Workplace singing

Last year, while working on a concept and business plan for our company Artistic Interventions Inc., one Sunday evening I turned on my favorite television station TVOntario and to my delight, there was a BBC program called The Choir: Sing While You Work. Successful British choirmaster Gareth Malone had been presenting a very similar idea to what I was planning to do – bringing choir singing to a workplace. Based on his successful work with children and later with Military Wives, Gareth decided to coach four workplace choirs to sing in a competition.

Their approach was slightly different from ours, as they ‘cherry-picked’ best voices through auditions, and then worked with those to compete against similar choirs from other organization. We in our SingingTouch workshops, on the other hand, don’t differentiate musical or voice capacity or qualities of our clients. At Artistic Interventions Inc. we strongly believe that everyone in an organization can and should have their voice heard and everyone can participate.

Following on from the success of the 2012 series, Sing While You Work had continued in 2013 with the second series, when Gareth Malone formed choirs from the staff of five organizations – P&O Ferries, Birmingham City Council, Sainsbury’s (supermarket giant), Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Citi bank. This reality show allows viewers to follow the process from forming a choir, through rehearsals, building strengths on the musical level as well as human level among colleagues and team-members, up to nerve-wracking competition performances. And although the whole process takes just a few months, many of the participating choirs continue singing together even after the program finished.

Gareth Malone has done a lot of great work promoting choir-singing among amateur singers, showing clearly all those benefits one can gain from actively participating in music making. Our goal is to bring similar opportunities and benefits to our clients here in Canada.


Leadership as a natural process

BBC News published an interesting article How to conduct your staff, where the business correspondent Peter Day describes his experience at the recent London (UK) concert of the Royal Concertgebuw Orchestra from Amsterdam, with Mariss Jansons conducting. The article greatly summarizes in non-musical language, how current successful conductor (and leader) works. The autocratic, dictatorial and stardom-building approach of a conductor is mostly a thing of the past. The opposite is now a way to success, as the article describes Mr. Jansons’ role “it was a man among equals, enabling the ensemble to flower, joining their efforts to his to evoke the spirit of the music … to realize the possibilities of the ensemble … .”
I like parts of the article, where the author ties his experience with the business world: “… in Mr Jasnons’ enabling rather than autocratic style of leadership there were some real lessons for business people who look to conducting to show them how to run an organization. … How much the bosses and managers of other organizations and companies could learn from that community of purpose.”
The conductor himself describes his role: “It my job, to find out the orchestra’s qualities and preserve them. Then, if through a natural process, my own individuality adds something – and theirs to me – then it will be fine.”

Our company Artistic Interventions Inc. offers similar experience to clients in our MusicTouch workshops, where participants not only ‘peek’ over a shoulder of a conductor, but are facing him together with the rest of the orchestra and have an opportunity to witness and listen the process when music is almost invented in front of them.