Music Team Building: Is it “Real” Team Building?

Is Music Team Building “Real” Team Building?

by Billy Kirsch, President

Kidbilly Music, LLC

Twitter: @BillyKirsch

Some content provided by
Anne Thornley-Brown,M.B.A., President
Executive Oasis International.

What is “real” team building?

It means different things to different people, and the term ‘team building’ is used in different contexts. Many team building providers take pride in their ability to provide programs that are catalysts for change within organizations, to propel organizational growth, evolution, creation and sometimes healing. I consider myself to be one of these providers. Although, when a client has no goals other than to just gather and have fun (team recreation), I’m okay with that too. Fun has an important role to play in shaping a vibrant corporate culture.

Within the context of team building that effects organizational change, can musical team building provide effective results? YES. Music is memorable: a powerful tool for engaging a group, pulling them into a highly interactive and inclusive activity. But, is this real team building? That depends on everything else.

So what is the ‘everything else’ that creates a shared experience that is a catalyst to change? What are the ingredients to transform just another day of fun into ‘real team building’? Here are some examples for each phase of effective team building.

Key Team Building Ingredients


Pre-program questionnaires are vital to ascertain a client’s objectives, challenges and ideals. They can be as simple as an email questionnaire and as detailed as a pre-program assessment tool such as the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument(r), or The Team Dimension Profile. With a pre-program assessment and client objectives, clients can make sure their team building initiatives key in on the specific areas that need to be addressed.

During the Program


This is key. Participants must understand the objectives of team building and how it relates to their day-to-day business realities.


Participants work in small groups to generate the content for their songs. They are given a theme and focus that is relevant to their organization. They come up with challenges, ideas and solutions.

Song Creation

These are then woven together to generate song lyrics. Music stimulates the brain and helps people generate creative solutions that they would not be able to access just by talking about it.


Performance is fun and completely stress free. Teams help each other by displaying lyrics so that they are readily available.


An effective debrief is also vital to produce lasting results from team building.

Questions and discussions might include:

  • What new awareness, relationships and goals were created during the program?
  • What insights did the group gain into its dynamics
  • What did you learn about your colleagues they you weren’t aware of before?
  • How can teams create a realistic plan of action to effect change and to capitalize on new awareness’s, goals and relationships?


But an effective debrief won’t mean too much if there isn’t a follow up plan. This could include a follow-up session by the team building facilitator. Follow up can also include such simple elements as email reminders to participants and surveys several months out to assess big picture results.

Music Team Building: How it all Comes Together

In my flagship program, Team Building Through Song(tm), the creation of lyrics helps groups:

  • define and distill who they are
  • create or re-discover their shared experience and mission
  • in a step-by-step facilitated process.

This provides a dynamic, energizing and memorable experience with a great take-away.

Is Musical Team Building ‘Real Team Building’?

Yes – it can be. There are a variety of programs for teams that use music. Some are effective and some aren’t. Remember, the music is a vehicle, a tool, a part of a larger program designed to engage and promote growth. Simply bringing a group of people together to have fun with music definitely requires teamwork. However, it isn’t team building until one adds certain key ingredients. In the right hands and by adding the right ingredients like facilitation, debriefing and follow-up, music can be great fun and an effective and memorable catalyst to ‘real’ team building.

Biography: Grammy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter Billy Kirsch has harnessed the power of creativity to lead a successful life as an entertainer, songwriter and entrepreneur. He has a passion for teaching people how to connect with their creative abilities to innovate, originate and problem solve. Through is company, Kidbilly Music, Billy provides team building programs, educational seminars and keynote addresses. Kidbilly Music Blog discusses music through song and music team building in greater detail.

Photo Credit: Kidbilly Music (c)

Executive Oasis International is a Toronto based management consulting firm that designs and facilitates team building retreats and simulations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Canada, Asia, and the Caribbean.

5 thoughts on “Music Team Building: Is it “Real” Team Building?

