Today sees the launch of the reworked version of a course I have run for 7 years at the University of Cape Town. It’s an elective called “Finding My Voice” as part of the Faculty of Commerce’s postgraduate diplomas in management. Convened by Associate Professor David Priilaid, it deals with the realm of entrepreneurship, and business studies around innovation and creative thinking.

I (as a composer, musician and choral leader) have taught “Finding My Voice” precisely because of the out-of-box nature of the pairing – the seeming incompatibility between music and commerce. By assembling and rehearsing a choir of “non-singers” studying business, we experientially learn about being a beginner and a pioneer, being a part in a larger whole, and co-operating for a purpose greater than our individual achievement (and having fun in the process).

But alack-and-alas! Social distancing 2020 has put paid to the experience of choral (dis/)harmony. So, it’s been back to the drawing board over the last few months. Strict distance-learning directives from the University have meant that I have now created in effect a new course, but retaining the name “Finding My Voice”. But this has been a constructive exercise.

In the new course, I integrate questions of personal growth, mentoring, teamwork and “new marketing”. I reference classic leadership tools such as VMOST, and introduce newer thoughts of the likes of Seth Godin, who defines marketing as reaching a “minimal viable audience” (the opposite of the lowest common denominator). I develop Godin’s vision into a methodology whereby students identify their real assets – those qualities that make then stand out from the crowd, and connect with a passionate, committed audience.

I am now wondering whether “Finding My Voice” might have a more universal application, beyond that of university postgraduates. The more I have thought about it, the more universal the question becomes: how do we find our unique, powerful and authentic voice?

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