Team Building Drumming – a High School Drop-Out’s Version of an Academic Paper

Though I’ve never set foot in a university, I was recently honoured to be approached by a professor at Wits Business School to contribute something toward a project he was running concerning the concept of team building. I thought I would share part of my response here:

Objectives:

1. The main objective is pure child-like FUN!

We believe that when you get a group together and have huge fun together, it creates a bonding effect, in a lesser but similar way that you find special forces trainees form a bond of brotherhood because of their shared experience in training.

2. Stress relief

3. Relaxation

4. With Rock Star Interactive Drumming, you’re in the moment and feeling those good feelings we feel when we hear our favourite song on the radio, with the added effect of being able to play along on the drum which is a feeling most people have never experienced – playing an instrument to music.

5. Self expression

6. Creative expression

Materials Required:

1. A djembe drum for each participant. (Brothers in Beat supplies)

2. A seat for each participants

3. A relatively powerful sound system to play the music slightly above the level of the drummers. (Brothers in Beat supplies)

4. A 240 volt power source

Procedure:

The process starts with a voice over introduction providing basic guidelines to maximise enjoyment of the experience. This blends into the first song at which point the facilitator starts drumming and the crowd follows. The first beat is extremely simple.

What’s very interesting is how, despite groups consisting of widely varying ages, genders, and races, every group is different in their ability to coherently play the drum as a group. Some groups as a whole are poorer at playing in harmony with each other than other groups. And there’s no apparent pattern to indicate who will catch the beat and play well as a group and who won’t.

Because of this, Brothers in Beat has “cheat beats” that are simplified versions of the more involved rhythms and are offered as a replacement as the facilitator gauges the group’s collective ability. Overall, the beats are very simple and easy to grasp quickly.

In the vast majority of cases though – despite the majority never having played a musical instrument before, and even without the simplified cheat beats – groups find themselves playing very well together. This in itself amazes and fulfils participants since not many have played a musical instrument, let alone in a group setting. For the odd exception where the group struggles to play harmoniously together, the fun of at least trying to play together results in hilarious fun anyway. The much simpler “cheat beats” compensate quickly in those cases and in ALL cases, the group has an extra-ordinarily fun experience.

As the programme progresses groups are divided into 2 or 3 and beats created based on one group playing one rhythm while the other group/s plays something else over the first group’s rhythm. We then apply that to music as well so two groups are playing two different things as a team to the accompaniment of well-known songs that everyone knows and loves. This creates a beautiful bonding effect in a company that you can actually see as it happens.

Tips:

1. Read the crowd and be sensitive to what’s going on.

2. Never embarrass anyone, and don’t single anyone out.

3. Don’t force or pressure anyone to do anything they don’t want to do, like dancing, or even the drumming.

4. Smile and make eye contact.

5. Have a sense of humour and actively engage the crowd.

6. The participants live their Rock ‘n Roll persona vicariously through the facilitator. It’s therefore important for the facilitator to sing and dance and have a great time as participants may be concentrating on the beats. The Brothers in Beat operate under this realisation: “We, the Brothers in Beat, are going to have a great time, everyone’s welcome to join us!” And if we do, they always do!


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