March 27, 2011

Music Sunday: Cheers for the chorus

This video was taped at a neuroscience conference and I'm sure that some scientific, evidence-based outcomes were shared from this experiment or others like it. Even if you have seen it before, go ahead, take three minutes and watch Bobby McFerrin lead an audience made up of scientists in song.



I think this demonstration is awesome on several levels, but for the purpose of this blog, I want to talk about how it it might explain membership in service clubs.

The rhythm: McFerrin explains, very quickly at the end of the clip, that everyone knows the pentatonic scale. When someone is leading the group, we are able to anticipate and respond in a unified voice, in rhythm with one another. It doesn't matter if the leader jumps to the left or the right, the largest segment of the audience can follow along when the tune stays in a comfortable range of their voice. When it jumps very far up or down the scale, some of the audience is lost; they can't, or just don't want to, hit those notes.

The solo: Mid-way through, McFerrin adds a little melody. The audience continues with the rhythm as the unexpected melody enhances the sound. The soloist is able to accomplish more because the group has the knowledge to carry on with limited guidance from the leader.

My question: What would happen if everyone in the chorus decided to sing their own solo instead?

For twenty-five years or more, some have worried that service clubs may become extinct, and it is true that membership losses in traditional service clubs such as Optimist, Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions have outpaced membership gains. I believe that this has happened because of the solo affect.

It is fun to be the visionary, to bring a new idea to fruition and feel the success of a personal mission. Students are now encouraged from a young age to be entrepreneurs, and to not be afraid to set off on their own. However, when individuals begin to leave the chorus and sing different melodies, we risk losing very foundation that makes it possible for them to try.

This is no different for traditional service clubs. Service clubs are part of the foundation of our culture of caring.  Service clubs bring people together on a local level to solve problems that exist close to home and in return, they offer fellowship to their members. Fellowship is a unique blend of respect and friendship. It is the rhythm of life.

If fellowship is the rhythm of life, then traditional service clubs are the chorus. If you want to be a better soloist, join the chorus; they will help your voice be heard wider, louder and clearer.

When your solo ends, there is satisfaction knowing that you were part of the chorus first, and always will be.

Thanks to Robbin at Brains on Fire for inspiring this post.
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