In this episode, Chris shares his journey as he transitioned from a successful performance career to becoming a leading vocal coach working with numerous major recording artists as well as leading Westend performers. As a singer who experienced vocal issues himself, Chris has a solid understanding of today’s industry demands. He discusses the strategies he employs for assisting others overcome vocal pathologies and how it is possible for a vocalist to have a sustainable career while maintaining their unique signature sound. Chris proudly describes his new assessment training program, which is one of numerous programs he has launched to assist our singing teaching community improve learning outcomes with students. There is so much more in this episode, including the impact of COVID 19 on Chris’s self-care regime you will not want to miss out on.
In this episode
01:09 – Introducing Chris Johnson
16:44 – Experiences put into practise
27:36 – Dealing with managers and sustainability
29:37 – Commonalities with voice problems
46:37 – Chris’s new assessment program
56:18 – Chris’s new business teachvoice.com
1:00:00 – The Naked Vocalist Podcast
1:04:22 – Chris’s self care routine
1:10:30 – Advice for new teachers
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 00:10
Hey, it’s Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith here and I’m so honoured to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you listen and you will be inspired by amazing healthcare practitioners, voice teachers, and music industry professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to help you live your best life every day. As singers our whole body is our instrument and our instrument echoes how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. So don’t wait any longer. Take Charge and optimise your instrument now. Remember that to sing is more than just learning about how to use the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 01:09
Chris Johnson shares his journey as he transitioned from a successful performance career to becoming a leading vocal coach working with numerous major recording artists as well as leading West End performers. As a singer who experienced vocal issues himself, Chris has a solid understanding of today’s industry demands he discusses the strategies he employs for assisting others overcome vocal pathologies and how it is possible for a vocalist to have a sustainable career while maintaining their unique signature sound. Chris proudly describes his new assessment training programme, which is one of numerous programmes he has launched to assist our singing teaching community improve learning outcomes for their students. There is so much more in this episode, including the impact of COVID-19 on Chris’s self care regime, I’m sure you’re going to love it. Chris Johnson is a highly experienced vocal coach who understands the demands on performance today and the vital role voice training plays in developing and sustaining vocal range and strength night after night. As a result of this major label contemporary artists singer songwriters West End lead performers and vocal coaches all trust him to take good care of their voices, develop their techniques and bring out all the style and artistry needed to take on the Korea trading vocal manual therapy massage and myofacial release Chris’s training perspective respects the whole self as a professional performer for 15 years Chris can also appreciate the value of a reliable routine respecting life stresses training for the unexpected and developing a positive mindset. Chris is also the founder of singing teacher training organisation teach voice co founder of the most popular podcast for singers, the naked vocalist and his unique coaching style is in demand from London to Los Angeles. Without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 03:33
Hi and welcome Chris, thank you so much for being on the show. How’s life in the UK?
Chris Johnson 03:40
Life in the UK is pretty good. Actually the Coronavirus situation is getting better. So we’re socialising a bit more and the sun is out. So we’re you know, we’re barbecuing even though the I would probably barbecue in the pouring rain. I don’t care i’m having I’m having that barbecue. So but the sun’s out. So it’s really great here right now.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 03:58
Well, I do have to share a secret with you that Monday night at our place is barbecue steak every Monday night, rain, hail or shine. So I’ve had a big piece of steak so I apologise to all the vegetarians. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot straight up, but yeah.
Chris Johnson 04:19
If anybody does return back to eating steak. To be fair, I’ve I’ve since getting a good barbecue. I’ve realised that the only way to really eat steak is off the barbecue.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 04:29
Yes, it is. It’s amazing. Oh good. Yes, but I don’t know how you have time to barbecue at the moment. You’ve been really busy. You have so much going on not only in your professional life, but you have a new baby boy. You’ve moved house. There’s so much going on. How’s the baby going?
Chris Johnson 04:50
The baby is awesome. Yeah, he’s guzzling his long, you know, cuz some of it because we’ve got a two and three quarter year old daughter. So some of the things like cots and whatnot, things to sleep in sleeping bags, that kind of thing. Obviously, we we had them ready for him. So you can repurpose those things. And then you realise you realise how different your children are. And then so so my first daughter is like really bisous, she was only born at six pounds, he comes along at like nearly nine pounds. And now everything that she had that like three months old, he’s too long for it. So he’s doing great, a little bit too great. To be fair, we got to catch up all the extra bits.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 05:40
That’s amazing. Usually siblings are very close in weight and size. But to have a three pound difference is quite extreme and extraordinary. So you as a child, were you a big baby?
Chris Johnson 05:57
I think I was you know, slap bang on average. But as a as a grown man, I think I’m on the taller side at six foot two.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 06:05
Right? I can’t imagine you being average at anything. And if I remember, and if I remember rightly, when we were speaking last, you told me the story that your father was in the army. So it’s right. So how did he feel about having a son? That obviously you must have been very tall for a very young age? And you deciding that you are going to go into the performing arts rather than being a soccer player? Or do you call it football over there?
Chris Johnson 06:39
Yeah, football. Yeah.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 06:40
Okay. Rather than being a football player, he ends up having a son, who is going to be a performer.
Chris Johnson 06:48
Yeah, and it was back back then. I mean, I was born in the early 80s. Right. So I think singers back then, were like, it’s almost like we’re mystical, rare breed. If somebody could sing in this in the family. It was like, right, someone can sing in the family. Let’s sit down. It was unusual, right? For certainly in my world anyway, for for there to be someone who was genuinely good at singing. So you had that kind of like when that sort of, I guess, cultural background underpins it, it would be unusual to have that. So so nobody’s used to somebody coming out and saying, Well, I’m a singer in the family. I want to be a performer. And I think initially, because my dad was in the army, I think, I think he would have liked for me to join in the army. But I think as as I grew into sort of, you know, my early teens and whatnot, and getting to the point where you would make that decision, I think he he definitely realised that I probably wasn’t cut out for the army.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 07:43
Chris Johnson 07:48
He’s like, I can’t hear the Killer Instinct in you. And I’m like, yeah, it’s fair enough that but but then, so for me to want to go into music was like a bit of a, it was a bit of a no to begin with. And that’s just again, the culture. Yeah, so I definitely did put off that aspiration, I think for quite a while. But I think in the later years when I started to get onstage and also this works, by the way, when you sing the type of music, by accident that is that your dad likes, so I ended up singing Motown. Oh, and of course, my dad’s like, Well, yes, you should definitely be professional. So I think I think he really he really got on board when I started to actually gig more. And he started to listen to me and go actually, maybe, maybe he can sing actually.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 08:39
Did he put you into singing lessons at all?
