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Creative Collaboration is Music to My Ears

March 29, 2012
by Steve Bell
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Pooling Our Talents to Delight Those We Serve

Last week my son sent me a YouTube video of a parody of Star Wars entitled, "Cello Wars: The Phantom Cellist." It's  funny and musically amazing ... mirror images of the same musician playing music from Star Wars on electric cellos, dressed as Jedi Masters, their bows turning into light sabers.  After chuckling to myself while transfixed by the music and videography, I noticed on the side of the screen that there were other YouTube offerings by this same group. They call themselves The Piano Guys.  I enourage you to go online and investigate. It's very cool.

Collaboration. We have all seen it work and we have all seen it fall apart. Whether it's raising money for inter-agency program development or brick and mortar projects; or developing new ways to reach out to high-risk populations in behavioral health work, creating meaningful partnerships is a challenge for leaders and managers. This is especially true in the grass-roots non-profit world. We all want to innovate, be more productive and reach more people...all on very tight budgets.  As I network with agency leaders and staff here in Colorado I often sense some hopelessness with regards to workforce development, the empty chairs in key management positions and the turf wars over clients and money.

Now enter these Piano Guys into my psyche.   Two world-class musicians, one a cellist, the other a pianist finding each other almost by accident in their home town who then begin playing music as a team. They blend Classical with some bouncy Pop elements and then have their creative videographer colleagues mix it into stunning and inspiring videos that they post online. .  A small, diverse group of performing artists collaborating, without a big budget or sponsors , keeping their day jobs to enchant new viewers. Several million 'hits' later, the Internet community is discovering these guys.  And they are making people tap their toes and share the links with their family and friends.

While handling a heavier than usual networking schedule this past week, I am rediscovering how much fun doing cross-agency community work can be.  One of us works for an agency that is  building a new center for homeless men to stay at during the day and gain access to more on-site services.  Another is a one-woman benefits navigator who is eager to swap referrals to help expedite Social Security Disability applications.  Then there is the recovery education program manager working with a vocational rehabilitation counselor to develop a business outreach strategy.    Often it's the unexpected partnerships that create experiences that delight the people we serve.


Steve Bell

Peer-Provider and Advocate

Steve Bell

Steve Bell is the co-founder and executive director of  BrainStorm Career Services, a consumer-...

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