Hoi-Hoi! Said dutch students in Breda University of Applied Sciences

Piano located in the Antwerpen train station.
Antwerpen is welcoming Sir Elton John.

Upon my first visit abroad since the pandemic, I, Harri Karvinen, Senior Lecturer of Business and Media at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, had the opportunity to participate in a teacher exchange at Breda University of Applied Sciences (Buas). The initial steps were taken in June 2022, when representatives from Buas visited Tampere and Tampere University of Applied Sciences. After their visit, it was clear that they were impressed with our hospitality and the potential for cooperation between our institutions.

After the start of the academic year 2022-2023, we began planning the first steps of our cooperation. We invited participants from Breda to our international week to conduct a workshop of event marketing, and I travelled to Breda to conduct a one-week workshop on music agencies and tour management. As planned, everything proceeded smoothly.

In March, Yosh Hoezen and Dominique de Koster run the workshop for ten students during TAMK’s international week. Although more than 20 students had originally registered, only half of them showed up. “How many students will attend my workshop in Breda?” I asked Yosh. “You better get ready for 60 students!” he replied. “Really?” I had never taught such a large group before.

I flew from Tampere to Amsterdam on Saturday morning, two days before the first day of class. It was the right decision, as there was no connection from Tampere to Amsterdam on Sunday, and Monday would have been too busy for me to make all the necessary preparations.

In Breda, the Jazz festival was in full swing, and the lively tunes of old New Orleans jazz filled the air. While I didn’t have much of an interest in this genre of music, my friends Dominique and Peter Jonkergouw convinced me to take a tour of the old town on Saturday. Much to my surprise, we stumbled upon a fascinating piece of music history related to the infamous Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, also known as Tom Parker or Colonel Parker. Mr Parker, who hailed from Breda, was none other than Elvis Presley’s manager. He notoriously charged a staggering 50% of all of Elvis’ income as his fee. Interestingly, Parker was an illegal immigrant in the United States, which ultimately prevented Elvis from performing in Europe.

A jazz club built on water in the canal.
A jazz club built on water in the canal.

On Monday, I arrived at the campus, where almost 60 students were waiting for me in a large classroom. I greeted them with “Hei!” and they responded with “Hoi!” The first day was challenging for me, as I struggled to find ways to keep such a large group engaged. I tried to spark their interest by sharing trivial information about the history of rock music in the Netherlands. “Has anyone heard of the band Focus?” I asked. “No, we haven’t!” they replied. “What about Shocking Blue?” “We don’t know them, and who cares?” I was disappointed, so I uploaded links to e-learning material in Teams, including a live show of the song “Hocus Pocus” by Focus and Shocking Blue’s biggest hit, “Venus.” It is important to understand the history of pop/rock music to understand its future.

A classroom full of students.
The students in the booking workshop were eager to learn about the music industry.

Tuesday was much better as we prepared for the big day on Wednesday, when half of the students presented their agency with artist lists, and the other half presented European festivals and venues. “Book your gigs! More than seven gigs!” I said, to which they replied, “Hoi!” and got to work. In the afternoon, we swapped roles, and the rest of the agencies also secured enough gigs. During the week, my hostess was Anastasiya Vaganova. She came to Breda from Ukraine with her 6-year-old daughter and quickly landed a teaching job at Buas. In Kiev, she used to run her own concert and agency office before the war. I think she is a very brave young lady who did her job very well. On Wednesday evening, first-year students arranged a riverboat trip.

On Thursday, students began working on their final assignments: tour itineraries and budgets. I spent the day on campus, helping those who asked for assistance. The task is not easy, and it is almost impossible if they have not checked the instructions. I talked to Anastasiya and asked her what she thought of the workshop and what kind of feedback she had received. The students were mostly excited about topic. One young male student told Anastasiya that he now knows where to apply for an internship, as the right direction is to work and practice in a Dutch booking agency. I wish him good luck.

On Friday morning, I visited Antwerp for breakfast and met our own student Georgi Georgiev, who spent a year studying in Hasselt, Belgium. Once again, Erasmus proved to be an excellent programme that makes such opportunities possible. A young student from Bulgaria had the opportunity to study in Tampere and do an exchange year in Belgium to study more advanced subjects. Antwerp is a beautiful city, and the railway station is built on four different levels.

On Friday afternoon, Peter, Anastasiya, and I evaluated all the returned assignments. As usual, it was easy to find the students who had the right attitude to fill out the itinerary and budget and those who did not. For example, two heroes found a solution to hire a helicopter to travel from Amsterdam to Milan and from Milan to Bordeaux. They didn’t include the helicopter in their budget, though, perhaps because they realised they couldn’t afford it.


Colonel Parker and Elvis.

Working in the event industry in an agency is not easy. But if you have a good network, I’m sure you will enjoy your life as a music agent, especially if you are originally from the same historical city as Tom Parker. As I told above Tom Parker’s problem was that he was not able to visit Europe and didn’t allow Elvis to do so either. As a “good” manager, he feared that someone might cheat his artist in a foreign country.

“Hoi, Hoi, my son Elvis,” said Colonel Parker. “Forget that European tour. I have canceled it! We are going to Las Vegas, and I have booked gigs for the rest of our lives.”


Recommended literature:

Alanna Nash: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley

Antony Beevor: Arnhem : The Battle for the Bridges, 1944


Text: Harri Karvinen, Senior Lecturer of Business and Media at TAMK (the text was created with the help of ChatGPT)

Pictures: Harri Karvinen

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