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Organ

Development of the SUZUKI™ Method for Organ

by Gunilla Rönnberg

The SUZUKI™ Method for the organ was developed by the Swedish Suzuki teacher Gunilla Rönnberg and organist Lars Hagström.

It began in 1998

In 1998 Gunilla Rönnberg contacted Dr. Haukur F. Hannesson, now an Honorary Member of the European Suzuki Association (ESA), with a proposal to develop the SUZUKI™ Method for organ. Gunilla’s background as a trained Suzuki piano teacher since 10 years and trained organist gave her a firm basis to take on this task.

The ISA and ESA gave Gunilla and Lars permission to run a test project for a year. In August 1998 Gunilla started 12 organ students. Six of them were former Suzuki piano students age 8-10, and six were beginners who age 5-6. By choosing this division in age of the initial student group, Gunilla could test the proposed teaching material at different levels from the beginning.

Development of organ technique for small children

In November 1998 the students had their first concert, and it was astonishing to see the 9 and 10 years old former Suzuki piano students, now playing the organ in a very skilful way. The concert in January 1999 was recorded and Haukur F. Hannesson presented the recording to the International Suzuki Association’s Board of Directors together with a proposal for printed music and a progression of pieces from Book One to advanced organ music. In March 1999, the International Suzuki Association officially made the organ a SUZUKI™ Method instrument and granted permission to Gunilla Rönnberg and Lars Hagström to develop the method for the organ.

One of the biggest challenges was to find a good way for developing the progression of organ technique, tonalization and relaxation for small children. The coordination between hands and feet was an easier task to solve, with pedal melodies to develop the pedal technique and chords base notes in the pedals in manual pieces to develop coordination between hands and feet from the beginning.

Gunilla has, through the years, continuously started new beginners on the organ to continually refine the teaching of organ technique. Furthermore, she has explored and developed playing technique for higher levels of playing. One of her main emphasis is to make students play with beautiful musical expression. Gunilla’s students have given a great number of concerts during the years Suzuki organ teaching has taken place. This has attracted attention and been much appreciated in Sweden and other countries.

SUZUKI™ Organ Teacher Training

Gunilla Rönnberg was appointed Suzuki Teacher Trainer on the organ by the European Suzuki Association in 2002. As a result of Gunilla’s Suzuki organ teacher training in Sweden, organ has become a popular instrument for young children.  Professional organists have been encouraged by their churches to train as Suzuki organ teachers and many are planning to do so or have already taken the first level teacher training course. Activities for children have also included summer music courses for Suzuki organ students.

After 17 years of requests from organists all over the world on how to make it easier for them to take part in Teacher Training courses in the Suzuki Method™ for organ, Gunilla offers preliminary web education. This education covers all the knowledge that Gunilla has been teaching in the Teacher Training courses during many years.  It is very pedagogical and leads the teacher trainees step by step on how to play and teach, both concerning practical and theoretical knowledge.  This gives a complete preparation for all aspects of the SUZUKI™ Method for organ in English and Swedish.  This is followed by 5 days training at Lärkvallen´s training center in the South of Sweden with further coaching on playing and teaching in preparation for the ESA Level 1 Examination. 

Publication of Suzuki organ books and recordings

Volumes 1 - 8 of the Suzuki Organ School have been published by Alfred Music

This series is the first classical organ method for children and is part of the worldwide SUZUKI™ Method of teaching. Recordings of the pieces all Volumes are also available.


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