Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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When is the last time you did something for the first time?

Children do this every day. Adults tend to conform to routine, at the risk of missing opportunities to grow and learn. Why? Because trying something new means possibly making mistakes, failing, wasting time? It also means expanding horizons, fulfilling dreams, building confidence.

When is the last time you had on a completely new experience?
Regardless of size or importance, what was it, and what kind of effect did it have on you, or those around you?

  • May 21 2013: This may not be what you are looking for, so I must explain.

    I have been thinking a lot lately about perception, and how everything we perceive involves choice.
    In the context of your question, I asked myself, how do we perceive a new a experience?
    Then I realized that I had a new experience when I awoke this morning, because it was a completely new day, with a different set of circumstances that is unique in my personal history. I am a day older, and I think I probably learned something yesterday that I did not know the day before.

    It is a simple fact that this was the first time I experienced awakening to May 21, 2013.

    So it is your choice as much as mine. When I awoke this morning, was that a new experience?

    When you start questioning your perceptions, old things can be perceived as new and different.
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      May 21 2013: Good point!!! So true Barry!!!
    • May 22 2013: I am looking for whatever you want to give me, Barry!!
      I agree completely with your view on this.
      Breaking routines and embracing a new day are so hard for most people, I think! Perhaps people feel security in routine? Is the fear of failure so immense, they don't dare to see a new day as a new beginning?
      All our lives, and the lives of billions of people before us, have led up to this very point in existence - that is pretty darn exciting to me. There is energy in that!
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      May 22 2013: The first time I am telling

      “ Oil is sitting quiet inside Pan, if you dip a fish with < Tapioca Strach > before deep-fried ”.

      ^Q^ smile ….
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    Jun 1 2013: Two months ago, the rubber seal of my toilet was open constantly losing water.
    It was not easy, not easy, the devilish design of new dual-flush toilets, took their toll on my boldness.
    First remove a cabinet above the deposit, one location of the same error on my part.
    Second remove the heavy deposit of pottery which is nothing more than a props for the real tank is plastic.
    Find out how to disassemble the whole mechanism, because the rubber shutoff valve is in the innermost site as is usually always, after suffer ... and suffer a trigger release on my hands and had the whole precious object of my desire, and the damn hydraulic rubber seal.
    Already in the commercial plumbing answered I said that this mechanism was the most sophisticated. Just change hydraulic rubber seal for 1 euro.
    Already in my house rid less clumsy steps and caution.
    You can if you want, your confidence will grow, use the tools at your fingertips, and especially leaves that couch that is damaging your back, your soul, your life, move now.

    Luck friends.
    • Jun 1 2013: Kudos to you, Javier! You now have a skill you never knew you had, that will more than likely come in handy again!
      Absolutely agree about the couch.
      Thank you!
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    May 22 2013: About a week ago I had a full day without a single word spoken. It has an enriching experience. Plus next day my wife pleaded to see my normal talking self. She said that it felt like she lost her ear.
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      May 22 2013: LOL!!!
      Good one for Sumana:>)
    • May 23 2013: Wow! I recently had a bad cold, and should've gone at least a day without talking, but didn't.
      I admire you immensely, Pabitra, for this! It must've been extremely difficult!
      And, you provided your wife with a new experience at the same time.
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        May 23 2013: For a chatterbox like me, yes, it was difficult. But it's worth trying. When you deprive yourself of verbalization, interesting other expressions can be improvised :)
        In Indian culture, consciously refraining from talking is a spiritual act. Gurus do it often and it is called 'mounbrat' (moun = silence , brat = pledge). Gandhi did it many times.
        I just tried it for a change. My wife's reaction is a bonus of course ;)
        • May 23 2013: Out of curiosity, Pabitra - when you did need to communicate something, did you write it down? Or use gestures? Did you tell your wife beforehand you were going to do this?
          I'd sure like to try it! I wonder how my kids would deal with it...
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        May 23 2013: No I didn't tell her beforehand. I used the whiteboard in my study to write and declare: "I am not going to speak today", but only once. You can imagine how such a simple declaration can bring so many questions and how effectively they can be answered with a benign smile. Benign because I was doing all chores of a holiday, listening and reacting by action - and you may be surprised how expressive, shrugs, lifted eyebrows, nods and a dumb vacant stare can be. My wife got into the play in two hours flat.
        Only problem was with my son who challenged my silence by singing my favorite Lennon songs. But I gestured playing air guitar and participated with impromptu swaying.
        I can tell you, it's worth trying. At least next day when you speak up again, you will hate less of your voice.
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          May 23 2013: It sounds like a very interesting exercise Pabitra! I am sure Sumana was very good at it because it sounds like some of the theater exercises we used to do.

