A Great Job Perk:

Staff Accordion Lessons!

Cheri Thurston

Forget about ropes courses and workshops and other activities that companies often use to help their employees bond and work together. When I owned an educational publishing company, I offered a more unusual company benefit: free accordion lessons for all staff members. At the time, expert accordionist Julia Cortinas lived in town, and for a couple of years the whole staff took lessons from her, including me. We even had recitals!

I was probably most proud of Susan Malmstadt, who showed a lot of courage in undertaking the lessons. Then age 49, she started on the first music lessons of her life. Everyone else had at least some experience with music, whether it was piano lessons, singing in the school choir, or playing a band instrument. Not Susan. She started completely from scratch—no musical background at all. She took accordion lessons for almost two years and showed a persistence that was admirable, learning to play a number of simple songs.

The staff recitals were especially scary for us all, yet every employee participated. (I think there were five of us at the time.) When we were finished, we all felt a real sense of accomplishment and were proud of ourselves.