New York Vocal Coaching Podcast Ep. 23: Resolutions hero

New York Vocal Coaching Podcast Ep. 23: Resolutions

Posted January 10, 2020 by Greg Kefalas
Matt and Andy welcome the Roarin' 20s with a discussion of New Year's Resolutions -- both their own, and our NYVC family's!
In this episode:
 

Released: 1/10/2020

iTunesSpotifyPodbean

Episode Transcript

Matt
Hello everyone and welcome back to the New York Vocal Coaching podcast. I'm Matt.

Andy
And I'm Andy.

Matt
Happy New Year, everybody.

Andy
Happy New Year.

Matt
We've made it to 2020. Roaring 20s.

Andy
Roaring 20s, that's right. Absolutely. How's your new year starting off, Matt?

Matt
It's been really nice. I kicked off the seconds the first I was celebrating but the second with tons of teaching. So it's a perfect way to start the new year. Tons of family and feeling refreshed after a break. How about you?

Andy
Great, fantastic. The break was really nice. Had some days off for Christmas, went up to New Hampshire for a few days. That was beautiful. And then had a couple of days off for the New Year, and kicking off and you're exactly right. We're back in the studio. Both of us have been back for a few days now. Happy to be back in the roaring 20s as you said.

Matt
Yeah, absolutely. So this is the season of resolutions and the hope that they are kept, but we shall see as the year goes on.

Andy
That's right. We thought we'd start off our first podcast of 2020 talking about some of our personal resolutions, some resolutions of our colleagues and teachers here at NYVC, and ways to kind of accomplish things for yourself. Do you want to start off with one of our colleague's resolutions?

Matt
Yeah, let's do it. So let's take a look at Julie's resolution. When we asked her about what you wanted to accomplish this year, she said she wanted to run a half marathon with her dad, and read more books, and get better at knitting.

Andy
I love all those things. I don't know why anyone would want to run a half marathon, but all the more power to them, right?

Matt
It's actually really cathartic. In my youth, I would run seven miles and you would get off feeling great, feeling mentally refreshed, physically refreshed, and those days are long gone.

Andy
But I do make fun of people who do that in the most jealous way possible. But in my youth — and you are much more youthful than I am, Matt — but I also used to run a lot more. So that's amazing. And reading, who doesn't love reading? Reading more books. Love that.

Matt
Well, what I love is when you take a look at resolutions, usually it's about obligations and all that kind of stuff. And this is a lot of just things that Julie wants to do, things that make her feel good and that's really important.

Andy
Absolutely. I love that. What about you Matthew? Any resolutions on your end?

Matt
Yeah, a main one that I wanted to do was take a look at some of the more avant garde R&B singers, pop singers and analyze their riffs and runs that they use.

Andy
Ooo!

Matt
I'm aiming for a new riff or run once a week. I want to play it and then play it in all these different keys, sing it through myself, use it in exercises, just so I can build that vocabulary a little bit more. When I went to school, I went for classical singing and I was mainly a musical theater person. So I never had to study intensely the mechanisms of the run. Of course, I've learned them, the blues scale, the pentatonic scale, I've improv'd, I've worked with them. But I think I want to get into the nitty-gritty. The lesser known riffs that are sitting in the corners of our musical world.

Andy
I love that. I kind of don't even know what that means, but I cannot wait to hear you practicing all that stuff. Is that a plan you've made? You've said, "All right, I've got these 10 riffs that I'm going to learn." Or is it like as you listen to music and you say, "That's interesting. I'm going to learn that."

Matt
I think it's going to be one of those. So one of the ones that I'm starting with is Sara Bareilles' "Many The Miles," which is such a great song, but there's a lot of bluesy stuff in there. And it's the one that I'm very familiar with, so I wanted to start easy. I took one of those riffs, played it through all the different keys that kind of stuff. Now I'm going to go onto Spotify, which I can't recommend enough. I get a lot of my music recommendations from it and just put on an R&B playlist and see what comes up. And then the first one they that I hear, I'm going to say, "That's the one. I'm going to do that." And then over the course of the year, you get used to a lot of different styles.

Andy
That's awesome. That's such a valiant and great resolution.

