Custom Experiences

We get people to rally around your goals for success through our one of a kind music-driven experiences.

Our workshops help Learning and Development Officers, HR leaders, and CEOs translate their vision in ways that go beyond mere slogans. We deliver a power-packed session of music, songwriting and active creative participation to bring real meaning to your organization’s strategy.

“Hands down one of the greatest Talks and most magnetic natures of anyone who has graced our stage.” — Jessica Malkin, Executive Director of Chicago Ideas Week

What does the structure of a workshop look like?

Broadly speaking, there will be an introductory section, in which Peter will outline the themes being covered in his inimitable style. As with almost everything in a Big Muse session, even this piece is highly-interactive; with questions being posed to the attendees and ideas freely bandied about. Oftentimes there will be an improvised song by Peter and the Big Muse band around the topics as they’re being discussed. The idea here, is to get Big Muse’s tremendous energy flowing right from the start.

The next sections in a Big Muse workshop are built around our unique exercises, many of which are taken from Peter’s latest book Let Me Out. They include improvisation, story-telling, and deep reflections around trust, fear, and creativity. This where the important work around trust and fear takes place.

Most Big Muse workshops culminate in a one-of-a kind songwriting experience. Attendees, whether individually, in pairs, or in larger groups, will be tasked with writing songs based on your organization’s needs. Since most people don’t have experience as actual “songwriters” they will be writing ‘song lyrics’ —words that will soon be improvised into full blown “hits” by Peter and the Big Muse band. The songs themselves might range from hip-hop, blues, ska, or heavy metal, to down home country ballads. All is possible.

The songs might deal with trust issues that hold back growth, new and courageous leadership strategies, ideas around creative-thinking, or vision statements around positive outcomes —there is no limit to what can be covered here.

The Big Muse songwriting experience is best described as a full-blown, mini rock concert. And the amazing thing is that each and every song you hear will have been written by the people in your organization!

Here’s a more detailed of our songwriting workshop

Example one: Musical Creative Thinking/Collaboration Builder Overview — 60/90 minutes

In this fun and highly interactive session participants will learn techniques that promote a truly boundless kind of creativity. 

This workshop is appropriate for groups as small as four individuals, all the way up to a thousand or more. Participants will be broken into pre-chosen teams of between five to ten people and tasked with quickly creating a new company that provides a product or service based on the collective values of each team. The fun part is that to create their product or services teams will have no restrictions, not financial (need a trillion dollars for R&D? You got it!). Not the laws of physics (Time travel? You can do it!) Astral projection? Yep, you can do that too!). 

The team will, by consensus, and in a strict time frame (fifteen minutes), create a name for their company, the unique aspect of its product or service, and lyrics to the company theme song. At this point Peter will give a quick tutorial on the mechanics of songwriting.

(This takes five minutes)

The songs will then be selected randomly. Within the 60-minute time frame it’s likely that 10 to fifteen songs can be performed. (Within the 90-minute time frame 15-17 songs can be performed) The chosen lyrics will be taken to the Big Muse band with the ‘founders' of the new ‘company’ onstage to explain how they arrived at their particular product or service. The band will then immediately improvise a song based around the lyrics. (The size of the Big Muse Band varies based on scale and budget, going all the way from Peter and his guitar at the minimum, to Peter and five or more musicians, including drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and a second vocalist.)

The lyrics generated might be improvised into a reggae song, a country ballad a funk tune, or a hard rock anthem —or any number of styles

Important note: Fear not! Since participants will be writing “lyrics” as opposed to chords and melody, there is no need for anyone to have a musical background to effectively participate in this session.

“I felt actual exhilaration from the folks I’ve run into after your seminar. Exhilaration is a word I never use to describe anything that happens in the Corporate setting so that is damn impressive.” — Alan Tecktiel, Senior Director, HR Client Solutions, McDonalds Corporation

Example two: Musical Dive Into Values, Leadership & Teamwork

In this fun and highly interactive session participants will learn how their own values create empathy, resilience, and vision in themselves and members of their team towards accomplishing their goals.

This workshop is appropriate for groups as small as four individuals, all the way up to a thousand or more. Participants will be split into pairs and asked to reflect on a time they made a difference in someone’s life. Each person will then play the part of journalist, trying to better understand a time when their partner evinced their values and leadership ability in service to a person or cause.

(Q&A) For instance, ‘Mary’ —partner one—once mentored an inner-city High School student and helped her get into college, ‘Stan’ —partner two—will take notes on Mary’s experience as a mentor to better understand Mary’s story. After five minutes the roles are reversed and Stan will tell his story to Mary. 

The notes that each partner takes are very specific to this songwriting exercise. In the first stage what each partner will be looking for are the SENSORY aspects of his partner’s story: What were you wearing that day? What time of year was it? What was the weather? What was the space you were in? In the second stage of questions each partner will be looking for the EMOTIONAL aspects of her partner’s story: How did it feel to help another person? How did the experience help to strengthen your values? How did the experience change your life?

At this point Peter will give a quick and interesting tutorial on the mechanics of songwriting. (This takes five minutes)

When the Q&A portion of the experience is complete (it takes about ten minutes), each partner within the pair will write a song for their partner, based on what they’d learned about their values, and the way they evinced them in the real world. In this hypothetical case, Mary would be writing a song about Stan’s story and Stan would be writing a song about Mary’s story. 

