study and receive training to become a certified Suzuki organ teacher?

Dr. Clark:  In Australia, there are teacher training programs in most states, leading to advanced accreditation in early childhood music, psychology, pedagogy, repertoire analysis and performance. The Suzuki Association of the Americas,  https://suzukiassociation.org/ has excellent training programs across the country, right through to masters and doctoral studies.  Dr Jeremy Chesman, an outstanding Suzuki organ teacher at Missouri State University, can be contacted at: springfieldharp@yahoo.com


J:  Please share some Suzuki success stories with our readers.

Dr. Clark:  Many of my students are already at an advanced level, performing at concert halls and churches throughout the state and interstate. 

They play regularly at the Sydney Town Hall and the Sydney Opera House. More details and student performances can be found on my website: http://www.learnsuzukiorgan.com/

My greatest satisfaction and success comes from teaching students who have learning challenges – some on the Aspergers spectrum, ADHD, or Global Development Delay. It is amazing what these students achieve, sometimes quickly, sometimes very slowly, on an instrument that appeals to them visually, aurally and spatially.  They particularly love the wide spectrum of sounds and colors which appeal to their senses.
In Dr Suzuki’s words,
“Where love is deep, much can be accomplished.”


J:  Thank you, Dr. Clark, for sharing this exciting information with our readers.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

Meet David Clark

Jeannine:  Who is David Clark, and how did you find a career in music?

Dr. Clark:  As a child, I was drawn to classical music and especially the organ. From as far back as I can remember, I went to see and hear pipe organs at every opportunity.  I desperately wanted to play them (as I had already started piano at about age eight), but of course was never allowed to touch a pipe organ in those days, so I just looked, longed and listened. So organs and organ music have been a passion for as long as I can remember!

I graduated from Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia, in piano and organ in 1968. Then I did further organ study overseas with Dr Martin Neary at Winchester Cathedral and post graduate study in musicology and organ with Dr Warren Becker at Andrews University, Michigan, including a Summer School in Suzuki Piano at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. That was my first introduction to Suzuki piano teaching.

I was a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Music Department (now Avondale Conservatorium) at Avondale College, NSW, for over thirty years. I taught musicology, organ, piano and French over that time. Apart from my day job I am a half-marathon runner, amateur horticulturist (we live on three acres) and love hiking with family and friends.


J:  You are well-known in the music world of Australia as a proponent of the Suzuki organ teaching method: What is unique about the Suzuki philosophy?

Dr. Clark:  Dr Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998) outlines his philosophy in his book “Nurtured by Love.” (Alfred Music; Revised edition, 2013) He realised that all children learn – some well, some badly – depending on their environment. They learn to speak their nativeaa language (or more languages if they are surrounded by them) perfectly well, without any accent: something an adult can only do with great difficulty! Thinking about this natural Mother Tongue environment, he realised that babies and very young children absorb music in the same way, immersed in the language of music by repeated listening – even before birth. Then when they later show an interest in learning to play – sometimes as young as two or three – as our son did with the cello – they learn in small steps suited to their individual development.  From this flows the philosophy of learning with love, the most natural and important way a young child will absorb music as a language from their environment.   This is what is unique about the Suzuki philosophy –all young children can learn to play music well, as a natural part of their lives. Of course this can only be achieved by informed, involved parents and highly skilled teachers.  Teacher training and professional development are at the heart of the Suzuki Triangle – parent – child – teacher.  This is why many teachers from all over the world flocked to Matsumoto, Japan, where Dr Suzuki taught three year olds to play the violin. Teachers observed, listened and played, absorbing the skills needed to teach young children. Many of them graduated and went back to their countries to spread the Suzuki philosophy, which is now global.

For those who want to find out more, there is an excellent account of the Suzuki philosophy here:  http://www.suzukimusic.org.au/suzuki.htm#phil

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

Are You Planning Time for Reflection this Summer?

