Ambient Orchestras



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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to our most frequently asked questions and enquiries. If you have any further questions or want further information please give us a call or email – see our contact page.

How can I play music if I have no experience? I’ve never played an instrument and I can’t sing!
Why should we team-build?
Why an Ambient Orchestras workshop?
What facilitation tools and processes do we use?
What business-related outcomes should I expect?
How do we design a workshop?
Are the workshops held in our office or somewhere else?
What follow-up to the workshops do you provide?
Why is music used and why is that so important?
What’s the big deal about creativity?
What’s the difference between the Right-Side and Left-Side of the Brain?
What sort of music will we play?
What instruments do we get to play?
Can we incorporate elements of competition in the team-building workshops?
Can we theme the workshops?
Do you have workshops for schools or community groups?

I’ve never played an instrument and I can’t sing!

This doesn’t matter! One of the key differences between Ambient Orchestras and other workshops and programs is that you need no prior experience.

Without giving away our trade secrets our instruments have been specially customised so that anyone can play, even if you think you don’t have a musical bone in your body! When you hear the finished product you won’t believe what you have created, even with no experience.

Nobody is forced to sing – we understand that many people are uncomfortable singing or vocalizing in public. Ambient Orchestras' workshops create a non-threatening and supportive environment.

Why should we team-build?

A team is a group of people working together towards a common goal and outcome. When you have all the parts of a team working together as one and focus on the strengths of each individual, the group is much stronger than the sum of its parts.

A team functions best when united and cohesive. This ensures the best chance for team, organisational and individual success. Teams must work together to achieve the best outcomes and ensure the strengths of all team-members are maximised to the benefit of all. Everyone knows the feeling of a cohesive team when you are drawing on everyone’s strength and have a sense of shared ownership over a task or process.

It also remains important to ensure strong workplace and team morale. With uncertainty around the global financial crisis and a rapidly changing workforce and industry, it is understandable that levels of workplace stress are rising. There is no doubt that now is a great time for managers to look at ways to boost staff morale and facilitate energizing and enjoyable shared experiences.

Why an Ambient Orchestras' workshop?

An Ambient Orchestras' workshop works three-fold to enhance the team-building process.

  1. A shared positive experience where the whole team contributes to create a piece of music from scratch. Like any well-functioning team, everyone contributes. It’s not about one person playing or writing and everyone else singing along as the background chorus. No one is held back as just a background element, everyone is recognised. In an Ambient Orchestras' workshop, everyone plays a variety of instruments and contributes meaningfully, like a good team should.
  2. A band is a great metaphor for a team. Bands are groups of people working together towards a common goal. To create a beautiful piece of music, everyone’s contribution is necessary. During an Ambient Orchestras' workshop, we illustrate what happens when a component is missing – what happens to the team dynamic when, for example, the drums are removed or there’s no keyboard. You don’t have a complete piece or team. Similarly we see changes when one instrument or section dominates. It ends up to the detriment of the overall composition or goal.
  3. Ambient Orchestras is a genuine creative experience. It’s not about playing cover songs but about participants employing creative skills to create a piece of original music.

The workshops illuminate current team dynamics and communication processes. They involve teams composing, rehearsing, performing and recording original pieces of music together in a fun and truly unique band experience.

What facilitation tools and processes do we use?

The most important attribute to the workshops is the participants themselves. As experienced facilitators we guide the process, educate where appropriate to ensure that pre-workshops outcomes are met. However the piece of music is something that will be created by the team.

Our staff have decades of experience facilitating workplace teams and cross-organisational groups, managing teams, developing training courses and founding music programs.

We can work within your systems, whether that is utilising training or learning methods such as Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, the Hermann Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI), DISC Assessment, Belbin Team Roles or other thinking preference tools and devices. However we find what is most likely is that we’ll work within processes unique to your workplace and organisational culture. The concepts involved in an Ambient Orchestras' workshop are straightforward and well-tested and our workshops can be easily adapted to work within your processes.

We incorporate proven sets of group facilitation and leadership methods that are used in more than 30 countries worldwide. The methods include the Discussion/ORID (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decisional) Method and the Workshop Method.

