The Stix Music Method is an award winning educational developmental tool by internationally recognized musician and professional motivational speaker, Duncan McKee. Learn about his teaching philosophy and experience here.
What is the Stix Music method?
Created by renowned jazz musician and educator, Duncan McKee, Stix Music delivers powerful and entertaining team building, leadership and collaboration experiences for conferences and corporate events.
Since 2004, Duncan has worked with companies across four continents including Google, Microsoft, FedEx, Standard Chartered Bank, MTV, Reebok and Intel.
He has produced music activities and educational experiences for marketing agencies, executive development firms, leading business schools and learning organizations. Stix Music is based in Singapore with partners in the UK, Australia and the US.
Stix Music creates an environment for groups to reflect and process how they are able to use their existing skills as a group to create high performance teams. Duncan has applications for team building, leadership development, creative facilitation, workshops and interactive keynotes.
Just a Few of Duncan’s Clients
The Stix Story
Ten years ago Duncan McKee began an experiment to find out how musical we all really are. He wanted to know if an average group of people could play a complicated piece of music together if they shared the workload.
He invited six friends for dinner and gave them each a single part to play. He devised a simplified notation system and each person played just one note. All these notes combined were the notes of a complex symphony and to his surprise they had little trouble playing it.
The next step in the experiment was to increase the number of participants. A visionary friend saw the benefit of encouraging networking at her event with a unique experience. He now had a group of 200 people playing music together. Not long after, he found himself conducting a huge group of over 1200 at a large IT conference.
Even as group sizes became larger and larger, his symphony always worked. Perhaps an even more interesting observation has been how people enjoyed self-directing themselves. When given a challenge, people instantly gravitate toward each other and very quickly begin working as a team. If the group speeds up during a performance, they all seamlessly speed up together.
This discovery (and many more) has led to the evolution of Stix Music and the application of music as a tool for helping organizations learn more about the way individuals work together. Music demonstrates that we want to collaborate and that we find it difficult to work against the flow. Even when we challenge our teams’ direction or ideas, we’re effectively still working together.
The development of the Stix Symphony has also led to the discovery that music mirrors the way we address complex challenges. Not all teams have the same purpose. Some come together to create new & innovative solutions whilst others are built to deliver precision & accuracy. As in music, every team needs to learn how to perform effectively together.
A Continuous Journey
Born in Scotland and raised in England, I became obsessed with jazz after listening to the great pianist, and now friend, Jason Rebello. I had been studying classical piano for a number of years by then, but as soon as I heard his piano playing I became fixated. That was it for me.
The sound represented freedom to me. My classical studies provided a great foundation (as they always say), but jazz offered me the freedom to create and to even make mistakes – to find my own voice, so to speak.
In my naivety, I believed that jazz was something from which I would one day graduate – sort of like qualifying as an airline pilot. It’s not like that at all. Jazz is a continuous journey and a search for new ways of playing music. This makes it theoretically unattainable because its very survival is based on its continuous evolution. It can’t sit still so you simply have to just try and keep up or influence its behavior.
Given that, I have been fortunate to share the stage with some of the most fantastic musicians in the world. We’ve created moments of music which were spectacular and it’s those moments which keep you hooked on playing.
Education has always played an important part in my career (lifestyle). Growing up, music channeled a lot of misguided energy into something positive. I believe that we’re all wired to learn differently and music education addresses everyones unique style, regardless of whether or not you actually want to learn to play music.
The realization that music is a language before an art form has made enormous sense to me. I have spent most of my adult life trying to understand how music connects us and how we can apply this very inborn skill to improve the way we operate as communities, classrooms, organizations and even families.
Michael Bolton “Live in Singapore” – Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Balawan & The Gamelan Masters – Ubud Village Jazz Festival, Bali
Balawan & The Gamelan Masters – The Jazz Market, Bali
Tembusu Live in Concert – The Esplande Theatre, Singapore
Dale Barlow – Southbridge Jazz
Chris Batchelor – Leamington Jazz
Martin Speake – Leamington Jazz
LaVerne Butler – Beijing, China
Quaystone Live – Esplanade Theatre, Singapore
LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore
United World College SEA, Singapore
The Jazz School Summer School, Singapore
Hardenhuish Comprehensive School, UK
Farleigh College, UK
Two of Duncan’s compositions: HBO “Next On” Music 1999-2005. Tembusu
Professional Musician, Lecturer & Educator
Duncan McKee is a professional jazz musician, composer and educator from the UK. In addition to his presentations and performances, Duncan serves as the music teacher at the renowned Green School in Bali, Indonesia.
Graduating from Middlesex University, London in 1996 with an Honours Bachelors Degree in Jazz Music, he went on to teach and perform around the UK. Students included Jamie Cullum, now the highest paid jazz musician in UK history.
