To quote Sammy Davis Jr in Sweet Charity, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat. Drumming activities are a great way of getting people to forget office hierarchies, tune in to the same goal and combine their individual efforts into a spectacular (and noisy) collaboration.
Unbeatable Energy (0114 274 7527, unbeatable-energy.co.uk) has been running African drum workshops for more than a decade. After drums and other percussion instruments have been handed out, a workshop might begin with some ice-breaking games – such as starting a ‘Mexican wave’ of rhythm around the room, with each participant passing on the beat by making eye contact with the next person.
Director Steve Rivers says: “We’d then teach people some rhythm patterns. As well as learning their own part, they have to start paying attention to how it fits with whatever else is going on around them. We may have a challenge session where we split the group into teams, and each one creates a rhythm. At the end, we insert everyone’s creations into a musical piece, creating a unique sound when all the parts are combined.”
Other UK-based providers include Drumming Team Building (020 3808 5177, drummingteambuilding.co.uk), Drum Café (020 8673 3358, drumcafe.co.uk) and Talking Drums (0800 804 7178, corporatedrumming.co.uk).
Most drumming outfits will travel far and wide for corporate bookings. You’ll need to find a venue that’s tolerant of noise, and make sure they understand the nature of the activity: it won’t be ideal if a keynote speech is taking place in the conference room next door.
People may worry they’re tone deaf or have no natural rhythm, but reservations tend to melt away as soon as the beat starts. “People are naturally wired to follow the rhythm,” says Mr Rivers.
“Sometimes a part of the room goes out of sync, and you think it’s all going to fall apart. Then they’ll suddenly slot back into it, without a word being said. It’s incredible.”
Mr Rivers says: “It’s all about changing the mood and the chemistry in the business. Everyone has a part to play.
If someone decides to opt out and start looking at their mobile phone – something that did happen once – it’ll have a big impact. We show that every team member matters.”
A ball-park figure for a half-day session with Unbeatable Energy is £1,500 for around 40 people, and most group sizes will work out at about £30-50 per person (all exclusive of VAT and venue hire).