December is a time for music; on the radio, television, your car stereo, iPod, school concerts, community and church programs. This season it seems as though I have performed in every type imaginable – the harmony and blend are wonderful, the message of the words truly bring the reason for the season alive and plus it is just plain fun.
If you haven't ever heard a bell choir (by the way the one above is the Raleigh, NC bell choir, Raleigh Ringers performing a Trans-Siberian Orchestra classic) the concept is that every single note of the song (bass and treble clef) are played by a single note by the shaking of the single bell in someone's hand.
As a piano player I am able to play chords of 10 notes (if I'm really ambitious) all at the same time. However, the idea of working with a number of other people to create that same chord in time, in tune and in rhythm seems impossible. Not only that but it all moves so fast and sometimes one person uses their neighbors bell, and someone has to find time to turn the music page for their group and keep an eye on the director who dictates the tempo all to create something delightful to the ear.
I think about work teams where people gather from different departments, with differing skills and education backgrounds to come together and successfully complete a task. It requires great listening skills, a polite ability to let the person next to you have their say even though you are dying to jump in and a facilitator who can keep their eyes on the entire project at once. But now imagine if you had to walk together with your right leg tied to that of your neighbor's left – like a sack race.
I love Whose Line Is It Anyway and one of the games they play is the "Three Headed Broadway Star" and Colin, Ryan and Drew will sing a one word at a time with no clue what the next person will say. It's great teamwork, although not perfect and the intension is fun.
But the bell choir – wow – their ability to work together for art is amazing.
If you have a chance to see a bell choir this holiday season, I'd recommend you do; for the music and for the example of teamwork. It is inspiring.
How might your team work more like a bell choir?
Deborah Chaddock Brown
Writer who will never attempt a bell choir.