Music or noise?
I’m a working musician in my free time. I was invited to be a founding member of the Jones and Raine band in late 2006. It is the most talented, musical, and enjoyable band I’ve ever experienced. The reason why may surprise you. It’s not about musicianship or cool gear or great songs or even teamwork – though all those things certainly help. It’s about listening.
Live music is an interesting challenge. Great live performances are not created by individuals playing their parts at full volume! That creates noise and static which is not pleasurable to listen to.
Great live performances require well-prepared, skilled players who work WITH each other, listening carefully to leave space for others’ contributions. Team players do not step on anyone’s toes with an unfortunately timed vocal or instrumental. Every note played, every word sung, needs to serve the song’s message and the listener’s receipt of it. Every tune played needs an intentional strategy to guide the players and the performance.
Recording in the studio is a different deal. In that sterile setting, individual players can lay down perfect vocal or instrumental tracks. You can record countless takes until perfection is reached. The producer and engineer(s) mix and master those tracks to position parts (instruments, vocals, lead instrumentation, etc.) in the stereo soundstage, to ensure clarity of tracks, and to present the song in it’s best, final form. For performers, studio work is less complex than live shows – you come in, play your parts, and then leave the mixing and mastering (HOURS of hard work) to the pros.
In a live setting, it is all too easy to create a “wall of sound” that doesn’t distinguish vocals, keyboards, or guitar performances – or even the song’s meaning. The best bands – like the best work teams – listen carefully, in the moment, to work together to present the best possible combination of skills and performance for the receiver(s).
Does Your Team Create Music or Noise?
In organizations, it is all too rare that a team cooperates, listens, and leverages team members’ best selves in service to internal and external customers. Most teams create noise – where individual performers do their thing without demonstrated consideration for how it impacts team members or customers.
The resulting noise may not be intentional. It could be that individual performers see themselves in a “sterile setting” much like that of a recording studio. They perform – they “do their thing” – and leave the “mixing and mastering” to someone else.
In most cases and with most teams, there isn’t someone else to pull it all together. If you want your team’s live performance to be pleasurable to your “listeners” (customers), every team member needs to bring their best performance, listen for the right space to contribute, and offer space for team mates to contribute, too.
Please join in the conversation! What are your experiences with work teams – has it been music or noise or something in between? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Photo © 2015 Chris Edmonds. All rights reserved.