Frerick den Haan: hotello turned musician

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Frerick den Haan, founder of The Hen House Music, freelance musician and marketer. We asked him about his experience at Hotelschool The Hague and what he is up to nowadays. How did he make the switch from hospitality to music? Continue reading to find out.

Hello Frerick. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Frerick den Haan, I am 29 years old and an alumnus of Hotelschool The Hague.

How did your career develop after you finished Hotelschool The Hague?

During my time at Hotelschool The Hague, I decided to bring together people to make music for events or at the bar; people who could sing and play an instrument. Out of all people, there was one guy with whom I shared a mutual interest in playing jazz music. We started a band together and the school invited us to play at graduations and employee events at first. We started as students, playing for fun with no serious intentions. However, my time at Hotelschool The Hague took a little bit longer than usual because we were all of a sudden invited by our network for many performances, not only inside school but also for concerts and festivals. At one point it became more important to learn about harmonic jazz progressions than calculating net profit values.

After I graduated, I started working in marketing for the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague and kept music as a side job. However, I wanted to do more within the music industry. So, I launched my own booking and management agency called ‘The Hen House Music’ and became a freelance musician and marketer. But one and a half years ago, I decided I still wanted to study at the conservatory. Therefore, I went to Utrecht and studied jazz piano under the wings of piano players who played with legendary musicians like Miles Davis and Chet Baker. It has always been one of my dreams to release my own album and inspire other people to follow their dreams as well. In March 2019, I released my first album in a fully packed theatre and hit the road with my music ever since. On Friday 11 July, the Frerick den Haan Trio is playing at North Sea Round Town as part of the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. You should come and watch!

How did Hotelschool The Hague help you prepare for your career?

What I really liked about studying at Hotelschool The Hague is that you can go in any direction you want. The things I valued most are the entrepreneurial spirit of employees and students, the courses in presenting yourself, and the priceless asset of a widespread international network. That is exactly what a lot of musicians lack nowadays. I really focus on the details in our stage presentation, as well as in the preparation. We take care of everything, so the external bookers do not need to worry about anything. In the end, preparing a gig, entertaining, and leaving a flawless impression has more things in common with hospitality than you might think.

Are you still in touch with your former classmates?

Yes, I am. I actually just ran into someone from my year club here today. We still see each other regularly or do business with each other. Through many people from my network, I have obtained gigs. Your network is everything!

What is your most vivid memory from Hotelschool The Hague?

In Le Début, I once put too much alcohol in the flambee… The flame rose up to the ceiling.

What does a day in your life look like?

On normal days I work on projects. Right now for example, I am working on the Mondriaan Jazz Festival in The Hague. I work on this project temporarily and stay in touch with the artists. In the evenings, two to three times a week, I have gigs, do some composing, or go to jam sessions. You may call me a Jazzcat, as we are always up in the night being active.

Where do you hope to be in the next five to ten years?

I hope that I can work and live full-time as an artist and settle down with my wife and kids. Five to ten years right? It is my dream to focus more on my music. I live in Leiden and would like to stay here in the Netherlands, but if a good opportunity comes along, I could imagine that I would move.

What do you enjoy the most about what you do now?

The freedom to make your own choices and be your own boss.

What obstacles did you overcome to be where you are now?

First of all, it’s difficult not having a steady paycheck every month. By realising that lots of money is not the key to my success, I managed to let go and chase my dreams, instead of making consecutive promotions for just another company.

Which courses did you enjoy the most?

I really enjoyed Business Model Innovation (BMI) and have used it a lot; the thinking processes and structures, what you can do differently than others to stand out from the crowd. Also, Managing an Outlet (MO) taught me that you need to be a leader and bring everyone together in order to be a team. It is also very important to be honest when giving feedback and having progress interviews. Furthermore, the practical skills we learned are really important for all kinds of industries, for example how to present yourself.

A favourite lecturer?

There are many good and inspiring lecturers and instructors at Hotelschool The Hague. One I most certainly remember is Ms van Wijk. As a Front Office instructor she addressed me for the first time by saying, very directly, that I should get out of my chair if I introduce myself to someone. This is a lesson I have never forgotten. Strict but fair, I like that. She has also been a great inspiration to me as we had many conversations regarding my future in music.

Do you have any advice for current students?

My advice would be to follow your inner dream. In the beginning, people told me I should stop this hobby project and focus on my ‘office career’. How many times I had to tell them that for me music is not a hobby, is uncountable. The only thing I know is that I am very happy to be stubborn and that I focused on my inner passion. There are many ways to pursue what you really love to do. You just need to start somewhere. Chase your dreams. Just begin!

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"You just need to start somewhere. Chase your dreams. Just begin!"

Frerick den Haan