Removing the chair!

This week I joined nearly three thousand people at an outdoor concert by the singer Imany. The concert was amazing and was made even more dramatic because the musical accompaniment was provided by eight cellists. What was even more remarkable was that the eight cellists played standing up as well as acting as Imany’s backing dancers for the full ninety minutes!

I would have been delighted just to have enjoyed this outstanding concert under the stars, but never expected to receive a good lesson for life at the same time.

When Imany came on stage to thank the audience, she also explained the background to the involvement and development of the cellos in her performance.

She had wanted to do the cello voodoo concept for a while and ended up auditioning about eighty cellists from which she picked the present eight. But then she suggested taking away their chairs. They pointed out that cellists had always sat on chairs to play with the instrument between their knees. Imany’s response was to immediately ask why!

The obvious answer was that the cello had always been played that way since 1550. Moreover, the sitting position was developed before the spike was added to the cello and hence had to be held between the knees. Once the spike was added, standing while playing the cello was only done rarely while using a brace and movement was confined to marching.

So, all the elements that Imany needed existed, but had not been exploited in the way that she envisaged. Although difficult at first, the cellists not only mastered the skills as backing musicians and dancers, but were able to sustain it for an entire ninety minute show.

As Imany explained it, by taking away the chair she effected a mini-revolution with the cellists. It was also clear that the eight cellists really enjoyed what they were doing and become so much more an integral part of the show than if they had sat in the corner on chairs.

It makes one wonder why so many people fail to ask the question WHY. Or what  difference people could make if they took away metaphorical chairs. Entrepreneurship often comes about by asking the WHY question and then seeing what happens if the ‘chair’ is taken away.

Taking the cellist’s chair away took nearly five hundred years. But everyone must have a ‘chair’ in their life. Our choice is to stay sitting in the background or become a main player on the stage of life.

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