Welcome to the Innovative Conservatoire

ICON Seminar 6

Dartington Hall, UK


Albert Marquet

Christoph Baumann

Last updated August 19, 2013

It is not easy for me to describe a specific situation of inspiration, because there are so many of them…

Sometimes I sit on my sofa, listening to music and looking at reproductions of paintings. For the moment I have a little love-affair with the Fauves-painter Albert Marquet. (I have chosen this painting  among many other reproductions, because the colours here, are a bit closer to the original painting than in other reproductions).

I get a lot of inspiration out of paintings, and often the combination with good music is like having a rich, well composed meal.

The inspiration I get is often not very specific, it’s more about energy, joy, stimulation, positive thinking, etc.

What is fascinating about this, and what could be the connection to teaching music?

Paintings like the reproduced one, are creating a situation,  creating a kind of attractive space. Many things are happening in there.

So, what is Marquet doing here for me?

He is opening my eyes to a specific situation –  a port in the fogs of a summer morning? Really nothing special, who cares about ports? But have a look at it!

He shows me one possible way (out of millions of ways) to see something that otherwise might be completely unimportant to me. (Who decides what is important, for whom, when and why? Do we ever know?)

He is surprising me as well with his very personal painting style.

A very easy painting ductus, a very precise but subjective choice of colours, an absolute reduction to a maximum to say, of everything he wants to show me. Or in other words, a very powerful economy of using materials.

He is able to give me an idea about his feelings in the situation there.

He inspires me to see things (in nature) in a new way, different and more precise.

That is how  one painting can help me to feel rich in this world. There are more things to see as I expected, and there are surprising and different ways to see them.

All those aspects (and there are much more) are also central for me in teaching.

If I’m able to create a space where creativity, empathy, curiousness, respect, humour become possible, I’m on the right way.

The matrix of contradictory aspects in creating music in a group (of young students) is complex.

There are conflicts between:

-Being part of a society  (could mean, being overadapted) and being yourself, that can mean, being in a position of resistance.

– The wish to sound like somebody else, versus the idea to have your own voice.

– The curiosity toward new things and the wish to learn versus isolation (to protect your inner voice) and the  fear to fail, not to be  good enough in relation to your subject.

– „To be boss“ against „to be partner“.

– To have an own (sound-) vision or to accept the outcoming result of a group-improvisation.

I see my job (like a painter) to create this space, where the matrix (of problems) become a base for creativity. Where all these aspects aren’t contradictory anymore. In opposite, they become a source of invention.

It should be a space where your ears get opened towards new sounds and unexpected music, where you are encouraged to raise your instrumental skills in new directions, where your perception is raising.

Basic methods are asking and mirroring.

Slowly it becomes possible to see (in this case: to hear) the world different. In a relaxed, even humorous situation it should become possible to fight and discuss your position, your way of perception with the other ones in a mood of respect and critical love……

Participants of those groups will become very efficient societies. They will be team players and not elbowing egoists….

Thanks a lot to the painters.







  1. Christoph, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings in the inspirations session. It was a very powerful source, and gave me much to reflect on. Then when we incorporated it into our ‘making’ session there was a lot of magic. Thanks also for our improv session on Monday evening and for the many stimulating conversations over the weekend; much to think about! Good luck with finding your special space 🙂