          It doesn't sound like it was a problem for Tintin....he simply touched your heart...again:>)
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        May 23 2013: Thank you Colleen, Sumana and Tintin are humbled by your affection. :)
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          May 23 2013: Thank you for that message Pabitra...I love them too:>) I appreciate, and am very proud of the music my "nephew" produces:>)
  • May 22 2013: Oh, I am just loving all these comments!!
    I admit, I posed the question ambiguously, to see how it would be interpreted.

    To me personally, I agree with Barry and Edward, that every single day is a new experience. Every moment is uncharted waters, a surprise waiting to happen. Like Bilbo Baggins said, "You take a risk, walking out your front door..." There's always a new adventure waiting to happen.

    My enjoyment in discovering the new is amplified by my kids. When I am an active part of their new experiences, it renews them for me too. What may be consider to be a 'mundane' everyday activity can be an adventure when it's perceived as something new.

    My challenge is to never do anything the same way twice, if I can help it! I never wear the same combination of clothes, try to find different routes to school and back, cook the same recipe using different ingredients... The time between waking up and going to bed is too valuable to waste!
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      May 22 2013: Sleepless old men will be quick to remind you that the time between going to bed and waking up is also too valuable to waste! ;-}
      • May 23 2013: Ah, yes - never underestimate the power of the night owl... True, indeed, Edward! I forgot, I am married to one of those...
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    May 22 2013: It depends what you call a completely new experience. Most experiences have some overlap with others we have had.

    I like Barry's point that to some extent how routine you consider an action to be depends on your attitude.
    • May 22 2013: What is your own definition of a completely new experience, Fritzie?
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        May 22 2013: I don't want to side-track your thread. I think for most any, perhaps any, experience an adult has, it would be challenging to argue it is entirely new and every experience, as Barry suggested, is to some extent new.
        • May 23 2013: I don't think this is side-tracking - it's good to consider this.
          To me, it is impossible to recreate every experience. We simply do not possess an 'instant replay' function. There are too many external and internal factors that contribute to how an experience is... experienced!
          Even if you are caught in a routine, as Matt describes, a 'rut', your day can never be an exact copy of the previous one.
          Voluntarily creating a new experience is about choosing how you respond to those external and internal factors - perhaps by ignoring them, or embracing them?
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      May 23 2013: So, Fritzie and Lizanne,
      A "new experience" can have many meanings, depending on our attitude and perception? I agree:>)

      We can create new experiences while performing everyday tasks...brushing teeth with the non dominant hand (this always makes me laugh!), taking a different route to a place we go to every day, etc., which changes the experience even though being a routine part of our lives? I agree:>)

      We can experience something new by adding different practices to our lives? Traveling to a different culture, taking a class, etc. I agree:>)

      It looks like there are MANY choices regarding how we can experience something for the first time. That is what I feel with curiosity, which is a big part of my life experience. I've seen sun sets and sun rises for 60+ years, and the beauty of the experience never ceases to amaze me.....they are all different, and perhaps that is because I CHOOSE to recognize the difference? This moment has never "been" before, and will never "be" again, so in my perception, it is new, different, and the only moment that is the moment:>)

