From Barney to Beethoven

My son is currently in his
first year of learning to play the trumpet.
It all started a couple of weeks before the school year at something
they called “band camp”. This was an
hour a day, week long thing at the school where Mrs. Moore, the music teacher
at the school, introduced them to their instruments and got them blowing their
first notes. When I first heard that my
son was going to start playing the trumpet, I thought we’d be in for some
painful auditory experiences around the house.
Having sat through a band camp session, where 20 other 9 year olds where
just starting to play, too, my only thoughts were “poor Mrs. Moore”. I then learned that she was doing the same
thing for students of the trombone, saxophone, French horn, tuba, baritone, flute,
clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and percussion instruments, and realized that I’m
obviously not cut from the same cloth as she.

I was pleasantly surprised
by son’s quick progress in producing sounds that when strung together were
recognizable as songs. My worries about
needing to make excuses to get out of the house when he played were for
naught. As one might expect, the
selections were quite basic, but enjoyable to hear nonetheless. I remember during one of the early practice
sessions my son proclaiming, “Hey! This is that Barney song!” He was playing This Old Man, which Barney (yes, the big purple dinosaur Barney)
had commandeered into his I Love You
song. Soon into the school year, my
son’s instruction went from just trumpet lessons to a session a week of “band
practice”. After only 7 weekly band
practice sessions, it was time for the first band concert.

Having never attended a
beginning band concert before, I must admit my expectations were not that
high. The only insight I had was what I
was hearing from my son on a nightly basis (OK, maybe not quite a nightly basis
– but don’t tell Mrs. Moore that). While
I thought he was coming along quite nicely (after all, he is my son), I just didn’t know how Mrs.
Moore could assemble all those brand new musicians playing so many different
instruments into something worth putting on display in such a short time. Well, as I’m sure many parents in my
situation have experienced before, when the first few notes of the first piece
were played, I was blown away! Mrs.
Moore instantly became my new hero. The
pieces were the basic songs I had heard my son playing, but the experience was
nothing short of amazing.

So what’s any of this have
to do with Communities? Well, I could
draw the slightly tired but very apropos analogy of individual contributors
coming together to build something that collectively is much greater than any
one person could ever hope to achieve alone, but I want to focus on Mrs.
Moore’s willingness (and eagerness) to put her early successes on display for
the world to see. While symphonic
renditions of some of Beethoven’s classics are probably goals of hers (if, of
course, she stayed with this group for a number of years), she certainly wasn’t
going to wait that long to go public with her work. By unveiling her early successes, she was
able to create buzz around her efforts (I can’t wait until the next concert)
and elicit feedback for her “community” (applause from the audience) to inspire
the individuals on to the next great thing.
And so it goes for Community Managers – get your early successes on
display as soon as possible. Don’t
overlook the value of Barney even if Beethoven is your ultimate end goal.

Posted in TeamForge

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