Song Division was working outside its usual corporate field with a very different partner in Sydney recently.
BY EDWINA STORIE
Sometimes life has a funny way of coming full circle. Back in 2003, Andy Sharpe found himself in one of the most deserted places on earth – Australia’s Arnhem Land – after being invited by band members of Yothu Yindi to use his musical talents to work with indigenous kids. Andy collaborated with them to write their own songs which a local radio station quickly caught onto and streamed across the airwaves.
Loving the experience of sharing his musical passion and inspiring the same enthusiasm in others, he started Song Division which we all know for coming into the office or the conference room and helping us unleash our inner musician. The business recently expanded to America and has worked with brands such as Virgin, the Commonwealth Bank, ING and Coca-Cola. But many may not know that it has another client it values equally as much.
As part of its own CSR initiatives, Song Division now works with AIME. No, not the annual Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Exhibition, but the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). The organisation brings together indigenous kids and university students with young indigenous and non-indigenous mentors to support their education.
“The guys and girls at AIME are dedicated, energetic and have a fabulous time doing what they do, just like the Song Division crew,” Andy says.
“We know teenagers respond really well to music and that it can help make a difference in their lives.”
The collaboration was spearheaded by Song Division’s musical director, Sam McNeill.
“When looking for a national not-for-profit organisation to partner with, AIME seemed like the perfect fit. They are a young group of people who believe in making a difference for young indigenous Australians, and we felt that their energy and passion for what they do really mirrored our own,” he said.
The Song Division team got together with AIME mentors one Friday afternoon in Sydney recently at the end of their week-long quarterly workshop to help them let their hair down.
They split into groups to collaborate with the Song Division musicians and write their own songs about AIME. After a few hours of workshopping and rehearsals, the stage was filled with everything from rap solos to jazz grooves and synchronised dance moves.
AIME’s national presenter Arthur Little led his group in with a solo and revelled in the experience.
“The session was great,” he said.
“As Song Division said, ‘Even if you have never done it before, if you’re willing, you’re able. Put the two together and you open a whole new realm of possibilities’.”
Gold Coast-based project coordinator of AIME, Billy Marshal, said Song Division made it easy for them to collaborate, write and deliver a group song.
“I enjoyed seeing how small groups could come up with a short poem, then turn it into a really catchy song. It was a great way to bond with the team.”
Many of the AIME mentors drew lessons from the session that they will take back to their mentees. The organisation’s Western Australia program coordinator Lauren Cramb said the session confirmed the importance of being prepared to have a little laugh at yourself.
“It reminded me that by giving a bit of myself (usually by making a fool out of myself!), it relaxes and enables others to do the same, which opens the doors to weird, wonderful thinking, and truly creative collaborations.”
And just like that, the Song Division story comes full circle.