It can start with a hunch

by | 26 October 2023

You have a hunch, an idea, and you follow it… This story starts with a spontaneous idea to make some music together.

After my project with the female choir Pihlaja in Finland, for whom I composed music to poems by Madhu Raghavendra, I thought it interesting and fun to improvise around some poems with singer, coach and voice actor Nicoline Pouwer. I decided to reach out to her; luckily, she was very enthusiastic, so one evening I went to Amsterdam for an evening of improvisation!

We started playing around with some poems, just co-creating ideas for songs as we went along.  Some things worked – some a little less. But as we kept playing and trying – and yes, I do find that a bit scary sometimes and a bit out of my comfort zone – beautiful things got created.

At one point, as I played a pattern, she moved from singing in English to Dutch to something that sounded like a children’s song. It sounded really sweet but, at the same time, had a certain intensity.  When we ended the improvisation, Nicoline said, “This is the song of the porcupine…”  I was not sure what this actually meant, but there was a strong connection, and the musical idea we came up with was powerful in its simplicity.

The porcupine she referred to turned out to be a character in a story app that she was in the process of creating; a story app for children who are hospitalised long-term with an aim to ease painful treatments they need to undergo.  Such an amazing idea, and a beautiful way of contributing and helping people with music!

Fast-forward; we found ourselves in the recording studio, where we further worked on the idea. Most of it came very effortlessly, and yes, there were also some hurdles to get it right, but in the end, there was this lovely teaser that could be used to promote the project. I found it actually amazing to sit next to Nicoline and experience live voice acting – as if you were in a children’s film!

What I find particularly interesting, and this project gives me another angle to look at this, is to find out what (musical) intervals, and which key you want to use for a particular piece of music.  There is a lot to be said about how intervals work, and how the different keys can actually make a difference in what you want to achieve with your music. More to come about this interesting topic in the near future 😉

Now that this initial work has been done, what better than to see how things actually work with a live audience?  In the next year, we will visit some hospitals and ‘perform’ for the children to work with them and find out what really resonates with them and works for them.   So much looking forward to this!

The creation of the app is still in its preparation phase, with a foundation to support it, and the medical research foundation ‘Music as Medicine’ of the Erasmus University joining in to help us learn from what we do, and think along.

My point of the story above is: follow your intuition!  If you have an idea that feels right, even though there is no further context of where it will go, or what ‘use’ it might have, just do it.  In this case, I just had the idea to play with Nicoline, so I contacted her to see if she was interested. I really had no further idea what, where, next steps, whatsoever.  Just a spontaneous idea that felt right. And see, it now lands somewhere really great!  I encourage everyone to do the same.


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.