We integrate these methods with the unique features of Ambient Orchestras – creativity, collaboration, communication, variety, and music performance, composition and recording.

What business-related outcomes should I expect?

There are many team-building organisations that are essentially recreational providers selling to business. Ambient Orchestras understands the challenges of business and our team have backgrounds in corporate services, managing large corporate teams and have strong business credentials and qualifications.

Specific outcomes will depend on your workshop and we can discuss this with you in greater details. However in general, you can expect an Ambient Orchestras' workshop to deliver the following outcomes:

  • The development of positive communication skills and innovative thinking
  • Work as a genuine team towards your organisational or team goals
  • Increased awareness of the advantages of cooperation and collaboration over competition
  • Explore the importance and value of collaboration and communication in developing strategies
  • Improved team cohesion, inclusion and morale
  • Improved interpersonal relationships in a relaxed and creative environment
  • A better understanding of existing team dynamics
  • A greater understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses within your team
  • An increase in confidence of participants
  • The accelerated development and performance of your team
  • Addressing team issues and performance
Our facilitators have experience in organisational learning and development. We offer widely tested and proven principles for maximising the value of time spent in group activities.

How do we design a workshop?

This depends on your needs. We’ll work with you in the planning stage and are flexible to your specific needs. However if you are busy then we can set the workshop for you and let you focus on work.

Are the workshops held in our office or somewhere else?

It’s up to you. The workshops can be in your office or we can find an off-site location that suits your team. Taking your team out of their usual environment is a great way to invigorate a group and encourage a creative mindset. We can suggest many creative and/or professional spaces depending on your location.

Alternatively, we can come to you and set up in your office! We can turn your office or boardroom into a music studio and performance space. Many of our clients do it this way and there is minimal interruption to the day. Contact us to discuss the suitability of your space or to discuss off-site venues. 

What follow-up to the workshops do you provide?

Depending on your existing processes and systems we offer many follow-up services. If you are using Ambient Orchestras to address specific team issues then we will discuss these with you beforehand to determine the most appropriate way forward.

For example, some of our clients use the Team Building and Communications workshops as a way of assisting teams that have experienced high staff turnover. We have used pre and post workshop surveys to ensure we examine the specific team issues and then to determine the efficacy of the workshop.

We provide analysis of the workshop to detail how your specific goals or objective were met, and provide any outputs (for example any documented information, notes, results) as applicable (such as results from strategic planning workshops or outcomes of creativity workshops)

Of course, perhaps the most follow-up to be received is your team’s original piece of music, complete with remixes, on a CD or MP3.

Why is music used and why is that so important?

Well firstly, hands up if you know anyone who doesn’t like music! It’s actually hard to not like music, because the human body is wired for sound – music helps thinking, learning and plays a starring role in every stage of life. According to experts (see below), everybody has some degree of musicality even if we can’t immediately recognise it.

We utilise music in the Ambient Orchestras' workshops because music is one of the best forms of communication known to human beings. Scientific studies have shown the advantages of music as a force for cohesion. When we listen to music and play together in groups the brain releases oxytocin, which engenders feelings of trust and bonding, and reduces fear. Music helps create social bonds. Music is the best way to synchronise people, to bring people together, as it has for 100,000s of years – music was used by our ancestors to create feelings of happiness and to develop trust.

Music helps us learn and think. Ongoing research at the University of California and the University of Wisconsin demonstrates that learning and playing music builds or modifies neural pathways related to special reasoning tasks, which are crucial for higher brain functions.

Music is an incredibly powerful force for cohesion and cooperation, so we utilise this in our workshops to foster an inclusive and collaborative spirit within each participant of a team.

What’s the big deal about creativity?

Creativity has become a key competitive advantage in most industries. The organisations and teams that have developed an understanding of the challenges of innovation will flourish in what is being known as the “conceptual age” that is highlighted by trends of out-sourcing, automation and abundance. (The “Conceptual Age” is a term coined by internationally recognised management consultant and author Daniel Pink on the age defined by “creators and empathizes”).

Ambient Orchestras' creativity workshops can assist teams and groups improve innovation by using professional facilitation techniques in a creative and supportive environment.

