Up until this week I’d considered the concept of ‘team work’ to be within the context of sport. Organisations such as the NHS have also adopted it however I’d never really thought about it within the context of music.
My daughter has recently started learning the glockenspiel and plays in the school band. She’s pretty good – yes I’m bias but she can play the Star Wars theme tune note perfect and with no sheet music. Come on, that’s good!
Anyhow I digress…. The kids have a completion coming up so having been rehearsing hard. This particular morning the parents were treated to a performance of how they were getting on. At the end the teacher explained to us some of the non technical skills they were learning in addition to the actual music.
I found it fascinating.
There were 5 main features:
- Focus – the kids were told to ignore any waving or shouting from the audience. By ignoring any distractions they were to walk to their positions looking professional. Focused on the music ahead.
- Tempo – each piece of music has a particular speed restriction. Knowing it means everyone in the band adheres to it, neither going too fast or too slow. The team goes along at the correct speed
- Leadership – keeping an eye on things is the band leader or the conductor. The band members are advised to look to the conductor to ensure they are playing at the correct speed and at the right time. The conductor themselves has the job of keeping everything harmonious and on time.
- Vision – is it what the composer wanted? Does it sound like what was envisaged for the piece. The conductor can only do their job right if the various parts have the correct notes, in the correct section and aligned perfectly.
- Resilience – when it all goes bit pear shaped can you listen to what’s going on around you to pick it up again?
Point 5 I found the most interesting concept. It essentially spoke to me about the idea of silo working that I’m seeing at work. What I liked about it in this context was while everyone has their own part/instrument to play, they are taught to listen to the other band members to guide them when they get lost or play a wrong note. They don’t just give up and stop playing. They get right back into the music and continue to contribute.
I think we need more of this in the NHS. I do accept there are those out there trying to do this but they are still in the minority. I have yet to fathom why.
While I was mulling this Kenny Dalgliesh came on Sunday Brunch. Amongst the many questions asked of King Kenny (my husband tells me I’m legally required to refer to him by this name) he was asked what is was like to change from being a player to a manager?
In his very matter of fact way he explained that essentially he wasn’t part of that world anymore. He noted that when he’d walk into dressing rooms the conversation would stop. It was fine though. He understood the change from playing with your mates to being the one who makes the tough decisions and enforces the rules. Sure you can have the banter but at the end of the day the players look to their manager for guidance.
I see this in my work. I am the big bad rota meister. I am also the one who constantly goes on about having structure and action plans. I am the one who walks into a room and the conversation stops.
However these days I have a choice of rooms to go into. There are some that require the direction of a conductor. And then there are those full of composers trying to create the vision.
At the end of the day the choice is clear for the NHS – we can collectively create beautiful music or continue to tolerate a big old noisy mess. I am optimistic that the answer will be music to our ears…..