Newsletter fall 2023


Francine van Dam’s Newsletter Fall 2023
Hello there!

I hope this newsletter finds you well. I am doing fine, we have rains finally, so the mountain streams are filling up again. Autumn has arrived.

In these two weeks of school-holidays , I’m enjoying my “Soletariedad” not to be confused with “Soledad”. ( The word Soletariedad is invented by someone from Argentina, meaning reserving time for and enjoying the company of oneself .In fact it is based on the the same thought as what I offer my guided retreats….see link below.

I will try to send out a newsletter every season, and publish my blogs on social media more often.

In this newsletter you will find:
“Sweet Sixtee tour”retreat “Back to Self”my teaching activitiesupcoming projectsblogfree stay at la FontanitaSweet Sixtee Tour:Next Spring I hope to be turning 60. What a privilege! To celebrate this, I will be doing concerts the whole next year, starting in spring, with my “Sweet Sixtee Tour”.

In february/march I will be in Suriname, Brasil and Amsterdam. Curaçao will follow later in the year, and of course in summer plenty of gigs here in the Ardèche.I offer my “One Woman Latin Band” , with me singing, fluting, playing congas and cuatro, and of course instant concerts with local musicians. Looking forward to those exchanges again! Dates will be published on my website and social media! Please, if you want to invite me, or have an idea, with great pleasure!

The guided retreat “Back to Self” that I am offering, has been a huge success so far.I mix various disciplines, like coaching, music, writing, painting, dance, meditation in morning sessions with a client, leaving time and space for introspection the rest of the

Teaching in France, a new adventure!

It took some time, living in this rural area, but I am actually also quite busy teaching music now. It is the destiny of the migrant, start again :-)I have now posts in 3 music schools and some private lessons. When the possibility presented itself to start teaching again ( in Amsterdam I stopped teaching in 2007) I asked myself how to make it fun for myself.Because if I don’t enjoy it, how can my pupils like it?Two answers came up, first of all trying to combine the academic approach ( by the way, solfège here in France is taught in a very old fashioned way) with the auditive approach. So that my pupils not only can interpret written music, but can also create/improvise. Teaching what music is about actually..And the second one is teaching a variety of topics: flute, recorder, piano, vocals, all in popular as well as classical music, and in different settings, sometimes 2 singers together, or combining individual courses so that pianists can play together etc. Most of my pupils here are piano-players by the way, very nice. I also run two “ateliers vocals” where we only sing in unknown languages…the title states;” a new adventure”, and that’s what it is!

Trip down memory lane( short story):

The summer when I was 15 was our first summer here in this house in the Ardèche.My mother came up with the plan to send my brother Michiel and me to the summer course of the renowned international school of Chambon sur Lignon, breading spot of the well-to-do Protestants. Her brother had been sent there too, from Lyon, before WWII. I suspect with good reason that it was her plan, to keep us there after the summer, to get rid of us. Anyhow, there are other interesting details about this trip, wait for it in a blog, for now it’s enough to say it was my first meeting with French educational methods. Medieval! I didn’t speak a word of the language, and to develop our French, the whole class had to write dictations from Victor Hugo. Happily enough, the son of the Dutch ambassador was in my class, a younger kid, and came to sit next to me to spell all those impossible words. What an encounter with French didactics!Just a day or two later, my brother managed to convince my parents to come and pick us up again. ( wait for the blog, this is of course the very safe and short version).

Upcoming projects:Between running the guesthouse, my small concerts here, organising the retreats, maintenance of house and land, teaching and getting the repertoires right, I’m not bored! I do want to continue with my own compositions, and painting. And the blogs, you can read, ( link below) will also be part of my upcoming book. What a blessing to have too many plans, lol.Booking gîte la Fontanita for next year is now possible, just take a quick look around its

Click this link to read my first two blogs:

(illustrations by Saskia Pfaeltzer)


Free stay:Last but not least. I have received friends who came to give me a helping hand in the garden of the house, and I think it was a mutual pleasure every time. And there always is more than enough free time of course to enjoy your stay here. Let me know if you feel like it! There are several little or bigger projects possible.



Francine van Dam

PS: Please give me some feedback on this first newsletter, I would really appreciate it. And let me explain why it’s in English: Simple, the majority of my subscribers can read it. So forgive me for not having a French, Dutch or Spanish version…