Motor and motivation


After studying at the conservatoires of Maastricht and Amsterdam at the end of the 1980s, I began my career in the Dutch musical landscape at the start of the 1990s. I have been a bassoonist and contrabassoonist for more than 20 years and have given concerts in the Netherlands and abroad, including a number of years intensive involvement with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

My career as a bassoon teacher has also covered more than 20 years: in the past at the music schools in Weert, Eindhoven and Zeist, and now at the music school that forms part of the Scholen in de Kunst in Amersfoort and at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. 

My wish has always been to contribute to the profession in a broader context, but the question was always ‘When?’ It’s just like having children ‘at some point’, until that ‘at some point’ becomes urgent because of the biological clock. In this case the biological clock does not only refer to my age but also to the spirit of the present time, the complexity of the world around us, changing circumstances and the fact that instrumental education is facing challenges within the classical domain.

During my more than 20 years as a bassoon teacher, I have noticed that many pupils come to their bassoon lessons without any inner hearing, without being aware of what the music should sound like. An important reason for this is the lack of music lessons in primary schools. If children do not sing at school, don’t have musical clap and movement games, and if Art Music is not included in the methodology as a form of play, it is impossible for a databank of repertoire to be built up unconsciously. This repertoire databank is what leads to the development of inner hearing – the ability to imagine the sound. Without this inner hearing it is very difficult to learn to play an instrument. That certainly applies to less well-known instruments such as the bassoon. The ‘Save the Bassoon’ campaign, initiated by Holland Festival, aims to change all this. This publicity is meant to get more children interested in this instrument. Otherwise, the bassoon will be threatened with extinction. Stimulating courses of study in this instrument cannot, however, be limited to merely choosing to start having bassoon lessons; it is also important that we think about how these lessons should be planned. I think it’s necessary to develop educational strategies which suit the present time. Is it possible to learn by means of peer-to-peer learning, as well as by the Master-Pupil principle – a principle that until now has dominated the learning strategy in instrumental education within the classical domain? Is it possible to use more creativity when learning to play an instrument? How can we develop self expression right from the start and make this part of learning to play the instrument? How do we develop the means to take control of your own learning process and to be able to work with others? Is it possible to teach pupils not only to reproduce but also to improvise and compose in order to allow them to develop their own musical language?

I went in search of more skills in order to be able to develop that inner hearing in my pupils, and to reach all the layers of the learning process (auditive, cognitive, motor and visual) needed in instrumental development. I wanted to work with traditional materials in a more creative manner and to find ways of giving worthwhile instrumental group lessons in addition to the individual ones. My first attendance at a Kodály Masterclass weekend at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, in November 2012, was an intense experience for me and I immediately wondered if it would be possible to integrate aspects of the Kodály philosophy and methodology into instrumental education. After various visits to Hungary, the course “Music as a Professional Study” during 2013-2014, and the Master’s study “ Music education according to the Kodály concept”  from September 2014 to the present, I have become convinced that this is possible.