Chris Johnson 08:42
I put myself into them. Actually. I was a very bad sort of paper Boy, you know, I just, you know, messed up delivered the wrong half of papers to the wrong half of the paper. And But still, I used that whatever it would be 50 pounds, 20 pounds. After I’d gone back and collected all the papers back and delivered them to the right houses. I still had. I still had 20 pounds. And that went on. Before I had singing lessons. I’m pretty sure it went on cream eggs, which was..
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:14
We have Creme Eggs in Australia.
Chris Johnson 09:17
Okay, yeah, I thought you guys in Canada would know.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 09:21
No, no, we are not a third world country here. We have something other than kangaroos in Australia, believe it or not?
Chris Johnson 09:30
Oh, no, I had the stereotypical view of Australia in my head. Just that. So yeah, I did spend that money then on a singing teacher. That was recommended to me when I was about 12 years old. I was singing in a youth club and somebody was like, Oh, you’re singing here’s my singing teachers number. And I went in to see that guy called Robin Garr. And that was it. So I spent in defence spending that money a few years later after finding that number. And that was really I think when you look at it, the singing lesson themselves were insanely basic. And I was just kind of being champion, and he enjoyed my style and voice so he couldn’t wait to get me into a choir. So really, as far as 20 pounds goes, that was probably the best 20 pounds I’d ever spent because it did really changed my trajectory amongst other things. But that was that was really a turning point for me.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 10:23
Yes. And let’s be honest here, if you’re going through voice change, you really do need a teacher that is going to champion you after all and be your cheerleader. Because that that is really an awkward time to almost 12 as you’re starting to go through voice change, to begin lessons.
Chris Johnson 10:45
Yeah, and I think much, much like any person going through the voice change anyway, you’d probably be able to empathise with me when my voice was definitely not very stable. Some people have like a fast change somebody some people have way more instability and and for me, it was like a lot of flipping basically Mickey Mouse which ended up being my nickname for quite a while that’s currently in a boys school, you know, boys school just kind of quite a quite a bit more cutting, I think, than when when I was in mixed school before. So yeah, the boys school but nevertheless, I think that sort of subliminally gave me this self conscious consciousness about my own voice.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 11:30
Yeah. How did I become that?
Chris Johnson 11:34
Well, I mean, time definitely was the only healer on that one, I think. But, but what it led me to do I can I can take some of those comments. They were just a laugh. This is not there’s not like kind of a public outcry to how they affected my career. It really isn’t. But everything contributes to everything, doesn’t it? So yes, when I think about that, I think about deepening my voice when I was about 15 thinking speak, speak down there, man, you know, kind of keep it away from that flip, and you’ll be absolutely fine. Maybe I’ll sound more authoritative or something like that on it as a as a added benefit. But I do I do distinctly remember that giving me a rather dark voice for quite a long time. Yes, taking me off my level. And I do remember, range, specially in chest voice or like belting and stuff like that real pain in the bum for like, seven years, eight years, you know, long time. That’s until I got my 20s.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 12:32
That is a long time. I know that you had an amazing performance career, even though when I was stalking you on the web, there wasn’t a lot of information about you having had a performance career, and that only just came out really, between you and I having a chat. So that would have you would have started your career at that that time where your voice was still settling, because didn’t you start performing professionally at 21?
Chris Johnson 13:03
Yeah, about then. Yeah. So after a little stint in the choir, and choir singing was every Monday, maybe an extra rehearsal if you had a show coming up, and then a show once every few months, if you like, so that that’s not a strong workload. So whatever I did in that time, I could, you know, for want of a better word, shout my way stylistically through a song and make it to the end on a Monday night, and then I’d be i’d recover by Friday. You know, cuz that was me. I didn’t, I didn’t know that this was supposed to be hard. So that was me as a teenager. So then hooking up with some band members and then starting to get into professional gigging. It only takes two gigs in a row for you to realise, wow, this is really unsustainable, you know, Friday and Saturday night, and then you’re like, Oh, my God, Saturday night, it’s so hard. And then I then take then you get to Monday, pretty much not recovered by Monday’s rehearsal again, and so I just kind of shouted my way through that one, and then get yourself to Friday or Saturday again. But then, because we did quite a good job with what we were doing and people enjoyed the demeanour, we started to get more and more gigs. And that’s when I started to get more and more ropey with my voice. And so there did come a crunch point where I had to go to an ENT surgeon in my town, about about the age of 21/22. Because at that point, I also joined an original band. So I was doing the choir, kind of which was quite a big show choir. I was doing a paid gig as a function band. And then I was doing an originals band which had a gig and a rehearsal in the in the week as well. So then when that came over, I really got into trouble. So at that point, I had to reassess my voice big time, where which is where I started to look out for my vocal health and start to take a bit more notice of voice training, which wasn’t very available where I lived.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 14:59
Yes. So with the ENT, did he find that there was anything wrong? Was there a pathology there?
Chris Johnson 15:09
Apparently, at the time nodules and I know from my light extensive training now that the technology available at the time wouldn’t have necessarily meant it was nodules. It could have been some other inflammation with phlegm on it to be fair, that appeared like nodules, but, but nevertheless, my voice was, was definitely in a state and, and that the ENT definitely felt like he saw the swelling that would have turned into nodules. So at that point, I went down a pathway of very basic speech therapy, some singing lessons. And that didn’t necessarily make my life easier. Because what I found out at that point is that I really had to rewind in the middle of a career. I had to rewind and and unpick myself during being paid to perform which I don’t you know, that recommend? Some people have to do it. Yeah, I guess some people really have to some, some people really down the line with it, some people will have may have to do it, and I’ve done it, so I can appreciate how hard it is. To do that. Ideally, you’d take a little bit of time off and get and try and get it going a little bit better. But you have to start the next week again, but so it was a very tricky time. For me that one, it took me a long time to go back to go forward again. So So yeah, but fortunately, I did it.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 16:37
Yes. Well, there’s two things that are two questions that arise for me. With those experiences that you encountered yourself as a professional performer, professional singer with that heavy workload, and what you went through with with the nodules or suppose it nodules, has that changed your approaches? Or does that inform your some of the decisions that you make in the in the voice studio? As a teacher, when you’re working with professional artists? Like do you feel that you have empathy or a greater understanding of what goes on in the field? Because you have been on those stages yourself?
