Vocal sounds and vocal vibration.

biografie Marjan Booy

My name is Marjan Booy,
I live in the Netherlands as well as in Finland,
February 9, 1956 I was born in Rotterdam,
I am married and am the mother of two children

Until my 17th year of life I grew up in Rotterdam-Lombardijen. It was a new suburb on the outskirts of Rotterdam. In this way I saw the polder, with its grain fields slowly evolve and turn into a concrete and stone environment becoming increasingly crowded with traffic.

I was a timid but curious child. I preferred doing things myself. From very early on an interest in everything that had to do with voice manifested itself: I am told that as baby I would feel the throat of my mother, especially when she spoke or sang.
As a young toddler, I would often sit, isolated under the table, trying all kinds of things with my voice: up to trying to imitate the singing of the classical vocalists whom I heard on the radio in our living room. Not because I liked that, but the strange way of singing intrigued me. I remember faithfully imitating the moaning of cats in heat about which my mother and aunts used to complain during the coffee visits at Grandma's: sitting on the toilet I illustrated their stories, at first confusing them, bringing them to laughter a moment later.

I also loved stories. That hunger, as well as my impatience, made me teach myself to read, so I wasn't dependent on others to read for me. I was a fervent reader and hid myself in the bathroom with my books.

I loved to learn and did well, but in spite of that school was a place of disappointment and boredom.
On Fridays we enacted plays which we wrote ourselves. That made me into someone who took the lead:
inventing, directing, assigning roles and taking part myself, caring for clothing and props, it all seemed to fit my nature.

I also remember that I was often put in front of the classroom to teach the song, the teacher had begun singing, to the children. I found that the most natural thing in the world to do, with good results also, for which I can't give a logical explanation now.
It was so, I just did it and it worked and what is most strange, it all was all taken for granted.
And all that while my confidence wasn't overwhelming - to use a euphemism.

High school was difficult; starting at secondary school I managed eventually graduate from MAVO.
Still the HAVO diploma, was not a success; my parents found that this was enough, and I left home to take up nursing.

I started working in Mental Health Care at the Dr. Mr. Willem van den Bergh Stichting. This was a village, created especially for people with intellectual disabilities.
It was and is situated in the dunes between Noordwijk-Binnen and Katwijk aan Zee..

The sight of so many deformed, mutilated and deviant people shocked me in the beginning. But soon their charming and uncensored behavior proved to be more of an attraction than a repelling factor. In dealing with them words were hardly sufficient. My whole being had to be put at their disposal ..... for me that made this work particularly attractive. It awakened me and I felt complete with these "children."
This completeness also embraced accepting and caring for human beings:
violence, and unabashedly dirty behavior ... it was all there.
But I experienced what I later confirmed:
That there is more what unites us than what divides us. Diversity is a multicolored wealth which resides in every human heart - the place where our vitality flows, with which we participate, and are a part of the huge in- and exhalation of life and the eternal, and where we are full, owning undisputed dignity.

I liked  the nature of the work, but I found my power to be too limited.
I came into contact with the work of dancer and dance teacher Mrs. Kassels-Kroon in Vlaardingen.
She had to fight for her place in the world of dancing;
that brought her towards making dance accessible for handicapped people.
I followed her (part time) training: h
ealing with music and body movement, for a year.
I did that in the same year that I went to school for my B-degree for kindergarten.
In order to earn some money I became door to door bread seller in Dordrecht, where I lived at the time.

Three years prior to this, I attended, “De Voorpost”, for my A-degree for teaching kindergarten:
The certificate, which Paula Kassels awarded me, had little value by itself for many institutions, but together with a qualification for teaching it did. The course at the Voorpost soon provided me with more than only one direction:
I signed up for what I had always missed in school: a challenge, research, enrichment, enjoyment and intrinsic motivation.
I studied without financial support, had hardly enough money but I do remember having had a feeling of a certain kind of luxury:
the luxury of going to school and broadening my horizon with much satisfaction.

It was a time of discovering who I was, that process was unorthodox and adventurous.

At school the 'Speech' teacher advised me not to take her course, but to take singing lessons instead.
That statement hit me like a bolt from the blue:
I realized that I had always loved to sing.
I suddenly became aware of my lingering desire to devote my life to singing.
I started taking singing lessons.

During the summer of 1980 I was offered a job as a kindergarten teacher.
I was not admitted to  the conservatory of music. But that did not stop me;
it would only take more time and follow a less taken for granted route.
I accepted the job, moved to Breda and I threw myself with abandon into the work as a kindergarten teacher.
In every child there is a world to discover, and I took the role of a person who broadens the scope, not only for children but, through them, repeatedly also for myself
It was hard work. It was a great pleasure.

