Who? Marloes Milius (29)
From? Berkel en Rodenrijs, the Netherlands
Studies? Voice, Indian Music
What? Will go to India for the sixth time, in February
So, you are 29 and a second-year student… Do tell!
“Before I started here, I had already lived a full life, ha ha. When I was 19, I decided to take the five-year study Natural Medicine in Arnhem. I did complete the three-year theoretical course, but I found myself too young for the practical part. I then moved to Belgium. I already had Belgian friends and often went there to go out. I lived there for six years. In 2012 I made my first trip to India, in order to get to know myself better. I went four more times, always once a year, and always a little longer. I took courses in yoga and meditation. In Varanasi, at the Dhrupad Mela Festival, I first heard Indian classical music. Initially I found the music terribly slow and completely incomprehensible.
Meanwhile, at a course for voice improvisation in Belgium I had found that singing made me very happy—I experienced the healing quality of music. So when I went to India again, in the spring of 2015, I wanted to do something with my voice. I took lessons with a teacher for three months. In order to earn money to continue my studies I went to Australia. There I became ill. Back in Holland with my parents I worked on getting better: following a strict diet—and of course parental love helps too, ha ha.
Then, through a friend who plays the sitar I found myself at a world music concert by Grounds at the WMDC. There I learned that I could study Indian Music at the World Music Department of Codarts! I nearly fainted! I looked into Codarts, visited the open night and open day and before my audition I went to India again and studied very hard for four weeks. Fortunately I was accepted.”
“Wonderful! I’m so fortunate to have this fantastic main subject teacher, Marianne Svašek. I have to work awfully hard, though. When I started here, I could absolutely not read music… I manage by doing my homework consistently and by practising a lot. For a singer of Indian classical music the daily morning practice takes 90 minutes. And to become an even better singer you have to listen to a lot of music. In early February I will go to India again—for only three weeks, I regret to say, because of school—to the festival in Varanasi and to do an intensive Dhrupad workshop given by Pandit Nirmalya Dey. It’ll be a study holiday.”
You said just now: “Initially I found the music terribly slow and completely incomprehensible.” So that has changed.
“You cannot listen passively to Indian classical music, only actively. This music was not intended as just entertainment. That is something you have to know and realise. It is meditative music, because it is modal and not tonal like Western music. It is all about the feeling, the intonation within the notes. It’s about awareness and patience. At concerts the introduction takes an hour, whereas the part of the composition with lyrics takes only about ten minutes. The notes are more important than the story, which is almost always about gods and goddesses. You cannot disconnect Indian classical music from the rest of your life; it is a lifestyle.”
What’s your favourite spot in Rotterdam?
“The school, at the WMDC. Both my parents were born and raised in Rotterdam; I’ve been living here only a week now, right around the corner in Delfshaven. I like that neighbourhood very much. I go to school and I go to work, at Ekoplaza. I don’t really go anyplace else…”
Codarts to me is…
“… my second home. Marianne Svašek is my second mother, my best friend, and my role model. I learn a lot here, I’m building a wonderful network, and will have a nice diploma later.”