Chris Johnson 17:25
Absolutely, yeah. And when I can, because the empathy can be somewhat amplified, if you like, because the thing that I can’t fully empathise with, is being at a level which will be I sell records internationally based on this sound. Or if I can’t sell a show, it costs somebody 100 grand, those kind of those kinds of situations are really, really tricky. And so as much as my, my experiences give me empathy, I sometimes I can’t even imagine the pressure that’s felt by somebody who has to make decisions based on that kind of money, or that kind of pressure put on them. So I feel like the artists that I work with, yes, I can empathise to a level, but it does help me make the decisions. And sometimes you know, where there can be somewhat purist views in this world of Vocal Coaching. We’re not trying to purify voices, that’s not really the job, we’re trying to make them functioning, functional. That’s what we need to do. Yes. And, and functional, Night after night, day after day, and some things are just not worth changing at that at a certain point in life. It’s just, it’s intrinsic to that person, it may even been in their speech habits forever. And speech is so linked to personality, are you going to change someone’s personality at the age of 35, in the middle of a career, I don’t think you are, I think what you’ve got to do is, is develop that tool belt to go with, with a few exceptions, you can help someone to to get functionality out of a lot of things. If you understand that actually, for someone to use that voice quality, it needs changes probably, and adjustments in the breathing system, it needs to be supported by resonance and vowels differently to other ways of singing. So you can optimise and in a cut, then there may be some small compromises made here and there. But not a global readjustment of that singer in the middle of a Korea which which will have them running running away from vocal coaches. They won’t want to see a vocal coach ever again. And so for us to do that job of not unpicking them, is probably going to stand them in good stead going down the line because they’ll need an coach again in the future. And if they’ve had a good experience, they will seek one out again. If they haven’t, they’ll just go they will probably dig themselves into an even deeper hole and I just would hate that to happen.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 19:58
Yes, and that poses another question. I interviewed a singer a few weeks ago, she had a terrible experience with her first singing teacher. And I know for a fact that there are a lot of singers that don’t go to singing teachers, because they are concerned that a singing teacher is going to change the integrity of their sound, or try and have them sound in a way that they don’t want to sound in terms of making money. What are your thoughts on that?
Chris Johnson 20:36
Yeah, I think that’s, I think it’s an interesting point. And I have thought a fair bit about this. There was there was a time when everyone was talking about Adele, for example, and how Adele worked with some classical teachers. Before and there was a there was a news article, I think it was in the guardian of the UK newspapers, where, where there was a couple of classical teachers who would say what they would do with Adele. And to be fair, it was interesting. I mean, on some level, it was maybe a little bit, you know, overconfident to say that, that is that Adele should learn classical technique. That’s how she would get a better voice. I don’t believe that at all. But I think there can be somewhat of a skewed view that classical solves things, because if you take Adele, and you times her with classical technique, her identity is so strong. Yes. That I don’t think the classical technique would unpick her. I think it could, it could integrate itself into her because her identity won’t let that classical technique change her too much. She’s too strong for that. And that’s, that’s the best part about it. However, somebody who’s not got as strong an identity, they may not even be professional, and they want to sing pop music, if they go into classical singing, they often end up sounding far too classical for their CCM style. To me, that’s the identity strength.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 22:11
Yes, yes. And when that whole situation happened with a Adele, I was actually horrified to read a lot of the commentary that was posted in the forums on Facebook, about why it happened and shaming CCM singers like as a CCM singer, myself, and I had a 35 year career, I couldn’t believe we were still having these discussions. You know, it never ceases to amaze me, all this high art low art mentality almost started to reemerge in a more public place. And with the Adele, you can’t separate the the style, the style is what it is. But also, what about the touring schedule? And what about the demands of that touring schedule? Is that something when you have these professional performance come to do you look at all of that as well as, okay, this is going on with the voice?
Chris Johnson 23:17
Yeah, I do. All those considerations help us to form as well, part of what we do is I can’t overload someone with training, you know, I can’t say hey, you have to practice for an hour a day. I know that would burn someone out, right? What we need to do is trying to incorporate something that is highly effective in the shortest amount of time. And that doesn’t mean it’s a stat doesn’t mean it’s a quick fix, I guess you could call it that. Because it’s quick, and it helps to, you know, work something out, but not in the traditional sense. Because what it needs to be is in a voice load of that size, you don’t want to be loading it more, you want to be trying to offset some of that load. So you have voice breaks come into come into use. Yep. And and how can you get to that person’s most primary function in the shortest amount of time in a day, and then they can incorporate something that that can set them up within 15 minutes, or 20 minutes. And especially if they’ve got a show, you know, you know, it’s like, I know a lot of singers out there would say I’m not really warmed up until I sing, or rather warm up for an hour before I do a show. A lot of pro singers could never do that. No, never warm up for an hour and two hours after talking for five hours. It would just never happen. So if we’re one of those people who need to warm up for an hour before a show, arguably where we don’t know our voices well enough at that point. We’re still getting around problems that we don’t understand. I think as we know our voices well enough better, we can get warm. If it’s not just waking up out of bed, we can get warm within 10-15 minutes. Yes. And if lifestyle if lifestyle is really getting in the way?
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 25:06
Yes, yes. And lifestyle is a big one. Like for me, I was touring in a rock band. And it was the only time that I ran into problems with my voice. And it had nothing to do with miss us. It was just the demands of being on the road being the chick singer in the band, having to lug with the guys when we couldn’t afford roadies, the band bus picking us up very early in the morning. So it was sleep deprivation, lifestyle diet, being in a rock band, it was all of that. And I had the training to support my voice, but I couldn’t overcome everything else that was going on around me. Yeah. So have you ever had to tell someone? That? Okay, you need to take a break? Or have you always been able to help a singer in some way?
Chris Johnson 26:05
Very infrequently, if I had to tell someone to take a break. Yeah, very infrequently. Although with some singers, especially when the stakes have been high. You know, it’s easy when someone isn’t professional, but provided their job isn’t really making putting demands on them. In their, in their week, nine to five or whatever. I have had a couple of people where I’ve had to speak to their managers to help them managers understand that this is a pressured environment. And the voice is a delicate thing and and much much like you know, the body and muscle if you break muscle down, it builds itself back up again, stronger, much like use you cut skin, there’ll be a scar to reinforce the area. That’s that sounds like such great stuff. But as soon as you start talking about vocal folds, yes, they rely on the absolute up, they don’t need that kind of strengthening. They don’t need to be like beaten down to be built back up again. So when when managers I think about singers, when they don’t know enough about singers, they think about singers just like they think about weightlifters. And don’t worry, I tell you what, you’ll be stronger if you push through it. And it’s just not true. Yeah, we know that the vocal folds, if they get scarred, yes, it will make them stronger against further injury, but to get the beauty and all of the colour that’s available within the voice, they cannot be in, they cannot get scarred and be better.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 27:35
Yes, unfortunately, a lot of managers look at singers as commodities. In my situation, I was told when I tried to resign from the band, that I would never work again, unless I stayed and fulfilled all the commitments. So I had to keep singing with the pathology. And that was rough. And it took me almost a year to recover from that experience. Yeah. And I was a single mom at the time, and I needed the money and I couldn’t afford not to work. And I was bullied. And I believed that that was the case. So I’m sure that a lot of that happens.
