In the online workplace, two of the most critical things to take care of to ensure productivity are community building and the mental health of the team. Productivity aside, they are still the two most important things to worry about when taking care of your people. Mental health seems to be at an all-time low, and we need to look at ways to uplift our teams even when we don’t necessarily know the specific details of what they are going through.
One particularly powerful tool is songwriting. This may sound hopelessly complex, but the reality is, you can start anywhere, and at any level of skill. Almost all of us have a connection to music – we have favourite songs, music that reflects our moods and represents who we are as people. But is liking music enough to be a creator? How does
music help with mental health and community building? I’m so glad you asked.
When starting to songwrite, it helps to begin with a prompt, usually a single word. Write about it using all of your senses. What does it look like, smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like? And how does it make you feel? Do it as a group activity, and usually for a short burst of time, like five minutes. It’s a feel-good community exercise, fun to do with others, as you’re writing against a clock, trying to get everything in. It may feel a little funny too – if your prompt is a table, how can you write about what a table would taste like? This humour
releases dopamine and you start to relax a little. This also makes you less inhibited and more willing to share with your peers. This is the first step towards creating a more open, non-judgmental space. Listening to what others have written helps you realise that you’re not alone. We are all unique and yet very similar in some ways. Give each other constructive feedback, create space to share anecdotes. Did table make you think of your
work desk that your cat is currently sitting on, or your grandmother’s dining table when she would make your favourite puris, or your school bench where you would giggle and pass secrets when your teacher wasn’t looking?
As people get more comfortable, take your favourite lines from these descriptive writes – set them to the melodies of your favourite songs. As you do this, you start understanding how rhyme and metre work. They can be heartfelt lyrics, or silly songs, but the process of creation is powerful. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and unlocking your creativity. From there, if you are interested, you can continue to build skill, work on melodies, create original compositions. Form a band with colleagues, play an instrument – there are many possibilities for the individual!
For an organization, a guided songwriting journey could be a powerful experience that brings people together, unlocks creativity and sparks joy.