Discovering Purpose through Music: The Journey of Musical Reflection and Coaching

by | 6 September 2023

Thinking about it, there is a lot out there that can help you find happiness in what you do; to find your purpose. Some of these things are really amazing. In the Netherlands, for instance, you have ‘365 Days Successful’ by David de Kock and Arjan Vergeer, and they do amazing stuff, have great content, and I believe help a lot of people in finding their purpose and do meaningful work that resonates with who they are; their programmes were valuable to me as well. David and Arjan have such passion for what they do, and they are fun and inspiring!

For me, there has always been and will be music.

But what music actually means to me really took me some time to figure out.  In the past I always wanted to be on the ‘big stage’, play in front of large audiences etc. But at the same time, I never really took any steps to do so; it all felt a bit controversial.

One day as I was attending a coaching session, the coach somehow kept asking me about my music – a question I actually had not put on the agenda so to speak.  Why is he going on about this, I wondered. But then, as the conversation unfolded, it suddenly became clear that music for me has more of a religious meaning; it connects me with the essence of life, the centre of things. It was such a revelation… for me, this was a very important, and liberating insight.

Then, thinking more about it, the question obviously came what did this meant for me in terms of work?

Improvising for deep reflection

On a Saturday morning, I was attending a personal development/biography course. Before we kicked off, I was approached by the facilitator who asked if I could play some music at the end – their regular pianist had cancelled last minute as his wife was in labour.  Since it is my motto to take on things as they present themselves, I agreed.

But then, what to play?  I decided to just improvise and see what would happen, try to capture what had happened during the course with the people involved.  When it was time, I walked up to the piano, put my hands above the keys, hesitated for a second and thought ok now what… and then, just started playing, because well, I had said yes…  It was quite an intense experience, and the amazing thing was it clicked for the people who took part in the course. The music I had improvised really reflected and deepened what they had experienced. I was so grateful for this experience, and the fact that I just did it…

This experience made it clear to me that improvisation, sharing musical stories that move people, and trying to give them a ‘deeper’ experience was something I had to take on doing.

The Passion Profile helped me find my purpose

At about the same time, I embarked on a journey with the Passion Profile.  For me, this was really something different to what I had previously done.  Simple and straightforward sessions, that gave me a lot of insights into what drives me and is actually important to me.

One day after completing a module I went out for a walk on the beach. The module I had just completed was all about finding keywords that would reflect the essence of what you are here to do – it sounds complicated, but the exercise was constructed in such a way that it made it relatively easy to do. It became clear that one of the critical factors was telling stories and coaching others to help them find their purpose.

Music and meditation lead to meaningful contribution

COVID came and during that time, although not the easiest time for these kinds of things, I tried to do some music stuff. One thing was embarking on an impactful journey with my friend Barbara Piper, who is an amazing leader and coach when it comes to compassionate leadership and personal development.  We actually did some music and poetry performance sessions, and she invited me to compose music to accompany her meditation recordings as part of a course she was designing for CCARE (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford Medicine).  Finding out how the music helps people have a deepening experience during the meditations was a beautiful challenge and again made it more clear to me how my music can be of value to people. We had the opportunity to do some live sessions where I used musical reflection to deepen the course experience which gave me an impression, of how this worked in a live setting.  The responses of the participants were positive, and the music had made a meaningful contribution.

Musical Minutes: a creative way of coaching

Well, in short, all of this led to Musical Minutes.

Working on personal or team development, with the use of music, next to for instance psychometric assessments, is what I love doing now, and working on expanding.

Sharing musical minutes, and the opportunity to find one’s purpose with the use of the Passion Profile is another.  These journeys are rewarding and can give you so much insight and potentially a new beginning, or a fine-tuning of what you already doing.  I would say, it is really worth doing.

For me, there is more exploring to do, and I will surely share more of it!

And for those of you who want to have a chat, just about what it is you want from work, or maybe to explore if you are ready to deep-dive into what resonates with you, following your passion; schedule a Matchcall.

OVER Merlijn

Met Musical Minutes breng ik twee elementen samen:

muziek en persoonlijke ontwikkeling.

Al meer dan 20 jaar heb ik een carrière in zowel muziek als HR en persoonlijke ontwikkeling. Muziek is voor mij essentieel omdat het zo’n sterke verbindende kracht is; werken met mensen en hen helpen met hun loopbaanontwikkeling staat aan de basis van hoe ik mijn HR werk benader.

Het idee voor Musical Minutes ontstond uit mijn improvisatiesessies tijdens workshops, waar ik samenvatte wat er was gebeurd in een muzikale piano-improvisatie.  Het waren de ‘musical minutes’ van die gebeurtenis.

In mijn werk voor de internationale gemeenschap in talent acquisition vind ik het essentieel om uit te zoeken wat mensen werkelijk drijft en motiveert.  Voor mij gaat het erom ervoor te zorgen dat de mensen met wie ik werk het gevoel hebben dat ze worden gezien om wie ze zijn en op welke plek en rol ze het beste kunnen bijdragen, met echte voldoening.

Ik geniet van de combinatie van werken als componist en muzikant, als coach en HR-professional. Beide hebben elkaar verrijkend effect. Met de coaching en het Passie Profiel breng ik zowel muziek als coaching samen. Hiermee is het mijn oprechte wens om bij te dragen aan het leven van mensen, hen te helpen hun doel te vinden, en hen muzikaal in beweging te brengen, als begeleider van hun persoonlijke reis.


Musical Minutes was founded

to merge and combine two elements: music and personal development.

For over 20 years I have had a career in both music as well as HR and personal development. Music for me is essential as it is such a strong connective force; working with people and helping them with their career development is at the core of how I approach my HR work.

The idea for musical minutes arose from my improvisation sessions at workshops, where I summarised what had happened in a musical piano improvisation. They were the ‘musical minutes’ of that event.

Whilst working for the international community in talent acquisition I find it imperative to find out what actually drives and motivates people and to make sure they feel that they are seen for who they are and where they can contribute best, with fulfilment.

I enjoy the combination of working both as a composer and musician, as well as coach and HR professional. The both have an enriching effect, and with the Passion Profile coaching, I bring both music and coaching together. With this combination it is my sincere wish to contribute to peoples lives, to help them find their purpose, and to musically move them, to the benefit of their personal journey.