Chris Johnson 28:15
It does it does. I know, I do know, an artist of all, you know, like, right on the top level, who has described that same thing, you know, being being coerced when feeling terrible to go and do a thing because you’ve had a loan from a record company, you have to pay it back. Yes. It’s like being it’s like being under under a loan sharks control off the tongue. Yeah. So getting to do that sustained of vocal injury that meant that an album could not be taught. And guess what record company and managers you lost a lot of money there. And that was your decision. Yes. So I really hope any, if any, if any managers listen to this, oh, you have sometimes you just have no idea what kind of what kind of catastrophe you could be making someone pushing someone into by making them do something.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:05
Yes. And as soon as we’re already in our heads as it is. I mean, in one sense, we’re pretty messed up. Aren’t we are different. It’s a prerequisite to getting a song. Yeah, yes. So we don’t need that kind of pressure. Externally, we put enough on ourselves. So you teach singers and you work with singers across classical styles, musical theatre, professional touring singers in CCM styles. So do you find that the pathologies or the issues with those working singers are different or do you find that there’s pretty much a commonality in the sorts of problems that they’ll run into?
Chris Johnson 29:54
Or no, I think it’s so varied because the I guess The genesis of some and a lot of pathologies is about how the mind deals with it during the process. So someone’s injury may come from how they try and preserve their voice, right? So that would be someone who’s really worried about what the outcome might be somebody who makes a lot of effort singing, you know, it’s quite common as I kind of agree with Dr. Bastion, who’s like a really famous laryngologist that a lot of a lot of people who make a lot of effort when they sing are not aware of that effort. So people overdo their voice, they often say my voice is fine every day. Yeah, it was fine every day. And then I sustained like loads of injuries. And quite often you might realise listening back to the recordings, you might be like, oh, that the sense of effort was not on your radar. That’s, that’s the thing. I’m not sure the voice was always fine every day, I think it probably was giving them signs, but but self awareness, especially within the throat and the sensations that come there, there’s such little to feel. And we can’t directly control our larynx, we have to do it through indirect means and different ways of, of feedback, that we don’t always know what’s going on down there until it’s gone wrong. So then you get you get those people who are hyper aware and try them say it save themselves. People who are under aware and don’t know that they’re burying themselves, they create, they have all kinds of different outcomes to injury, and then how that injury is intervened to how quickly it’s dealt with, and how quickly that person can get on the path to recovery. The longer they leave it, the more chronic, the less likely they are to recover. Because things like fear, get ahold anxiety gets a hold, takes years to unpick that sort of stuff. And that’s, that would relate to things like muscle tension dysphonia and loads of tension patterns. And oh, my God is is so complex, and all we need to do is like we need to make to avoid that complexity building up too much. We probably just need to have a way in every country to make sure that singers have a very fast way to be seen, and a very multidisciplinary and very quick way of getting into recovery. Because the career the career is very affected by that that intervention.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 32:22
Yes, we have, we have quite quite a good system in place here in Australia with some of our touring musical theatre productions. That, Debbie Phyland, I’m not sure if you know, Debbie Phyland? She has a programme where they take care of singers, and they give them like manual therapies and things like that. We help them after a show like vocal unloading that kind of thing. Yeah. So and and like in terms of musical theatre singers, some of that repertoire has become ridiculous. Like, what are these composers thinking? You know, some of the the notes that they’re expecting the singers to sing the demands now from audiences for people to belt, you know, they want to hear those notes. Have you seen a change in that repertoire over the years? Do you think it has become more demanding? Or is it just? Or are we more aware of it as a singing community?
Chris Johnson 33:31
Yeah, I think we’re more aware of it. And I don’t know I did. I feel like now maybe? I’m always quite aware that sometimes maybe it’s just because I haven’t got my eye on it that I feel like it’s better. But when when somebody who’s really got their eye on it goes, No, no, no, it’s not. So I feel like the most recent of of repertoire, I’ve seen has been a little bit more about the vibe and the feeling and less about the range when it comes to contemporary but five years ago, and obviously that stuff is still really like popular now and being taught and whatnot. Five years ago, 10 years ago, there’s a big part piece in there. There was so it was just getting higher and higher and higher. And I remember when I first heard once, once upon a time in Brooklyn when doing it’s like a flat F sharp belted on the top, you know, and I’m just like, oh my god, every song I hear just gets higher and more intense and higher and more intense. And which means that you know, sometimes the singer who sings it might only sing. I don’t know, five, six songs in a show. They might only really sing for 25 minutes in total. Yeah, but that 25 minutes is full on. Right. Um, they’re going I think two hours. Yeah. And it’s like, yes, Frank Sinatra is not the same as this. So yeah. Then you add the dialogue and maybe that person might be shouting as part of their character really emotional. No, before you know, it’s like burnout.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 34:57
Yes. Gosh, in my day, when I was performing Professionally I would do for our five hours solo gigs. Goodness. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I couldn’t do that now. Or to be fair, I would have to do a lot of training to get myself to that vocal fitness.
Chris Johnson 35:21
Oh, yeah, I think that he is that is about like, you have to experience that the only way you can train for that is to experience it, isn’t it? You gotta get yourself ready. But goodness me getting on that train will be….
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 35:32
Yeah, I mean, I was doing like at least five gigs a week, doing that number of hours. But yeah, it was really vocally fit, but not at the gigs. Yeah, I’m like the mechanic with the car. I look after everyone else’s car. And I kind of I Yeah, mine will be fine. You know? Cuz, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Which is a really bad thing to say. But anyway, let’s go back to you and your training. And I know that you first started your training doing some SLS work to become a teacher? That’s right. Yes. So that would have been a very interesting experience. But back at the time, when you probably started looking into and studying SLS, it was probably taught very differently to how it is now because it’s probably been a little watered down over the years. So how was that for you? And like, did it leave you wanting to know more after studying SLS?