Matt
Yeah, I think it will be very interesting just to go through.

Andy
Yeah, that's going to be great.

Matt
So how about you?

Andy
I think my first resolution is to become a more proficient piano player. Piano is something that I've always taken somewhat seriously. When I was younger, I took lessons for about seven years and for a voice teacher, I think I'm a pretty darn good piano player. But it's something that I really love doing and something that I want to put more time into because it is something that I love doing. I think that we, often, as people, as we make resolutions or goals and whatnot, we think about things that we should do and that couldn't be any less inspiring. "Oh, I should do this." Well, that's a slog. That doesn't sound exciting at all. I love playing the piano and I want to be a better piano player and it's something that's important to me. It's something that I think I can really, really dig into.

Andy
Just like you're riffing. It's something that you want to do because it's interesting to you, it's fun to you, it's a challenge to you and that's a big thing. Kind of going off on a little tangent here. That we both recommend for people, it's not about shoulds, it's about what do you want to do and that's going to be way more inspiring, way more exciting to get yourself to actually do something every day or weekly or monthly or whatever the case may be.

Matt
Right. Although, I will say that a lot of "shoulds" of resolutions — going to the gym, eating right, reading more, whatever, if you're a writer, writing a page a day — usually inspires people to really want to do it more. They say, "Oh, this feels really good." Or "I'm feeling good about myself at the end of the day. I want to keep on doing that." So that's also something to consider.

Andy
Absolutely.

Matt
Just kind of, overall, thinking of your mental health, physical health and creative health. And seeing how that carries through as you go through each day of the year.

Andy
Absolutely. I love that. That's cool. Let's get to another resolution from one of our awesome colleagues. So Brendan says, "Read more, sing more, and get healthy." Again, reading. Love that. Singing more. I think voice teachers, this is a common issue for a lot of us. We don't sing enough. We spend so much time behind the piano or helping folk sing that we sometimes forget to actually just sing and enjoy music ourselves versus always just breaking it apart or being really technique-based and things like that. So I think that's amazing.

Andy
What about you, Matt? Any other resolutions on your end?

Matt
Yeah, one that's not music based, I really want to learn Spanish. I've been trying to learn it a little bit on Duolingo and online and finding tips and tricks and all that kind of stuff. But I haven't gotten into a routine yet where I feel like I'm consistently picking up on new vocabulary. I think it's so beautiful just to be able to express in a different language as well as being able to communicate with more people in their native tongue and what have you. So I'm digging into the Spanish. Seeing where that takes me.

Andy
Absolutely. Good for you. That's amazing. I love that.

Matt
Any more on your end?

Andy
I want to, with my wife, develop and perform a cabaret with her. It's something that we've, she and I, have talked about for a while now for several months. She and I have never actually performed together. I've music directed her and stuff and I've conducted shows that she's been in, but we've never been on stage as a duo together. That's something that we've both been interested in doing. But it's one of those things where, you put on the back burner, it's easy to say, "Oh we'll do it later. I will do it later." So we've already started kind of making some plans and started to dig into putting this on the front burner, so to speak, to do something for both of us that we both really want to do. We're excited about that.

Matt
I think that's so cool. It's another way to collaborate with your significant other who you're so close to and just to understand each other more and put art there in a different way.

Andy
I think it's important also for me as a teacher, and again, going back to the teacher thing. All of us, most teachers have significant performing experience, but oftentimes when you start teaching and if you're lucky enough or blessed enough, like we're at New York Vocal Coaching, we have a very full teaching schedule. We're very lucky in that way, in that where it's, gosh, I'm able to teach five or six days a week and I don't have time for that much more unless I'm really focused on doing it.

Andy
So for the past four years of full time teaching, I've actually very rarely performed myself. Yes, I've accompanied students and I've performed as a piano player and things like that. But I think it's important, especially, for me and I think all teachers to kind of put themselves into that uncomfortable spot, into that vulnerable spot, into that spot of I'm going to be performing in front of people and you know what I mean? So it's important to put yourself in the performer shoes again.

Andy
I know a lot of teachers don't have that problem. They do perform a lot, but I'm one of those people who I am teaching a lot and I'm very happy about it. But performing can be put on the back burner. I think it's important... Every once in a while to put yourself in those shoes again.

