This is one of our core three reasons to use Drum Cafe and is about the mental and physical state that we leave people in when our session is over.

Group drumming: Get into a happier rhythm at work

Percussion is a great way to motivate staff and improve camaraderie and engagement

ice breakers for meetings and conferences

Article originally published in the Irish Times, 5 October 2018. Written by Olive Keogh

Drumming has been used for centuries to send messages, create bonds and promote unity within groups. It has also been found to reduce stress and to “tune” human biology in positive, life-affirming ways.

Now its therapeutic benefits are being channelled in a new direction – to improve motivation and communication in the workplace, to wow delegates at conferences and company gatherings and an unusual way of encouraging employees to let off steam after a gruelling meeting or an intensely busy period at work.

Drum Cafe is one of the oldest providers of corporate drumming workshops. It was formed in South Africa over 20 years ago by Warren Lieberman and Brett Schlesinger as part of an interactive experience at a music venue there. They were subsequently approached by a number of companies that wanted private sessions for their employees. That has since evolved into an international business that has run more than 50,000 events in 65 countries.

“We’ve worked with every kind of company and with numbers from 10 to 6,000,” Schlesinger says. “Drumming can be a terrific ice breaker, a great energiser and an easy way of connecting people. No skills are needed and I think what surprises people is just how quickly a group can get into a rhythm together and make a really big impact.”

Drum Cafe’s client list reads like a roll call of blue chips and includes Microsoft, Dell, BMW, Shell and Unilever. The company has been to Ireland more than 20 times.

Schlesinger says drumming creates a real buzz among jaded audiences that have heard one too many motivational speakers and eaten one too many canapés at big corporate events over the years.

“It’s really interesting to see people’s reactions when they come into the room and see the drums on their seats,” he says. “Yes, it takes them out of their comfort zone and they are a bit apprehensive at first. But they are also attracted by the novelty and the fun element. And when you get them going, the feeling in the room can be absolutely electric. I can tell you, when that happens, it’s an event or a conference they won’t forget in a hurry.”

Serious purpose

While the drumming is fun, Schlesinger says it can have a serious purpose allied to corporate objectives such as improving relationships within teams, closing the gap between management and employees, breaking down barriers and helping employees to embrace change or to understand how a new skill or process is learned.

He also says his company has seen a shift in mindset in the 10 years since the financial crash, with companies now really keen to engage their employees.

Drum Cafe is one of the oldest providers of corporate drumming workshops.

“Companies have become more concerned about making people feel part of the organisation and part of the team and making that meaningful. They want people to feel better about working there,” he says. “They use us to help get that message across, whether that’s in a quick session that lasts 20 minutes or one that goes on for a few hours. The energy levels it generates are high, very similar to something like paintball, in fact.”

Schlesinger points out that, when someone is drumming, they can’t be doing anything else – an unusual experience for many these days with always-on technology.

“The number one enemy of a conference or corporate event is the mobile phone,” he says. “People are constantly looking down, and getting their full attention is really difficult. But you need two hands for drumming so for that period they are in a technology-free zone, which is surprisingly positive.

“One of the comments we hear over and over is how alive and connected they felt [in a human as opposed to a technological way] to themselves and to other people after a drumming experience.”

Energising experience

Tania Lancaster, UKI strategy employee engagement lead at Accenture, says her organisation used drumming recently to mark the start of a new financial year and the launch of a new strategy.

“The room would have been made up of about 250 people, from analysts through to senior managing directors,” she says. “The day had been pretty full-on, and I was looking for something to finish it off on a high and get people feeling they were energised to deliver our new strategy and were part of a team/family.

“The three guys who came along [from Drum Cafe] were amazing. We only had a 25-minute slot but they still managed to work their magic. Everyone had a brilliant time and there was great camaraderie after it. People said they felt really energised to undertake the work ahead. It also humanised us, I think.”

Neil Dowling of Dublin-based Drum Nature (which teaches African drumming) runs corporate sessions mainly around team-building objectives. “I’ve led groups from five or six up to over 100 and companies have largely used us to reinforce training or messages they wanted to get across to help promote a collective vision,” Dowling says.

“Rhythm connects both sides of the brain and drumming is very participative and satisfying and people work together to create something that is much bigger than the sum of the parts.”

Drum sessions are typically priced according to group size, and all equipment is provided. Open-air drumming, which brings an added dimension, is possible but can be rather tricky in the Irish climate, as the drums don’t like to get wet.

Natalie Spiro from Drum Cafe California :The Pursuit of Happiness (at Work)

 

Natalie Spiro , Drum Cafe California

There’s a quote out there that states, “If you like what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” We think the root of this statement is based off of finding purpose and happiness within your work. It’s easy to correlate the relationship between doing things that make you happy and the positive impact you’ll have on the company; individuals who understand and embrace their purpose are more likely to have more initiative and creativity when they take on a project.

We believe that people can (and should) find purpose in anything they do! Here are four simple ways to discover your work’s valuable impact:

1. Have a mantra. Write a vision for yourself and know what drives you. In a work environment this can also be called a “Mission Statement.” Think about your organization’s objectives as you move through this process. Ask yourself, “Why am I part of this team?” and “What am I doing to help move things along?”

2. Align your goals. Have personal goals that align with the big picture of your organization; this will directly help you create a sense of purpose and belonging at work. The first step to aligning your goals is to fully understand what your organization’s strategy really is (this may require you to do some research); understand how to connect your work with the short-term and long-term goals of your team.

3. List your strengths. If you’re having difficulty listing strengths on your own, ask your team members to help you. Sometimes an outside perspective on “what you’re good at” can be very helpful. After you’ve discovered your strengths, find ways to incorporate your strengths with the tasks that you do on a daily basis. This will put you in a very productive state and time will seem to slip away when you’re at work.

4. Don’t let intimidation hold you back. Often times, people can be intimidated of a situation because they don’t think they possess the skills or academic credentials to move forward. The honest truth is that every work environment needs people from different walks of life with different skill sets. Your value may come from your experience, or your ability to get things done or your talent to effectively communicate any message to anyone.

When it comes to happiness at work, the biggest obstacle and the most valuable tool you possess happen to be the same thing- your mind. Often times, before a Drum Cafe West corporate event, we will observe skeptical or averse individuals within the group of attendees. They are probably thinking, “How will banging on some drums help us become a better team?” Thirty minutes later, the “skeptic” has made the choice to open their mind to something new and something amazing has happened. They are strong, engaged in activity and working with their teammates to create something beautiful and powerful! This is proof that the simple act of being at your best will help you contribute at your best.

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