Chris Johnson 36:43
Yeah, I mean, the SLS aspect was as well, what was great about it in the beginning was I heard about it along with, I think it was probably about five other teachers, who all were in the choir with me and we all kind of worked together in in a place called Southampton in the UK. So when you’ve got five people together, learning the same thing is a lovely little group of it’s not like you’re like a lone lone teacher just kind of working out on your own, you’ve got people to talk to. So when we went to SLS set seminars, that information and that I guess, pedagogical structure was brand new to us, you know, we really didn’t have that kind of awareness. So that that part of it was really excellent. And the people that I met within SLS, some of the teachers I still talk to now john Haney is one of them. Really amazing people and amazing teachers, communicators, so good, there’s no way you can teach 25 years of anything without being a great communicator. So you’ve got you know, you’ve got that aspect and have a business of course, that’s the that’s the other part. Yeah. So So I met some really amazing colleagues that I still talk to now. But as with anything, I think, a structure gives you a great place to start. When you’re sat there in front of a singer, and you’re like, Oh, my God, I don’t even know where to begin, it gives you somewhere to begin. Yes. And that’s valuable, even if that place to begin is partly, you know, partly not quite right, and doesn’t really lead you towards the most effective route, but then you’re not an expert when you first started. So that’s a that’s a great part about pedagogical structures like that. But of course, structure can come with rigidity. And certainly, because of the way that when I was an SLS the way that they assessed you, and that you kept your status was to be very rigid within that structure to tick the boxes that were deemed to be the right ones to tick and not bring in any other techniques that weren’t from within the organisation. And we know like, Yes, I don’t, I don’t think any organisation can run it entirely initially like that. That’s never gonna work. But it did run like that. That’s the unfortunate part. Yes. So of course, when information comes in from the outside, and people with sort of really great sort of concerns in the teaching, but they’ll be bringing in these things like vocal science, and maybe even massage and all these kind of subjects, but they would be rejected initially by the organisation as being not something we’re going to be looking into. So that’s when, for example, I left that organisation. Because of that inflexibility, and I know a lot of organisations throughout the world experienced similar things that’s at certain times.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 39:43
Yes. And you have quite a remarkable toolkit. You know, I think you’re amazing. Where have you acquired all of that? Because, you mean it’s very eclectic. So obviously, you’ve picked up bits and pieces from everywhere, or I’m assuming from everywhere.
Chris Johnson 40:05
Yeah, yeah. I think when you first come out of your structure, for example, and you’re aware there’s new stuff, I think that was probably like, you know, more than 10 years ago now. You tend to go out and just kind of try everything. It’s a bit. It’s a bit unstructured, almost a bit frantic. What is there was there I’ll try something
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 40:27
like that. frantic? Yeah, yeah, we’re frantically trying stuff. Yeah.
Chris Johnson 40:32
So you have that. But then then actually, that gives you an opportunity to see actually what might not work for your clientele. maybe I misunderstood it, who knows. But there’s stuff that didn’t work, this stuff that did work that starts to carve out a sort of a broader direction. But then I used to, I used to listen to a lot of fitness podcasts. And one thing I still kind of do is unfortunate, I’m not really an academic person. I’m not that interested in going to university. What I love, I love to study I research. But I don’t have I don’t have an interest to go to university. I don’t know why. Because I feel like in the direction I want to go, if there was a university course, that I could help to carve out for myself. Right? It would be terrific because then it’s sort of a partly self led journey, right? So I used to list a lot of a lot of fitness podcasts. And one guy I used to listen to is called Ben khumba. And he used to just say, back in the day, I’ll find someone who knows, and I’ll work with him. And that’s it. And I basically did that. So I ended up working. I work a lot with Ingo Titze privately because I just love the guy and he knows so much Brad Story is also another really sort of gracious educator, who helps me understand the acoustics getting hold of people through my podcast and naked vocalist, I ended up meeting people like Robert Sussuma, who’s a somatic educator, Meredith Dame, who was another type of I guess, voice work that was all body, but energy. And all through my time I’d be I just be working with these teachers directly. And just getting their perspective. And those, I’ve very much value those people because those kinds of people have sort of shaped my direction, in coaching and helped me figure out really, so much that I could spend time looking at what is going to be really good for the people that I’m most aligned to help because I can’t help everybody. And I’m definitely better at helping some people than others different genres than others. So if I can stick in those lanes and find the tools that work terrifically within those lanes, and somewhat get creative with how I interpret those tools, or even just scientific scientific information, I could create something really good for the people that I aligned with.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 43:04
Yes. Did you find then when you started to branch out and frantically looking into all this other information? And all this other training? Did you find that the people that you are working with that their sounds also started to change? And I’m not saying this to be disrespectful in any way. But from what I I’ve heard of SLS singers, a lot of them have their own sound like it’s very much to me a generic sound. Did you find that your students sound started to change also?
Chris Johnson 43:48
Well, you know what we said earlier about the classical and the identity of the singer. Like I feel that’s the same way for SLS. In some ways. SLS has some very, very high end, probably the most high end of clients in history. Yeah. Michael Jackson. Yeah. Stevie Wonder. I don’t need to list anymore.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 44:10
Yeah, I knew that was the big thing here in Australia. When SLS came out, they were pushing all the big singers. And yeah, it was like this army of people infiltrating our country.
Chris Johnson 44:26
Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny that because because of the way that I guess when when the inflammation filters down into the organisation, a low larynx for example, yes, it can be rather a useful thing for someone who’s experiencing chronic muscle tension dysphonia of some type. It can be useful for that. It can be a way to stretch the muscles that lift larynx Of course, because they can become dysfunctional when they’re when they’re used a lot. So the low larynx is not a problem but It became as as a almost a catch all, almost, it solves everything, or I don’t know what to do. So I’m going to lower the larynx, you know that these are all the kinds of things that happen to new teachers who have been given a tool. And I would, when I first training, I would have been guilty of that as well, because I didn’t know what to do. And this was the thing that worked the most often to people who were struggling with tension. So that that basically, I think, gathers so much that it probably pins itself to an organisation as a thing that they do. Right. So you have that aspect. So that I think that contributed potential for SLS singers to sound a particular way. But when you listen to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, they are the antithesis of that thing that SLS we’re known for. And what does that tell you? That tells you that those singers identities were so strong, that they only really enveloped what was useful for them from that coach, and didn’t take on the stuff to to stuff that too far, like a low larynx? and all that. And that’s when you get these, I guess, I think sometimes. misunderstandings about that technique, helping that singer most. And I just I think it’s way more complicated than that the singer takes on what they take on. And that’s not everything.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 46:24
Yes, that’s so true. I mean, we all take on the information that we believe is going to serve us and what we don’t think is going to serve us we discard. Yes, yeah. Now, I would like to move on to your assessment programme, you have created a new programme. This is one of the new things that you’ve been working on and you’ve introduced. Tell us about this programme, I have dabbled a little bit. And that was through the vocal health first data programme. And I thought it was fascinating. And I loved the holistic approach, that the larynx is a part of the whole body, which I think a lot of people forget about.