Duncan has been lecturing and performing in Singapore for over ten years. He composes, teaches and performs with a wealth of local and international talent. As a result, he formed McKee Music, which has now grown into a successful music consultancy.
As a performer, Duncan has recorded with internationally-renowned jazz musicians and worked with Maxjazz vocalist, Laverne Butler in Singapore and China. He has also performed with Michael Bolton in Singapore. He continues to perform in various jazz clubs and venues around Southeast Asia and Europe.
A passionate educator, Duncan also lectures at La Salle College of Arts and United World College of Southeast Asia in Singapore where his students learn jazz improvisation, harmony, composition and performance. He also works closely with organizations designing and executing music-based learning solutions and workshops centered on leadership, team building and creative thinking.
It was Duncan’s approach to music education that led to the creation of STIX – Motivation Through Music™ – a structured leadership simulation with numerous applications, where his method of collective music making became the basis for demonstrating how corporations can effectively work together, creatively and in harmony. He has addressed audiences from many large companies such as Cisco Systems, HSBC, Commonwealth Bank, Intel, Microsoft, and many more.
The Stix Philosophy
How does all this benefit your team?
Education and development is often based on the premise that we can’t do something therefore we need to learn how to do something. Our premise is that we are all intrinsically capable of achieving positive change together, we just need the right environment, space and tools, to explore, experience and practice these skills. Using music as a narrative for change helps create this environment.
Duncan’s mission is to motivate and engage audiences to learn, collaborate and communicate for positive change through music. Stix Music is committed to the following:
- Create engaging, intelligent and transformative learning experiences with music that provide impact and inspire change.
- Perform our mission in an earth-friendly, human-centered way.
- Drive collaboration and spark conversations for change with narratives that engage and unite.
- Demonstrate through active participation and experiential learning that complex challenges are solvable with our innate creativity.
- Combine experiential learning, arts-based methods and analytical thinking to put learners at the center of their own development.
- Link and engage the arts with organizations, academics, and change agents.
Ultimately, Duncan wants to get all audiences engaged with music.
Starting A Movement
For the last decade, Duncan has been refining, designing and researching tools that allow anyone to experience the magic that is felt when we all perform music together, without needing to learn music theory.
His latest educational program, Bambajam, is aiming to build inclusivity and sustainability into education and team building.
Building a More Effective Organization
The creative nature of our experiences drives participation and creates a common platform and narrative for everyone to discuss change in a positive way. It opens up authenticity of our behaviors, and helps participants explore and build self-awareness of authentic emotional intelligence and team working skills. Within the process, participants are provided a rich pool of insights to process, eliciting a framework for them to transfer back to their workplace and life.
Participants are actively guided in team coaching scenarios to collaborate and ultimately produce a positive result. As they do, they experience shifted mindsets of what is possible in terms of approaching challenges. Additionally, they become aware of their relationship to creativity as well as innovation and leadership. Risk taking is within the context of a safe, problem solving challenge rallied around the narrative of music.
Participants become more collaborative and aware of their meaningful role within the organization. Stix Music programs help teams to function more effectively and work together to achieve objectives, not just within the conference environment, but in their lives and roles at work and within the organizational structure.
Committed to the Environment
Green meetings and events have always been part of the Stix Music toolkit. We recycle materials, reuse our instruments, and use technology in place of paper whenever possible.
Duncan Mckee has spent the last three years designing and developing his own eco-friendly, responsibly-sourced musical instrument, which he soft-launched in 2012 and fully launched in 2014. This is the only team building program of its kind in the world and set to be a great addition to corporate CSR team building programs.
Each instrument is made out of responsibly-sourced bamboo, the most eco-friendly material on the planet. They are then hand-crafted by artisans in Indonesia and carefully tuned so they are perfectly pitched.
What to Expect for Your Event
Thanks again for an outstanding performance yesterday. It was just brilliant. You are really lucky being able to have a career in something that you clearly love doing – and it shows in the quality of the work that you do.
Stix was a revelation – everything that we hoped for happened … high energy, motivation, teambuilding, dynamism, no cultural boundary and fun – everyone enjoyed the STIX experience so much that it was voted the top session at the conference.
I have worked with Duncan on numerous occasions to support large scale leadership development events. He brings a unique energy to the way he engages with the audience to provide a leadership and team experience out of the ordinary. His natural passion for music comes across clearly as he translates this into his work.
The session was excellent and will be remembered for a long time. You brought the energy of our team to a different level. We all enjoyed it. Well done and thank you again!!
We engaged Duncan and his stix programme to help build conversations within our group. We were looking for a unique way to improve the team’s performance and build on communication. The result was a fully-engaging and insightful meeting that shifted our perceptions of what was achievable. Duncan challenged our ideas of leadership and teamwork, and we could not have predicted such positive results.