Why business is like producing a musical show

By Time of article published Oct 2, 2011

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As a music lover I am involved in two music productions as a professional amateur (pro-am), in one where I am making a cameo appearance and another one that I am producing.

The preparation for both productions requires extensive rehearsals to get good quality. Both productions require bands that must be able to run through a long programme without difficulty.

For the show that I am producing I combed through the repertoire, selecting appropriate songs with meaning and made sure that there is written music for the entire two-hour show.

So the initial meeting with the band involved giving them the sheet music for all the songs and taking them through the arrangements and interpretations of those songs. The musical director then takes over from there with five days of full rehearsals.

All the musicians can read music and have a good understanding of music dynamics which makes it easier for them to improvise and also transpose the music on the spot for the singers, if need be.

On the other production, I prepared the sheet music for the medley of songs I would be singing.

When I arrived for the rehearsal of the cameo production, I played the CD with the songs to give the band a feel of the music. The band had a really good ear for the music and could reproduce it perfectly.

The band intuitively picked up the key of the music. I then distributed the sheet music of the songs and explained my arrangements. That’s when things came undone.

The pianist could not read the music but had a great way around the piano keys, and the bassist had only a rudimentary understanding of musical theory but had the uncanny ability to make the bass walk like a pro.

So we waited a while to give them time to get to grips with the songs with no success and I ended up deciding to just do two songs.

How does this background apply to business? In business you have people: ones with raw talent, those with book knowledge and those with the combination of both.

The ones with raw talent are able to intuitively pick up how things work without having a theoretical understanding of the field. They have the brawn and the spirit but they do not have sufficient knowledge to express what they know in words. They normally have accumulated experience along the way but there is no certificate.

In music terms these are street musicians who have an ear for music but no theory to back it up.

Then you have those with the book knowledge and perfect technique who have spent years perfecting their art.

They know the theories of why things are done in a particular way, but what is sometimes missing from their performance is the spirit and the depth of emotion.

In music terms they are like the average classical musicians who read music but cannot depart from the written notes.

Then you have the people who understand the theory inside out to the point of being able to improvise very well. They are able to listen to a song and reproduce it very well based on the standard sequence of chord progressions they have stored in their memory bank.

They are quite versatile musically and they can play in and out of genres. Musically these are the jazz musicians.

In South Africa’s economy there are many spirited street musician types who are able to emotionally move people. But because they don’t have the papers to fully express their expertise they tend to be marginalised and lack the confidence to execute the tasks needed to grow the economy.

On the other hand you have the theoretical buffs who are not spirited with intuition which makes their performance in the economy functional but uninspiring.

The best performers are the jazz types who move with ease in the different sectors of the economy. We need more of the jazz types to grow our economy. - Vuyo Jack

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