Pairs will be selected randomly to come onstage and explain a bit about what motivated their songs. Then the Big Muse band will improvise music for each of the songs. Within the sixty-minute time frame 10 to 12 songs would be performed. (Within the 90-minute time frame 15-17 songs would be performed)

The size of the Big Muse Band will vary based on scale and budget, going all the way from Peter and his guitar at the minimum, to Peter and five or more musicians, including drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and a second vocalist.

Important note: Fear not! Since participants will be writing “lyrics” as opposed to chords and melody, there is no need for anyone to have a musical background to effectively participate in this session.

“Big Muse’s program exceeded our expectations! It helped inspire our employees, and delivered the creative confidence they needed to better connect with everyone important in our lives - both at home and work. Our employees didn’t want the session to end, the highly interactive experience was a welcome departure from traditional leadership slide shows.” Barry Leffew, Vice President, Adobe Public Sector

Songwriting Workshop Timeline (60 Minute version)

00:00 Introductions. With Peter and the Big Muse Band already onstage, the event host introduces the theme of the event, along with Peter and the musicians, and we proceed to...

00: 05 Music Starts. Peter and the Big Muse Band performing a piece of a song relating to the theme of the event

00:10 Brief Keynote By Peter. Peter discusses the role of fear in his own creative work and how it can often be used to fuel, rather than to thwart the productivity. Questions relating to the theme of the workshop will be asked of the audience, as all our workshops are entirely interactive. Oftentimes Peter will improvise a song about something related to the theme of the event based upon ideas given to him on the spot by audience members. (Keynotes are all changeable based on event theme)

00:15 Breaking into pairs (or larger groups) depending on which workshop has been selected. The team “company” discussion begins, based on Musical Creative Thinking/Collaboration Builder described above —or the “paired” interview process based on the Musical Dive Into Values, Leadership & Teamwork Experience described above begins.

00:22 Songwriting lesson! Peter describes the songwriting process

00:27 Songwriting Begins! Participants begin writing their song lyrics.

00:35 Selected participants and their songs are brought up to the Big Muse band. (Worry not. No one will ever be forced to sing. Although those who want to sing —and there are ALWAYS some singers —will never be stopped from singing.)

00:35 —1:00 The Music Kicks in! The Big Muse Band improvises songs and the workshop explodes into a rock concert with participant’s songs front and center. Everyone is dancing and singing along.

“Peter, THANK YOU for such an unbelievably inspiring session today at Coca-Cola. You’re an incredible person and I appreciate you spending time with us and also for playing back up to my blues song!! It was a special day.” —Geoff Cottrill, SVP - Strategic Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company

Songwriting Workshop Timeline (90 Minute version)

00:00 Introductions. With Peter and the Big Muse Band already onstage, the event host introduces the theme of the event, along with Peter and the musicians, and we proceed to...

00:05 Music Starts. Peter and the Big Muse Band perform a piece of a song relating to the theme of the event.

00:10 Keynote By Peter. Peter will discuss the role of fear in his own creative work and how it can often be used to fuel, rather than to thwart productivity. Questions relating to the theme of the workshop will be asked of the audience, as all our workshops are entirely interactive. Oftentimes Peter will improvise a song about something related to the theme of the event based upon ideas given to him on the spot by audience members. (Keynotes are all changeable based on event theme)

00:20 Breaking into pairs (or larger groups) depending on which workshop has been selected. The team “company” discussion begins, based on Musical Creative Thinking/Collaboration Builder described above —or the “paired” interview process based on the Musical Dive Into Values, Leadership & Teamwork Experience described above begins.

00:30 Songwriting lesson! Peter describes the songwriting process

00:40 Songwriting Begins!

00:50 Selected participants and their songs are brought up to the Big Muse band. (Worry not. No one will ever be forced to sing. Although those who want to sing —and there are ALWAYS some singers —will never be stopped from singing.)

00:55 —1:30 The Music Kicks in! The Big Muse Band improvises songs and the workshop explodes into a rock concert with participant’s songs front and center. Everyone is dancing and singing along.

“Peter and the Big Muse Band had 900 store mangers believing that - despite the constraints, they could do more than what they previously thought possible.”

Dan Leavitt, Sr. Manager, Learning and Development, Banana Republic

 

Peter Himmelman is more than a singer-songwriter. More than a great speaker. More than a thought leader on creativity. Peter Himmelman is a force of nature. I’ve seen him in action, both as a musician and as a speaker. As a rock ‘n’ roller, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as gifted with words, music and stagecraft. I can say with one thousand percent certainty that anyone who spends time with Peter Himmelman ands Big Muse will come away looking at the world as a place of abundant possibilities.” —Rob Schwartz, CEO TBWA/Chiat Day

This is a raw, full-length video of Peter and his Big Muse team working with graduate students at the Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing, at Northwestern University. The focus of the session was creativity and trust. The specific goals were to get the students, who were new to one another, to express themselves in a deep and vulnerable way, in order to build trust in themselves and others, as a necessary component in forming their teams for work on real projects in the Chicago area. 

As you can see, Peter’s approach is organic, extremely responsive, and inordinately generous in getting people to overcome their fears of creatively expressing themselves. While these are “students” in this particular video, the principles Peter uses are applicable to any organization that needs to build trusting and creative teams.

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