Chris Johnson 47:10
Nice. Yeah. Well, this definitely, definitely is the is the fruit of a lot of, I guess, initially that frantic searching but where I rested upon. And much like when I listened to a podcast, I listened to one that’s on neuro biology, by Andrew Andrew Huberman, which is a really amazing podcast. And it’s nine, his his 90 minutes, and he explains the mechanisms around something like, I don’t know stimulating adrenalin, right, you know, and why would adrenalin be good for you? Well, it can help learning blah, blah, blah. But what he does is, he does give you the much deeper view of it. And what he could do is just tell you 15 minutes, you could just do a 15 minute one on the protocol that you should follow in order to gain this skill. But it wouldn’t be applied as well, by the person listening to that protocol. Also, if that person wanted to know more about that protocol, they wouldn’t be able to take on information from other sources as well, if they don’t know the mechanisms behind how something works. So not only does it help you apply stuff better, but it helps you to read literature that would previously exclude you because of your lack of understanding of what’s going on in that literature. So when we look at when I look at assessment methods in that way, what we do is we look at the whole body and its effect on the voice. Yes, because we must expand that view for us to truly say that that exercise is definitely going to solve that problem, or rather more likely to solve that problem, because we’re never 100%. Sure. So if we’ve got that, if we’ve got that systematic view of the voice, then we can generate what would be a working hypothesis. So if we move different body body parts, we measure the voice range dynamics, points where transitions feel like they happen, things like vocal fry. As for me as an important check on someone’s voice as well, when we have all these in place, we could create a working hypothesis. And it has to be a working hypothesis, because it’s diagnosis that a singer can get to hold of a diagnosis and sort of say, Well, I have, yeah, I pull, I pull my chest voice. And sometimes they’re not sometimes they’re not doing what they believe they have because it was given too strong a diagnosis in the beginning. So with this assessment methods, it helps you to kind of go here’s the hypothesis. It might be this, let’s try this, but we have to respect how this might be a cascading effect in the system and we can quickly redirect. So I, I’ve generated that course as a way For a singing teacher to understand that process, and also what it does, if you look at the information that you gain from vocal assessments, part of it is also to challenge your own biases. So you might listen to someone and say, Well, I reckon this is going on. But when you lay out some information about that singer, and the assessment methods you’ve done, sometimes we get these results that go, Well, it can’t be maybe what I first thought it can’t really be that it is not behaving as I expected it to be. And that allows you to not just make a judgement based on someone singing half a song in front of you, or in some cases, just singing a single scale. Yes, it is based on so much more. And it does challenge bias. And what’s really great in in the first version I did of the workshop, which was in person can’t do that right now. Yeah, in person, I had a voting software, which is really good that you could do on your phone. So we had people seeing everyone would vote what they thought it was, yes, we would run the assessment methods, and they and do a little bit of work, and they would all vote again, and you just see the graph change. And it might be like, yes, breathe in. Yes. This and then suddenly everyone’s like, Alright, yeah, probably, it’s a register there. No, or maybe Oh, actually, no, I think this person is just got a skewed idea of what singing is, you know, it really, you know, because it really everything really, you can track it back up to the head, can’t you every time. So um, so that that was the great part. So I know that biases, lead decisions. And, and we do need a bit of that in some way to be more efficient. We can’t just test everything, otherwise, the singer would never get a bloody voice lesson.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 51:47
That’s so, YES!
Chris Johnson 51:49
You know, we do need to kind of go okay, if I’m going to have a bias or rather a strong opinion, it needs to be based on way more information than it currently is.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 51:59
Yes. And one thing you neglected to say, though, and is that it’s a well, I don’t know, if it’s the whole programme, I only know the part of the programme that I did. And it was all movement based. And the assessment was all based on movements, some as simple as putting your arms up in the air, some marching? And can I tell you, that I went and did some of them the very next day after I did your modules, and one of the students I ended, I had her put her arms up in the air. And she just was like, Oh, my gosh, that’s amazing. Like, wow, you’re a miracle worker, what did you just do? I said, No, I just got you to put your arms up in the air I actually. So some of those things, not only are they great assessments, but some of them work instantly!
Chris Johnson 53:10
Instantly. And those arms to be fair, the arms that influence on your, the way you hold your way, in your body, your hips, absolutely, your ribs and the shoulder, the shoulder and the rib synchronicity is massive. Those arms going up in the air, they change the sternum and the sternum anchors the larynx from the bottom, it changes the head position, arms are madness. And also if you move the arms, they contract the diaphragm because the diaphragm is there to to provide your trunk with stability, so you don’t fall over while you’re waving your arms around. Yes, so the arms are a major pathway to someone singing and again, what you need is, and what I hopefully will, you know, be able to provide, which is in the assessment methods course, is, is lots of evidence of how the arms affect the voice. And then what you’ve narrowed it down to is you’ve narrowed it down to one body part, but 10 uses for that body part, which which is actually really great, because then it seems like somebody says, oh, he always does the same thing. But actually, sometimes you can do one thing that was 10 rationales. Actually, I’m not doing the same thing it looks like and but I’m not Yeah, because you’ve got a very deep understanding of how that affects the mechanics of the voice and the system of the voice.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 54:32
And what I love about it, too, is that the student can go home and do that. You don’t have to be there, showing them how to do it. I love anything that the student can just take away and do really simply and easily. And they don’t have to turn themselves inside out trying to remember what it was that they did. Yeah, and that is the beauty of that system as well. So where are you doing this now? Like, how are you conducting this programme?
Chris Johnson 55:07
I’m doing it online right now. So I’m literally entering the final week of this last run that I’m doing. So I’ve done a seven week run on that. And that does involve the movement aspect for two weeks more mechanism behind that. But as you say, the movement part is the one that I did with the vocal health organisation, because the singer doesn’t need any knowledge to perform those and neither to be fair with the teacher. If you both can hear that they say it felt easier, and you say it sounded a bit easier, then it’s like great. Nobody needs a lot of background to do that. But when you get into more deep assessments, which is where the other weeks come in, we need a bit more intimate information around how the vocal folds function, how they vibrate, right, how they interact with air, resonances, articulators, and obviously, if backs that, always bring it back to how the singer is thinking about their voice, and how they might be planning for it. So we’ve got all those deeply. So I’ve just finished all those weeks, and we’re into teaching, and doing assessments live online. So that’s where I do it. And I’ve just started a brand new company called teachvoice.com which is where going forward, I will be running courses and mentorships and all kinds of stuff, basically from that organisation. I’ve been teaching training for a long time, but it’s just been under my name. So just recently, I got I got that company together, and that will be
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:40
It’s called teach?
