Alekk m. Saanders
Friday, 17 February 2023, 09:14
Malou Swart, 37, is a Dutch singer-song writer and voice expression coach. She moved to Nerja two years ago and since April 2022 has been teaching students from different countries - Sweden, Holland, Germany, Britain and Ireland, among others.
Malou was born in Utrecht and as a child she took part in a famous Dutch children's TV show Kinderen Voor Kinderen (Children for Children). She is very passionate about singing. For her singing is a way to express herself, to express her own emotions, to connect to herself as well as to others.
"I know if I don't sing one day it means something is wrong with me, and that's why I have to listen to myself by asking what is going wrong," Malou says.
Malou has another passion - spirituality. In the Netherlands she graduated from university with a Bachelor's degree in Religion and a Master's in Spiritual Care. Malou studied all regions - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and other spiritual ways.
"I have always been interested in what moves people in life and what gives meaning to the lives of people... I did a Master's in Spiritual Care. This is an actual job in Holland and maybe a little bit in Germany and sometimes in the USA. Anyway, it is pretty rare, but it is really a beautiful job," Malou adds.
In her home country she worked for ten years as a spiritual caregiver in the field of psychiatry, elderly and mentally handicapped care. This involved talking and reflecting with patients on how to integrate their tough experiences into their lives.
She had to talk with people about the meaning of life and death, and what it means for them to be sick. "I supported people with 'near death' care, and guided ethical discussions with doctors about difficult decisions to make about the lives of patients. To treat or not to treat, euthanasia etc.," Malou explains.
This job doesn't exist in Spain. And this fact made her dare to combine her two passions - singing and her background as a spiritual caregiver. In Nerja, Malou offers workshops, individual classes and retreats. It is believed that singing has a therapeutic effect. She is glad when her students are brave enough to discover more sides of themselves, get empowered and thus, feel more joy in life.
"I feel like my mission is to help people find their voice which can be literally to improve people's singing or to get to start singing as well as to find the quality of their voice, or rather, a unique sound. So, I would like them to enjoy themselves; I am not looking for a new Adele," Malou says.
Finding your voice can be also symbolic. For some people it is not easy to stand up for themselves, to set boundaries or be honest about their needs. Some people prefer to be quiet instead of giving their opinion. Adjusting permanently to others becomes their routine. Malou helps such people to find their voice in that sense and thereby understand more about themselves, and regain their authenticity.
"Rather than finding your voice, it is much more difficult to find yourself. Together we look for a real voice that expresses their individuality, with all its flaws. It is very important!" Malou tells SUR in English.
For Malou, silence is just as important as singing and she says nature is her inspiration. When her family moved to the Costa del Sol, they first settled in Nerja. It was love at first sight after travelling across Spain in their camper van.
A couple of months ago, Malou and her family - husband Andreas, 40, and their two daughters, Anna, 6, and Rosa, 4, -found a house in the countryside outside the town where they now live.
"The silence lets us listen to ourselves and it is perfect for meditation. I practice yoga, meditation and study [the book] A Course in Miracles. Connecting to the source of our being is like daily bread to me. It gives me joy, freedom and creativity."
In Nerja, Malou performs on stage. Her debut in the town was as part of the summer music festival. She regularly performs at Los Huertos del Sevillano, having prepared themed shows for All Saints' Day and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed on All Souls' Day as well as Lucia Day celebrated in the northern countries.
Last December, the results of Malou's activity as a voice coach were seen on stage at Los Huertos, where her students were encouraged to show their talent and growth. Malou explained that she felt incredibly proud of them all, daring to put themselves out there in front of an audience; for most it was their first time.
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