Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teambuilding Through Song: A Musical Solution to Attendee Engagement!

My mom was a pretty amazing person.  In addition to being, arguably, the best mother ever, she was a professional model, an actress, a fantastic dancer, a natural comedian, and a skilled painter.  On the creative side of life, there was not much she couldn’t do.

So what was different about my mom, than most people?  Was she wired differently?  Did she have superbly creative genetic makeup? The answer to these questions is NO!  The reason my mom did these things was because she chose to! She embraced her artistic self.

So, here’s my question for you:  Have you ever written a song, a story,  or a poem?  Have you thought about being a singer, or a musician?  How bout writing a novel, or creating a painting?

Most adults mistakenly believe they have no artistic talent or vision.  That is pretty sad.  The truth is, all  human beings have the innate ability to be creative.  They just, somewhere along the way, in life, discard that notion.

Teambuilding Through Song

One person, I admire, who has clearly embraced his creative side, is Billy Kirsch.  Billy is President, Founder, and “Instigator in Chief” for a Nashville-based company called Kidbilly Music.  Billy’s company specializes in helping organizations engage their attendees at events, by providing “Team Building Through Song.”

Billy hand-picked a team of talented, award-winning songwriters to function as facilitators at these events.  And…. Billy’s no slouch himself.  Among his creative accomplishments is the award winning country hit, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” recorded by Steve Wariner, in 2000.  To listen to that song right now click here.

The Team Building through Song program can be done with groups of all sizes.  A key planning consideration is to provide a sufficient number of songwriters in proportion to the group’s size.  Billy recommends ideally groups of no more than 20-25 ppl per songwriter.  I have participated in two programs thus far, featuring Kidbilly Music.  At both events, I was impressed at how engaged the attendees became.  (Full disclosure:  I am a songwriter myself so I love this stuff)

Watch this quick video to acquaint yourself with Kidbilly Music:

A Musical Solution to Attendee Engagement!

So you are probably wondering how does the “Teambuiding Through Song” program work.  Here are the basics:

Step One:  Exercise Overview — Kidbilly Music’s Leader explains the entire process to the group as a whole.  This takes maybe 5-10 minutes max

Step Two: Small Groups — Group adjourns to small groups (ideally in separate, secluded rooms or areas) to begin work on their songs.  One songwriter/facilitator is assigned to each small group.

Step Three: Creativity Begins — The small groups do a brainstorm session to identify concepts and words around the song (a central theme or idea)  Everyone participates.

Note: Usually a Flipchart pad or two is provided to document the ideas as they are expressed.

Step Four: Song is Born! —  The song is crafted, by the small group.  Sometimes the verses are done first, or perhaps the chorus and then the verses.  It just flows.  The songwriters only provide enough stimuli to get people thinking and they help of course, with creating the melody of the song.

Step Five:  Song is finished — The team practices singing it and then it is recorded live.

Step Six:  Sharing the Results — The whole group reconvenes and each team sings their songs for the other teams.  To add a competitive element to the program songs can be judged and prizes awarded.

Total Time Expended– 1 to 1 1/2 hours

So what is the value, for event organizers, of Teambuilding Through Song?  A couple of things come to mind:

Collaboration — If your organization’s goal is to foster teamwork within it’s culture then this is an excellent program to jump-start the effort.  The program truly does build a sense of camaraderie and strengthen relationships, amongst participants.

Trust — Kidbilly Music’s program also helps break down barriers and inhibitions and sets up a trusting environment to hold an event.  If you wish to generate an atmosphere of creativity and innovation then one of these programs will tee up  your event to naturally put participants into that state of mind.

If you are seeking to “juice up” your event, then “Teambuilding Through Song” may be just the solution for you.  At the very least, your attendees will have a lot of fun!

Question:  If you have participated in one of these “Teambuilding Through Song” events, what is your perception of the outcome?  If not, how would you envision utilizing creativity to get your attendees fired up?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Pelletier March 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I haven’t done one of these specifically, but I did participate in an organization’s “chapter challenge” events a few years back that had as one of the challenges writing lyrics about our chapter to be sung to the tune of an already existing song. The chapters then performed them on a stage. It was an unmitigated blast, and we did get to know each other a bit through the process.

It might not be the answer for every meeting, but if the goal is to build relationships, anything team members have to work together on, especially something like music that taps into aspects of ourselves we don’t usually share with colleagues, can be a great experience.

P.S. Your mom sounds amazing. So many of us learn to fear our creative sides once we become (theoretically, anyway) grownups. I remember reading somewhere that 100 percent of kids, when asked, say they know how to draw. I don’t remember what the percentage of adults answered the same, but I do remember it was abysmal. So sad that something so integral to our humanity gets brushed aside as we grow up.


Michael M McCurry CMP March 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Hi Sue, and thanks for adding to the conversation!

You are right, I think. Teambuilding through Song may not be the right event solution every time, but it certainly is an interesting and “outside the box” alternative to more conventional bond-building programs.

My mom was amazing, and sadly she left us at such an early age (59)

I truly feel lucky to have had her in my life for the time that I did.



Mike McAllen March 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

Another great resource for team building using song is Recently saw them at a pharmaceutical meeting and they were a smash! They use studio musicians to build a song. Amazing SongDivision talent mixed with your companies lyrics makes for a grand time. They also pulled a attendee up from the audience who could play the guitar which was a total hoot.

Great post mike.


Michael M McCurry CMP March 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing the additional resource!



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