Report of the masterclasses 2021

Due to an extraordinary interest in the masterclass of summer 2021, the course was fully booked in no time. I therefore decided to organise a second course after the first one. This second week was also soon fully booked.

Both courses took place in the Chateau du Bois in Nassogne in the Belgian Ardennes. In order to create more (teaching) space, I had decided to place a party tent next to the building.

In the first week, after a cancellation, there were 7 students who all brought their own instruments: harp, flute, violins, violas and cello. This enabled us to form an instrumental ensemble that was conducted by all the students during the group lessons in the evening with the following repertoire: Suite for strings by Janacek, Mozart’s 1st flute concerto and Debussy’s Danses for harp and strings.

During the individual lessons, each student got 50 minutes of lessons, which included conducting technique, score study and conducting Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, Schubert’s unfinished symphony and/or Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande.

Halfway through the week, there were two group lessons in conducting technique in the morning.

In the afternoon, we went for a walk in the woods with part of the group, which was much appreciated.

On the 5th and 6th course day, two pianists played the mentioned repertoire of Beethoven, Schubert and Fauré in the individual lessons.

On the very last evening, a musical presentation took place: everyone conducted the instrumental ensemble and the two pianists with parts from the complete repertoire.

At the end of each long day of lessons and lots of studying, everyone was happy to enjoy a snack and a drink together in the common room at the Chateau.


The second week was filled with an international group: the 8 course members came from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Croatia and South Korea.

The setup for this week was basically the same as the first week, except that we did not have an instrumental ensemble for the group lessons in the evening, but a violin soloist (my son Maxime) who played Mozart’s 5th violin concerto and Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto together with a pianist. Accompanying a soloist turned out to be a very valuable experience for all students.

In the middle of the week, after the two group lessons in conducting technique, we also took this group on a large walking tour. In the evening we watched a movie together.

Tai chi lesson in the early morning

Partly because of some extra assignments, the students worked very hard the whole week. To compensate, they created moments of relaxation themselves, either by going for a walk, having a chat with others or by playing party music.

In both weeks, we enjoyed the delicious meals, which – just like last year – were prepared to perfection by Astrid.







It was a very fruitful and pleasant week with two different, but extraordinarily inspiring groups!

From left to right: Esther, Linda, René, Sander, Marijn, Douwe, Meija, Mourik Jan, Uschik, Astrid
From left to right: Mourik Jan, Maxime, Aafko, Martijn, Oscar, René, Soyoung, Bertram, Myrthe, Petromila, Debora, Astrid



“As a teacher myself I was impressed by the way René organizes the lessons. The combination of sheer technique and the musical approach of the repertoire works very well. It was inspiring to see how every student made great progress. As a conductor of children orchestra’s I realize the importance of a clear conducting technique. In every rehearsal since the masterclass I could apply techniques I’ve learned. Thank you René and Astrid, for an inspiring week at the start of a new schoolyear!”



“To acquire confidence in your conducting technique, this is the place to be!”



“With great expectations I joined this masterclass: as a recording-producer (ex-pianist) with aspirations to learn more about orchestra or ensemble conducting I had already followed some courses, workshops and lessons, and wondered how it would be to work on conducting-skills for a whole week non-stop, in a musicschool-like atmosphere together with a very experienced teacher and other musicians. For me it turned out to be an unforgettable experience. The luxury of a private lesson ánd a group-lesson every day, combined with René Gulikers’ capacity to adjust to anyone’s individual level while providing for new challenges also, resulted for me personally in an increased confidence to express myself musically, and a more clear image of techniques. All this in the good care of Astrid who provided for all our meals, in a beautiful environment, and while sharing enthusiasm and ideas with other participants, made me leave this masterclass at the end of the week in a slightly sad mood because it was over. Fortunately I still feel super-inspired by all the knowledge, impressions and experiences gathered in my head and my heart after this masterclass.”  



“I can recommend this conducting course very much. René is a great teacher. It was hard work but I learned a lot!”



“René is an incredible pedagogue that adapts to any level and style of conducting students. He perfectly knows what errors to expose and how to solve the problems, going from basics to more complexes issues. This leads to a very fast learning and a good confidence in everyone’s potential. He starts from solid fundamentals and then adapts it to every student.

The week was very intense but it enlarged my perception of music quicker than any other musical study so far, bringing me from 0 knowledge in conducting, to being able to conduct a Symphony Mouvement. The relationship with René and the other student was very relaxed, in a really safe and caring environment. I strongly recommend his conducting class to any motivated person that want’s to discover the beauty of conducting.”



“It was a great time with a great teacher René Gulikers and other participants to learn about technical and also musical things of conducting that I really wanted to study in more detail.” 



‘It has been a week where I was and could be fully submerged in conducting, enjoying the peace and quiet of Nassogne. I have improved immensely under careful guidance of René and with lovely hospitality from Astrid. The week was a total success!”



I can fully recommend this masterclass! René admirably adapts his teaching to every level, gives confidence and security but also pushes for more. The surrounding nature helps to relax and calm down while Astrid’s wonderful cooking and the overall hospitality of the hosts creates an atmosphere where you can come as you are and feel free to try out new things, develop old things further and learn.


Read the report of the Masterclass 2020 here, the report of the Masterclass Winter 2022 here, the report of the Masterclass Summer 2022 here and the one of Winter 23 here. Through this link you get all information about the upcoming masterclass.


Here is an article from the magazine ARCO (Oct. 2021) from the Dutch department of the European String Teachers Association (ESTA), about the Masterclass Summer 2021, written by participant Marijn Drolsbach (for English: see below).


More than just conducting technique
We all know that conducting is a special profession. And for music teachers who sometimes stand in front of a group of students or even a group with the size of an orchestra, there was a highly recommended course this summer to better master this subject.
Many of us once had the subject of ensemble conducting during our conservatoire training. I myself do not have many memories of that period, something with an ‘anchor’ on the blackboard for the four-four beat and a self-made arrangement of a piano piece by Ibert for string quartet that I conducted as a conclusion. At the time the focus was mainly on studying the violin, and the thought that years later a situation would arise in which there would be a need for a good conducting technique did not occur to me.
René Gulikers, professor at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, can certainly teach you that good technique. For a maximum of eight participants each time, he organised two courses in the Ardennes last summer. At the start of the course, each participant received a booklet made by René in which the conducting technique is visualised in detail. Beating patterns of different time signatures, fermatas, measures, giving entrances and cutting offs on different beats in the bar, it is all explained.
Of course, conducting is more than just beating patterns, which is why the course devotes a great deal of attention to studying scores. The repertoire, partly chosen by the student and partly selected by René, was thoroughly analysed, gone through with René and performed with a pianist during the last two days. How cool is it to conduct Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ or Schubert’s ‘Unvollendete’?
In the evening, the participants formed an ensemble in which they alternately conducted movements from Janacek’s String Suite, Debussy’s Danse Sacrée and the last movement of Mozart’s Flute Concerto. The evenings were concluded with drinks in a convivial atmosphere.
Because all lessons were recorded on video on request, the learning process can also be continued after returning home. In short, a valuable course in a beautiful setting, our Flemish colleagues do not even have to cross the border for it.
Marijn Drolsbach
Violin teacher