Archive for December, 2010

A Brand New Adventure in PVC Tubing…

December 7, 2010

The past few weeks have been really busy – and really fun. Amongst staff training, AMS piano exams and all manner of other bits and pieces, my good friend Ross asked me to do a ‘team building session’ in Melbourne with some CEOs of the corporation he works for.

Ross was after something a bit different from all the regular stuff like rock climbing and fishing trips and wanted me to teach a bunch of guys to play the AMS Tubes. Ross has seen the tubes in action – with AMS staff performances at concerts and his own kids in Tubes groups on AMS camp.

My first response to the idea was a mix of  ‘Wow – fun!’ and freaking out. I expressed my reservation to Ross – while we all look like we are having a ball up there, playing the tubes is deceptively difficult – to which he replied, ‘I’m hoping it will be!’  – he was keen for a challenge.

In the few days that I had to think it over, all sorts of questions were running around in my head – but the biggest one was:  ‘Is this going to work?’

We take it for granted that The Tubes will go brilliantly with our students on AMS camp – but they are musicians with fantastic aural skills who just need a bit of organising. The AMS staff rehearsals on The Tubes are a hoot – but we also experience frustration as we struggle to get things just how we want them to be. What was going to happen with a bunch of scientists & engineers in polo shirts!? And – just how ‘bonding’ would this session be? Assuming they could actually cope with the activity, would they like it? Or think it was silly….?

After a couple of sleepless nights and some very entertaining conversatons with some of the AMS staff, I decided to go for it.

So my husband bundled up enough PVC to plumb a house (an entertaining exercise in itself!) and off I went to present myself at the oversize luggage counter at Sydney Airport. (Extra plug for husband – he also cleaned and re-felted all the tubes before I left….)

I started off with ‘easy peasy’ pieces – songs with words. (Think ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ – ‘You play on the word STAR’) These went pretty well and got the bonus factor of a few (nervous) laughs along the way.

With a couple of those under our belt we moved on to some trickier things and as the music itself started sounding… well… more like music, there were lots of decisions and ‘team building’ elements that were happening along the way: 

  • Using  eye contact to start, finish or play chords together. (Harder than it sounds when you are concentrating like mad on your own part) 
  • Going over a difficult section and getting input from the others as to how best to play the note.  (You HOLD it, I’ll HIT it)
  • Patiently dealing with the person who alwasys rushes and just cannot wait his turn to play his note. (Are you LISTENING to anyone else at all?)
  • Experiencing the fact that it is easy to tell someone what to play when – but that doing it yourself is a whole different thing! (And how many times does that happen out there in the business world!?)

And then, we actually started sounding GOOD! We mastered several pieces including the ‘Blue Danube Waltz’ and the ‘William tell Overture’. We were working towards ‘recordable’ performances, without me conduscting / singing / telling everyone what to do next. Sometimes that worked, sometimes they REALLY needed help. We did get a decent recording of each piece – and I left in a few of the laughs to capture the ‘atmosphere’ of the session.

All up – very successful and great fun. A very interesting exercise in teamwork and quite enlightening as to strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. And guess what? I’ve already got a booking for a Sydney group in January – and I can’t wait!