Overwhelm is as close as the phone in your pocket, where there is a never-ending parade of vocal distractions to pull at your attention.

Countless vocal methods, YouTube videos, courses, online discussion and arguments – it can leave you trying to do everything (and ultimately, nothing) at once.

In this episode, John discusses how to get out of the overwhelm and on the road to consistent vocal improvement.

Episode Transcript

Episode 84 – Dealing With Vocal Overwhelm

Hey there, this is John Henny. Welcome back to another episode of the intelligent vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending this precious time with me. All right. Dealing with overwhelm, being overwhelmed is something I am pretty familiar with. I will tell you, in my business I’ve got a number of things going on. I have a brick and mortar music Academy, with hundreds of students where we just did a big performance, just this past Saturday with lots of students performing lots of happy parents. It was a very good, very positive experience, but it’s a little overwhelming. There’s a lot to work on. And then I have the online component. I obviously have this podcast, but I also have my own teaching schedule, teaching people online over Skype and FaceTime. I have my courses that I do, paid. And I also have some inexpensive and free, but creating all this content, it’s very, very easy to get overwhelmed, not just in the tasks that you have to do, but in the tools to do it. 

And there’s always some bright new shiny object that if you just get this new widget, Oh, your online conversions are going to change. More people will buy your courses, more people will sign up for your list. And when you get into this marketing business side of it. It really is a very, very deep rabbit hole. And I found myself just starting to spin out of control a little bit and jumping from thing to thing and I thought, no, I have to get this under control. Things are pulling my attention away. and so much of the internet, so much of our online activity is meant to pull our attention. That’s what they’re fighting for. That’s what these online companies are battling for is your attention. And even with my own voice teaching Academy, I want to add a social component to it where the members can interact and discuss things and I can get in and do some coaching. 

And of course the typical answer is a Facebook group. But you know, Facebook is just so much noise and Facebook has been engineered and continues to be refined in order to distract you. It’s all about distracting and pulling your attention. Facebook wants your attention. They want to increase the number of hours you spend on Facebook. That’s why they game-ify the whole thing with likes and notifications. And I realized if my community of teachers, people learning to teach contemporary voice, if I pull them onto Facebook, yeah, there is a convenience in that most people are on Facebook, although there are more and more people who really don’t want to be on Facebook. But let’s take that out of the equation. It’s Keeping focused attention within that, the biosphere within the world of Facebook is almost impossible because it’s just nonstop notifications. And as I’ve said before, if you get a notification that somebody mentioned you in a post, you’re going to click on it. 

There as human beings. We can’t have someone tell us, Hey, somebody just said something about you because your brain just starts screaming. What did they say? So in that confusion, I want to remove my education component from that, my social education component. So I’m working on creating a forum, within the product, within the course that’s going to work well for my needs. And so in this overwhelm of also my business when I’m online, I’m constantly getting bombarded, as I said with different tools and different ways to use the business and, and, different programs and courses, etc, etc., all promising these amazing things. And I finally had to stop last week and say, I need a coach and I know what to do in a sense. And as I’ve started working with this coach, he’s not telling me things that I didn’t know, but what he is doing and why he’s worth far more than I’m paying him is he is telling me to just focus on one thing and he’s telling me the thing to focus on and what he’s telling me to focus on again. 

I’m like, well yeah, I kind of knew that, but I need him to tell me that’s what you’re going to do. Just stop and do that. And it’s just like when I decided to start learning guitar and I got online and of course the next thing I know is I’ve bought 20 different guitar courses and I’ve got all these different YouTube videos saved and I’m buying all these books and then I just sit in overwhelm. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what book to read. I don’t know what song to work on. I start to work on a song and my attention gets pulled over here, but maybe I should be working on that. And one of the best things that a voice teacher is going to do is they’re going to tell you what to work on. Just work on this. 

