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How to Turn Boring Tasks into Fun? Insights from “Restaurant Cheer”

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Written by Cheetahara
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Restaurant Cheer
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In today’s demanding work environment, many of us find ourselves caught in a relentless cycle. We wake up early, battling through traffic, and arriving at the office where the atmosphere is more tense than welcoming. The clock ticks away as we tackle a mountain of mundane tasks under the stern gaze of a hard-nosed boss, while also dealing with a workplace filled with silent competition or outright hostility among colleagues. By the time we leave late in the evening, we’re drained and disheartened, questioning if this is what our lives are meant to be.

We gradually realize that the joy and passion we once had for our work have withered away, as each day is merely a repetition of the same tasks, with no room left for creativity or happiness.

That’s why we increasingly need ways to heal more than ever today, longing to escape the harsh realities of life to find joy and meaning again. How can we break free from monotony, turn boring chores into something interesting, and reconnect with the passions we once had? Understanding these everyday worries and significant challenges modern individuals face, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has presented “Restaurant Cheer,” a musical retreat that helps us break free from the clutter of thoughts and encourages us to find new motivation in our daily routines.

Ancient wisdom teaches us that our attitude towards work can transform our experience of it. Instead of searching for the perfect job, we should bring love and passion into everything we do. Take, for example, ancient artisans who poured their hearts into their crafts, finding fulfillment in meticulous work and taking pride in their creations. Their dedication and joy were palpable in every piece they produced, no matter how simple or complex.

In the same vein, “Restaurant Cheer” embodies this ancient wisdom by depicting lovable waiters who find ways to inject fun into their routine. They work with passion and a playful attitude, creating a wholesome environment where work becomes a source of happiness rather than a chore.

Composed by artistic director D.F. and arranged by Junyi Tan, this piece invites us to step into a space brimming with laughter to seek inspiration for ourselves. Therefore, for those who have spent most of their time working hard, let go of all worldly concerns and the stress of daily life to immerse yourself in the positive energy of these melodies. Just as ancient wisdom guided our ancestors to create glorious histories, let it continue to light the path ahead, helping us overcome all the vicissitudes of modern life.

A Lively Setting and Playful Waiters

The piece opens with a buoyant entrance from the erhu and pipa, immediately drawing listeners into the lively space of a grand century-old restaurant. The addition of a drum and cymbal sets the stage for a fun night of clearing tables. This cheerful opening music instantly conveys the sense that this long-standing, reputable restaurant is well-organized and has a harmonious and pleasant atmosphere. The staff’s morale is high, and the waiters take pride in providing excellent service. Their vibrancy reflects a positive and warm working environment.

Next, the strings paint a bustling scene of waiters hard at work. Each time the steady down-and-up double beat appears at ((0:33)) and ((0:46)), it interrupts the agile melody, creating a cautious nuance. These moments depict the waiters looking sideways, probing for something—perhaps looking for their boss. These sudden interruptions infuse the music with the humorous personality of the characters in the story.

Amid repetitive and somewhat dull daily tasks, our waiters have created activities that add a sense of fun and novelty to their routine, whether it’s the small moments of joking together or showcasing their service skills honed through daily efforts. This joy and pride stem from being hardworking and loving their job, turning mundane tasks into delightful experiences that add a delicious spice to their lives.

The piece’s beginning features a fast-paced melody yet not rushed, carrying a positive, optimistic, and joyful spirit mixed with humor and mischief. This is not the hasty, hustle-bustle style of modern work but the style of workers who love what they do. Even though the job might be somewhat boring, their experience and professional skills are their pride. Evidence of this can be seen in the inspiration they draw from their excellent serving skills, like creative tricks with towel tomfoolery, rotating trays and plates, all performed to the lively melodies of strings and winds.

These actions and performances become even clearer at ((1:20)) when the strings create a swirling melody and glide quickly, as if the cheerful waiters from upstairs to the ground floor are all following the flow of joy, spreading cheer throughout the old, aged walls of the restaurant. The trombone accompanies, adding a bit of wit and humor, as if making jokes in this vibrant space.

An Obstinate Boss

At ((1:33)), the orchestra gives a brief pause, and the unique image of an obstinate but key figure, represented by the bassoon, emerges. The bassoon’s melody paints a picture of a character with a judgmental eye, surveying his surroundings with meticulous caution. This melody stands in contrast to the harmony that preceded it, combined with the suppression of the previous cheerful tone, signaling the arrival of the boss.

