Marc van Roon


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Music Labs for Leadership Development

 Music Labs for Leadership Development My joy is to engage with people in connecting conversations that help shape and co-construct meaningful narratives and improvisations that focus on integrating the best of Western research science, philosophy and educational theory with the transformative power of music, play, the art of improvisation and all its emerging qualities, and Eastern spirituality, non-duality and mysticism.

In Music Labs I help people align with their natural talent, their power and potential, set personal and professional goals that they meet, equip them with tools for awakening to the possibilities that play, improvisation and effortless effort can bring in their profession, craft and activities, and help them create optimal conditions for success, healing and relaxation. 

I hold a MA in music from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands and have been the CEO of the co-founded corporate creative learning company Art in Rhythm for 15 years. I am currently working on a social science Masters degree at the Lesi University in The Netherlands and teach, coach and mentor international students and peers at various conservatoires and universities in Europe.  

The last twenty years I have explored and researched the various ways in which my music and professional musicianship can connect with the context of leadership development, the transformation of corporate cultures and the emergence of new better narratives. I have searched for ways to help people in organisations to align the internal organisation with their external objectives and ambitions. I have explored the ways in which the creative artistic perspective can facilitate setting up and structuring new ways of creation and production in modern day organisations and communities. Since then, in the roles of improvising musician and creative musical leadership developer, almost like a modern day version of a medieval troubadour, I have visited many countries in numerous parts of the world and have worked with more than 500 different companies and organisations world-wide - many of them being so-called ‘fortune 500’ companies. I have been invited to speak at international conferences and participate in creative think-tank sessions.

Currently I am enrolled in a MSc program for social intervention at the LESI insitute in Utrecht, The Netherlands. As a mentor and research content coach I facilitate matsre students at the Hanze University of Applied Science in Groningen, The Netherlands. 

Besides Music, Musicians, Jazz and Non-Duality, I find inspiration in many writers and speakers in my network. I am highly inspired by my collaboration with writer and speaker Joseph Jaworski, by my research guide Harry Kunneman, by writers Charles Eisenstein, Charles Savage, Dr. Peter Kruse, Otto Duintjer, Francesco Varela, Allan Watts, Ricardo Semler, Frank Barrett, and by many others. 

Music Labs

We live in jazzy times. Everything is so ambiguous, there are no clear and easy solutions, but we still need to find our way through. In Music Labs, participants learn how to deal with these uncertain and spontaneous situations by letting the creativity flow and guide them through the complexity.  

Not only we need to learn how to improvise, co- create and how to use these skills more often in our business processes, but it is also important to understand that we need both happy and sad experiences in order to grow. Swing and blues need each other. The interplay between these two sides of life is crucial in ensuring agility in organisations. We have a tendency to sweep away, ignore all the frustration, distress and despair we experience.  But actually it can also be a very important source of inspiration for creativity and development. Marc challenges people to express their blues in a simple way. And often our blues bring out very joyous emotions. 

I help organisations and individuals to improve their leadership skills in an innovative and creative way. In his workshops, participants discover how the laws of jazz can be applied to leadership, collaboration and how this can support innovation processes. In our professional life, we only use a small part of our full  potential. I help people to reconnect with their natural talents, to open up and start creating. 

Often teams are lacking co-creation process, our office life is so structured and serious, that there is little room for improvisation and fun in it. There is a need to create an environment, that would let our individual talents flow, just like it is happening in a jam session where musicians co-create their music. One thing is leading to another and all of a sudden creativity starts to emerge and all pieces magically fit together in a beautiful result. 

There’s an artist hiding in every one of us – an artist who, through play and exploration, can achieve results that touch and inspire others. We just need to create an environment where this artist can emerge. Music labs are an ideal place for that as here teams and individuals learn to listen and trust each other in connecting conversations and very practical improvisation exercises. Participants learn how to work together in a playful way that gets every-one interested and involved, and allowing meaningful, effective and sustainable solutions to emerge. Later they can bring this new collaboration method back to their offices and practice in their daily work. The laws of jazz reconnect us with and awake within us a deep, innate wisdom.

