Encouraging participation

Almost two years ago I went along to a local group that meets every Tuesday evening for a couple of hours. I didn't know anybody else there, but people welcomed me and encouraged me to just join in and enjoy it.

There were around 35 people of all ages and types, and everybody else seemed to know what they were doing, so I just pitched in, switching between observing what everyone else was doing and trying to do it myself. It was a great combination of daunting, exciting and totally absorbing.

Some people in the group clearly knew very well what to do. Of these, some had a knack for giving an encouraging glance and passing on a tip or two. A few others clearly reveled in being in the know and grandstanding.

The leader of the group made it very clear that the purpose of the whole thing was to enjoy it. New members weren't expected to know anything, and not worry about making mistakes - just learn by doing. Nobody criticizes or mocks anybody else, except very occasionally in good-natured fun.

This group has been going for 17 years now. It started off as a bunch of friends, a sort of collective thing, and was fading away until Robbie, one of the young members (youngest son of the founder) volunteered to take it over and run it more professionally. Now it's thriving, making a living for him and several others, as well as now providing better value than it ever did before. Amazingly there are still plenty of people who were members before Robbie took it over and still enjoy it and support it. There's also a constant supply of new members.

I don't know why I felt the need to share this right now ;)

Robert Craven


Encouraging participation

A nice bright blog... phew! RC


Stuart Harris


Another thing

One of the things I love about the samba group and my MSc group is the mix of ages and the genuine respect that there is between them. On Friday, after a gig in Bath where we managed to miss the rain, a whole bunch of us had a drink together. I was hearing interesting, insightful things from people a lot younger than me - and I think it was probably mutual. Back in the 80s, when I was in my 30s, I paid for weekly 1-to-1 sessions with an old guy (70+) who had had a varied career as engineer, wrestler, commercial manager and eventually management consultant. Among the many things of his I remember his motto: "We're here to learn, to help others learn and to have fun." As far as I'm concerned, in a healthy group/community, everybody regardless of age and experience should be open to learning from each other and from their experience of being in the group.


Mike Bailey


Encouraging participation

Sounds like a great group, a lot like our Cardiff Speakers group. We have a number of national champions in that group, you know it when they stand up and deliver speeches, you understand it when they freely offer advice and feedback. The welcome there is always fantastic, no pressure, no expectations, just results. Of course it helps that, as with your drumming group, everyone has the same (relatively speaking, pun intended) goals, one set of key skills to develop and hone, other sub skills a bonus of attending. Here , O yes we noticed the seamless join, many have varying goals, hence the place being pulled in various directions. I'm not even going there. I like the blog though and the way it's already developing.


John Murray


Encouraging participation

Hi Stuarte I have just formed a Group here on Ecademy and the values are the same as you describe above. Thanks for your blog as it shows me I too am on the right track in forming this Group. The Group you attended, what was it for and what made you go along in the first place? Regards John