We are accustomed to thinking of a story as prose in a book. However, until a few hundred years ago, stories were commonly poetry that was sung or recited.
Storytellers relied on memory rather than written word. Memorized stories were often poems because, as Sir Philip Sidney once said, “Verse far exceeds prose in the knitting up of the memory.”
In order for these “stories in song” to be passed down orally from generation to generation, they had to be not only simple and catchy to sing, but also easy to remember. With each new generation, singers would consciously or unconsciously modify their inheritance until its author was lost in the mist of time, and the song had truly become written by the “folk,” hence, birth of the word “folksongs.”
As the folksongs continued to grow in popularity, the topics for such songs continued to expand. The songs developed themes that people could relate to…messages that reflected the culture of the people who kept them alive. And, the “ballads” as they became known as, began to move around. Typically, a balladeer would perform initially for his family and friends and perhaps at village fairs and markets. Eventually, balladeers began traveling from village to village to perform their songs and convey their stories.
In today’s world, there is still a place for ballads. Lee Smedley, the nation’s only business balladeer, has developed a unique approach to crafting stories in song that express the culture of today’s businesses and organizations. He carries on many of the traditions of the original balladeers to help people in organizations throughout the country find purpose in their work so they may achieve genuine progress.
There was a rhyme and reason for virtually every distinguishing feature of a balladeer. From the instrument to the method of travel, the purpose of the traveling balladeer was evident. Move your cursor over different parts of the balladeer image to learn more about why balladeers do what they do.
Years ago, balladeers provided villagers a new sense of direction. They offered a new way for people to comprehend the issues of the day. By incorporating work life ballads into his training, Lee Smedley walks people through the many issues and challenges that affect business every day…frustration, appreciation, teamwork, feedback. The list goes on, and his songs lead the way to new direction and greater understanding.
Music is processed by a different part of the brain than cognitive thought. Songs take people back to specific memories and events of the past and etch both cognitive messages and emotional circumstances in the brain. Songs also boost learning in all three learning styles. Auditory learners thrive on the rhythm and appreciate music added to a message. Visual learners gain value as they follow along the lyric sheet that highlights ideas as they are introduced. Kinesthetic learners experience enhanced learning as they sing, hum or clap to the music. In all three cases, the addition of songs to traditional training helps create a richness of learning and greater depth in a person’s ability to recall information.
Historically, songs were used to explain work processes, share a sense of pride, or commemorate an important event in the life of a work group. Today, Lee Smedley develops original songs to use in his training sessions to help people in the workplace move beyond issues to organizational progress.
Traditionally, balladeers traveled from town to town to share songs and insights. Lee Smedley has traveled throughout the country to work with many different organizations. His work has enabled him to identify themes of work life issues, which he frequently addresses in his original music.
Lee Smedley founded Smedley Consulting in 1996 to bring Fortune 500 Organizational Development talent to non-profits, small and medium sized companies. Through presentations, facilitation and coaching, Lee and his associates have helped organizations achieve organizational alignment, attain challenging business goals, and develop new leaders.