At the end of the academic year 2021-2022 Carlo Willems will pass on the torch to Koen Wilmaers. Koen has been teaching at the conservatoire since 1995 and has also been working with Carlo outside the school for a long time. Carlo Willems can start dreaming of a quieter life, although he remains involved with the programme as a teacher of Practical Harmony. Koen will be assisted in his additional task by Pieterjan Vranckx.
For years, Koen and Carlo worked as a tandem, both at the conservatoire and elsewhere. Koen is therefore determined to maintain the paths they have mapped out together: "We have always tried to put the individual student first. Whereas in the bachelor's course we offer a more defined programme, in the master's course we do everything we can to support the students in their personal development. Whereas in the bachelor's programme we offer a more defined programme, in the master's programme we do everything we can to support the students in their personal development. After all, we coach them to achieve their personal career goals, and they are not so modest."
Koen sees different interests among the students. One wants to teach, another focuses on a particular instrument group within percussion, yet another wants to become an orchestral percussionist or soloist, but actually the combination of all those goals is the key to the programme: "We motivate our students to explore the professional field during their studies and to go as wide as possible. That actually makes it a lot safer. They are not thrown in at the deep end after their graduation, but build up a network earlier on which they can call on during or after their time at the Conservatoire."
With success, because most Master students are on stage or in front of the class so often that individual lesson schedules, which are subject to change week by week, are the most pragmatic solution. For the teachers themselves, too, this method of working is much more of a blessing than a curse: "We don't have to hope that a student will do well after his studies. We already see that happen during the study programme."
This personal approach also extends to matching the right lecturer to the right (master) student. Each tutor has his or her own accents and specific skills. Depending on the personal interests and ambitions of the students, they are assigned to different teachers. "We therefore advise students to educate themselves well, even before the admission test. Read up. Who are the teachers at the Conservatoire? What do they stand for? What do you want to get out of your education?"