      After the near fatal head injury, when they told me I would never function "normally" again, I said "thank you". The injury was new to me, and somewhere in the back of my mind/brain (such as it was), I KNEW I had learned certain things before, and I was determined to do it again, to the best of my ability, with "new" circumstances:>)
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        May 23 2013: I feel your comment very much echoes Barry's on this subject.
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          May 23 2013: I feel that as well Fritzie. I'm simply reinforcing information....thanks for the feedback:>)
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    May 21 2013: Yesterday, I went on a 5 hour hike on Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada. It was in a forest: a breathtaking view!! I never walked for more than 3 hours (consecutively) before. So, this was a great new experience. It made me realize how valuable being immersed in nature for a long period of time is.
    • May 22 2013: Wow, Mariam, it sounds truly energizing! I am assuming, after this experience, it won't be the last time you immerse yourself in nature either!

      On a personal note - I LOVE Bowen Island!!
  • May 21 2013: It has been a long time since I tried an entirely new experience, but recently I was in a restaurant that I had never visited before and ordered a brand of beer that was new to me. Some of my family members thought this was a risky decision because the name of the brand was Sweaty Betty.
    • May 22 2013: Hilarious, Barry.
      And, how did the experience work out? Was it a 'failed' or 'successful' endeavor?
      I tell my kids every single evening at dinnertime: 'But if you don't TRY it, how do you KNOW you don't like it?!'
      • May 22 2013: The restaurant was great, with excellent food and service. The beer was definitely a new experience, with just a touch of sweetness and a bit of a citrus taste. It was a good beer, but would not be suitable for every meal.
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    May 30 2013: Hi Lizanne..........I just read an article in Chinese......well, almost, I used Google translator.

    It's such a beautiful article + video.
    Another TEDster shared it in a conversation on caring for the elderly and our children.
    Here, see if you like it:
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    May 26 2013: Yesterday:) I translated the TED video for the first time:)
    Actually, it's very important to do things for the first time as much as possible, 'cause you'll never know what you're passionate about until you have tried!
    • May 27 2013: Yay, Marina!
      It's a question of: doing something you haven't done for a while, or doing something you've NEVER done.
      Both are good!!
  • May 23 2013: The home I am renting hasn't been lived in in over 5 years and the grapevines, on the property, hadn't been looked after for at least that long. Know nothing about grapevines but I got on the internet & took a crash course from many growers in the USA. It has never been about how much wine they could produce or fruits to eat, it was all about the care of the vines.
    Lots of hard work to get them in shape, fighting off pests, types of fertilizers and amounts of water. It has been a total labor of lover (plus blood sweat & tears). The vines will do that to a person and each new vine has to be tended just so.
    Those around me wanted wine, I just want to see healthy vines and so far, that is what is happening.
    • May 23 2013: Gale, how wonderful is this! This sounds almost like upcycling - using what you've got 'lying around', delving into a new world, reaping the benefits of a labor of love... fantastic! Wish I could come over and have a glass with you!
  • May 23 2013: hi Dear greg dahlen,what is the so called stronger tongue?does it mean:flexible tongue?I don't think big tongue is good:)Lol,Joking kawa
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    May 22 2013: I do new things all the time....but they are all small things (like styling my hair differently, trying out a new shade of nail polish, visiting a new place I have never been to, etc)

    [Edited]....When I talk about my 20's and 30's to my kids they say wow mom you've done all that?
    And I look at my life now, and I think....same-o same-o......but it's like Colleen, and Barry and Fritzie say, we can make our new experiences happen by our attitude.