  1. Terry Moshenber says:

    Benny: With regard to your question on how Music-Based Team Building can positively effect groups of people in conflict. Just last week we had two organizations coming together. One company purchased the other. They actually spoke different languages, they were having difficulty creating a uniform culture and the people from both orgs were not gelling at all.

    In four hours, I watched these people find common ground within the exercise, common ground in their musical tastes, and the results truly were a coming together of two different cultures.

    Music is a language everyone can share in. The making of music is intensely collaborative… it’s not the same as “bike building”, or “olympiads” or other so-called team building events…

  2. benny says:

    Very different approach to the usual team-building approaches- MUSIC… VERY REALISTIC questions and discussion carried across…

    Indeed follow-up session are valuable and more so if they reach out to us on a daily basis to keeping us in tune… in terms of effectiveness in organizations, how is this applicable esp with regards to teams in conflicts… do share?

    Or at least my Creative juices are stirred, so

  3. Terry Moshenberg, League of Rock says:

    I share these sentiments and amplify them. Our experiences are nothing but positive. We produce Music-Based Team Building Events, and we run Company Music Leagues as Recruitment & Retention Programs. We help
    our clients capitalize on their hidden Creative Class.

    What Billy says is accurate and true. What he does with client companies is effective and I hope to have the opportunity to work with him in future…

    Nice work Billy!

  4. Anne Thornley-Brown, M.B.A. says:

    Thank you Billy. Most of this article was written by Billy’ Kirsch. I added the odd sentence here and there and some headings and descriptions for the “During the Session” section.

    When I met Billy at the PCMA Education Conference (PCMAEC) in Montreal in June, 2010, we had some in-depth discussions about whether or not music team building is “real” team building. Clearly, we were on the same page and this is what lead to me inviting Billy to be a guest blogger. Here is my reaction.

    For a long time, providers of musical events have been trying to convince me that getting a group together to create music is team building. I have been around musicians and bands for a long time. So I know that creating music requires a phenomenal amount of hard work, dedication, teamwork, and communication. Without teamwork and communication, nothing gets created.

    Talent recruitment is also key to creating great music. The right musicians can make or break a band. I have tremendous respect for bands like The Beach Boys who, despite significant personal struggles and conflict managed to work as a team and create some of the most important music of the 20th century.

    Before I became involved in team building, I was a learning and development professional and I am strongly committed to accelerated learning. I have made it a practice to “score” my training and team building sessions and include music throughout them. Music stimulates the brain, relaxes participants, inspires creativity, and make the entire learning or team building process go more smoothly.

    Here are some articles I wrote some time ago about the use of music for learning programmes. They apply just as much to team building and corporate events:

    World Music for Cross-Cultural Accelerated Learning

    Musical Moments: Music for Accelerated Learning

    Like Billy, I am fine with companies using music events just for fun (as long as they don’t try to pass it off as team building). However, organizations are sometimes so caught up in the “team building as fun” paradigm that they are missing important opportunities to use music to create real team building. In addition to the examples Billy provided, some other uses of Music Team Building with bottom line implications include:

    – getting a group of employees and clients together to crowdsource and create the music and lyrics for a new TV or radio commercial
    – getting input from a cross section of employees to develop mission statements or ideas for marketing campaigns
    – using music to tap into the creative genius of team members to brainstorm and generate soultions to a business issue or challenge

    Organizations in the theatre or movie business can use a crowdsourcing music team building process to generate the theme song for a motion picture or theatrical production. How about recruiting members of the target audience to help with this. Ad agencies can use the same process for focus groups to involve prospective customers in crowdsourcing new ad campaigns.

    As part of shaping their corporate culture, Japanese companies use company songs to boost team spirit. These could be developed through a music team building process.

    So I am in agreement with Billy. Music team building CAN be real team building. I hope that some of the executives and OD specialists reading this will use the ideas as a springboard to really leveraging this effective process for business. Finally, I hope that companies who have used music team building to generate business related outcomes will stop by and share their experiences.

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