All In Good Time

NEWS / ARTICLES 14th May 2018


Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards once said “There’s no substitute for live work to keep a band together”. Unquestionably, there’s something about joining together in song that brings us closer to each other. Great thinkers from renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks to evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar agree that playing music is a fundamental way in which humans bond with one another, and Shakespeare was certainly on the right tracks when he described music as “the food of love”.

Scientific research reveals that oxytocin, a hormone associated with trust building, is released when we sing. Chemicals connected with social bonding behaviours in primates, called endorphins, also rush around the body when we perform music together. Perhaps this explains why children who participate in joint music-making before solving problems together exhibit more prosocial behaviours than those who don’t, or why choir-goers build relationships much faster than non-musical group members. From the nursery to the rehearsal room, music serves as a natural social emulsifier.

Social bonds also have a positive impact in the workplace. Research by Gallup has found that female employees who have a best friend at work are twice more likely to be engaged than women who do not. These women also rated their team’s performance more highly and innovated more. In the US, having mates at work increases the breadth of resources used by employees and enhances performance. Quite simply, those with workplace friendships are more committed and productive employees. In the words of leadership expert Simon Sinek, "When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute".

Without putting a high-tech band rehearsal room into the office like Google Z├╝rich, how can employees access the many benefits of playing together? Neuroscience suggests it might take just one rehearsal. German researchers found that brain circuitry underpinning cooperation and empathy is activated as soon as musicians play together. When a lead singer relies upon the keyboard player for their starting note and a guitarist depends on a fill from the drummer to cue their big solo, new band members must immediately learn to trust and communicate with each other. Throw in a few laughs (another endorphin-releasing behaviour) when everybody gets the lyrics muddled up in the middle eight, and a group will start to feel closer in the wave of a conductor’s baton.

When music, as the great Stevie Wonder said, “In essence is what gives us memories”, the positive experiences we share performing in front of a cheering crowd can be reminisced about over a lunchtime cup of coffee for years to come. From extending our Christmas card list to improving performance, it seems that bonding through music can only bring personal and professional benefits into the workplace.

Want your company to “come together” Beatles style? Find out more about our music team building events at

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