And that’s why I went out and got a guitar teacher so he could tell me just work on this one thing. And that enabled me to calm down, to stop the distraction, to eliminate the overwhelm and to just focus. And so what my business coach has me doing is he’s just giving me one major task to focus on for the week. And if I get that done, then yeah, I can move on to other things. But almost immediately I felt the fog lift because now I didn’t have to worry, am I working on the right thing Because now my coaches told me what to work on. So I don’t have to stress on that. so many times if you’re not being guided, if you don’t have a teacher or a coach, you’re not sure if this is the right thing. Should I be working on this? 

And then the inner dialogue starts and then starts the confusion. And then you start surfing around the internet. And then you’re pulled in a hundred different directions and you’ve got nothing done or you’ve gotten 50 things done, but none of them completely and none of them very well. So the point of today’s podcast is cutting down on the overwhelm and just focusing on one thing at a time. And what I would suggest is you can take out a calendar and take out a piece of paper and on the piece of paper, write down all the things you’d like to improve in your voice, whether it’s your range, your power, your tone, fixing a vocal break, learning tariff better, a style of music, conquering a song, a working up, a set list so you can start to gig or working towards an audition, whatever it is. 

Just just go ahead and create that list and then just start to number them in terms of importance or in terms of the order that you think that they would need to be done. So if your one of your goals is to audition for a regional theater company but you don’t have any audition songs put together, then maybe getting an audition book together would come before actually auditioning. And if you’re putting your audition book together, if you are unable to sing in your mix or transition area, if there are notes that are really tricky that you know you need to conquer, then fit getting that part of your voice together would come before assembling the audition book. So you understand, you start to get priorities as to what it is that you want to do. And don’t be afraid to really just break these down, into very, very small, sub units. 

If it’s just you want to learn how to breathe cause everyone makes a big deal about that or understand singing terms or just be able to get a couple notes more than the ones you’re getting or to stop running out of breath in your chest voice then you make that very specific goal and you put them in order. And then take a calendar for the next six weeks and just put one per week, just one per week. And this next week start with the first one and just make that your goal for the week. So when you come to your vocal practice, now your goal may be establishing vocal practice a routine. Then that’s all you’re going to do for the first week is you’re just going to establish a routine and you’re just going to get started and you’re not going to worry about all the other goals, all the other things you want to accomplish because you’re not going to accomplish them all in a week. 

So you just take your one thing, you’re going to establish your routine. So you’ll get your appointed time, you’ll get used to writing out a schedule, you’ll get used to keeping that date with yourself, and maybe you’ll only just warm up for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, doesn’t matter because the fact is now you’re establishing the routine. Then the next week, then maybe what you want to do is create or find a way to have a really good vocal warm up. Maybe you get a little course on it, but only get one. Don’t get 10 don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re going to watch a YouTube video on it, just watch one or two and then, or watch a few, but pick one and just stick with it for the week. Don’t be jumping around just for one week. Just master that. Then the following week, you may want to work on fixing that vocal break. 

Okay that’s your week’s assignment. So maybe on the first day you’re going to understand why your voice breaks and I’ve got a podcast on that. You can just search for it. Why do your voice cracks? I think it’s called. It’s an early podcast. I did and then you’ve got, then you want to find some appropriate exercises. Maybe that’s day two, and then you just start to work those exercises into your routine for the rest of the week. And then maybe you want to work on your vibrato for a week and just just one each step. And it doesn’t mean you have to limit one, two a week. If you’re still struggling, maybe you take the vibrato practice for two weeks or maybe that just be, and then after that it becomes part of your daily practice where for a few minutes each day you’ll continue to work on your vibrato. 

But if you focus on it for a week, understanding vibrato finding exercises for vibrato, working on that record, listen to yourself, but with that focus and that’s all you have to worry about, it’s going to cut down all that overwhelm and when it comes to material, unless you have some gig coming up, we’ve got to learn a bunch of songs. Just take one song a week, just one and work on that song. Let’s say you want to start expanding your repertoire of musicals and knowing all the parts. Then just take one musical a week and listen to it. Focus on it, but the key is if you can just take each week with nothing else to worry about with nothing else to distract you. You’re going to cut down on the panic on the fear of missing out that all of these social media apps thrive on. 