    Today I'm trying a recipe for potatoes that I have never done before, I find these little daily things bring me joy, especially because I share it with others.
  • May 22 2013: I put cold oil into hot pan and meanwhile put some salt into oil to fry fish:).it made fried fish easier and perfect color and shape.a lady shared the recipe with me in supermarket.
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      May 22 2013: Oh, I learned that trick through watching cooking shows....there is a chef who always says:

      "hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick"

      It works like a charm on stainless steel pans.
    • May 23 2013: Good to know!!
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    May 22 2013: If you can't do a new thing than do things differently.

    It is said,"Winners donot do different things, they do it differently."
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    May 22 2013: G'day Lizanne

    It is harder for an adult to do something for the first time than it is a child because we have done so many of these things & of course the older you get the harder it is to do & find things to do for the first time.

    I bought a crystal while on holiday for myself just recently, I also bought my wife an expensive white gold sapphire ring, I don't like being frivolous but I did it anyway.

    • May 22 2013: What fun, Mathew!
      You're right though, it is harder to find something completely new without it getting extreme! The simple things can be seen in a different, new light though.

      Recently, my friend lost her father to cancer. Before he died, I asked him if I could do anything, without knowing what on earth I could possibly do. A few days later, he asked if I would sing the Avé Maria at his funeral. Without hesitation, I said yes.
      Now, I have never sang at funeral. And I have never sang a classical piece. But I did it, and it was harder than I'd ever imagined. I learned, and I grew from that experience.
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        May 22 2013: G'day Lizanne

        Yes your right, we can experience the same exact things we did in childhood but as an adult they have a different meaning & experience attached usually.

        I could only imagine how hard that would have been, I couldn't imagine anyone that know me asking me to sing at their funeral however. That was a lovely gesture from you & him.

  • May 22 2013: Joined TED Community...started posting in TED Conversations. The result = excitement.
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    May 22 2013: For the context of your question, is it necessary for me to have never previously experienced something for it to be a new experience? If yes, my answer is it has been a while. If no, my answer is every experience is new.
    • May 22 2013: Yes, both!!
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        May 22 2013: Sorry but I don't see how the answer to both can be "yes". Let's say we are talking about seeing the Grand Canyon. Is one's first time the only NEW experience (yes or no), or is each time one sees it a new experience even though one has seen it before (yes or no)?
        • May 23 2013: I meant, yes, if you consider each to be a separate question (as Colleen mentioned).

          1. A completely new experience, something you've never done before ever (like visiting the Grand Canyon for the very first time)
          2. A completely new experience, based on the fact that every day is new (like visiting the Grand Canyon for a second time, but experiencing it in a new way)
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    • May 22 2013: Wonderful, LaMar!
      I think the whole point of experiencing new, is that it gives us a thrill, as if we were kids again.
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      May 22 2013: I have never done that!! Sounds like fun.
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    May 21 2013: Hi Lizanne,
    Looks like two seperate questions to me...

    1) When is the last time you did something for the first time...children do this every day...adults tend to conform to routine....
    White water rafting the Seti river in Nepal.....first time in Nepal....first time white water rafting.....FABULOUS!!!

    2) When is the last time you had a completely new experience?
    One of my brothers died in January. Although I've spent lots of time with people dying, he was the first of 7 siblings to die. The experience was sad for all of us.
    • May 22 2013: You are so right, Colleen, they are two different questions! I had no idea they were when I posed them.

      An experience, even if it's brushing your teeth, can be new if you tackle it differently! How liberating is that?!
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        May 22 2013: You are right as well Lizanne, because they can be parts of the same question, or two different questions. I like to look at things from different perspectives:>)

        I agree that even small tasks can be done differently, and I change my routine and practices all the time because, as you say, it feels liberating.:>)

        I've done this most of my life, because it felt like it was preparing my brain to accept changes easier. They are saying now, that changing our routines actually stimulates our brain to create new neural pathways, and might keep our brain more healthy. So in addition to what you present..."expanding horizons, fulfilling dreams, building confidence", changing our routines may be better for our health AND fun!
        • May 23 2013: Colleen, what an interesting article!
          It reminds me of something regarding order and routine that I came across yesterday.