Music Labs - Design
The design of the Music Lab can be adjusted to specific needs and goals. In terms of ingredients the programme balances experiential and transformative learning with music performance, passive and active musicking, reflection and sharing with storytelling, lecture based episodes and the sharing of relevant theory and best practices. Tools include the Score and Core sessions, the Boom Tak play and game session and the community of practice collaborative jam session. 

The Music Lab session addresses group from 10 to 150 participants. The duration can be from two and a half hour to a full day. For large scale interventions Marc van Roon collaborates with the NAIP Master of Music facilitators from the UK and The Netherlands. 

The Music Lab inspiration session can be co-facilitated by guest improvising musicians:
Tineke Postma (international performing jazz artist and saxofonist)
The European Jazz Trio (a creative smoothly jazz piano trio)

E-mail for a consultation.

The Score & Core learning objectives aim to enable participants: 
    •    To co-construct a value-space and learning environment in which new up to date, relevant and sustainable narratives can emerge
    •    To identify the talents and gaps in terms of knowledge, skills and mindset necessary for the co-creation of new sustainable narratives with inspiring plots
    •    Illustrate the power of a value driven network through emotional engagement
    •    To learn to balance safety and risk with the pre-composed (game) and the spontaneously arising (play) 
    •    To co-create a music jam that is partly constructed on pre-orchestrated structures and partly emerges from the interaction and connection between the participants 
    •    To recognise the reality of increasing complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity in our life
    •    To understand and connect with multiple perspectives on life and work 
    •    To balance individual tasks and responsabilities in artistic co-creative contexts
    •    To tap into their personal creative potential in connection to their peers
    •    To recognise and understand the relationship between serious work and sincere play
    •    To get a hands on experience in the art of improvisation
    •    To get an insight into the world of artists and musicians and to extract essential learning from it
    •    To reflect on the relevance of the whole session for their professional practice
    •    To enhance group think and group communication
    •    To reflect on the creative experience and engage in a sense-making process

What a Music Lab teaches leaders, teams and organisations:

  • How to deal with complexity and unpredictability. 
  • How to increase agility in teams and organisations.
  • How to work together in a playful way that gets every-one interested and involved. 
  • How you can connect seeming opposites in a fruitful way. 
  • Experiencing the creative process in a tangible, visceral way. 
  • An understanding of contemporary concepts and theories of professional practice, and their applicability in your own line of work.

I live my life in music. Music has graciously shown me many of her magical qualities. Music invited me to stop thinking and start playing during many of the creative concerts. It urged me to forget what I think I know and surrender to powerful open free playing from trust, connection and core. And music invited me to do this in the company of my fellow musicians, peers and critical friends. 

Often I experienced being on stage and being surprised at the unexpected bifurcations the music would take. I would me in awe of the effortlessness and ease in which my hands suddenly could move in flow over the keys of my grand piano, hitting and stroking all the right keys in exact the right moment, without me being involved at all. And being even more amazed to discover after the performance that all band members experienced exactly the same. 

I love and enjoy being a professional jazz man and exploring the playful ‘Shoo-bi-do-bi-doo, Da-di-ditty-di-ditty-da’ bluesy swinging fluid flowing way of life. I’ve developed a strong fascination for that which can creatively emerge when different players open up, connect and start jamming together without a score but with a tacit structure and shared intention that leads them. 

Music has been a constant underlying generative force and powerful compass for which I am sincerely grateful. I have seen that music is not merely another form of language. Language - with both its limitations and invitations - is a form of music. Music has filled my life with inspiration and has brought me to many places in the world. From the most intimate jazz clubs to the largest concert halls. From playing in the streets to performing for kings, queens and presidents in their palaces. Music has shown me how to balance the score with the core - the precomposed orchestrated with the heartfelt intuitive emergent. It has given me fresh perspectives on how to balance the dynamics and rules of orchestration, composition and music-making with the open and fluid art of pure instant improvisation and jamming. 