Chris Johnson 56:42
It’s a teachvoice.com.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:45
Okay, we are going to share all your links in the show notes. So it’ll be to your assessment programme to that to your podcast, everything. So lovely. Yes. So what are the projects? Are you working on like it, which are part of that? Teach Voice!
Chris Johnson 57:05
Yeah, well, I am just before that I finished a registers programme for anybody which is looking at quite like a functional voice training programme. So I have vocal assessment reference methods, I have registers and one I’ve done two or three times, but not in the last year, I have an articulate as programme because for me, the tongue is a very wonderful, amazing, powerful tool also can be a major pain in the bum, thing, I think we need to know about how that tongue behaves and how we can use it. So the articulate this for me is very useful. So I have those three, those three training programmes at the moment. But what they will come under is what I found useful in my training is I, I spent time with teachers and with someone like a mentor that I could talk to, along with sort of programmes and education I could work along with on my own. So you know, partly self study, lots of group work. What teachers don’t do now is teach in front of each other, which because everyone’s really afraid of it.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 58:16
yes, that is so true. That is so true. Sometimes our teaching community is not as supportive as what they can be. Sometimes our teaching community community can be rather unkind. We should all be working together for the good of our students.
Chris Johnson 58:36
Absolutely. You know, and I just implore anybody who’s teaching on their own, it’s like, the thought of teaching in front of somebody. It probably scares a lot of people to death. And it’s and it does, it feels nice to stay on your own, because there’s nobody passing any comment. And the thing is, is not judgement. But you can’t I don’t think you can take the quickest path to really successful teaching without taking that step to expose what what, like, let me look inside that lesson and help you. And it might not be we’re not trying to always solve problems, I look inside the lesson and go, what are you doing without seeing us the wrong thing to do? It’s like, no, that singer improved. All we can say is on what other levels? Is that singer wanting to improve? And how can we redirect that? Or have that have that thing that you’ve discovered that works? How many iterations Can you generate that exercise, so it enhances the learning of that singer? And how much they take on that physical skill? So, you know, a lot of the times we’re just helping the singer to optimise further what they’re doing, as well as you know, help them with new knowledge. So I really believe that we do need to let people inside our lessons more often.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 59:51
Yes. And you’ve been so generous in the way that you’ve helped everybody in our community. You have your podcast as well, the naked vocalist. And there’s been over 60 episodes, over 400,000 downloads. I was excited that I had 750 this week. I still got a week, you know, but I’m just saying, you know, it’s like, it’s, um, that that is massive. And that’s a lot of work to get it there. When you go back and you listen to your early podcasts, do you ever cringe? Or in terms of the format of the show, or the quality of the production, or even what you thought to be right at the time? And what you may know now?
Chris Johnson 1:00:49
Oh, yeah. Yeah, cringe cringe cringe. for up to Episode 20? Probably, really? Oh, yeah. But we would just, you know, we were just rolling with it and whatever. But, so that was kind of cool. And the first episode, we did the pilot, if you’d like to call it that. We, I asked one of my students who I knew was the most or held the least back if you like, yeah, you know? Yeah. So he was he was going to be fair about the first two that we recorded. He was like, you guys talk too much. You took too much. And I was then so we recorded to, to have them panned. And then we weren’t recorded. The third one just kind of went, well, let’s just release this one. I don’t care anymore. Let’s just release this one. So we just did it anyway. And we got the ball rolling. And Funny enough, they’re still really popular. The early ones are very popular. Yes. Our views might have changed since then. Our style has changed since then. But it certainly hasn’t been to the detriment of my career to just let them be, oh, it’s fine. It’s just a journey at the end of the day. And I think if we can get comfortable with that, you know, like saying, like, you know, like how I sounded even the way I laughed back then annoys me now. So yeah, but oh, I don’t know. But it was probably too much.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:02:17
One of those laughs
Chris Johnson 1:02:19
I think was very high pitched. Hang on. Is this my teen years coming back to haunt me again? Possibly, but it was good. I think what’s what’s good about that is because I edited them out. Sorry, I transcribed them. So I all of the words that we said in those episodes etched in my head. And I think I think you get better at doing it. Because you listen back to all the things. Yes. And think I’ve got to start talking at that point. Yes. And that’s I think the skills would hone because of all the listening back. So it’s horrible to listen back. But it makes you better in the long run.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:02:56
It is. And it’s interesting what you said that, you know, you thought, oh, we’re just gonna put it out there. But you can’t wait in life, you can’t wait for things to be perfect. And you can’t perfect something that you haven’t done. And that was the view that I took with this podcast, I set a date, and I thought I’m just gonna launch. And I’m going to perfect it as I go. Because I can’t perfect it if it’s not out there. That’s right. And that’s what you have to do. And, you know, even just doing a podcast, it can be quite a feeling of being vulnerable to you know, you’re talking about teachers being in a room together. Like at first it was well, you really feel like you’re putting yourself out there and then you go well, you know what? It’s, it’s, I feel good about it. And it’s also a creative outlet, don’t you think?
Chris Johnson 1:03:57
Absolutely. Yeah, in a lot of ways, and it can be somewhat selfish is like, I mean, I’ve learned so much during my podcast. Yes.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:04:05
Every episode. Absolutely. And that’s what I I think also. So you’ve got so much on your plate. I mean, you’re doing and the baby in the house move and there’s been COVID mean, what do you do? Personally, what does Chris do to take care of yourself? Because you did say to me that since COVID, it has given you a kick up the butt to take better care of yourself, because you have lost family members to COVID also,
Chris Johnson 1:04:39
right? Yeah, yeah. And at the moment, yeah, like because of a young family, and things like gyms not being open until just a week or two ago. That’s been a kind of tricky time if you liked it and moving house as well been relocating cities. So it’s been kind of tricky, and for me, look Doing some of the research I’ve been doing recently, there are some very simple things to look at in life, I think, when it comes to almost your primal body’s function, and one of the things I’ve been doing is trying to get in the sunlight more, right? And there’s been reasons for that, like, if you read it, people read stuff all the time. And it says, Yeah, what is you know, there’s vitamin D, there’s, what I learned about recently was a molecule that stimulated by UV light, but only UV light into your eyes. So wearing sunglasses won’t stimulate this molecule, but the molecule is to do with melanin, which is the pigmentation but it links to ghrelin, which is a an appetite hormone. And so when when if we get enough sunlight directly into our dope, not looking into the sun, but you know, it’s bright outside. So as long as those photons are going into your eyes, you’re getting the stimulus and your body will manage its hunger way better if you get some sunlight in your into directly into your eyes off reflections. And, and that is why we eat more in winter, apparently, because there’s so it’s such less of an intense sunlight and winter that with our hormones switch to us eating more. So if we stay in in the morning for too long, yeah, always stuck in the office all day with no sunlight, you can start to eat, eat, eat, and it makes so much sense. And the other thing that um, sunlight works with is the good side of cortisol and adrenalin, yes, all of which are there for us to focus and learn and be awake. Which is why we don’t want the sunlight too much, or rather bright light at night. When you don’t want cortisol to keep you awake, you want your wanting to go away, so you can go to sleep. So for me, the outdoors is like the most simple way of thinking this is doing so many good things for my body right now. You know, if I am stuck in an office all day, I can be alert, be awake, start this process of self care. And vitamin D has been shown to be really effective against the symptoms of COVID. So if we do have a pandemic that rushes around the world again, and who would have thought that we would have if we have been getting this sunlight, and we’ve been getting outdoors, you know, we might we might all be way better off as a as a as a population. If we could just get out more.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:07:40
Yes. But it would be harder in the UK because I suppose is your sunlight months? limited? Like it gets dark failure early and and the winter can be quite cold and miserable.
