Episode 145 – Simply Begin Again

As we approach a new year (and decade), we tend to have a period of new beginnings, with resolutions and promises of doing and being better.

But rather than wait for a new year, we can begin again, moment to moment, continually renewing our promise and purpose. This works particularly well for singers, as it is all too easy to drag baggage from the past into each practice session and performance.

In this episode, John discusses the benefits of this renewing mindset and how to apply it to your voice.  

Episode Transcript

Episode 145 – Simply Begin Again

Hey there, this is John Henny welcome back to another episode of The Intelligent Vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending this precious listening time with me. Alright, if you are new to the podcast and have found your way here from my YouTube channel, welcome. This is where I get a bit more in depth into the ideas that I touch upon in my YouTube analysis videos, reaction/analysis videos that again is still an experiment. It’s a work in progress. It’s a very interesting world, to jump into YouTube. I have actually cautioned teachers that have asked me about it. I’ve warned them, hey, this is the Wild West and it can get pretty rough out there and you put out a material that you hope is educational and is helpful for people and there are just those that for whatever reason, they’re just kinda angry or they just want to attack something or maybe just that work well. I’ve actually been told, I’m annoying. 

I’ve been told that I’m a buzzkill apparently some people click on my video but just want to listen to the song and they don’t want me to talk about it. So they seem a bit upset that I would comment on the song. Even when I explained in the description that I’m going to be doing an analysis of the song, some people are just horribly offended that I would comment on their favorite artist in any way shape or form. I get some comments, who do I think I am? I don’t think I’m anybody, I’m just a voice teacher. I’m just somebody who’s done quite a bit of studying on the voice and I’ve worked with a lot of singers and I’ve worked with singers at a very high level, people that admittedly sing much better than I, but I am able to help them.

But it’s, and I understand to a point. I mean, people they’re not singers. They have artists that they hold an absolute high self esteem and they don’t want to peek behind the curtain. They don’t want somebody breaking it down. If somebody was going to break it down, I think they feel that it should appear that the only person that can talk about a famous singer is another famous singer. So I don’t know what to tell them other than my videos probably aren’t a good fit for them. Some awesome comments as well. One person commented, “no one wants to hear from an old man. Take your wrinkled old ass and sit down in a croc infested moat” and I’m a little confused as to why he is even picturing what my backside looks like. Had someone else who apparently was staring at me extremely closely and noticed that I have a dental filling, a childhood dental filling on a back molar who commented, “do you even own a toothbrush?”

And then there was but so far, my favorite is somebody who called me an “effing soy face” and I actually had to look up what a soy face is and I wasn’t offended by that at all. I guess it’s the new way of calling someone a girly man and to all I can say is dude, I’m a musician and a voice teacher, I’m not an MMA fighter, so you’re not going to find a meat eating poster child of machismo here. So yes, you should go search for manliness elsewhere. But so if you are from YouTube, welcome. Again, if you want really manly men, Joe Rogan is a manlier podcast actually like Joe Rogan’s podcast, yes it’s definitely manlier than mine and what I’m doing is I’m breaking down the voice and the science and just the mindset and all of those things that hopefully make you a better singer. 

So here we are, it’s the end of the year and I am likely going to take a little short break here, enjoy the holidays, recharge my batteries. So I will be back with new podcasts. Right after the first of the year. I’ve been doing two podcasts a week now for I think since April. so I’ve really been cranking these out and I’ve also this year I managed to put out not only my belting course. I’ve also done 12 trainings for my live 1-hour presentations for my teaching course that I do to learn to be a voice teacher and two books. 

The podcasts are now on the YouTube channel. So I need a bit of a break and the break brings me to the theme of today’s podcast, which is “Begin Again” and at the new year. Everybody gets on this idea of a new beginning and I do think that’s wonderful. 

Here’s the new year. We’re going to start over. We’re going to make our resolutions, but I think once a year is far too long a space to begin again. Some people will look at everyday as a new beginning. I think that’s not frequent enough and what I want you to think about is beginning again, constantly when you’re working your voice, when you are approaching your voice, allow yourself to begin again in the moment after each exercise. You can just allow yourself mentally, I begin again and you let go of what came before or you at least let go of frustration of what came before and you let go of doubt and you let go of all those mindset things that we’ve been talking about, comparing yourself to others, not being kind to yourself, being afraid of other’s opinions and critics. You just let it go and begin again. 

Every time you take a breath and you send it to your vocal folds, it’s a new start. You get a clean slate if you will. You get another crack at being a singer, at using your voice to express yourself and to be musical and that’s an absolutely beautiful thing and I am still coming back and I’ve talked about this on the podcast. But when I started this podcast, I weighed 150 pounds more than I weigh today and I lost my weight in a rather radical way. You can go back, I did a podcast on my journey to health a while back. Sorry I don’t have the podcast number in front of me. But you can actually read Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, he wrote a book called Presto and he lost his weight very, very quickly with the same person that I did. 

