There are some things that really matter, like a shared vision.
If the singer wants to be a star, the guitarist wants to play a different style and the bassist and drummer are in it to smoke weed and jam…
might not work out.—Crucial Eddy Cotton
Last week, I crafted a musical metaphor for a community group. I wanted to address the challenge of establishing a shared vision for our group.
A few days later, I asked musician friends to share what they have found makes for a successful band.
The parallels between what makes for meaningful community activism and a successful band struck me as poignant. Lessons right in front of us.
First, the metaphor I shared with the community group:
Consider a group of talented and accomplished musicians forming a band. For the band to be successful, several components must fall in place. Among them:
- Determining what the band’s genre will be. Blues? R and B? Classic? Jazz? Pop? Rap? Something else.
o I liken this to the band’s core value. Why does it exist?
o Metaphor for a community group: You have come together. You are the musicians, if you will. What “music” do you want to play as a GROUP?
- The band must figure out its purpose beyond style of music.
o Is to be a dance band? Concert band? Club band? Background music? Is it to record and sell CDs?
o Metaphor: What is your purpose for forming your community “band”—your group?
- The band needs musicians that believe in the band’s reason for being—and each member must understand and live this. See #1 and #2 above.
o If the band says it is a Blues Band and the bassist plays ¾ time jazz, the guitar player performs a 4/4 country slide lead, while the drummer pounds out a Reggae beat, and the keyboardist decides that the audience really needs to hear Bach, well we got a lot of talented people—but no one is playing together. No music. Just cacophony.
o Metaphor: Your group may have lots of ideas and actual programs moving forward. Are they all connected to a common purpose? See #1.
- The band talks about a promoter or record producer. It wants to be HUGE!
o If the band has not considered carefully the above (and much more) it can end up going with a promoter because the band believes he/she has experience and will make them big. Unfortunately, if the band does not have a handle on what it wants to do, why it wants to do it, and how to do it….the band can lose the ability to direct its destiny.
o Metaphor: Maybe your group has spoken about having a main driver/key donor to help make it big. But, what do you approach them with? A bunch of parts and pieces of an amorphous being? A clear vision?
Now, for my question to the musicians:
What is the “IT” that makes a band work? If we were to move beyond the (obvious?) expectations for instrument and/or vocal talent, what keeps the band moving forward? What keeps the band together, playing, reaching goals, enjoying, making a difference for the members and the audience? Is there an “IT” that make the band work/click/gel?
Every musician’s post reminded me of the power of finding and loving what we do. And recognizing those who help us make our “music” whether it’s on stage, in a classroom, serving in a restaurant, working in an office, or organizing a group of people.
Here were four of the many posts to my Facebook query. The bold emphasis is my emphasis of their words.
o “The best music happens when the people making it respect and care about each other and the music.” – John Mortensen
o “I’ve been in many bands and the best ones were always the ones where the band members liked and respected each other and worked together to create great music. I know, this may sound corny, but it’s true.”—Roy Peak
o “To me, bands mirror the same dynamics of personal relationships. It’s easy to fall in love; they take work to sustain; they require clear alignment on goals. I believe that’s why so few live very long.”—Alan Gross
o “There are some things that really matter, like a shared vision. If the singer wants to be a star, the guitarist wants to play a different style and the bassist and drummer are in it to smoke weed and jam…might not work out.”—Crucial Eddy Cotton
This week consider a community with which you work. Whether it concerns itself with political action, elimination of a food desert, connections for shut-ins, or literacy training, does a clear vision exist—or just a bunch of pieces and parts of an amorphous being?
Video Recommendation of the Week:
While I have referenced this video in a few past blog posts, its musical message connects to this week’s post. As my friends above reminded us, we need vision and respectful relationships to get to that vision. People supporting and standing by one another for the greater good of the group’s purpose.
For more about community building and sustainability, look for my new book Community as a Safe Place to Land
due out the beginning of 2019. More information to come.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.