          Eric Abrahamson and David H Freedman wrote the book "A Perfect Mess", which talks about how there is a hidden system in disorder, and:
          "... the messy system is more flexible (being capable of category jumps and "turning itself inside out"), more comfortably tolerant of improvisation, and can comprehend "an exhaustive array" of variable material. The messy system is also more likely to "resonate", or fall into harmony with its environment."

          Perhaps, in order to open ourselves up to new experience, we have to 'make a mess'?
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        May 23 2013: That is an interesting article too Lizanne, and I LOVE it because I am more messy in my old age.....LOL!

        In my younger days, I was "Mrs. Clean", with everything in its place and a place for everything. I didn't mind messy, packed closets, and I didn't mind toys and "stuff" around IF it was being used, and when things were not being used, I wanted our living space neat, clean and orderly.

        When the kids were teens, it was a challenge trying to get them to keep their rooms relatively organized, so I finally simply recognized that it was their space, and I kept the doors closed so I wouldn't have to look at it:>) My daughter cleaned her room by pulling EVERYTHING apart (in my perception, making more of a mess than it was), and tell me that in order to clean it, she first had to make a mess. I thought....ok.....whatever!!! Today, she is an engineer, so her logic makes perfect sense to me now:>)

        I tend to be messy now, because I have the house to myself most of the time. It takes a couple hours to get the house "guest ready", and I kinda like the mess, because it feels REALLY good when I finally decide to clean and organize:>)
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        May 23 2013: P.S. I also adopted this philosophy:>)

        Remember...a layer of dust protects the Wood beneath it.

        A house becomes a home when you can write
        I love you on the furniture.

        I can't tell you how many countless hours
        that I have spent CLEANING!

        I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend
        making sure things were just perfect --
        "in case someone came over."
        Then I realized one day that no-one came over;
        they were all out living life and having fun!

        Now, when people visit, I find no need to
        explain the "condition" of my home.
        They are more interested in hearing about
        the things I've been doing while I was
        away living life and having fun.
        If you haven't figured this out yet,
        please heed this advice.

        Life is short. Enjoy it!
        Dust if you must,
        but wouldn't it be better to
        paint a picture or write a letter,
        bake a cake or
        plant a seed,
        ponder the difference between want and need?

        Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
        with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
        music to hear and books to read,
        friends to cherish and life to lead.

        Dust if you must, but the world's out
        there with the sun in your eyes,
        the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow,
        a shower of rain.
        This day will not come around again.

        Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
        old age will come and it's not kind.
        And when you go -- and go you must --
        you, yourself will make more dust!

        It's not what you gather, but what you scatter
        that tells what kind of life you have lived.
        • May 23 2013: Simply wonderful, Colleen!!
          My favorite has to be - "A layer of dust protects the wood underneath". YES! My wood must look like NEW! ;-)

          I am messy, I am. But I consider myself a 'collector' - you just never know when stuff - toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, bubble wrap, etc. etc. etc. - might come in handy! Especially with a craft obsession like mine, that my daughter has inherited!!

          My husband was very minimal when we first met, about 15 years ago - he quickly learned to adapt to my 'piles of stuff' method.

          My mother used to say to us: "God made dirt, so dirt don't hurt."
          We were not particularly religious, but I was brought up with respect and appreciation for all religions.
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        May 25 2013: Glad you like it's a "fun philosophy":>)

        I am a pack rat too.......OH......I mean a "collector" I totally agree....we never know when "stuff" might come in handy for a wonderful recycling/reusing creative project! That is a GREAT opportunity to experience something for the first time.....making something out of recycled "stuff".

        Years ago, I bought a bolt of fabric (several yards) at a garage sale for $5.00. It was a lovely flower print, and I was doing a lot of sewing back then, so I knew I could use it for something.