Jazzy times 
I see that we live in jazzy times. Some call our present times an age of transition. Others speak of a crisis. Either way, we find ourselves deeply immersed in the Jazz of being lost in the middle of unknown and unpredictable territories. Deep with our feet in swampy wetlands. There are no maps yet. No scores to play from. And we cannot foresee what melody will emerge next. 

In almost all dimensions of living, we are in search for new narratives to make sense out of our fast transforming world. Our old stories, cultural and organizational maps aren’t serving us any longer. Many of the old narratives are still dominating society. We need renewed and better stories to deal with our complex reality and to create more sustainable solutions. We need to rewrite our cultural operating systems. And jazz can inspire us in a enjoyable way.  Let’s play. We’re all invited. Nobody is excluded. Let’s have a party. 

Symphonies of meaning
Our current reality invites us to start playing collaboratively in search for better stories with richer plots in order to adapt to the sounds and rhythms of our times. To start jamming to enjoy new grooves and beats. Feeling joy. Inspiring each other. Carrying each other through the swing and the blues of life. 

We need new stories 
We need new stories that remind us that our natural manner of living is constitutively aesthetic and effortless. We need stories that allow for new plots about the way we relate to life and our shared living experience. New stories about the way we relate to self, other, and the natural biosphere to which we belong. 

We need inspiring shared narratives about the rules we agree to play our new games by and about the space and time we allow ourselves and each other for explorative free play and discovery by trail and error. We need stories that identify life as a just and good life when the individual’s professional practice is in relationship with and for others in a healthy and inspiring way. Stories that speak of a thirdness which emerges when two meet, connect deeply and share profoundly.

We need shared narratives that will bring us new sets of game rules that allow us to keep growing individually by start playing collaboratively. Stories that bridge creation with organization. Stories that value artistic, creative and spiritual capital equally as they value economic and intellectual capital. Stories that balance calculation and risk. Stories that give us permission to follow our joy, act with discipline and responsability, while at the same time permit us to relax and enjoy life. Stories embracing both the swing and blues of life. Stories dealing with acceptance more than avoidance. Stories that say yes to the mess. And invite us to play together with the messiness to discover what beauty and harmony we like to create out of it. 

We need to improvise
We can take action, start playing and make a party that includes everyone who wishes to join. We can start to connect, engage passionately, improvise, play, negotiate meaning and co-construct new stories using music as a metaphorical approach and as a source of inspiration. Stories that allow our leaders to conduct more inspiring symphonies in which the orchestrated meets the jazz. That help those in leadership roles to conduct in a serving way. To conduct non-hierarchical collaborations and lead to solid ground in the swampy wetlands of our complex reality. We can inspire our leaders to lead without the need to abuse power and responsibility and force our personal interpretations and narratives on other people.

We can start to look and reflect on our personal fundamental concepts and narratives that no longer provide us with sustainable solutions, block our own creative flow and expressions, and do not create intimate connecting conversations with and for others. We can start to improvise collaboratively, play and compose new narratives with our transformative ensembles. We can rewrite our cultural operating systems. Upgrading continuously by setting the free playing mode as default. We can start improvising from the core of our being. Jamming up tunes that sing of a new score. 

In our communities we can co-create ensembles of practice. And with these groups we can start to co-construct new symphonies of meaning. Jamming up songs in which we allow stillness to speak between our notes. Songs that allow our leaders to conduct more inspiring compositions in which the orchestrated meets the jazz. During concerts in which the intuitive joins the craftsman. And the improvised interacts with the pre-composed. 

We can discover new paths together that might emerge when we connect and start creating from our core. From our shared source of being. Playing with sounds and rhythms of life. Music - with all her intangible and tacit qualities - can be our teacher. Score and Core provides the creative laboratory of transformation in which we collaboratively can write new sustainable songs of life and co-create a whole new opus of meaning together.  

Score & Core
Score: A narrative and symbol set that is pre-composed, and which can be an inspiring orchestration, but which is often created by visionary ancestors at the time, that have left the scene or have departed long time ago and are not living in the present time reality and do not need to face with its challenges, ambiguity and complexity. How can we collaboratively bring existing text to life and make them sound inspired and emotional?

