Jeff Merkel, originally of Pennsylvania, began folk guitar in middle-school, but fell in love with classical guitar in Sweden during high school. He studied with Gregory Bonenberger at Yale College. After graduating from Yale Divinity School, he pastored Lutheran parishes in Manhattan, Philadelphia, Holden Village (WA), Wasilla, and Fairbanks, incorporating guitar whenever possible.
With children, Jeff retired, and his son started guitar with Scott Darter, a local Suzuki-aware guitarist. When Jeff’s daughter began violin with Dr. Johansen, the Suzuki method finally came into focus – Jeff became active in FSTE, took “Every Child Can,” learned violin, attended Fairbanks Suzuki Institutes, and helped form Suzuki Parents Association for FSTE.
Compelled to travel to Anchorage and Denver for Guitar Suzuki Institutes, Jeff hoped to bring Suzuki guitar “home.” He took Book 1 training in Ottawa KS, in 2015 with Andrea Cannon of Houston, his son’s mentor-via-Skype. Book 2 and 3 training followed at the Alexandria VA Suzuki Guitar Institute.
Besides the joy of teaching at Swallow Ridge Studio, Jeff is energized by his role Suzuki-parenting Annika, 8, and Matteo, 11 – no forgetting that third leg of the “Suzuki Triangle.” All made possible by the commitment, devotion and encouragement from their mom, Marin.