In Breda, I got to know Jan de Breet;
he gave me the opportunity to sing solo accompanied by a Baroque Orchestra.
The thrill of that big noise around me ....
being able to sing audibly without amplification,
normally, without any miraculous intervention in how I sang
as if I had known the way already without having been conscious of it.

I also became acquainted with Daan Manneke, conductor and composer.
For a period I sang with his "Capella Sine Nomine “, an excellent chamber choir.
I acquainted myself with early music, a hitherto unknown area for me.
Daan was a spirited man, he gave me 'ears',
Josquin des Prez, Thomas Tallis, a new world opened its gates,
but unfortunately not being able to read music became an insurmountable obstacle;
I had to leave; however, a need to learn more was born.

The work also taught me new things about the possibilities of the voice:
I had to deal with demanding and chaotic children.
Later on the problem of foreign children was added to it:
very young children who could not understand Dutch.
Children for whom it was difficult to concentrate;
it became a growing difficulty for me (and with me many other teachers) to function properly in a classroom.
Singing and telling were a welcome solution:
singing became their outlet for unbridled energy,
we sang during various activities, it offered atmosphere, peace and togetherness.
By using facial expressions and by way of the melody of my voice during the story telling,
the children were enabled to listen captivated even though they did not understand the words.
The frequent repetition of the stories made it possible for these children to pick up the language.
For me this got a meaning which I re-found later in the study of songs:
in this way the material becomes richer and the evoked images more interesting.
In the process of storytelling I arrived at unexpected places.
This intensification was not only in favor of the foreign children;
the afforded opportunity to deepen, was good for everyone.
The nonverbal communication, which I had to learn,
offered me very pleasing possibilities.
I was also able to put the things, which I had learned from Paula Kassels to work;
chaotic children were calmer when I treated them following her method; but also during class I was able to apply her ​​insights with result. I think that in current education we could achieve much more with her applications: it gave me the opportunity - in large classes - to create rest and quality and maintain joy in work. This should befall every teacher, as well as every child.

I got to know more people in Breda,
sang in various choirs, followed courses at the music school.
Eventually I got the chance to give a solo concert.
Two friends, Carolein Smit and Ieneke van Doorn, had just finished the art academy,
indulged in designing costumes and sets. Geer Pouls made his gallery available.
It was the beginning of a longer period of solo work. Joep Moonen accompanied me on the piano and helped me expand my knowledge and possibilities.

After several years I did another entrance exam at Brabants Conservatorium
I was admitted into the program.
During my conservatory time I met Henk de Croon, who taught theory.
Soon we enjoyed a great and happy friendship.
We married a year later.
The birth of our daughter Susan prompted me to finish my work as a kindergarten teacher.
Studying at the conservatory happened between eating and washing dishes as it were.
Henk had two demanding jobs and within three years Jonathan was born.
Life was demanding, marriage was challenging, motherhood intensive.
1994- I successfully graduated. It was a few months before my father died.

Next to my motherhood I had a teaching practice and some solo work.
In the great Opera events in Ahoy (gigantic scale operas in Rotterdam's largest sports arena)
I had the opportunity to sing in the choir and participate in well-known works like 'Carmen', 'Aida' and more.
Later I sang in ' het Brabant Koor’, a choir made up of professional singers and good amateurs.
The rehearsals lead by Louis Buskens were not only inspiring, Louis was a man with a great and extensive knowledge - and that with love. In him lived the great desire to share that knowledge.
Singing in the ' het Brabant Koor' was a welcome continuation of, and supplement to my training as a singer / musician.
The fine works I learned to know; familiarizing myself with - for me - hitherto unknown composers,
but also having learned about the musical genius of so called well-worn, numerously played melodies,
wonderful to be able to have done all that. The performances which eventually took place with other very great conductors taught me that many opinions are possible and that they don’t necessarily have to be contradictory.
Exciting to each time see another baton wave another idea. So many ways to direct - so many ways to sing.

The conservatory took something away from me. I have had to work hard to regain it:
The spontaneity and joy of singing, the reconciliation achieved by singing, my own voice.
Uncertainty and voice failures introduced themselves.
The field of my voice seemed an inaccessible domain. A source of grief.

I acquainted myself with other opinions.
I had ever done a workshop with Jody Gilbert in Breda.
That broke my isolation for a period;
there were so many more ways to use your voice to express yourself
Dr. Rebecca Stewart was appointed to teach old and modal music at the conservatory.
In her views, I acknowledged my old love for singing.
Unfortunately I was not permitted to continue following her courses.
I did, however, get the chance to attend her classes through working-weeks and master classes.
In that way I got the chance to work for a while with people like Paul Hilliard – a great man.
I discovered the even greater man through his skills and knowledge,
and his desire to share it with others.
One's higher isn't necessarily barrier - to the contrary: it is about love and inspiration.

