David Gerry

David Gerry

On Thursday November 30, 2017, a celebration was held in Hamilton, Ontario, in honor of David Gerry’s receipt of a Creating Learning Community award for his many contributions to the Suzuki community. 

During his 25 years as a teacher trainer in flute, David has “[gathered] a community of engaged and inspired parents, students, and teachers from around the world,” says SAA Executive Director Pam Brasch.  He inspired not only other flutists, but also Suzuki teachers in other instrument areas who had the good fortune to observe his teaching and exchange ideas with him at workshops, institutes, and conferences across the globe.  His humor, warmth, energy, and gift of connecting with students of all ages earned much admiration, as well as a host of imitations.  As Pittsburgh flute teacher Tara Yaney said in a Facebook tribute, “If I credited him properly every time I borrowed or stole one of his musical teaching insights I would never get anything done.”

More recently his work in the field of music cognition has been much appreciated by Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) teachers.  With doctoral advisor Laurel Trainor, and supported by a generous research grant from the Grammy Foundation, he earned a PhD for his study focusing on Dorothy Jones’ SECE program.  The results of this research showed that young babies demonstrate measurable benefits from structured music classes such as SECE classes.  (Infants aged six months attended weekly classes for a period of six months.  Details about the study can be found on his web site[1] as well as on the web site of McMaster University’s Institute for Music and the Mind [MIMM].)

David Gerry and Mackenzie Gerry

David Gerry and Mackenzie Gerry
Courtesy of Mackenzie Gerry

David has been a shining star in so many different capacities.  He has been active as a private studio teacher and institute director, as a sessional teacher and assistant professor at McMaster University, and as a freelance musician, playing regularly with Symphony on the Bay and with various other groups in the Hamilton and Toronto area.  At Thursday’s celebration, more than 40 friends and colleagues from all of these areas gathered to pay tribute to him.  The celebration was organized in some haste because of the rapid onset of David’s illness; one month ago, he was engaged as a full-time university professor and had just played what would be his final concert with Symphony on the Bay.  Within days he would be receiving a diagnosis of stage four adenocarcinoma, an aggressive illness which has ended David’s playing and teaching careers far too soon.  David spent 26 days at Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton and recently moved to the Dr. Bob Kemp Centre for hospice care, where Thursday’s celebration was held.

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Musical tribute to David Gerry at the presentation of his Creating Learning Community Award. Pictured are Noelle Perrin, Suzanne Shulman, Valerie Tryon, Kelly Williamson, and Suzanne Friedlander.

Image by Ken Gee

The celebration opened with a brief musical tribute.  Long-time friend and colleague Suzanne Shulman played Noelle Perrin’s “Mary’s Simple Gifts,” with additional flute parts provided by Suzuki flute teachers Noelle Perrin, Kelly Williamson, and Susan Friedlander, with renowned pianist Valerie Tryon at the keyboard.  Words from Pam Brasch about David and about the Creating Learning Community Award were read, followed by a slide presentation with photos and tributes to David from Suzuki flute students and teachers, moms and dads, David’s students at McMaster University, and his niece, Mackenzie Gerry.  Dorothy Jones sent a paragraph thanking David for his work on behalf of Suzuki ECE, and Suzanne Shulman read an announcement about a new scholarship which has been created in David’s honor by the sessional instructors’ union at the university.  David was a valued member of the union’s bargaining team this past year.  Scholarships have also been founded at MIMM, and an SAA teacher training scholarship will be announced soon.  In addition to his many friends and colleagues, the celebration was attended by David’s husband Jonathan, his mother Lucy, his brother Peter, and Peter’s daughter Mackenzie.

There is not enough time or space to share the many stories that we would all like to tell about wonderful times we have had with David.  He will be sorely missed by all of the Suzuki community, and by the many people whose lives he touched.

[1]. “Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development”


We regret to announce that David passed away peacefully on Monday, December 4, surrounded by family and close friends. We will celebrate David’s Suzuki career and accomplishments in the upcoming ASJ.

More: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/davidgerry

David’s obituary: http://www.lifenews.ca/announcement/7988636-gerry-david-william-b-mus-perf-