Ellen started her music career playing the clarinet and saxophone in her hometown Neede, but it wasn't until the bandleader of the bigband she played in asked her to sing "Moonlight Serenade" when she realised that her voice would be her instrument of choice. The fact that singing enabled her to combine melody with poetry was something that fulfilled a great need straight away.
During high school she joined Bigband Apollo in Goor, this time as a 'real' singer. The tremendous support from the bandleader and colleagues laid the basis for a real love for performing. At school, her music teacher Harry Tuin, and English teacher Anneke ten Napel guided her in her search for an original voice, showing her great musicians and poets to learn from, and taking her to concerts and readings. They have kept in touch ever since.
After graduating in 2004, she left for Dublin, Ireland, soaking up nightlife busking in the streets, feeling what it's like to be independent, and she enrolled at the Newpark Music Centre, where she learned jazz singing from the great Dorothy Murphy who prepared her for auditions at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam. In May 2005 she was accepted there, and moved to Amsterdam to study jazz voice with Sylvi Lane. She enjoyed the lessons and teachers at college, but spent as much time going to jamsessions in town and forming bands with fellow students who had come from all over the world to learn music. In 2008 she sang in a replete Amsterdam ArenA. During these years, she formed "YesSister, JazzSister," with 3 singers who had become close friends. They toured around the globe, played many jazz festivals, worked with almost all the National Army orchestras and released two albums "Listen To Your Sisters" in 2011, and "Crazy People" in 2014 to critical acclaim. She graduated with honours in 2010.
In 2011 she went to the University of Amsterdam to study English poetry. She had a deep wish to write her own texts and music, but feeling overwhelmed by her heroes didn't seem to know how to go about it. She decided to learn (even) more from the masters. She graduated in 2014 with a thesis on Alan Ginsberg's Kaddish, analysing it as a (John) "Coltrane poem."
In 2015, Ellen moved back to the Dutch countryside of Eibergen where she found the peace and quiet to make a shy start at writing her own material. During that time, she met up with two of her YesSister, JazzSister friends Marieke and Mylène, and they decided to work together once more, this time in the form of Woolf, in which they write, sing, and play their own songs. Meanwhile, giving it the time it needed, Ellen worked toward an album-full of songs by 2017, and decided it was time to record these and release her first album with her own music. Guided by producer and close friend Mats Voshol, song after song was recorded and arranged, and in 2019 she released "Letters." Ellen stated: "This album is me being courageous. These songs to me offer great consolation, and I hope that in some way, they can be a companion to you too." Ellen's songs are personal, disarming, and lyrical, and she's a real storyteller.
In 2020, Woolf released a self-titled EP, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the band was forced to cancel/postpone the EP-release tour they had planned. Ellen is currently working on compositions to a selection of poems for a new project called TIME, which she will play and record in cooperation with duo "De Thuiskomst." In July 2020, she gave birth to a magnificent, beautiful baby girl.
Ellen teaches individually and to groups of people who share her love for singing, songwriting, performance, and a free voice. Lessons include warming-up exercises, technical training, working on songs; interpretation, arrangement and a personal presentation. For more information, email her (button below)
Ellen geeft zowel individueel les als aan groepen mensen die haar liefde voor zingen, lied-schrijven, optreden, en een vrije stem delen. Tijdens de lessen is er aandacht voor opwarmingsoefeningen, technische training, het werken aan songs door interpretatie, arrangement en een persoonlijke uitvoering. Voor meer informatie of een proefles, stuur een email.
testimonials - reacties van leerlingen
Maria, Erna en Janja:
"De verschillende loszingoefeningen; de ene keer liggen we op 'n matje ons bewust te worden van de ademhaling een andere keer lopen we blauw aan bij 'n Indiaase inzingoefening! Ook is het super dat Ellen elk lied dat we aandragen omzet in een compositie voor onze drie stemmen! Heeeeel blij dus met Ellen als zangjuf. De lessen zijn heerlijk! Even helemaal niks anders dan lekker zingen (als we eenmaal zover zijn, na veel geklets en geouwehoer etcetera ...) het is altijd fijn er te zijn, de juf is heel ontspannen en ongedwongen in haar lesgeven en toch brengt zij ons tot ‘grote hoogte’ .... (haha, mooie woordspeling) met andere woorden , wij kunnen uiteindelijk meer dan we dachten! We durven meer en krijgen meer zelfvertrouwen in onze zangkunsten."
"My singing lessons actually started as a joke. I got a voucher for a few lessons on my birthday, and I never stopped until Ellen moved away from Amsterdam (sadly), which means I took lessons for about 5 years. Ellen's lessons were a point of relaxation in my busy week. She taught me how to breathe, how to express myself with a voice free of restraint, which was not only fun, but also very useful in my work as a barrister."
"What can I say? Ellen is the reason I auditioned at the Conservatory (and got accepted ;)"
"Ellen's liefde voor muziek, mooie songs, melodieën en text zijn zo aanstekelijk! Ze gaat ook echt verder dan de gemiddelde zangdocent; ze maakt arrangementen van de liedjes die ik wil zingen, en trekt niet zomaar iets uit de kast."
"I never thought I'd dare to sing. Now I'm participating in weekly jamsessions in Amsterdam. Thanks Ellen!"