Are you yearning too for a harmonious life where your musical and personal abilities thrive? Try participating in a ten days opera project! In the last fortnight I participated in La Pellegrina’s production of Purcell’s King Arthur.

The international team of tutors: Dirkjan Horringa, conductor, Mitchell Sandler, vocal coach, Enrique Goméz-Cabrero Fernandez, violinist, Marco Vitale, cembalo, Dorothée Wortelboer baroque dance, guarantees much pleasure in playing, singing and dancing. It makes me feel proud and grateful that I was given the opportunity to assist as a voluntary choir and singing tutor.

Assemble a group of likeminded people, rehearse for a week and behold: they become family. The outside world and everything happening there is far away and replaced by a mystical world of nymphs, wood-, air- and waterspirits. The peacefulness of Bechyne and its surroudnings and the beautiful castle where we performed twice, enhance this process.

Like the hero searches for a way in the story, singers and players journey through the space of related keys. In this journey they find their function in the harmonic cohesion, which provides ease and confidence.

In between rehearsals we progress in getting to know each other better and better. Often the choice of instrument or your vocal type reflects your character, but not always. The music invites us to develop and show latent qualities.

The different roles the choir fulfills, offer each singer the opportunity to explore the far ends of his or her personality. From savage Saxons and bold Britons to happy and satisfied shepherds, that know themselves secure in the arms of their beloved.

When text and notes are finally known, the real serious work starts:memorizing, choice of tempo, movement and acting. I always find it remarkable, that from this stage on so many things take care of themselves.

Closing consonants, rhythm, colouring of vowels, dynamics, textinterpretation are gradually aligned. At times there may be some discussion, but eventually everyone accepts the conductor’s decision.

Not only the musical rhythm, also the rhythm of life becomes more aligned. This might be the most important reason why musicians are happy when playing together. Have you had the telepathic experience that your neighbour speaks your mind? Happens to me all the time in this kind of company.

When we sing and play together like this, a certain confidentiality and familiarity arises, especially when the pleasures of love are extensively sung. The singers in particular reveal themselves in their voice and manner of singing.

It is therefore hardly surprising that new relationships and loves sprout easily from projects like this. Next to their passion for music, participants also share a certain philosophy of life.

The main element in this philosophy is in my opinion the desire to keep growing and learning. In this setting the growth extends the personal development: during the week there is also a distinct growing towards one another.

In my perception the fading boundaries between singers and instrumentalists are most noticeable. In other musical projects I often perceived a gap between choir and orchestra. By joint rehearsals and tuning in to each other the musicians realize that they in fact encounter the same problems.

The distinction between professional and amateur musicians disappears into the background too. As each individual becomes more aware of his (her) role, we are mutually supportive and actively creating conditions for excellence.

Which meaning does a project like this have, apart from the extraordinary experience the participants perceive? It may be obvious that in any case the communication and understanding between amateur and professional flourishes.

Every teacher (in whatever way or relationship) should in fact have the opportunity to work in this manner with children, pupils, students and clients. It offers a first class chance to form a clear image of their needs and thus become a better teacher (parent, or service provider).

As always I am curious about your experiences and ideas. Have you ever participated in summer courses or music projects and if so, how do you look back on those? Leave your comment in the window below this post and receive the last version of the anti-struggle plan as a thank-you gift.