Improvisation for non-improvisers – the Islands Method – Solocoaching – the Bears Project –  Past


Learning fascinates me

What kind of potential is present, and what kind of experience – what step – is needed to realise that potential? That’s different for everyone, and listening for it and finding the right ‘eye-openers’ interests me enormously.

A workshop is a kind of playground, a free space to be explored. You can try out anything there. That’s ideal.

A ‘learning orchestra’ has this free space too, but also works on a repertoire and presents performances: a ‘test’ in front of an audience.


I had a feeling of freedom. Finally I could simply play!


From a timid trumpet player who was happy just to hit the notes, I’ve grown into a true musician.



The Islands Method

Learning to improvise over chord changes

de Eilandjesmethode

Many people I meet wrongly see improvising over chords as something difficult. It’s not! As long as you can hear what notes sound right or wrong in a particular context (you can hear someone playing a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ note) and have some sense of pulse (you can play a melody together with other people) you can learn it. ‘Not me!’, I hear you thinking. Yes, you!

The Islands Method is a technique you can apply endlessly. Once you can play over a basic chord sequence it’s simply a question of making manageable steps until you can master ever more complicated progressions. That takes time of course, but it’s not difficult, more of an enjoyable voyage of discovery.

The island method is a workshop spread over three half days, with gaps of a few weeks in between to practise.


Fascinating to see and hear how differently the participants tackled the exercises, and the way they were encouraged and valued by you

For me, the islands are the first approach to really help with the first step when you’re presented with a chord sequence

Really great, your ability to quickly zoom in on people’s personal levels, learning points and hang-ups. I found that remarkable, and it’s left me wanting more

I thought the personal feedback was really special. Quite confronting, but very positive and constructive, with made-to-measure exercises for everyone


Upcoming course dates:

First meeting 3 October

Second meeting 7 or 15 November

Third meeting 28 or 29 November

Click here for the flyer (in Dutch)



Public lessons for personal feedback on improvisation


Upcoming Solocoaching Days:

14 November

Sign up or subscribe to the mailing list if you want to be kept informed of future dates




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The Bears Project

A workshop band for musicians who aren’t afraid of adventure

The Bears Project

A new ensemble with woodwind, brass, strings and a rhythm section. With an exploratory approach and a taste for adventurous music. A mix of jazz, ‘world music’, new music and improvisation. An orchestra in search of the balance between a challenging repertoire, a broad sound spectrum in the arrangements, wild improvisations and swinging grooves in all time signatures.
The spark, the tingle and the tension of contemporary improvised music played from the heart by a new Amsterdam workshop band.

The Bears Project still has openings for strings, a guitarist and a trumpetist. We rehearse three times a month on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 10:30 in Q-Factory in Amsterdam East, and give around five performances a year.

Our next performance is:

Sunday 4 October
2.30 PM
Floraparkweg 1
1032 BZ Amsterdam

The compilation below (various artists) gives an impression of our repertoire.


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Past Projects

Photo: Pleinvrees

The WATERSUITE (see also bands&projects)
Project by Waterproof live with harmony orchestra Amicitia
klick here for video
Animation and Improvised Music
Making animation films with your own music
Workshops with performance for the Al Quds festival with Merlijn Twaalfhoven
‘Living room performances’ in Arabic East Jerusalem
Film music
Workshop week at MarcReizen in France with well-known and lesser-known film tunes, and enjoying the films together in the evenings.
Hidden Treasures. Project commissioned by the Centre for the Graphic Arts, Amsterdam East, to raise the profile of unique locations in the area.
The local music-makers were also counted among the ‘treasures’, and performed on the Eikenplein Square.
Kwela: South African jazz
Workshop week at MarcReizen in France
Workshop orchestra with 80 participants, conducted from atop a crane: project with Hermine Schneider to celebrate 30 years of the SJU Jazz Podium in Utrecht
‘Improv in the Attic’
Free improvisation. A cycle of ten workshop evenings.
Balkan improvisation
Workshop week at MarcReizen in France
‘Brand in Mokum’
Amsterdam workshop orchestra with music by the South African pianist and composer Dollar Brand
around ten yearly weekend workshops in Ulvenhout
Workshop orchestra at the Muziekpakhuis with groovy music.
Saxophone quartet workshops
in the Muziekpakhuis in Amsterdam
Kick-off of a weekly jazz workshop in Amsterdam East Community Centre
The band is now known as the Oosterburen, and is led by Michel Fabre
Jazz workshop in Café de Pater The Hague.
The very beginning! Blue Trane. Complete with tapping feet…
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