Chris Johnson 1:07:55
Yeah, and it is true that if you were to cycle naked for seven hours a day.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:08:02
Right, Billy Connolly didn’t hear was that what he did?
Chris Johnson 1:08:11
Yeah, totally. Let’s say we’re Billy Connolly, if you’re outside of this of the six months of summer, if you like if you’re in like October, and you were to do that the sunlight wouldn’t be strong enough to generate a single shred of vitamin D in your body if you’re in the UK. So and other countries would be obviously a little a little bit more a little bit worse. So so we have that aspect. So we have to supplement vitamin D in those six light down the downtime the six months of winter. Yes, an autumn winter. So it really is important that we we can look at that. And for seeing as you know, vitamin D is to stay happy and healthy. You’ll cancel way less gigs if you’re able to do that as well.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:08:53
Good. That’s very good advice. Very good advice. So we’re going to go to the last couple of questions. And the first one I’d like to ask you is who has been your greatest influence as a teacher?
Chris Johnson 1:09:12
Oh, there are quite a few. I think the one that spurred me on into looking at voice science more. And voice not big, not that voice sciences, everything but rather, voice science was the reason I stepped out of my original box. Which is why I love it so much. Because it was the reason that I explored so much other stuff. Yes. So it on that sense. I have to thank john Henny for that, because he was the first one to mention this stuff to me, and I didn’t understand the word he was saying. But I was like, okay, formance harmonics. Yeah, I have an EQ in my head what
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:09:56
I felt like that when I went and did vocal pedagogy.
Chris Johnson 1:10:04
But in recent years, I’d say on the body side of it, it’s Roberts assumer has turned my brain onto so much over the last sort of four years or whatever, since I discovered him that I really also appreciate his influence.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:10:18
Wow. And you’ve had so much education, and your training is very impressive, because I know you’ve done a lot of auxilary training as well. So if I was a new teacher, or I was thinking about teaching, and I came to you, what advice would you give me as to where to start? Where do I start to gain my knowledge from?
Chris Johnson 1:10:46
Oh, yeah, I mean, the processes. I mean, there’s, there’s no substitute for learning how to do something yourself. That doesn’t apply to all singers. But to go through a process, sometimes frustrating of resolving an issue that you’ve had forever. And you just you just know, there be an answer out there for it. Some teachers haven’t got themselves, their heads around certain registers in their voice, some of the more basic ones. And for those teachers, it’s like, Hey, listen, if you struggle with chest voice, work it out, work out chest voice, because you’re going to need those skills, if you’re going to begin to helps. And, and, and be able to empathise with them. So I think learning to do something yourself is really important. Yeah. And when I talk to teachers about starting, if I start a teacher on a journey, I start them on style first. Because again, you know, offsets onset, you don’t even need to get into range, you just need to get into colour. It doesn’t have to be highly dynamic. But we start off on that. And what that helps the singer to do is understand how someone learns, because repetition blocking all these motor learning skills, they can apply to how you teach someone style, and how someone becomes perceptive how they listen, how they, how they mimic and interpret information and repeat it back to you. That kind of stuff can be learned in style. And arguably, those two things are very at the core before you even start to learn about how the larynx functions and, you know, technical exercises. So that’s my best advice as well, how I get teachers on that journey first.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:12:31
Yes. And to me, that sounds like someone, once again, where your performance Korea has an influence on your teaching. Do you feel that if you didn’t have that Korea, that you may not feel this way about that? That that the training?
Chris Johnson 1:12:50
Yeah, yeah, I think so. And I think I think there are plenty of teachers out there that haven’t had a performance Korea, who are wonderful teachers. And they’d be and the vice versa, plenty of amazing performers, that might not be great teachers, right? So you have that aspect. Now, the best combination has to be, you’ve been a performer, and you’re a teacher, yes. Right. And you and you’ve got the right thing. But either way, if you haven’t performed, I think you can be very gracious and very open, about how you how you work with people to make that to make that work. So there are influences but I think, I think the empathy of things and, and also, if you’ve been a performer and you’ve gone into vocal trouble, and as a performer I have experienced and had to get my butt out of holes. If you’ve got your butt out of a hole, I’ll tell you what you really are. And most people who go into vocal health, by the way who work to rehabilitate people have been injured, because that it does take that it does take that level of empathy and also that level of that kind of experience to even make you think about going I want to help people.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:14:03
Yes, yes. Okay. Well, we’re going to wrap it up there. And look, thank you so much, Chris. You’ve been very, very generous and sharing so much information with us on the show. And we are going to share all your links in the show notes, and everyone will be able to find you they can find your website. Your new teach voice.com programme will be on there as well. We wish you all the very best and I’d love to have you back on the show again sometime in the future. Thank you so much. You take it easy. Bye.
Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:14:57
Hey, I hope you enjoyed this episode. have a voice and beyond. Now is an important time for all of us to spread positivity and empowerment in our singing voice community. It’s time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. use every day is an opportunity to learn and to grow. So you can show up for your students feeling energised, empowered, and ready to deliver your best. Be the best role model and mentor you can possibly be and watch your students thrive as you do. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please make sure to share it with a friend or a colleague who you think will be inspired by this, copy and paste the link and share it with the people you think will enjoy listening to this show. Please share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. If you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcasts right now. I would love to know what it is you enjoyed the most about this episode? And what was the biggest takeaway for you? I promise you there are many episodes to follow as I’m committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one. I’d like to finish up with my final thoughts. Remember that to sing is more than just learning how to use the voice. as singers. Our whole body is the instrument and our bodies echo what we feel physically mentally and emotionally. So singing is not just about the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. Please take care of yourself and I look forward to your company next time.