Monday, April 28, 2008

"Drumming Up Teamwork"

It's not very often that I can find some reason to write about musicmaking in here, in keeping with the (rather wide-angled yet) business-y focus of this blog. But it's Spring here at our latitude, and here's one.

Over the years, I've conducted a number of drumming-based teambuilding sessions for Idea Champions (mostly for GE at their famed Crotonville, NY, training campus,) a program begun by my colleague Nathan Brenowitz. I figured we could be doing a lot more with this and suggested we expand and spiff up the offering, so we developed a new program, and gave its page on the site a makeover.

"Hands on, energizing, and fun, Drumming Up Teamwork is the perfect way to help groups and teams see and hear what it takes for real teamwork to manifest in the workplace."

It's really all about Rhythm, because, from one perspective, everything is really all about rhythm: in business, and any interaction between people. We talk about how "timing is everything," about how people working together have to be "in step," and perhaps forget how very literal these expressions are.

But with a drum or bell or shaker in your hands, it becomes quite clear that for something to work, you have to tune in to the people you're working/playing with, you have to really listen, you have to get in sync. Then, in a musical setting, enjoyable, synchronized sounds happen -- and in a business situation, you get a team whose energies are flowing both strongly and focused.

Nathan tells stories of sessions he's run where longtime adversaries have experienced working in concert for the first time, and the letters he got from their relieved and grateful managers. It can be that powerful.

But hey, people express their appreciations even just for its time-honored value of stress relief. My favorite part, I'll admit, is when we drag all the drums and percussion into the middle of the circle, and tell the people to pick the one they want. Just for a moment, everyone becomes a kid again as they race to grab the shiny instrument they had their eyes on, and the room is filled with laughter and gleeful noise. And by the end, you always get at least a couple people who've experienced the transformation that connecting with Rhythm never fails to bring.

Which reminds me...

As long as we're already this far out on the limb (of having proposed that music be taken seriously, I guess), this must be my chance to relate another project I've been hot on this past month, while I obviously haven't been blogging.

That would be putting together "the World Fusion Open," a hybrid open mic and/or relatively open jam for the many people here in New York's Hudson Valley region who play instruments from around the world, or have been influenced by those musics. The first one will be at the Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) in their double gallery in the historic Rondout riverfront neighborhood, on Thursday, May 8th, and will run monthly through the summer.