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Opera North are a group of musicians who adopted Windmill Primary school in Belle Isle in Leeds to help them develop their musical ability. The primary aim of the programme is to give children access to music that they couldn’t otherwise afford. What they hadn’t anticipated was that in addition, the children started to make progress in other areas with improvements of up to 20% in their maths and English SAT results.

So how have the free music lessons have led to these academic advances? Well, the children, many of whom can’t afford music lessons, were able to unlock different ways of thinking about problems as well as build up their self-esteem and confidence in what they could achieve. They have taken all this and applied it in other fields.

Introducing innovative approaches to personal and professional development could help unlock different ways of thinking about issues you find in the workplace. It is well known that diverse teams tend to perform better, and are more creative, but how often do we think about diversity in our own personal thinking and development?

The People SIG are planning to explore the opportunities of this approach with The Comedy School who offer the chance to use all aspects of the performing and comedy art-forms to run training and education projects.

Founder Keith Palmer says “We strive to stimulate personal creativity and develop social skills, and have positively touched the lives of many people over the last 17 years.”

Steve Wake, Chair of APM is a fan: “I have known Keith, and admired the work of the Comedy School, for many years. The Comedy School hits a lot of buttons for me. I believe that project professionals benefit from learning outside their formal discipline and context. If we want to lead, and engage with others effectively, we would do well to adopt the skills and techniques of a stand-up comedian. They are generally very intelligent and can teach us a lot. Plus it’s a great example of using diversity to learn from a traditional source. The outcome of the Comedy School programme is to make better citizens.”

The Comedy School, which lists TV stars Jo Brand, Sean Lock, Stephen Mangan and Andi Osho amongst its friends and associates, say that their Learning Thru Laughter programme can help improve their business performance and the effectiveness of teams and individuals. Will it work? Who knows? But I hope we’ll have a good laugh finding out.

Stand Up for The Comedy School 2015; an event to raise awareness of the problem of knife crime is being held Sunday 11 October.

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Posted by Eleri Evans on 6th Oct 2015

About the Author
Eleri is the director of Trans4rm Ltd, delivering people development solutions. These include open programmes for "Developing Personal Identity as a Project Manager", "The Emotionally Intelligent Project Manager" and "Mental Toughness for Project Managers". Eleri is secretary for the People SIG (2015-2016) and is lead for the research around Emotional Intelligence and Behaviours that has approved funding from the APM. Eleri has a track record of over 20 years delivery in project management delivering change (people, business and technology) as a platform of knowledge to support the programmes she delivers.

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