I mean, everything is about fear of missing out when, when you get a Facebook notification, not clicking in this fear of missing out. When you get an email notification, not checking your email is fear of missing out. And when you start seeing things for all kinds of singing programs or this singing tip or even on YouTube as you’re looking up one thing, YouTube is then giving you 10 more videos to then click over and the artificial intelligence within YouTube that knows everything that you’re interested in. Remember Google, if you’re using the Chrome browser, if you’re using Gmail, if you’re using Google maps, you’re giving them your life, you’re giving them all of your information so that when you go to YouTube, man, Google knows if you went to guitar center last week, Google knows if you’ve been talking about playing guitar in your emails, I mean Google knows everything about you and they will do everything they can to keep you on their platform and distract you. 

So you have to remember when you go online and you’re using these resources, they are conspiring to distract you. And so you’re going to have to have some discipline about this. maybe you just use your, make a contract with yourself that you’re only going to look up this one thing and you’re only going to look at three videos and they’re only going to be about that and you’re going to turn off notifications. And then as soon as you watch the video, you’re going to, you’re going to get o of, you’re going to close your browser, you’re going to put your phone away, and then you’re going to go to the practice room. And unfortunately, sometimes we can’t put our phone away because we’re using it for backing tracks, etc. fine. Turn off your notifications, put it in airplane mode. You know, get in that space. 

If you have made a contract with yourself to practice for 20 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day, I promise you that the emails will still be there 20 minutes later that all your notifications and everything everyone has said about you online and all the likes that you’re getting on Instagram will be there 20 minutes later. And so you just make that contract with yourself. You get in that focused place and you work on that one thing. If you can’t find that one thing, if you’re still struggling, I will tell you, working with a good voice teacher is a good way to get that clarity, to get that one thing to put you on a path. Again, in my business I realized, cause there’s so much coming at me that I need that person to just tell me do that. And I’m good at following instructions when I have a coach. 

I will follow instructions when I was, horribly overweight and I would try and lose weight and I knew what to do pretty much. But it wasn’t until I had a coach that told me exactly what to eat, when to eat it. A coach who got my weight every time I stepped on a scale every day was sent directly to their phone. And so there was that accountability once I did that. It literally, and I’ve talked about it before, but I lost 150 pounds in eight months. And that’s an extreme example. But that’s what happens when you have a coach. You have accountability. You have a lesson that you have to go to every week. It’s going to reshape your thinking. It’s going to reshape your approach and your energy and it’s going to, it’s going to take away that overwhelm because you’re, if you allow overwhelmed to come into this process of learning to sing, you’re just going to become static. 

You’re just going to bounce around and it’s going to be three months later and you will have really not gotten much better. Now, you may have grabbed more differing bits of information and you may have collected all different videos to watch that you’ve may be half watched or this or that and conflicting views of how to sing, and spent hours going through the comments under videos with people arguing back and forth. And it’s just a complete waste of time. To get caught up in that you, we need to understand our weaknesses as human beings. We need to understand the weaknesses in our brain and the distractions. And it’s not learning to not be distracted. It’s eliminating the distractions in the first place. It’s giving yourself, you just do this and you just put the blinders on and you shut everything down and you just do that. 

So to semis, get your list of what it is that you want to improve. Put it in a numerical order. You can always change it and then pick the first thing, put it on a calendar, pick one thing, and just do that primarily for a week. It doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that you’re going to do. I mean, if it’s you’re working on a specific song, of course you’re going to warm up and you’re going to get yourself ready and vocalize, but you’re not going to work on 20 different songs. You’re going to work on that song. You’re going to work on each goal specifically so we can get rid of this overwhelm and get you walking on the clear path towards vocal improvement. And there ended this sermon. 

Hey, if you want more information about me, you can just go to johnhenny.com sign up for my email list. It’s right there on the front page. I send out a couple of things a week, just me babbling about the, like I do here. you also will get early access and information about any products I have. You can get in on, even some beta tests when I’m developing things. There are offers that I give only to my list. It is worth being there and until next time to better singing. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.