Core: A new narrative that emerges out of a group’s playful sincere heartfelt connection in the present moment and their shared collaborative experimentation and creative process allowing for an effortless adaptation to a fast transforming environment in an effective and sustainable way.  

To me, music is a connecting bridge who’s emergent qualities and improvisational elegance can lead us from old unsatisfying narratives about our reality to stories that are better equipped to deal with the complexity of our times successfully. This subject and the Score & Core module are exactly about that. 

Music is such an all-encompassing field. It embodies our natural born relationship with the sounds exist beyond time and space and exist before our interpretation of them. 

A Music Lab provides participants with an experiential value space where the intuitive innovator joins the skilful craftsman, and the improvised meets the orchestrated. In this session, music is presented as a teacher, as a source of inspiration, as a metaphor and as an experiential learning context. 

A Music Lab is an invitation for a creative connecting conversation - an active jam session - that offers valuable and intangible values of music as a metaphor and a transformative learning experience that can facilitate the shared construction of meaningful new narratives about our living experience, our creations and our organizations. In the Score & Core session a value-space emerges in which participants get the opportunity to practice relevant skills and talents in an interactive and engaging setting. 

A Music Lab is embedded in the context of institutions in economic, educational and organizational domains in search for ways to co-create new and better stories in order to adjust to rapid societal change, increasing complexity and increasing demands for flexibility and adaptability due to cultural, environmental and social changes, globalisation, demographic change and ageing, and global economic restructuring. 

In the Music Lab presentation music serves as an experiential metaphor on various levels. It facilitates the development of skills - and awareness - in how to connect the art of orchestration with the core of jazzy group improvisation. It connects the precomposed with the emergent. It connects the head with the heart - the conceptual with the physical. It balances organizational with creative processes.

Practitioners get a hands on experience in acting as structured leaders and conductors AND ‘play’ jazz at the same time. In how to ‘say yes to the apparent mess’ and transform it into an artistic and meaningful expressions for self and other. In how to be fluent creators in fluid linear AND non-linear contexts. In how to create value networks with peers by connecting, by being present in the moment, by using a minimal structure as the underlying score and by being willing to take risk. And focusing on making oneself sound good and making others sound great.



Joseph Jaworski, author, founder of the U-theory. 

“Marc’s music creates a setting and portal for high creativity and discovery in any leadership development workshop or conference. His music is simply magical and transformational. Its value cannot be overstated.”


Barry Rogers, founder and CEO of Liberare, trainer of educational management programmes

“Marc has a delicate style that combines humbleness with a sureness of his interventions. He embodies the new leadership paradigm. His workshops serve as a fruitful metaphor within leadership development. With his gentle style, Marc shows leaders how to improvise and trust their intuition. Marc teaches them that it doesn’t lead to chaos, but to a playful performance within the rules of the score.”


Roman Merkt, managing partner of corporate meeting and event agen-cy Vischer, Merkt & Partner AG.

“Marc’s unique talent is that he can transform a rough idea into a customised business event. He is proactive, flxible, authentic, and always delivers something special. Marc is able to lead the audience in a natural way with a great sense of humour. With his music and presence, he creates an atmosphere of openness that enhances interaction and cooperation. Marc is a master in setting the field in which people can open their hearts and minds, which is an essential ingredient for connection and collaboration.”


Merel Boon, educationist on the teacher training programmes,Leiden University of Applied Sciences. 

“ Marc’s artistic approach makes the intangible tangible. He puts universal topics, such as the power of silence and inner depth, into the spotlight in a way that creates a valuable experience for everyone. His open, welcoming attitude clearly communicates that every individual voice matters in the greater, collective voice.”


André Kalden, the agency De Goede Werker

“In order to get an understanding of your role and what your drivers are, you need to use both your head and your heart. Marc understands this skill. Using a cleverly structured programme, he invites the participants to enter into his world – the world of music. The participants identify with Marc’s professionalism, which enables him to gently coax them out of their comfort zone, creating a sense of joy and focus. Through this process of collaboration and exploration, Marc manages to tap into an energy.”



Marc van Roon / Marc van Roon Trio

European Jazz Trio