Our work often involves a sense of awkwardness about singing in public.
We may feel comfortable about that in our local community choir or at a football match, but in a work context, that can feel strange and embarrassing. However we’re also aware of how moving and powerful voices joined together can be.
“[The song] ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is simultaneously a sound of hope, a lament and a call for togetherness. It may be the closest that football songs get to spiritual experience. Every time it is sung, Liverpool fans enact the revolutionary values of active, engaged and transformational communal singing that Martin Luther mobilised as an essential part of the Reformation in Germany in the 16th century.”
For Luther, singing together was the means of communicating the words and deeds of God with largely uneducated congregations. His tunes were easy to learn – based on farming songs and folk melodies – and they inspired greater devotion, drawing in those on the fringe of the radical changes taking place within the Church.
“When we sing, we’re expressing identity, spirituality and solidarity, whether it’s in a church or the football stand.”
How Singing Can Be Good For Your Health
Beyond the immediate unifying effect of singing together, music can be transformational for your health and your business, personally and corporately. A recent TIME article suggests,
“Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins … Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding. ”
The impact on mental health has been widely researched, showing significant benefits for those singing regularly together –
A year long study on people with mental health problems, carried out by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury, has also shown the some 60 per cent of participants had less mental distress when retested a year after joining, with some people no longer fulfilling diagnostic criteria for clinical depression.
In fact, City firms are recognising the positive effects too. Many offer their staff the chance to learn an instrument or form a choir – with organisations like Music In Offices – noting that it can boost employees’ health, creativity and confidence.
“Making music together stimulates one’s creativity and helps one’s self-confidence,” notes Mark Ford, director of knowledge management at Clifford Chance, a global law firm, which offers its’ staff singing and piano lessons. “When you work long hours, it helps tremendously to take a break like this. You walk back to your desk refreshed.”
How Singing Can Be Good For Your Business
We are passionate about finding ways to enable individuals to engage with their company culture and manage organisational change. And we’ve found that music has a way of unlocking the challenges that creates for many people. Writing a song about corporate values and performing it in front of your colleagues can sound uncomfortable. However our clients are always surprised by their experience on the day, as well as the long-lasting effects on performance and productivity.
In our experience, when we explain to people we expect them to sing, 20% of participants want to leave the room, 20% are ready to start, and the remaining 60% are sitting on the fence! For us, this is just a mindset issue, reflective of the mindsets seen in many companies when set with a challenging goal or objective.
How Singing together can change minds
High-performing teams need great leaders who share their authentic selves with those they lead. And yet, this is also a scary thing to do. As participants step up, challenge their mindset and push through that fear, it becomes a great parallel for their work life. They realise they can change their mindsets and step up into what the company is requiring of them.
In the end, on average, over 95% have jumped in wholeheartedly and just go for it. It helps people reflect on what mindsets will serve them well when facing challenges in work.
How singing together can change company culture
A major IT company were looking for their leaders to become more disruptive and invited us to attend their annual conference. We engineered some of their team to disrupt our Keynote with a flash mob choir singing about what they needed to do as an organisation. It was a dynamic example of the courage it takes to lead and make change in fast paced industries.
We also worked with Northern Rock at a time when they needed to re-capture some if its core identity and focus. Music became an enabler for them to release the pent-up emotions of several years. It helped them communicate in an innovative and powerful way what was really going for them – both positive and negative. It became a catalyst for change for that organisation, allowing them to move back into private ownership down the line.
How singing together has the power to change the future
We work with some of the world’s leading companies and organisations and they are hungry to be challenged in a new way. So much of the corporate world involves rational thinking. Music brings a different twist. When you apply this to areas such as engineering, banking, retail and so on, it changes your outlook entirely.
Get in touch with us to find out how music can change your organisation or help your organisation with change.