Matt
Totally, totally. Shall we go to another teacher, colleague?

Andy
Let's do it.

Matt
Resolution. All right. So David would like to do some more adventurous cooking. He would like to dead lift and squat two times his body weight and write more and more.

Andy
My gosh.

Matt
Those are intense resolutions

Andy
I love those and I love that none of them have to do with music and singing. We'll talk about this first and then I have a comment about that. Don't let me forget, Matt.

Andy
First of all, David is a great cook and he has gotten more and more adventurous, I have to say. He always comes in and he always makes food and I always ask him what goes into it. And this past year, it's like, ooh, more and more interesting what he has to cook.

Matt
I also love the adjective "adventurous cooking."

Andy
I love that. What does that mean?

Matt
It's great.

Andy
My gosh.

Matt
That means so much.

Andy
Hiking and cooking at the same time? "Adventurous." I don't know. Anyway-

Matt
A month long sabbatical in the forest.

Andy
That's right. I was listening to another podcast and they were talking about… The two people were talking about, happen to be Conan O'Brien, John Mulaney, doesn't matter. But how when your passion or your hobby or your love of something becomes your job, sometimes it's hard to find a different hobby because normally say, music is our hobby. After our job, we'd go home and do our hobby and sing or play music or whatever the case may be. After I've taught eight or nine hours in the day, I'm not going home and playing the piano and singing for a couple hours for my hobby.

Andy
So it's a weird thing for people and I think not just for musicians, but for lots of people who have been lucky enough to have their passion become their job, their hobby become their job to... It's important to find something else to kind of dig into, you know what I mean?

Matt
Yeah, yeah.

Andy
It looks a lot of our colleagues have those same things. Julie, running, reading more, knitting. David, more cooking, more weightlifting, writing more and more. Brendan, reading more, getting healthy. These are all super, super important for us.

Andy
Do you have any other resolutions, Matt?

Matt
Yeah. So kind of along your line of getting back into piano and whatnot. I'm an organist for a church and I want to spend more time practicing the organ style. Actually, our organ was just fixed. We had a ceiling collapse in our church, so the organ was out of commission for six months. Now it's back and I want to really dig into some of the more advanced organ playing, some of the great composers. So I'm kind of excited to… digging in and spending more time figuring out that music. Yeah, just enjoying the instrument more and more.

Andy
I think this is important for people. Can you tell us, and I know the answer to this, but this is important for people trying to figure out how am I supposed to get better at something or if I don't go to school for something. How did you get your start on the organ? You certainly don't have a degree in organ playing.

Matt
Correct.

Andy
So this is important for people to know.

Matt
Now I did have a leg up because my father has been an organist for years upon years.

Andy
Sure.

Matt
So he took me to the church and gave me the basics and that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, once I figured out how to use pedals and the stops that changes the sounds of the organ and getting used to the fact that you can't sustain on an organ, you don't have a sustained pedal. So if you press a note down, you'll lift up the note, the notes gone. It was just not being afraid to make mistakes. Going through hymns again and again. If something was wrong, slowing it down, and playing it over. And not getting discouraged when after 15 minutes of playing, I didn't have hymn perfect. But when you do that over and over again, it's much more likely that you'll succeed. And it really adds up.

Andy
Absolutely. No, I think that's important and that's been a theme for our podcast for this entire past year. Creating opportunities and figuring out how to do something you love or figure out something you love. I've always been interested in X, how can I do that? You don't need to spend... You didn't spend $60,000 in schooling trying to learn how to play the organ. It was just your dad was like, "hey, do you want to sit down at the organ?" It's not like he sat for hours and hours and hours with you. He gave you some basics and then you just kind of sat there and looked at this behemoth of a thing and like, "Well, I'm just going to put my fingers on the keys. My feet on the keys, I guess." And figure it out and just kind of mess with it. So I think that's important. Just putting yourself out there and just trying stuff out. Like you said, your brain will figure it out. You will adapt.

Matt
Right. Absolutely. Cool. So let's get back to another resolution from our friends here.