His appearance changes the dynamic in the restaurant, causing the waiters to become serious and refrain from joking around. The subtly released melody of the bassoon showcases the boss’s meticulous and somewhat rigid personality. This shift in tone indicates that the boss is out of place amidst the playful and lighthearted environment created by the waiters. However, this contrast is what makes his character so intriguing.

The way other instruments, such as the oboe, clarinet, and flute, take turns repeating the bassoon’s melody demonstrates a meticulous adherence to principles, as if testing and re-examining every detail. The music cleverly captures the waiters’ confusion and awkwardness in their boss’s presence, yet it does so in a humorous, interesting, and endearing way.

By ((2:18)), the strings follow the boss’s melody. This moment feels a bit forced and strange due to the dissonance they express. This dissonance represents the tension and unease among the waiters as they adapt to the boss’s rigid expectations. But this tension is quickly resolved with the subtle appearance of the pipas at ((2:28)). The pipas bring with them ancient principles and lessons that apply to the current situation, symbolizing the experience and wisdom the boss has accumulated and learned from many previous generations.

The seamless coordination between the pipas and the bassoon represents a style of ethical management derived from traditional principles, forming the basis for preserving and developing this restaurant. According to Shen Yun’s introduction, the restaurant in the story has stood for hundreds of years and has been passed down through many generations. This brings to mind the great brands that have built their reputations over centuries and have become today’s legends. If these enterprises did not follow principles and did not value business ethics, how could they have endured for so long? They would have been swiftly eliminated by society and the law of karma. This restaurant is no different. Though business methods evolve over time, adherence to core philosophies ensures that the era’s upheavals cannot sweep us away. Each generation of owners has preserved and learned valuable experiences from their ancestors, and the current owner continues to uphold those golden rules. By conducting business honestly, transparently, and with high moral standards, the restaurant has thrived and endured through the tests of time.

The proof of these principles’ effectiveness lies in the laughter, excitement, and optimistic spirit seen in the opening part, which indicates a thriving business. The earlier dissonance in the strings is transformed under the melody of the erhus. The weight of dissonance is greatly reduced, and then the bassoon, pipas, and erhus merge, expressing unity and sublimation in the work of the restaurant’s individuals.

The Return to Cheerfulness and the Climactic Finale

According to the development in this symphonic narrative, as soon as the boss leaves, the cheerful melody returns, rejuvenating the atmosphere with a burst of lively energy at ((2:52)). The waiters, freed from the watchful eye of their boss, continue to dance, and the restaurant once again becomes a bustling hub, leading to an exciting climax.

The way each instrument comes into the spotlight one by one is reminiscent of the waiters exhibiting their amazing service skills. This not only highlights the individual talents but also creates a sense of healthy competition among the characters in the story. Here, they engage in friendly competition while also appreciating the talents of their colleagues, fostering a positive work environment.

As the music builds toward the climax, the sense of unity and collective effort becomes more apparent. The vibrant melodies and lively rhythms create an exhilarating atmosphere, underscoring the idea that a healthy and productive work environment is achieved through the combined efforts of all its members. With the guidance and development of an upright leader, this will further enhance a professional and positive work culture.

Right until the end, as we assume the music has stopped, its witty spirit stays with us. The bassoon discreetly brings back the restaurant owner, seemingly toying with the audience and his staff with that uniquely quirky melody.

When you listen to “Restaurant Cheer,” just let its melodies wash over your mind and inspire you on your career journey. By embracing the cheerful and positive spirit of the waiters in the story, you will find that even the dullest tasks can become enjoyable and educational with a positive attitude, dedication, and appreciation. As a manager, you will contemplate how to become a great leader and cultivate a healthy environment where everyone is respected and can grow. Let this symphony inspire you to find your own “cheer” in your work, and to spread that joy to those around you.

For those eager to immerse themselves in the world of Shen Yun, their compositions, including this gem, can be streamed online via Shen Yun Creations (Shen Yun Zuo Pin).

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Visiting the Shen Yun showroom profoundly changed my perception of traditional art's deep value, distinctly different from familiar modern pieces. This inspired me to integrate this elegant, classical style into my life, observing positive shifts in myself and my loved ones. Professionally, I value the creative process, learning from ancient artisans' patience and precision to create meaningful, quality results. Aspiring to share these traditional values, I hope we can find balance and virtue in modern chaos through the precious spiritual teachings of traditional culture and art.