A Drummer’s Tips for Teamwork and Business

Sep 5, 2014 | Organizational Behavior

Drum set

Have you ever had two worlds collide? For me, it happens fairly frequently—with drumming and business.

My drummer instincts kicked in around age 10, and it’s grown into more than just a hobby. And now that I’ve been in the marketing/business world for several years, I’ve noticed a number of connections between the musical and business realms—and the reality of teamwork. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from both worlds:

Consistency is King

One of the first things I teach my drum students is the importance of consistency. Sure, there are times for drum solos (I am a jazz drummer at heart!) and eccentricity. But playing steady tempos and rhythms is the core of becoming a trusted, competent drummer. Turns out, this is true in the business world—perhaps even more so! When you consistently turn in high-quality work on time, people start to notice. You become even more valuable to your boss. Or, if you are the boss, you may find that consistency and diligence are integral to making your business dream a reality.

Follow the Leader

You may aspire to be a trailblazer in your field, but remember that it starts with quality leadership and mentoring. Orchestras and rock bands alike fall to pieces without some semblance of structure. Someone must step up to make the music come together. If that’s you, congratulations! With great privilege comes great responsibility. If it’s not you, do your best, obey, and remember the big picture. (I’ll spare you my stories from years drumming in marching band to illustrate the big picture.)

Do Your Part Well—or Else Everyone Suffers

One thing in my music experiences has never changed: If the drummer messes up, everyone suffers. The drummer’s responsibility is to hold things together (and sound good doing so). I’ve seen this translate into the business world over and over. If one teammate fails on his part of a project, the whole company reaps the consequences. Sometimes it’s large-scale, like a senior PR representative tweeting inappropriate content to millions of followers. Other times, it’s a graphic designer turning in the artwork a week late—thus losing a client. Teamwork is more than a cliché to toss around at corporate retreats. Your part really does matter.

When Calamity Strikes, Adapt and Succeed Anyway

Occasionally, I play electronic drums for events. After more than a decade of learning the intricacies of dynamics and rhythms on acoustic drums, my entire performance is entrusted to electrical cords and a sound technician. Once in a while, half of my drum set abruptly goes silent—and suddenly it’s time to adapt. No, musicians aren’t necessarily trained for this type of situation. But it’s smart to have a plan for when it does happen. The same goes in the workplace. When something outside of your control strikes, what do you do? Do you quit and wait around until it’s fixed? Or do you find a solution and communicate with the right people to remedy the issue? It’s not always smooth sailing, but you can respond appropriately and succeed.

Be Creative and Try New Things!

Hopefully this is implied, but I thought I should state it clearly just in case. Creativity is the lifeblood of dreams! Drumming (and music in general) would be incredibly boring without new and exciting things—things that make the world more engaging and fun. Your career path shouldn’t be boring, either. Don’t wait around for the next great idea to come from Apple or The Discovery Channel. Why not get your imagination going right now? Try new ideas, and build on the ones that work.

Have you ever had two worlds collide? Share your tips and epiphanies in a comment below.

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