It has been back to school for me, to learn how to play the Cajon! While learning from scratch on this unfamiliar instrument, I immediately had a window into what participants must feel like when they take part for the first time in our drumming events and the journey they make.
In our drumming events, we pride ourselves in being able to offer a wide range of the best drums from across the globe, and I am always trying, and learning, new instruments. Because of our longstanding relationship with the world’s biggest drum company, Remo, and having been a professional musician for many years, we have at our disposal a selection of around 2000 drums. Over the years, the office has been stashed with a diverse range of drums that I regularly review and play.
The one drum or percussion object that I have never played, until last week, is the Cajon. The Cajon is a hollow, specially designed wooden box. You sit on it and play it between the legs. Normally used to accompany Spanish flamenco music, the Cajon has a long folkloric history.
So, it has been back to school for me, learning just as a beginner all the basics! There are multiple hand techniques and sounds to master. Even though I am a drummer, the Cajon offers many new challenges and is by no means simple to learn!
Learning from scratch on this unfamiliar instrument gave me a valuable window into what participants must feel like when they take part for the first time in our drumming activities. Learning any new skill unearths so many different emotions and behaviours.
When people take part in our drumming events, apart from all the laughs, fun and entertainment that have become our trademarks, there are also two types of experience happening at once.
Firstly, participants become aware that they are part of a group of players, all contributing to create one sound. This, in itself, is often a powerful surprise and why we as facilitators bring out many team building metaphors.
Secondly, there is the internal experience involving the ‘nuts and bolts’ of learning a new instrument. In limited time, participants have to learn to hold, strike and control their drumming patterns with their strange instruments. There is a lot of new information to process and techniques to get right.
Drumming really does provide a unique self-development journey. In the initial acute stages of learning or change, certain behaviours are revealed, as participants react to having to perform something new. Many see it as an exciting challenge to master. Some continue half confused and bluff it. A few initially find it frustrating and may want to give up. These are really interesting initial states for participants to be aware of and provide insight into how participants may respond to other new challenges at work or in their life as a whole. With expert facilitation, we ensure that everyone can successfully navigate the challenges of learning something new, to end on a high!
Providing a self-development journey for participants is why we are regularly asked to deliver drumming events to a wide spectrum of audiences and environments. One day, we may be providing a drumming workshop to thousands of conference delegates, while on the next day, we may be delivering senior management training.
Of course, some participants just see a drumming session as great team fun and some light relief from a mass of Powerpoint presentations. However, there are always many others who come up for a quiet word afterwards to express how the session deeply affected them. This is what makes us so confident and proud of the work we do. There are very few activities I have come across that offer the same impact.
Now…back to my own journey learning my Cajon!