During the summer between 4th and 5th grade, the
band director said to me, " I know you want to learn
how to play the trumpet, but we need trombone
players to be part of the band, too, and you have long
arms. And at that point, the trombone was assigned
to me and my long arms as my instrument for
The trombone, long and gawky, is a handful and
armful for any fifth grader. Despite this instrument
being a coordination challenge, I learned how to find
the correct note position on the unmarked trombone
slide, read music and to the disgust of the girls in the
clarinet section, adeptly drain the slide with the spit
valve. In time, I began to play a few recognizable
melodies: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", "Are You
Sleeping?" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep".
Rock and Roll would have to wait.
Eventually, fortified with beginner competency, all of
the band instrument players got together to work
through an arrangement for our first song as a group.
Sitting second chair in the two person trombone
section, I was heartbroken when I learned the
trombones seldom get to play the melody. We were
support for those trumpet blasters and clarinet
squawkers. They had all of the fun carrying
the melody and we trombonists were slightly above
oom pa-pa status. We were thrown an occasional
bone with a short melody and counter melody to play
for a few bars. The rest of the time we were the
support team. We added balance, depth and
richness to the arrangement as we did our job.
As I gained experience as a band member, I noticed
when the trumpet, clarinet and flute sections played in
rehearsal without the rest of the band, their melody
sounded hollow; the theme was there, but it lacked
substance. Even though they carried the piece with
the melody, the support of the trombone, percussion
and other sections was essential to make a complete
sound. Over time, I developed great pride in the
support the trombone section gave to the entire band
And having a complete team with all sections
playing is the standard in profitable horse
businesses, too. It takes the collective contribution of
grooms, hot walkers, assistant trainers, trainers,
instructors, bookkeepers and stall muckers to create
structure and harmony in a business.
If some sections of your business aren't playing
off the same sheet music, then it's probably
because they aren't clear on the importance of their
contribution. One solution to get all players working
together is to have regular staff meetings.
No, I'm not suggesting the long, boring and redundant
staff meetings held at some businesses. Instead,
here's what I'm suggesting:
1. Hold staff meetings weekly or
2. Conduct the meetings without
This allows for communication, but not socializing.
Human feet and legs have built in timers.
3. Use meeting time to let employees
about what they say is important:
the boss for work well done.
Feeling "in" on things in the future.
Job security for good performance of
it takes all jobholders efforts to contribute to the
success of the business.
4. Talk about problems and seek
Teams make businesses more
individual stars. This week, at your staff meeting, let
you employees chime in and contribute to the
If you don't have a staff meeting scheduled,
one right away. And start a good habit. Let me know
how it works out for you.