Ronnie Gardiner was a senior at Westerly High School in 1950, and I was a sophomore. Most students at WHS at that time knew that Ronnie was a talented drummer and a great athlete who played football and baseball for the school.
I knew he was a classmate and friend of my sister Beverly, but I did not know Ronnie personally in those days.
I learned only a few years ago that Ronnie had been living in Sweden since May 1963, where he has earned continued high recognition as a jazz drummer and still performs occasionally at concerts there. And in addition to his music commitments, he has successfully introduced the Ronnie Gardiner Method, which with the support of music, rhythm and movement is designed to help people with brain damage and conditions of the central nervous system such as stroke, MS, dementia and Parkinson’s disease, which is an illness I have had since 2012.
One can find a more detailed description of his method by visiting ronniegardinermethod.com.
He has successfully introduced his method in most western European countries as well as in Israel and most recently in New Zealand, which I will elaborate on later in this report.
But first let me reminisce about how I came to meet with Ronnie who, like me, has lived in Europe since the early 1960s.
I was visiting a friend in Alicante, Spain, several years ago, and as we sat at an outdoor café we heard two couples speaking what I assumed to be Swedish, and since I had often thought about visiting Sweden I asked if they were speaking Swedish. They replied “yes,” and so we invited them to our table for a drink. I told them I had often thought about visiting Sweden, but to date had not done so. They said that they lived in Stockholm, to which I replied the only thing I really knew about Stockholm was that I had heard a former American school mate who was a talented drummer was living there. Without further comment one of the Swedes at our table immediately said, “Oh, you must mean Ronnie Gardiner”, everyone knows him in Stockholm.”
Needless to say I then knew I had a good reason to go to Stockholm, and I was able to get a telephone number to reach Ronnie. I called him and he seemed pleased and happy to show me and my wife Ursula (Uschi) around the city. He said he remembered me from our high school days and that I was the brother of Beverly.
Ronnie turned out to be an excellent tour guide, but most interesting to my wife and I was his energy and enthusiasm as we went about the city at a speed at which Uschi and I were gasping for breath while Ronnie seemed to float along with a calm we found difficult to believe. In short, we concluded that not only had he developed a method that helped many of his students recover lost physical and mental strengths, but that he was living proof that his method worked.
This belief was further strengthened when I received word from him earlier in 2019 that he had been invited to New Zealand to introduce his method. I asked myself what motivates this person with whom I now communicated frequently by phone or email. After all, he is 87 and doesn’t seem to have any brakes when he is challenged to offer his talents in a way that helps other people recover lost abilities.
And only recently I heard from Ronnie, who had returned to New Zealand for the month of December to teach his method at six different locations throughout the country. He will then take a nine-day bus tour throughout the country, celebrate Christmas with a professor who was involved with his course, and finally return to Stockholm in early January 2020, where he will present a Ronnie Gardiner Drummer Award that had previously been awarded to him in recognition of his talent as a drummer. This is but one of several awards Ronnie has received in Sweden.
Ronnie claimed that a personal tradgedy in 1980 made him decide to use his talents in a manner which would help other people. It is obvious that he is devoted to teaching his method, and perhaps this dedication has rewarded him with energy, enthusiasm and commitment, which both Uschi and I found not only heart-warming but amazing for a man who will turn 88 in 2020.
As a consequence, we thought his story was worth sharing.