The Joy of 6

There’s much to learn from musical educators, and educational musicians.

The first pilot episode of Schoolhouse Rock talked about 3 — its magical powers of indivisibility, and multiplication.

Just over 15 years later, De La Soul sampled the schoolhouse because they too knew 3 was the magic number:

Without my 1 and 2 where would there be
My 3
Mase Pos and Me
And that’s the Magic Number

3 is magic.

Hat tricks, 3 pointers. Triangles, tripods, rule of thirds. The third person. The third place. The third dimension.

However, for a workshop, while the magic number isn’t three, it’s just one multiplication away.

For a workshop, six is the magic number.

Here’s why.

The cabaret-style table layout is the best one for workshops, and a cabaret table best seats six.

Need to choose someone from the table for an activity?

Each table gets a dice (six-sided of course), and each person gets a number. Just roll the dice. Pure chance, no bias (keep rolling sixes? Maybe it’s magic …)

Six is the magic number because it divides into pairs, and into the original magic number of three.

  • 2 is pair discussion, checking in.
  • 2 is remixing and iterating on their ideas.
  • 2 is quiet retrospection, being a sounding board.
  • 3 is multiple perspectives, trio ideation.
  • 3 is a role-play scenario. 3 lets one wear the judging hat.
  • 3 is two teams in friendly competition.

3 times 2, or 2 times 3, and six… is the magic number.

What if you need to do something in groups of four?

Six has you covered. Bring two tables together — now you’ve got three quartets.

And six is also the magic number because it’s even better together.

6 x 6.

Multiply it by itself and you have the optimum larger group size. 36.

Trailblazing teacher Marc Lewis builds his School of Communication Art curriculum around a group of 36. [ You can learn more about Marc and his amazing school on my Tickets podcast].

Marc uses 36 because it divides so magically.

  • 2 teams of 18.
  • 3 groups of 12.
  • 4 squads of 9.
  • 6 tables of 6.
  • 9 posses of 4.
  • 12 trios of 3.
  • 18 duets of 2.

6 x 6: 36. The magic, flexible, workshop number.


My lucky number has always been 7, but maybe I can have a magic number too.

Why? Three magic reasons.

First, I’m 6'6".

Second, I’m writing this at the age of 36.

And third, my birthday marks the next number. It turns out that day is both lucky and magic: 7/6.


Six is the magic number.

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