Music 101

by Arthur Hull

Working with a major Chicago-area consulting firm, the Chicago Cultural Arts Center was used as the corporate meeting venue. Their meeting theme was “Going back to school.” The international group of 150 human resource people were “students.” The consultants and presenters were “faculty.”

At the end of each presentation they would ring a portable school bell and the assistants, dressed in fluorescent school crossing guard vests, would escort the group to the next “classroom,” to receive the next presentation from another faculty member. My “class” was entitled “Music 101.” All that the “students” knew about the program was the title and that the presenter was Arthur Hull from the University of California in Santa Cruz.

One thing that they did not know was that all the “classrooms” they had been in were situated around the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Hall. When the “crossing guards” escorted the group through the door marked Music 101, the “students” found themselves walking into the mezzanine seating area behind the orchestra stage. They were looking up and out at the beautiful ornate, plush music hall from the musician’s point of view. Standing in front of them on the conductor’s podium, holding a long white tapered conductor’s baton, was the Arthurian Elf himself, me. They were directed to their seats where a vast array of drums and hand percussions awaited them. Seeing in the body language of the group, their fear of being discovered and embarrassed as rhythmically challenged people, I let them know that the quality of the music that they were about to produce would be based, not on their rhythmical expertise, but on their relationship with each other. By the end of the 1 & 1/2 hour program, I was no longer facilitating the group with the basic elements that make a symphony orchestra work successfully together. At that point, I was orchestrating the beautiful, intricate “in the moment” music that the HR Percussion Symphony was performing on its own.

Copyright © 1998 by Arthur Hull