Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee’s quest to fuse the martial arts in his way still inspires. His philosophies are also applicable to the art of singing.

In this episode, John discusses how to adapt and apply Lee’s approach to find your technique and artistry.


Voice Teacher Influencer

Science and Saucery podcast

Voice Teacher Reacts YouTube video

Boldly Belting course


Episode Transcript

Episode 135 – A Voice Lesson from Bruce Lee

Hey there, this is John Henny. Welcome back to another episode of the intelligent vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending your precious listening time with me. All right. I am releasing this podcast on Friday, November 15th and my book voice teacher influencer is now on and tomorrow. Well depending on when you’re listening to this Saturday and Sunday, November 16th and 17th, my book will be free on Amazon Kindle. I will have the link on the show notes for this podcast. Just go to for episode 135 or you can just search Amazon for John Henny and I’m also putting my first book teaching contemporary singing on Kindle for free as well. So you can get both books this weekend for zero. I’m really excited if you are thinking about being a voice teacher. If you’re looking at teaching, contemporary singing, wanting to get a little stronger in that area.

My book teaching contemporary singing can certainly help. And then voice teacher influencer will show you how to grow your studio so you can have a thriving business and even make passive income, which is very, very di7cult for teachers. So be sure to jump on that. Alright, I was doing a little bit of Netflix watching and I don’t get to watch as much as I’d like, but I started to watch a movie called the game changers and it is basically vegan, plant-based propaganda. But sometimes propaganda is good if you’re trying to get your head in a certain place. And it’s about athletes who eat a plant based diet. And I am all for vegan propaganda in my life because I am convinced that eating plants saved my life. I f you’ve been listening to podcast, I’ve certainly mentioned it before, but I lost 150 pounds by eating plants.

My high blood pressure went away. All types of ailments went away. So I am a huge fan of the plant based diet. I know some people like to eat keto, paleo whatever floats your boat. But I’m in the plant based group, no desire to debate nutrition. I just know what works for me. And actually the person, the two people that led me to health, Ray Cronies primarily, and then his partner, Juliana Haver. They have a new podcast called Science and Saucery. If you’re interested in a health span and longevity and that’s the main reason I eat plants now. I mean, I lost all the weight and lost it very quickly, 150 pounds in eight months, but I’ve kept it o= for two years. I’m essentially the same way. I actually purposely added a few pounds just cause I got a little too thin.

But I eat it now because of just the health span and the lifespan research. But there are new podcasts, science and saucery digs into that. A highly recommended, I’ll put a link to it, in the show notes as well johnhenny. com /135. While I was watching this movie I’ve admittedly only seen like the first 15, 20 minutes, but I will finish it. But it starts o= with a MMA fighter who injures himself and he starts to do a lot of research into nutrition. Of course it leads him to plants or else they wouldn’t put him in the movie, but he was a huge fan of Bruce Lee and he was taking some of Bruce Lee’s philosophy to help guide him in his research. And I found Bruce Lee’s Maxim’s Bruce Lee’s philosophy, really applicable to singing. So I wanted to share and discuss it with you here. And essentially here’s what Bruce Lee said. This is what this MMA fighter used as his guiding light.

Add what is essentially your own. This is a beautiful way to look at singing, to make singing work for you as a voice educator. I certainly form opinions and I form biases and I try as I might, the human brain is set up to be biased and the human brain is set up to focus on what I have found to be true and will tend to reject what I find not to be true in my experience. And I really try and make science my guiding light. But science is ever changing sciences only what we know right here and now and essentially at some in the future, just about everything we know in the here or now is either going to be proved false or our understanding of it will improve

And people would look back at our understanding now, just the way we look back at people who doctors who used leeches to try and cure all different types of diseases. I mean, we can only know what we know, but I try and keep that as my guiding light. But I certainly have my own aesthetic that I like in singing and I believe that what I like to hear is a balanced sound, but there are sounds that challenge that, and those sounds are still valid artistically. So you have to really research your own experience. You have to just be open and be aware to what you find to be true for you and always allow that to be changed. Don’t set anything in stone, but be open, be fluid, but just pay attention to what you’re attracted to.

The types of vocal sounds. The tone colors, the style, the phrasing, the style of music. When, when I ask people what type of music do they like and they say everything. Well, that’s not true. We don’t like everything. I guarantee you, I could find music you don’t like and singers you don’t like and styles that for the most part you don’t like and there or you don’t like as much as other. So just be aware of that. What are you drawn to let that be a guiding light for you? As you research, singing, as you practice singing, what are the sounds that you want to make I’ve said before, as a singer, you just need to be able to make the sounds you need to make. You need to be able to make them consistently and in the healthiest manner possible.

And that’s it. If your style of music is you just kind of do a low hum and a few grunts here and there and you have an audience for that. Then you don’t need to worry about expanding your range and a belting high nodes. You just need to focus on what it is that you need to do. And don’t think that you’re going to sing every style. You need to really kind of start to focus in and understand what’s unique about you and your, the best person to know that you’re you or you are the only one listening to that inner dialogue in your head. You are the only one that feels yourself drawn to things and repelled by others. So, just really research your experience. Be open to your experience and then absorb what is useful. There is so much information out there now so much on YouTube.