Andy
And our colleague Kristy says that she wants to get back into voice lesson for herself. She wants to continue her piano lessons, and she's always trying to up her empathy, and continue to put herself in her students' shoes.

Matt
Yeah, that sounds wonderful. All teaching based, which I certainly appreciate. Singing is such a personal, and spiritual, and emotional experience that the more that we can connect with the singers in front of us, whether we are teaching or performing with others and collaborating on the stage, the empathy is so important just to connect on a deeper level.

Andy
Absolutely. What Matt and I were talking about before, taking time for ourselves as teachers. Taking some lessons for ourselves, getting back into making sure that our instruments that we are always educating ourselves. We're not all-powerful, all-knowing people of the voice or of music. We're always learning. It's always important for us to continue going to people who know more than us and there's certainly always going to be someone who knows more than me, than always someone who's going to know more than Matt. There's always going to be someone who knows more. So if you can search those people out, the better. The better artists you'll be, the better person you'll be, the better teacher you'll be, et cetera.

Andy
For my final resolution, this does have to do with my own personal teaching my students. I want to push my students to perform more and create their own opportunities. Again, going back to that theme of creating opportunities for ourselves, putting ourselves out there, being brave. I think it's our job as teachers to push our students out of the nest. It's important to create a safe space, which I know Matt does. I know I do, for our students to learn to be brave.

Andy
And then this happens all the time. They leave our studio and then all of a sudden it's like, "Oh, I don't know how to sing. I'm scared to do anything." And then they come back and you're like, "Whoa, you know what happened?" Blah, blah, blah. So it's equally part of our job to kick their butt and be like, "Nope. Out of the nest. Get out of here. Go sing in front of people. Go fail in front of people. Go let your voice crack on a microphone in front of, in a dark room." Just you got to go do it because he can't make improvements unless you get out there.

Andy
So helping my students create opportunities for themselves and perform for themselves, pushing them out of the nest, I think, is super important. Because at the end of the day, not that all of our students want to do that, some of their goals just to be here and sit and make music with us in here. But a lot of them come in saying, "I want to sing in front of people. I want to perform. I want to be on Broadway. I want to audition. I want to, et cetera." The list goes on and on.

Andy
So our job can't be to just create a safety net for them and then just let them hang out here. It has to be, no, you came in here so you could perform. We've created the environment, now get out of here and go do your thing. Let's take the next steps. Helping my students do that.

Matt
Yeah. Well, there's always so much to learn from every performance that you do. So taking that risk just makes it easier to put yourself out there in the future.

Andy
Absolutely.

Matt
Yeah.

Andy
Awesome. Well, this has been a delight as we like to say on the podcast, Matt.

Matt
Yes, absolutely a delight. Maybe those are listening, maybe you're feeling, "Oh, I kind of like that resolution. I want to give that a try." Or "Oh, I'm inspired to add a resolution." Of course, we, all here, wish you all the best as you go on these new adventures or creating different habits for yourself in the 2020 year. It's always very exciting to just throw your hand at something new or making those changes as you go throughout the year.

Andy
Absolutely. Always feel free to let us know about your resolutions, about the changes you're making, about the progress you're making. Matt and I love hearing that so feel free to email us, find us on Instagram, Facebook, things like that. We always want to hear what good things you are accomplishing.

Matt
Yeah, this was so much fun, Andy.

Andy
Thank you very much, Matt.

Matt
Of course. Thank you and Happy New Year and welcome to 2020.

Andy
Roaring '20s.

Matt
Thank you for joining us for this episode of the New York Vocal Coaching podcast. If you like what you hear, please subscribe, like, leave a review, and share the podcast with friends and family. And we thank you in advance for that.

Matt
If you have questions, comments, or topics that you would like to hear more about, please email us at podcast@newyorkvolocalcoaching.com and we look forward to hearing from you.

Matt
You can also find more NYVC content with our Voice Lessons To The World, Quick Singing Tips, and Voice Breakdown series on YouTube. You can also catch us on Instagram and join us on Facebook for our weekly live videos coming to you on Sundays.

Matt
We're looking forward to seeing you again two weeks from now for another episode of the New York Vocal Coaching podcast.