Ah……It’s Summer

Summer is often regarded as a time of refreshment, rejuvenation, inspiration, and relaxation.  The spring editions of our professional journals list pages and pages of courses, conventions, classes, and camps to refresh our souls and bodies and prepare our minds and spirits for the work of the year ahead.

Musicians often work and live as much in the future as in the present.  When one worship service ends, the preparation for another six weeks to six months ahead begins.  When one concert performance comes to a resounding and successful conclusion, the promotion of concerts years in advance begins anew.  Before the applause for well-prepared students performing in their spring student recital dies away, the scheduling of the next session of lessons has already been done.  As one newsletter is sent, others are well underway.  Hence the “that was then, this is now, but what lies in the near and distant future is really important” becomes the mantra of a busy musician.

So when should we take time to look back?  to enjoy our past accomplishments?  to learn from past successes?  As a forward-thinking, forward-looking musician and person, looking back and taking time for reflection can be a challenge, but also a great joy.

Some years ago while pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, I was required to write “Reaction Papers” on every subject imaginable.  The papers, while rather annoying to write, did force me to look at a situation, person, class, professor, or challenge in a deeper way than I might have.  Maybe we should each take on the summer challenge of not necessarily writing “Reflection Papers” but at least taking the time to reflect on the joys, challenges, and successes of the past year before we charge ahead renewed and invigorated for the coming year.  What do you think?                                                                                Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

March — Sort of Like a Wednesday

The month of March, in the scheme of things as a  music student–or music teacher— is sort of like a Wednesday, isn’t it?  Sort of like a “hump month”.

The urban definition of the “hump day” or Wednesday, the middle of the week, implies that you have to get “over the hump” before you can anticipate the weekend. March marks the halfway point (the middle) of my Winter/Spring lesson schedule.

With the March lessons I encourage my students to move  up and over “the hump”.  The really hard work of setting goals, and in some cases facing disappointment, and starting the work to achieve those goals was done in January and February.  In March we will start to hone those new skills and start enjoying that repertoire! By April we will be on the downward slope to achieving the goals you set in early January for this series of lessons.  It is an exciting month!

Some of the goals set by my students this semester include:

  • preparing and presenting an entire recital
  • working through technique exercises, repertoire, and online speedback tests in the BYU Organ Course
  • planning and preparing music to enhance worship services for Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter
  • improving hymn playing skills
  • learning the features and sounds of a new organ
  • preparing repertoire for the Spring Recital on
    May 19
  • making every day a joyous practice day — a day of meeting challenges and making discoveries

Onward and forward through “hump month”!

Jeannine Jordan, organ coach and concert organist

Act Like You Are Being Watched!

You act like you’re being watched. You make sure your integrity is passed along to future generations through your example.

As musicians we are always being watched or listened to in one way or another. Barbara Killinger in her book, Integrity, presents advice for musicians quoting a song by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine from their insightful musical, Into the Woods:

“Careful of the things you say,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.

Careful of the things you do,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will see
And learn.

Children (students, congregations, choirs, audiences, colleagues) will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
‘Listen to me.’
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.”

Dr. Jeannine Jordan,  teacher, church musician, and concert organist

Creating a Culture of Trust

In the book, The Integrity Advantage, Gostick and Telford identify ten integrity characteristics Integrity characteristics can be integrated into the life of the whole musician—the musician with all the different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver to students, colleagues, and audiences.  One integrity characteristic a teacher should develop in a studio is …

To create a culture of trust. You develop a work environment that will not test the personal integrity of your students or your colleagues.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan's organ students

I am privileged to have a studio of nearly twenty adult organ students with whom I share a culture of trust. Some of my students have played for churches for years and are studying to enhance their service playing skills while others are pursuing playing the organ as a new avocation.

Together we have created a wonderfully trusting and supportive community where ideas and performances are shared freely and easily.

Student recitals, play-ins, organ crawls, theory lessons, and group lessons are events which enhance the shared culture of trust.  Students become colleagues in pursuit of realizing their goals of becoming better organists.  Working together, sharing ideas and music, creates an environment of trust does not test the personal integrity of any student.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: