One of the main reasons for singers to stop is painful criticism.

The opinion usually comes from a person of authority, someone they respected – a choir director in childhood, a less than kind voice teacher, or an industry professional, such as a producer.

One opinion causing years, sometimes decades to be lost.

In this episode, John discusses the danger of allowing another’s opinion to have power over you and your singing.


Straw Warmups Course

OHNI Vocal Masterclass: June 21-23 2019

OOVO Straw: Use coupon code HENNY at checkout to save 10%*

Teaching Contemporary Singing book

*Full Disclosure: This is an affiliate link

Episode Transcript

Episode 82 – The Danger of One Opinion

Hey there, this is John Henny welcome back to another episode of the intelligent vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending your precious time with me and today you may hear in the distant background, a car alarm. Someone in the parking lot has their Maserati going off every few minutes and of course, all of us are good Samaritans. Upon hearing a car alarm instantly sprang into action and thought there must be some nefarious activity. We must stop this person from no, of course we didn’t. They’re just a nuisance that no one pays attention to. But even the owner of a Maserati is not paying attention to their own car alarm. So you may get to hear a really expensive car alarm in the background. A little bit of housekeeping, my course on warming up with a straw is now available. I am a big believer in using a straw to help balance the voice. 

A few podcasts back, I did one an S O V T exercises. I should have the podcast number in front of me so that you could very conveniently go and listen to it. But I am a bad podcaster so you are just going to have to go and dig through. If you go to my website, and click on podcast, you can always just search on S O V T semi occluded vocal tract there so called so that we voiced teachers can sound smarter than everybody else. That’s why we become voice teachers. It’s just really about, I’m not going to bag on voice teachers please. I love voice teachers most of the time, sometimes and so you can go there. You can get the core just talking about these semi occluded vocal tract, the straw back on the straw. If you go to the show notes for this podcast, 8.2 I will have a link to my absolutely free course on using a straw to warm up and soothe your voice. 

I will tell you what kind of straw to use a little bit of the science behind it, why it works. I’ll give you some of my favorite exercises and then kind of give you a quick mini workout, a warm up that you can use it anytime and I’ve got my handy dandy silver straw, around my neck that, I am now showing to the podcast camera, which means you can’t see anything, but I’m holding this. It’s my oovo straw OOVO that’s fun to say and if you click, I’ve got links to it. It’ll have it in the show links if you would like to get this. This thing is amazing. It’s made out of surgical grade stainless silver. So it’s very, very easy to keep clean. It’s on a nice chain. I wear it around my neck so I always have it available. 

I’ve managed to tangle it up. I’ve never tangled it up before. I’ve just, I’m way too excited to try and show it to you and of course you can’t see it, but I will get this knot out later cause it’s going to totally distract me. but you can go ahead and click and get one of these and it’s, you can get 10% off at by using the coupon code, Henny H E N N Y do not put Henry, which is how people often misspell my name because they will actually add a 20% tax onto the cost of your oovo straw. Now they won’t but the name is Henny. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but suddenly people remember my name much more easily because now Henny is slang for Hennessy Cognac. So this name that no one could remember is suddenly hip and cool. I never thought I would see the day and I’ve actually never run into another Henny unless I’m directly related to them. But I’m sure you’re out there. If you are a Henny who listens to this podcast, please reach out to me. I would be fascinated to meet another Henny that I’m not directly related to. Hold on I got to give a little toot on my straw mmm, mmm.

That instantly feels better. It’s amazing what this straw can do. Also, I will be speaking at or teaching, masterclasses at the OHNI vocal masterclass event in Los Angeles later on in June. If you go to the show notes, I will have a link there. This is going to be amazing. This is being put together by Dr. Reena Gupta and also my friend, fellow voice teacher, Mindy Pack who’s just like crazy smart and has done all these advanced science courses that I have not, but she is putting this together and just bringing in these really great lectures, from all over the place and it’s going to be I think three days, voice teacher track of teaching things like high belt and how to scream safely and voice science. It’s going to be quite amazing. So you’re going to want to get tickets for that. They are selling out fast. You can get the link at my website, /82. 

All right I want to talk today about the danger of one person’s opinion and in my years of teaching voice and I’ve taught people of varying levels, but the thing I find most profound and at first it shocked me when I saw this and then it actually just made me sad and then a little angry and I’m going to take all these emotions, and kinda give you a little pep talk and a little warning and because I’ve seen this absolutely devastated people and this is the power of one person’s opinion and the power that you give this person’s opinion over you and I’m not talking about trolls, this is an online trolls. 

This is usually from somebody, that you respect, that you want approval from and when you don’t get it. It can be very, very shattering beyond even its intended effect. I will have people come in and they may be in their 30’s, 40’s, even older and they’re just coming back to singing from decades ago and I asked them well, why did you stop singing? And they will relay it’s almost the same story. It is somebody very often a choir director or a voice teacher, somebody in their youth that they looked up to said something hurtful about their singing and it created such an impact that it stopped them from singing from the age of 15, 16 to 45, 46, 30 years later or more. And oftentimes when they begin to talk about this event, they are still emotional about this event. They are still broken up about this event. 

What really saddens me beyond just the hurt that they carry from this and the power that they gave this opinion, but all the years that they lost enjoying singing and enjoying music and one person’s opinion. If you go and you look at any great artist, somebody in a position of authority or a position of power along the way has told them they don’t have what it takes. It’s almost a cliche and it really comes down to when that happened, that artist had a decision to make to either let that person’s opinion, shut them down, stop them from enjoying music, stop them from growing or it basically pushed them to prove that person wrong and to defy that person and very often in great artists, they will talk about their inspiration and you will often hear a story about them being rejected, about something negative being said to them and they turn around and say, well I’m going to prove you wrong. 