Improvisation in Jazz with Frans van Hoek; I was taken away, forgot about my limitations, the freedom was great.
I got to know Frans when he attended my singing lessons for a while.
Later I helped him to make his compositions, which he wrote for his little choir, possible to sing.
I regard him as one of the most gifted transmitters of music: he is able to discover the musical possibilities in anyone and then to liberate them. He just believes in them and enjoys what he does .... His choir which performs his compositions, has become the first amateur choir in the Netherlands.
Via Frans I was able to participate in a workshop with Meredith Monk, voice artist,
composer and author of the Atlas of Sound.

I learned that she had taught Jody Gilbert and was a great inspiration to her.
I learned to dare give in to my own musical concepts;
and to leave some comments from the more established for what they were.

Rebecca talked about her years in India. About Dhrupad and singing in purity;
how this had brought her to the core of her voice.
When a few years later, I met Marianne Svašek -
Dhrupad singing teacher, I did not hesitate.
Still she is my teacher.
With a tanpura I teach myself the accompanying sound:
the high harmonics with which your voice spontaneously joins.

The ModalTechnique days:
twice a year; two full days of singing and studying in the synagogue in Tilburg,
organized and taught by Rebecca Stewart and Maria Wieggers,
I regularly take part.

At the end of my first pregnancy, Danny Becher became guest lecturer at the Conservatory.
He made us acquainted with Singing Bowls, Gongs, Indian Bells and Overtone Singing.
He demonstrated, let us practice, gave instructions and concluded with a concert.
The world of sound with which he brought us into contact,
disregarding for him redundant technical limitations or possibilities pertaining to singing,
and the concert in which his voice, like a silver bird, sang the overtones of a melody,
together with his 'normal' voice;
It really cheered me up.
When I went to try out my new won knowledge,
I found that the inconveniences of an advanced pregnancy and the following childbirth could very well be absorbed by this.
Overtone singing brings the whole body in a peaceful balance without lapsing into passivity.
It made the initial intimate beginning of the imminent birth of my daughter to a very nice experience.

I think that it is useful to share that experience and knowledge with pregnant women. It provides, I believe, support and a good preparation for what is ahead, not least because with that way of singing, you connect with your physical condition. Moreover, the child learns to love the voice of the mother. In overtone singing, the voice is not only audible but also palpable.

Also during the Modal Technique days in the synagogue the overtone technique is addressed. This physical style of singing is standard in almost all chanting and singing traditions. Unfortunately it has disappeared from the Western European way of singing.

Participation in a symposium on art education in Art Saksala Radius,
offered me the chance to propagate my now very own ideas about music and singing education through a workshop. What started hesitatingly at that time, I have put into practice in the Netherlands. I got the chance at the Willem II High School, which focuses on the visual- and performing arts. With a number of pupils and teachers we spent a week at Saksala Art Radius.

I organized guest workshops for various groups and workshops on different occasions.
Some of these workshops grew into a series of lessons.

Thus, an evening workshop in ‘Het Vrouwenhuis’ evolved into a long period of evenings during which I acquainted the women with female voices from different times and cultures, and had them sing and experience these moments.

To fulfill the need to use my voice as a soloist to fill a stage, I read for readers with a visual impairment - the library for the blind.
For a number of years I got the chance to do there, what I loved to do at home: reading aloud.
It was an art in itself, again much to learn.
When the government discontinued subsidizing, the studio in Tilburg was closed. Searching for an alternative I went with a colleague to "Bloesem", founded by Naïma Boukou. It is a open house / home for foreign women in a problem neighborhood in Tilburg.
Already at the introduction I discovered how much singing brought the women closer to their emotions.
Actually, all the women who came to “Bloesem” had a life full of pain and great difficulty.
“Bloesem” gave them the opportunity to relax, sometimes to seek treatment,
prepare food together or just to celebrate.
The weekly singing brought joy but also acted as a release.
Naïma was pleased with the positive impact my visits had on the women.
I saw great courage and strength in these women.
I encountered the warmest welcome and the sweetest friendship from them.
It made me stronger and I am happy it is still there.

The language of singing has brought us ever closer together.
Singing from one’s own culture gives people strength. It brings them home in an environment that is not theirs.
Eating together, singing and dancing give joy and togetherness, which is a huge dose of positive energy to the often considerable problems these women face.

After 22 years of marriage, the children of age and more or less self-reliant, I found my place in Finland.

In the relative tranquility in the area where I live it is good to study and have new experiences. The sounds here are so different from the full-of-traffic-Tilburg. A completely new palette has been added.

It is enjoyable to share with others those experiences and knowledge which I have gathered.