Any stranger watching the spirited synergy with which the band played Vrolijk’s song would assume that these musicians had been making music together for years. In reality, most of the people in that studio had only met each other an hour before — all thanks to a new initiative called the Erasmus Music Collective.

The Erasmus Music Collective is intended as an antidote to the lack of collaboration opportunities for musically-gifted students at the university. It’s the brainchild of Lucas Vermeer, a double degree student who studies at both the Codarts University for the Arts (the Rotterdam-based university for music, dance and circus performance) and Erasmus University College (EUC). The idea behind it is two-fold: firstly to give students the chance to make music together, and secondly to provide the university with internal musicians to play at events like Eurekaweek parties and graduation ceremonies.

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The only left-handed guitarist at the jam session.

“Doing the double degree at Codarts and EUC, I really see it as an opportunity to combine the intellectual self with the creative self,” said Vermeer. “There are lots of people who have both those sides, but there’s not a lot of musical space at the EUR and we want to create that.”

Working in tandem with Studium Generale, the Erasmus Music Collective has now become an official initiative that will offer its services to the university.

“Wherever and whenever music is needed by the university, we want to be there to provide them with an internal group of musicians, rather than the university having to find external bands to play at parties like they usually do,” added Vermeer.

The jam session

To get the initiative rolling, the collective hosted jam sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday night. An announcement for the jam sessions has been floating around the EUR website and Facebook for several weeks, but the questions was whether or not any musicians would show up. For Florieke de Geus, who helped Vermeer set up the initiative, the turnout on Tuesday was beyond expectation—with more than 16 musicians showing up (over 40 musicians in total signed up for the pair of sessions).

“I’m not only delighted about how many people came, but also with how people were so happy to be together with other musicians,” said De Geus, who also studies at EUR and Codarts.

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Lucas Vermeer, the man behind the Erasmus Music Collective, sitting behind the keyboard.

Within the tiny studio where the jam session took place, there wasn’t the slightest hint that these people had never played with each other before, let alone met each other. Any song that was thrown out there, whether it was a Stevie Wonder track or Vrolijk’s own song, was turned into something that makes any pair of sneakers start tapping the ground.

“We were playing one of my own songs which has something like eleven chords, but eventually we just took the first four chords and used those to jam,” said Vrolijk, who has his own band. “Slowly the song drifted into a completely new track that we created with each other. I thought that was pretty special.”

The real ones

After Vrolijk’s mutated song, a new singer stepped to the mike and belted out a famous Alicia Keys track with a chorus that goes something like:

Cause’ a real man, knows a real one, when he sees her…”

A fitting track, one could say, because everyone on hand could see that the singer, along with all the musicians surrounding her, were the real ones — the real groovy souls who could finally release their contagious musical passion with their fellow academics. And it wasn’t as if they were playing simple Hey There Delilah–type music. No, the makeshift band of students from studies like medicine and psychology to business and communication executed tracks from colourful artists like Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, and Prince. As one tasty track followed the other, a single question kept coming to mind: why did no one think of doing something like this sooner?

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