And they turn that into motivation. So you cannot let one person control what you do. Now, this is easier said than done and I have been sidelined by this. I have been sidelined by this at times, musically. I’ve also been sidelined by this in business and I remember doing a webinar and at the end I got some blow back, from somebody because I was selling on the webinar and it just for whatever reason, it just really kinda kicked me in the gut and it kinda like sidelined me. It made me feel like wow, is there something wrong with me as an educator, as an artist, as a creative to be actively selling what I do and then I had to stop and go, no that’s ridiculous. 

Because I believe when I create products and I put things out for sale, just as when people put music out, I’m doing this to help people. I’m really trying to enrich people’s lives and by asking a certain amount of money for this information that allows me to create more products and give out more information. I mean, I would love if there was just this really amazing universal basic income, which is a whole other debate, which artificial intelligence and machines may make a necessary reality at some point. But for now there isn’t and so by working in this capitalistic sphere, as an independent voice teacher you know, you have to kind of commercialize things sometimes and be a salesperson because I need to. If I know that I have information that can help somebody, I need to convince them to get it.

And I really had to come to terms with that and really they know what I’m doing is not wrong, but it sidelined me for a little while. I’ve talked to people where a producer has said something nasty to them and I know. Oh, if you’re a producer, if you happen to be listening in this podcast, I just want to have a little aside with you. I really encourage you to book some time with a voice teacher and just learn a little bit about how to work with singers, how to best get a performance out of a singer and a singer is not a drummer, is not a guitarist, it’s a very different instrument and stresses, don’t often spur them on to better performances. It can actually shut the instrument down and pushing can actually cause the instrument to tire out and even eventually get some damage. 

Also you can find out ways to communicate better to singers that I found that that producers have a hard time communicating to singers. It’s a bit of a different language and if you do a little bit of studying of vowels and the coloring of vowels and vocal registration, you’ll be more easily able and more accurately able to get the results that you want. The one thing producers have is that you have amazing ears and you have this amazing vision and you have this 30,000 foot view of the song and how it all goes together. And there are certain colors and sounds you want out of singers that you hear in your head, but you just don’t know how to express. And so if you spend some time with a voice teacher, you will learn how to do this and I know there are vocal producers, some producers will use vocal producers, but if you don’t get a little educated in this, it will really go a long way. 

But I have a horribly digressed to let me go back on a topic, but producers in that environment of creativity but also the clock is ticking and there’s pressure and singers can be pushed in ways and things that can be said that can really get in a singer’s head and begin to shut them down. And I’ve talked to people where producers, have just really, really knocked them for a loop and again knocked them out of the game and I’m not saying that this doesn’t hurt. I’m not saying that it’s pleasurable and you may not have the personality that just takes this and turns it into fuel, but you’re going to have to learn to do that. You’re going to have to learn to just when that person says it, you just gotta stop and go. 

That’s one person’s opinion. That’s just you. I’m not giving one person’s opinion control over me. You don’t have dominion over me with one opinion. Now, if you hear the same thing from 30 people you trust, then maybe you gotta stop and go, okay, do I need to fix something here and that’s the other thing is when you get this opinion, is there something in there that you can learn from? Can you dig through what was kind of painful and find a nugget of wisdom and there may not be one there that you may not agree with. Now again, if you start getting the same thing said to you may really want to look a little deeper, but if there’s nothing there, then you have to learn to cast that aside. 

You have to just say, you know what that’s one person’s opinion. That person cannot have control over me. Everyone there are singers people love that I don’t particularly care for. That doesn’t mean the singer’s bad. There are singers who’s actually seeing technically well that I don’t choose to listen to. They just don’t move me and that doesn’t mean that singer is a means any less to the people that enjoy that singers performances. Of course not. You just have to understand that whatever reasons you are doing this for, you have to keep those reasons forefront and you have to keep reminding yourself and the reasons can’t be just to please one person. If you’re taking up singing just to please one person other than yourself, that’s a mistake. Don’t give one person that much power. Take control back. This is your one life as far as we know, without jumping into that debate. 

This is it, this is all you’re promised and as I’ve said before, the clock is ticking. It’s ticked from when this podcast started till now. That’s time you will never have back again. I’m sorry you spent listening to me, but you are never going to have that time back and so if you let somebody knock you off track for a week, months, years, decades, no, absolutely not. So what I want you to do right here and now is promise to yourself that no one is going to take this from you. This, this is yours. This is your life. This is your passion. This is your gift and if somebody doesn’t like it, well you know where you can tell them to stick it. I’m serious and again, you gotta keep the joy as I talked about in the last podcast. You gotta work hard. You gotta get better. You have to do all of these things, but you cannot, cannot be dissuaded by one person’s opinion. Never give someone that power. 

All right, there ended the sermon I want to thank you so much for listening. Again, just go to you can find out about lessons with me. I’ve got information on some of the courses I teach. Oh yeah. Go to Amazon and get my book teaching contemporary singing and the audio book. I am pleased to say which was absolute, Oh man recording that just took forever. However, it has been approved by audible and it should be what the approval process, I think at this point should be about a week or so by the time you hear this, maybe a week out from having the audio book. So I will certainly let you know about that. I’m very, very excited to get that audiobook. Well, not in your hands, in your ears. Yes, you can have even more of me in your ear if you’re interested in teaching, singing, and Hey, if you’re a singer, actually what I cover is quite informative. So it’s just another way to learn. So yeah, I would go to Amazon teaching contemporary singing by John Henny. I’d love it if you’d grab a copy and until next time to sing better singing. Thank you so much. Bye bye.