active listening

Music and Stories: Lessons Easily Applied

Music Performance as Analogy for Successful Team Building

Being agreeable meant going with whatever mix happened to be in Ranjith's in-ear monitor when he started playing in his church band. That meant that sometimes during rehearsal and performance, Ranjith couldn't hear each musician playing with him, and that sometimes he couldn't discern percussion from bass, or vocals from his keyboard.

When he decided to try adjusting the mix, and not just going with whatever was coming through his small earbuds, he was suddenly aware of what he was missing. He was only hearing part of what was being performed on stage. As a result of the improved, more balanced mix, his performance improved. Not only could he better hear all musicians participating, he could feel the music as a whole, instead of separate parts, giving him a much better understanding and appreciation of the energy of the musicians, and what the audience was hearing and responding to.

We've all heard or read analogies about how music can be applied to the workplace, like when a symphony is well conducted so all instruments are in the same place in the sheet music. But when we talk about Ranjith's experience, that analogy takes on a whole different rhythm. It's not just about each person playing her part, or about the conductor making clear movements for the musicians to follow; it's about each musician listening - and being able to hear - all other musicians.

Are you getting the whole mix in your monitor? Or are you listening to small pieces of the story or music, and missing what could be an important aspect of the discussion?

In this podcast, Ranjith and I had a great conversation about how we apply our music performance to other parts of our professional lives.

At the end of the podcast, I referred to a song Ranjith and I had the pleasure to perform at a jam session following No Longer Virtual in Denver. And here it is, for your listening pleasure the version of People Get Ready performed by Eva Cassidy:


Ranjith Abraham is a professional musician with an engineering background. He's currently works in Regulatory Affairs Labeling, an unlikely place for someone so creative, but he likes it! He draws inspiration from life lessons that are tucked away in the insignificant happenings around him, while his passion for music/photography fuels my creativity in problem solving, and helps him genuinely connect with people.