And so I went through the exact same process as Penn did and funny enough, we both had a bit of a voice issues and I ended up working with Penn, to help his voice. But I also got vocal weakness from this extremely fast weight loss and so while it was really good in terms of my health, it was tough on my voice and I’m still working my voice back to where it was before the weight loss, most of the way there. But it is still not all the way and also this year with doing the books and the courses and the podcast, I will admit that I wasn’t working my voice as much as I should have all the time. So in the past few weeks, I’ve really started to get back down on my own practicing and creating habits that I’ve taken my own advice. 

I’m creating habits, I’m working my voice more and there are moments where I can feel myself get frustrated because the voice doesn’t exactly behave as it used to. Part of that could be I mean, I’m in my 50’s now, so it’s not the same voice that I had in my 30’s, but just getting the strength back, it requires me to constantly begin again because I can feel myself get frustrated, I can feel myself. Actually I’ve gotten really good at not throwing events away. So when the voice doesn’t work, I almost automatically go, okay, what is happening? Why is it not working? How do I fix it? So I am staying in that, but the voices can be slightly unpredictable, right now for me and it’s really taking a lot of focus and what’s really helping me is when I set everything up and I go for a note and the folds just don’t want to phonate properly and the tone doesn’t hold or I may start to crack a little bit. 

I just take a breath and I begin again. I analyze what happened. Sometimes I just need to take another shot at it. I just need to calm down my brain. I just try and get a clear thought and I’m singing more and more from my mind. I’m really trying to have really clear thoughts and this instrument responds to thought. It’s not so good on brute force, but you know, we have to send very clear, precise instructions from our brain through the nervous system to these muscles and we are working many muscles, when we are singing and the instructions, some of these muscles we don’t have conscious awareness of. So the instructions have to be very clear in this. Neuropathway really has to be worked. So I’m just trying to stay really open in my mind. I’m really sending clear thought, not getting caught up in the physical adjusting as I need to and then I begin again and I begin as if it’s the first scale that I’ve sung that day and I just keep that front of mind and if you can keep beginning again, your mind is going to be less likely to start wondering. 

You’re going to sharpen your focus. I mean the first time we do something is always the best. When you get your favorite meal, the first bite is always better than the 12th bite, it just is. And by the time you’ve gotten halfway through, you’re maybe starting to wonder, you’re thinking about other things that you’re still enjoying, but you’re not enjoying it like that first bite and it is this reawakening, it’s coming back to the beginning. It’s coming back to when it’s new, when it’s fresh, your focus is better and because it’s the first scale or the first note that you’ve sung in that moment, which it is everything that’s gone past is behind us, it’s gone. As I say these words, this moment is gone. You’re never going to have it again. All you have is this exact moment and then this one. 

So if you reawaken and come to the moment anew, you’re not bringing the baggage of the bad note that you sang a few seconds before you can bring some additional understanding from the bad note and you can adjust your approach. But you can let go of anything negative. You can let go of the self judgment of the self criticism. And if you’ve performed and it didn’t go well, it’s gone. You can let it go and the next performance is your first one and the first and the next song within that performance is the first song. And the next note in that song is the first note. Everything is constantly new. Everything is constantly fresh and it’s almost a little bit of a fountain of youth. It’s a way to let go of the baggage that will accumulate and if you are serious about this instrument, baggage will accumulate from other people, from yourself. 

I just had somebody, I have people who do graphics for me online and they’ll go through the podcast and they’ll maybe take a quote here or there or I also do a little short video tips. So you can follow me on Instagram if those are interesting to you. I’m John Henny Vocals and they’ll take little lines from that and they’ll turn it into an info, a little graphic, some of my quotes. And I had said something along the lines of you know, what stops most singers is criticism from others and I’m actually getting a lot of people responding to that. And there’s a lot of you out there that have led just cruel words come from an old choir teacher, a voice teacher, even a parent, friends that will just say something that just kills your joy of singing and what you need to realize is that moment’s gone. 

What they said is gone. You can’t control what they said, but you can let it go in the moment of singing. I’m not going to say you’re going to forget it. But when you sit down and you’re actually able to carve out practice time, I mean time is so precious. That’s why I thank you for listening because this time you are spending time with me. It’s your precious time and your practice time is precious and you are robbing yourself. If you’re bringing that baggage into it. It’s brand new. It’s a new day, it’s a new hour, it’s a new moment. Just take it, it’s yours. That’s the only thing that we really, really have is this moment, everything else is completely unstable. Our relationships, we’re going to lose people, our possessions. We’re going to ultimately lose all our possessions. Yeah, but our possessions are breaking down or we’re going to give them up. 

But this moment, your consciousness in this moment, that’s yours, that’s truly yours and it can be what you want it to be. Don’t let the poison come into it and I’m also talking about the poison from yourself. It is forgiveness. It is openness and it is just singing in the moment, anew. 

Hey, if you want to know more about me, please visit my website, Johnhenny.com. Sign up for my email list. I actually just redesigned the website, so I’m curious what you think as well. But you can also check out, lessons. I have free training materials for both singers and teachers. You’ll notice just a little ways down the front page. It’ll last, how can I help you? You just click the path that you’re interested in and all the information will be there. Hey, and I just hope you have a wonderful holiday and a brand new fantastic new year, and I will see you after the new year and until next time to better singing. Thank you so much. Bye bye.