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High Fidelity in the training room


David Green of Training for Advancement takes a lighthearted look at music in training.

My boss tells me I am little too traditional in the training room. Just last week he insisted that I got rid of the blackboard, chalk and slates and replace them with a new fangled thing called a flipchart, whatever that is. Not only that, he says I should adopt accelerated learning techniques to keep course delegates interested and improve retention rates. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but the gist of it was that I should introduce games and music into the sessions. Well I’ve never been any good at games, so I had better think about music.

Seemingly, if I want to be the hippest and most groovy consultant in town, the very least I should be doing is opening my courses with inspiring or thought-provoking music. The problem is I don’t know what to choose, so I’ve decided to create a top ten music tracks to start a course.

Firstly, I think I should throw out all the non-starters. So anything by the Beautiful South, S Club Seven, Depeche Mode or the Style Council, doesn’t stand a chance. Secondly, if I hear "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner again at the start of an event, I’ll run away to Mablethorpe, become a hermit and live on floppy disk sandwiches and sound bites. It’s not that I don’t like the song or the singer, it’s a great song and she is fantastic, but it’s so overused. It reminds me of Chris Eubank, and anything that reminds me of Chris Eubank has to be banned. Oh, and I’m not too keen on Dana and I’d blow out "Candle in the wind".

So now that we’ve gotten the "non-starters" out of the way, let’s start on the top ten.

To begin with, I can’t really put them in any order; that’s definitely for the "too hard" file. So I’ll start with number seven, Queen has to fit in somewhere, but what do I choose? I can’t go for the obvious "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "We are the Champions" or even "We Will Rock You". No it has to be "One Vision" or "Fat Bottomed Girls" – on balance, "One Vision" I think. Straight in at number four is U2 with "Where the Streets Have No Name". Either of those should at least wake them up.

But what if some of the delegates are nervous, playing rock anthems might really put them off. There’s always "Relax" by Frankie, but that might offend people. I tend to soothe my savage breast with "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson, but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Now what we need is a classic like Bob the Builder, or even better the Intermezzo from "Cavalleria Rusticana" or "Vesti la giubba" from "Pagliacci". If they were really depressed I could play something by the Verve or Coldplay or the Butchers Song by Leonard Cohen – "I came upon a butcher, he was slaughtering a lamb", that would really set the mood for the course.

This isn’t as easy as you might think. Hey, what about Lionel Ritchie’s "Easy", no, better to go for something really easy like Santana’s "Samba Pa Ti" or the "The River of Dreams" by Billy Joel, but then again his "We didn’t start the fire" always cheers me up. If the course was mainly female, I could start with the Eurythmics’ "Sisters are doing it for themselves" or be really smooth and play some Sade or Inrico Inglesias (or even his dad). Another alternative would be to start with ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ and I could begin the course with "One small step for man, but one giant step for mankind" or I could be really crass and start with the Moody Blues’ "Threshold of a dream".

Here I am two-thirds of the way through the top ten and I haven’t even mentioned the Beatles or Pink Floyd. It could be "I am the walrus" but "Across the universe" or "All you need is love" would probably have the edge. And despite being tempted by "The dark side of the moon", I would always go back to "Shine on you crazy diamond". Then again, I think "You win again" by the Bee Gees is just great get-up-and-go music and if you want people to dance you could always play "Hi ho silver lining" or "Come on Eileen". We could do synchronised floor dancing to "Hey upside your head" or "The time walk". If I was feeling really adventurous, I could play "The birdie song" followed immediately by "Agadoo".

What about songs that reflect the course content? There’s the obvious "Money" for a finance course or David Bowie’s "Changes" for a change management programme. We could play "Selling England by the pound" for a sales course or "Let’s stick together" for team building. The possibilities are endless - and now I’m in my wife’s bad books because I trying to create this top ten when I should be Christmas shopping. Oh no, I’d forgotten about Christmas, I could play Slade or Wizard, but somebody is bound to ask for "Mistletoe and wine" – even running systems training courses is better than that.

Well I’ve tried, but I don’t think it is possible to create a definitive top ten. I guess I’ll have to think of something else to be cool. Perhaps I should start by sawing a lady in half or eating my own weight in books on NLP. No I think I am going to be truly radical and begin my next course with...

David Green

What are your favourite - and least favourite - tunes for training? Post your comments below.


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