The workshops facilitate whole-of-brain thinking designed to unlock the right side of the brain that benefits strategic and long-term thought to reveal new ideas from participants.

What’s the difference between the Right-Side and Left-Side of the Brain?

Neuroscientists agree that the two hemispheres of our brain take significantly differently approaches to guiding our actions, understanding our world, and reacting to events. Much of the broad thinking around the left-and-right-brain is based on evidence from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanning that allows researchers to see the brain in action – this has legitimized pioneering research from the likes of neuropsychologist, neurobiologist and Nobel laureate Roger Sperry who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Medicine for work with split-brain research.

With more than three decades of research on the brain’s hemispheres, it’s possible to distil the key findings to three key differences:

  1. The left hemisphere is sequential; the right hemisphere is simultaneous
  2. The left hemisphere specializes in text; the right hemisphere specializes in context
  3. The left hemisphere analyzes the details; the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture

You can’t have one side of the brain without the other. However in many of the jobs we do in offices around Australia we often lack the right-brain thinking that can greatly assist the work we do, the strategic direction we take, and keep us ahead of the pack.

Ambient Orchestras assists in targeting the strengths of the right-side of the brain – looking at context and seeing the bigger picture. It is when you put the two sides together that you arrive at a powerful machine that can master strategic and long-term thinking.

What sort of music will we play?

The exact style of music is going to be up to the group itself – rock, pop, slow, fast, rap, rhythm & blues, hip-hop, beats, folk, classical or a mixture! However the nature of the instruments lends itself to “ambient” music. Ambient music can be described as atmospheric or unobtrusive. It can involve big swirling sounds and effects such as echoes and delays. Many popular musicians use elements of ambient music in their craft – from Pink Floyd to Moby to Brian Eno to Radiohead. Traditionally, ambient music can be instrumental or include vocal elements as can the Ambient Orchestras' workshops.

However ultimately, the workshops embrace a range of musical genres, and the style, tempo and sound that your team creates will be up to the group playing the instruments and writing the songs. Our expert facilitators and musicians ensure every team manages to create a piece of music.

What instruments do we get to play?

Instruments include electric guitars, banjos, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, Tibetan singing bowls, megaphones, melodicas (or "blow-organ"/"key-flute"), bass guitars and vocals (whether through spoken word or singing which is encouraged but not obligatory). Sampled beats (rhythms, drum beats) are used to achieve a contemporary urban aesthetic. These beats are sampled from studio drummers displaying a range of styles from pop to rock to Latin to middle-eastern percussion. Other artistic devices can also be employed, such as projected visuals, drama or movement.

Each participant experiences a variety of instruments, in order to enrich overall individual artistic expression and deepen a person's understanding of effective communication. With each instrument comes a different approach, a different sound and a different impact or effect. Each instrument interacts with other instruments on a variety of levels – whether that be loud/soft, melodic/rhythmic or merely in the nature of the how it’s played.

Participants can also bring their own instruments or objects from their desks that make a sound. This is often used to theme a workshop. You’d be surprised at the unique sounds, such “junkyard instruments”, can make.

We also involve the use of smartphones and the many music-related apps such as drum kits, xylophones, flutes and many others that we can point your way! These sounds enrich the overall piece and participants enjoy being able to use the latest technology.


Can we incorporate elements of competition in the team-building workshops?

Absolutely. Collaboration and co-operation is the order of the day. We understand however that competition can serve as a valuable motivator of desirable action and an important builder of self-concept. Depending on group sizes and the specific requirements of your team or workplace, competitive elements are incorporated into the workshops such as “battle of the bands”, song-writing and lyric-writing “ARIA” awards and even the use of special rate-my-song software or online surveys.

Can we theme the workshops?

Absolutely. Many of our workshops are themed according to work outcomes, cultures or conference themes. Others involve costumes from rock ‘n roll to 80s music to punk.

Do you have workshops for schools or community groups?

Ambient Orchestras offers workshops to community groups and schools. These services are slightly different and information can be found on the community section of our website. It is possible to collaborate with community groups on special projects. For more information on how this works, please contact us.


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