And as on a side note, I’ll interrupt this broadcast. I just did my first voice teacher reacts the video on YouTube. I’d kind of resisted it cause I thought the space was a bit crowded, but then I always say, Hey, you, each person brings something different to the table. So I’m taking my own advice. I put a voice teacher reacts out there, so go to YouTube and look up John Henny and it’s Bruno Mars and it’s him singing a live acoustic version of locked out of heaven. And, the spoiler alert is I’m a big Bruno Mars fan, but, you can check that out anyway, absorbing what is useful in that whole universe. There’s so much information and a lot of it will be delivered in such a way that this is absolute cast in stone truth. I’ve discussed before about voice teachers when we go to market and we need to find our own little banner and Mark out our own little territory.

And taking a stance is a very strong way to come to market. And sometimes taking a contrarian stance and proclaiming everything is false. And I have the only truth. You see it all the time and it’s really effective. We as human beings are drawn to this. If I say everything you know is wrong, your brain is going to go, wait, what you’re going to want to know more? Why are you telling me everything I know is wrong? And you have to have your detector up for that. And just not that you shouldn’t listen to this person, but kind of find your way to useful information through the haze of braggadocio and marketing and just see if there’s something useful there for you. And then, and this is hard, especially when you’re first starting, and this can always change, but reject what is useless. Don’t try and learn everything. Don’t listen to everything everyone says, including myself.

It’s okay. You may come back and pick up things later. I may be talking about things that you don’t at the moment understand or don’t really work for your situation. A voice science in particular is something I’m very passionate about, but there was a period early in my teaching career where I was obsessed in developing my ears and just listening and just getting a results with the tools I had and running on an idea of intuition that I would just know what to do for a student.

And that worked to a degree and it kept my head just really focused on hearing and listening and trying different tools. But then the time came when I was ready to embrace voice science. It suddenly became useful for me. And then that in turn replaced intuition or this kind of stumbling around looking for patterns even though I got pretty good at it but it replaced it with more concrete knowledge and I had more definite answers of why something was happening in the voice and then I was able to work more quickly. I was able to get results quicker so that point in my life, voice science became useful but it wasn’t always and I had tried to look at it earlier and it just didn’t make sense to me and it just seemed too cerebral and academic and just wasn’t in my head space. Be open to what is useful and also what is useless.

Again, you’re always in your own experience and allow these things to be fluid. I know a Bruce Lee had talked about being like water, don’t be rigid, don’t be sad. You know, every moment things are changing at your brain is changing constantly with every word you hear me say and as you’re sitting there listening to me, whether you’re driving or you’re taking a walk or futsing around on your computer, every image, every sound, every sensation is changing. Your brain and these experiences are fluid and you just need to be open to it and then add what is essentially your own. As this all filters through you, what comes out that’s yours, your way of looking at it, your way of practicing, your way of approaching and as a singer. In terms of style and artistry, apply this whole process again, what is your own experience?

What type of styles are you drawn to singers? The way they sing and the rifts that they use, et cetera. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and then add what is essentially your own. As you listen to different artists and different styles of music, it’s all going to percolate inside you and come out in a different way. Don’t try and copycat anything or anyone. Don’t be rigid in your practicing. If you have a voice lesson, I recommend this highly, highly, highly and you’ve recorded your lesson and you’re going through the exercises, do it by a piano and I recommend learning enough piano that you can play the scale or even just the starting note of a scale. Just know where you are on the keyboard to give yourself a reference point. And if you don’t have that, okay, just pause the tape anyway and work the scale, the exercise on your own and try some variations of it.

I’m not telling you to throw the lesson out, but add your own knowledge and your own awareness to the session. You need to take some autonomy over your voice. I’ve seen students where they just want the teacher to do everything for them. Tell me what song to sing. Tell me what style of music I should sing and you know, how exactly should I practice and that’s not it. I t’s gotta be about you. You as an artist, you need to start having some strength. You cannot be completely compliant in this process. You need to bring yourself to the table. I’ve even had students, they’ll occasionally push back on me. I’ll go to do an exercise and they’ll just stop me and go, you know what? Can we try this other one or can we stay on this exercise a little more?

And I’m always open to that. If they feel that they’re getting something, even if I’m not hearing it, if internally they’re feeling that something is where or they’re working something out, I’m happy to work that out with them. In your lessons, it should be a two way dialogue. The teacher is not infallible. The teacher doesn’t know everything and the teacher is most certainly not. You. Take control, take charge, add what is essentially your own.

Hey, if you want to know more about me, please visit my website, and you should get my boldly belting course. If you want to know how to belt high strong notes, I’ve got a new way of approaching singing. There are exercises, but I’ve also created exercises with words and melody. So it’s that stepping stone between exercises and songs and these little songs, snippets are specifically constructed to help you find your high strong belt voice. Go to If you use the coupon code podcast 20, you’ll save 20 bucks. Go get yourself one of those papaya chicken sandwiches that everybody’s fighting over. I guess I became vegan too soon. I shall never know what is driving people to violence to eat this sandwich. Perhaps you can let me know, but I’ll just be in the corner eating a carrot and until next time to better seen. Thank you so much. Bye bye.