October 28, 2008
Song and Dance and Innovation Man

I once attended a talk by Mike Vance, Walt Disney's "head of idea and people development," way back in the day.

One of the many interesting points that Vance made back then, in his rapid-fire Midwestern twang, was "Ask a child to sing, and they'll sing something. Ask a child to dance, and they'll dance something. Ask a child to draw, they'll draw something. Ask an adult these same questions and he'll say 'I don't sing. I don't dance. I don't draw.'"

But he did when he was a child!

So, what changed? What happened to that spontaneity, that creative free reign, that spirit of play, exploration, and adventure?

What changes, of course, is that, over the years, we adults are taught what's right and wrong, what's good and bad, what's proper and improper and we've internalized all that training and education into our own private internal "critic" who often stops us from being creative even before we start. That's that little voice that says "that isn't good enough."

Sigmund Freud once lamented "What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the adult."

However, we know now that where there's life (and you ARE still breathing, aren't you?) there's always hope. For all of us.

What reminded me of Vance's talk was an online article I ran across today by musician/composer/sound engineer Brian Eno who has made some of my favorite musical recordings over the decades. In it, he encourages all of us to sing. He relates his own successful efforts to get together with friends to have fun singing "a capella," that is, without instrumental accompaniment...like choruses and doo wop groups do.

Besides the musical creativity and the fun involved in singing a capella with your friends, there are health and psychological benefits as well, plus a social learning component as you have to learn to blend your voice (tone, rhythm and breathing) with the other singers.

And, I'll go one further. I imagine that getting together regularly to sing with others (or play African hand drums with others, or go ballroom dancing, or picking up a brush and painting just for the sheer pleasure of it) helps us exercise the same creativity muscles that we exercised as a child before we forgot that we could sing, dance, draw and do all manner of enjoyable things.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by Val Vadeboncoeur at October 28, 2008 02:25 AM


Good comments. I play keyboards in an aging rock band. One of many the lessons I have learned is that you do not all have to be creative or very musical to have a creative musical result. You need one or two creative musicians in the team and the rest just support and keep time! It is the same with innovation - you need a team where the creative are supported by the doers.

Posted by: Paul Sloane [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2008 12:55 PM

To keep on singing, dancing, drawing and being creative all along, we just need to leave the driver seat of ourselves to our child as we used to do.

There is nothing wrong with a singing, dancing and creative youth, adulthood or ancianity.

We just need to subordinate our mind plans to our heart dreams, our individual to our person.

Posted by: JOSE JOAQUIN PEREZ KRUMENACKER [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 29, 2008 02:44 PM

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