Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Interview with Dr. Gail Archer

 Jeannine:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.  What is your music background?  What drew you to the organ?

 Dr. Archer:  I’m Gail Archer and I am Director of Music at Barnard College at Columbia University and organist at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

 I’ve been singing in choirs since I was 8 years old.  My father sang in the church choir and being part of church music was normal in our family.  I heard organs from the time I was very small.  I started playing piano when I was 8 years old and as soon as my legs were long enough – at age 13 – I started playing the organ as well.  I pursued music from the beginning and always sang in choirs and always played keyboard instruments.  Then I got a Bachelor’s degree, two Masters Degrees and a DMA – all in music.

 I’ve been teaching at one level or another since I was 21 years old.  I taught elementary, junior high, high school and I’ve been here at Columbia for thirty years.  Music is my life, I’m delighted to report.

 Jeannine:  You certainly have an amazing multi-faceted music career with your work as an international concert organist and recording artist, a choral conductor and lecturer, the director of the music program at Barnard College, director of the artist and young organ artist recital series at Central Synagogue, New York City, and the founder of Musforum, an international network for women organists.   We have much to talk about!

 Let’s look first at your position as the director of the music program at Barnard College and college organist at Vassar College.  What would you like to share about this work?

 Dr. Archer:  I have been at Barnard for thirty years and I built the music program that exists here.  We have music majors and Barnard sponsors all of the vocal program for the University.  I direct the 80 voice concert choir and the 20 voice chamber choir, teach music history, advise students, sit on committees, curriculum.  I also do the organ program at Vassar College, which I also built.  It’s a lively concern with a fifteen organ students.


Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the February 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.


Guest Interview with Dr. Damin Spritzer

Jeannine:  Our newsletter readership includes not only organists, but educators, historians, and music-lovers as well.  For those who do not know you, would you kindly introduce yourself?

Dr. Spritzer:  Thank you so much for thinking of me for this interview! It’s an honor to be included. Well, I’m not sure where to start – like so many of us, I wear many musical hats and love them all. I’ve been a musician since I was quite small and studied piano, violin, cello, recorders, and flute; a recitalist and church organist my entire adult life; and a music teacher and ultimately a professor for most of that span as well. My degrees are from Oberlin, Eastman, and UNT, and though I held church positions throughout college, my full-time church positions were in Atlanta, Georgia (Peachtree Presbyterian, as their Organ Intern) and Dallas, Texas for several years (St. Rita Catholic Community with Joel Martinson, University Park United Methodist with Jody Lindh, and now St. Matthews Episcopal Cathedral with Michie Akin and Keith Franks, though that is not full-time).

It’s been my privilege to make three world-premiere CDs of the music of René Louis Becker, on whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation. A fourth disc that is collaborative with my good friend and colleague Dr. Donald Pinson (trombone) is slated for release later this year as well. My Becker research led to my multi-volume critical edition of Becker’s organ works that is published by Wayne Leupold (volume I was last year, volume II is underway, and volumes beyond that are mapped out, etc.), and a monograph is also awaiting final editing.

I absolutely love to travel and perform, and I love to teach. I have several recording projects in the works and am grateful that I can make those contributions for our instrument. I spend a great deal of time writing and researching and practicing, and seek particularly lesser-known Romantic organ music. I’m beginning my third year as a professor at the University of Oklahoma in the organ department, and am daily happy and thankful to drive up to this beautiful, beautiful campus to be part of this university and our studio.

J:  What was the moment you knew you wanted to become an organist?

Dr. Spritzer:  I always loved organ music since I was very small and my father used to play organ recordings for me (E. Power Biggs, the Poulenc concerto…) records for me, but it was honestly and literally the very first time I sat down at an organ console. I was 16 and had won a scholarship to take a year of free lessons from the Portland, Oregon AGO. The second I sat down, I just knew. It was a startling moment of clarity for me as a teenager, actually. There was nothing like it that I had experienced, even having played instruments my whole life: the glorious sounds, the touch, the aesthetic beauty of the room and stained glass…even just the physicality of the use of my whole body to play…I just knew! I loved it. And I knew nothing, and it’s only gotten better.started violin and piano fairly young, after my kindergarten teacher called my parents to make sure they knew that I would not leave the classroom piano alone. So I’d been a pianist and accompanist (choral and theatre) for years, and I had long studied violin as well as played in both major youth orchestras in the area (the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra). I sang in the choirs in all my schools and often accompanied, and worked with a chamber ensemble in high school as well…but the organ was something entirely different that went straight to my heart and hands.

Excerpted from the Feature Article of the September 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

A Quiz based on “How Playing an Instrument Benefits our Brain”

A quiz for those of you who have read our three prior posts based on the TED-Ed presentation by Anita Collins, How Playing an Instrument Benefits our Brain.

Neuroscientists get excited about watching the brain functions of musicians because?
A  Musicians use different parts of their brain to complete tasks
B  Musicians use more of their brain to complete tasks
C  Musicians use more parts of their brain simultaneously to complete tasks
D  Musicians use their brains surprisingly when completing tasks

Learning a musical instrument engages which different areas of the brain at the same time?

A  Visual, motor and cerebral cortices
B  Auditory, motor and visual cortices
C  Motor, cerebral and auditory cortices
D  Cerebral, motor and fine motor cortices

The bridge between the two brain hemispheres is called?
A  Corpum callum
B  Coopco coolism
C  Capum cullim
D  Corpus callosum

Learning a musical instrument teaches your brain how to create, ______ and retrieve memories more effectively?
A  Store
B  Find
C  Make
D  Erase

Executive function is a series of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to ________.

A  Habits
B  Facts
C  Features
D  Detail

Executive function is a complex combination of brain functions that requires analysis of both the cognitive and emotional aspects of a problem or situation. What type of complex problems of situations could you think of that would use your executive function capabilities?

Learning a musical instrument has been found to assist in our memory abilities. How does your capacity to remember facts, ideas, things you have seen and heard, impact on your ability to learn?

“Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.”

What could be some of the short and long term effects of keeping your brain in tip-top physical shape?


Excerpted from the Feature Article of the August 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

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

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