        When my daughter went off to college, she got an apartment and needed to cover an old couch, so she went to my "stash" of fabric and asked if she could use the garage sale "stuff". Of course!!! She covered her couch, and because she knew it would be temporary, she tucked and pinned it rather than cutting and sewing the fabric. When she finished with it, she folded it and put it back in the "stash".

        Fast forward 3 son was off to college, had an apartment and wanted to "decorate", so he went to the "stash" of fabric, picked out the same garage sale "stuff", cut it up to make curtains, table cloth/napkins, a bedspread, etc. (yes, he sews too). When he was finished with it, he folded it and put it back.

        Fast forward a couple years...I was looking for fabric to re-cover the porch wicker furniture....oh....there is that fabric was PERFECT!!! So, it served us again for a few years, and that was about the end of its life!

        My friends know I cannot throw anything away that has a possibility of re-use, so people often put stuff in the barn, and I tell everyone if they are looking for anything, check the barn before buying anything because they might find what they are looking for:>) I LOVE IT!!!
        • May 26 2013: Colleen, the best part I think about re- and upcycling is exactly what you've conveyed here - there is sentimental value in materials, especially! It's so wonderful, how a $5.00 piece of fabric can have so many lives, and accumulate even more memories.

          I love making functional things out of fabric memories, like patchwork. I make banners with a name on it out of pieces of clothing or fabrics that mean something to the recipient. I also make dresses out of a dad's dress shirt!

          I would LOVE to come and peruse your barn, Colleen! Sounds like a paradise of potential creativity!!
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    May 21 2013: well, in about five days I'm going to see my first ballet, should be fun.

    At the risk of being repetitive, I've been doing tongue exercises for the first time in the last few days. Very fun.
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      May 22 2013: Well Greg, that's a first time experience for me in hearing the two words 'tongue' and 'exercises' used together. Please drop the other shoe.
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        May 22 2013: sorry ed don't know the expression about the shoe. I got interested in the tongue by watching Michael Jordan play basketball, did you ever see how he used to let his tongue hang out as he played, it was his "signature move." I thought he did it because it cooled him off to let his tongue hang out, like a dog does when it's hot and panting, and also helped him keep his balance, when you start to stumble you can sometimes keep your balance better if you let your tongue move around and even slide out of your mouth. I guess the tongue works like a lever.

        I like the tongue exercises, which really just means moving my tongue around, and I have the feeling they're good for me, but I can't put it into words why. Clearly they would help a singer or a speaker, but I have the sense they're good for me in the same sense pushups are good, making me stronger and more in control of my body. But most people would think it's stupid, you don't use your tongue for too much like you do your hands and arms, so why do you need strength and control there?
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          May 22 2013: Greg,
          Your story about Michael Jordan with his tongue hanging out reminded me of when I was about 6, taking dance lessons. Apparently my tongue was out a lot of the time when I concentrated, and my mother reminded me often that if I did not put my tongue back in the mouth, I might bite it off one of these days!!! Guess what my mother did sometimes when SHE was concentrating....yup...tongue was out...LOL!

          I suggest that when you move the tongue, it moves other related "parts" .....muscles around the jaw/cheeks/lips? They say that exercising the muscles of the face keeps them healthier and less wrinkled:>)
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          May 22 2013: All rightey then. Thanks for the background info. Enjoy your exercises Greg.
        • May 23 2013: Hi Dear Colleen,There is a healthy exercise came from my ancient culture:When people wake up in the morning,they just lie in bed using tongue to do some exercise:The exercise is easy to learn but needed patient and concentration.My mom does it everyday.She suggested us to do it.But we get up every morning like fighting.Maybe when I retire I can have a try:).
          If anyone is interested in it,I will ask my mom in detail to come to share it with all of you.
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          May 23 2013: Greg, Edward and Edulover,

          For your consideration:>)

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        May 22 2013: for example, here is a typical picture of Jordan:
        One can find hundreds of pictures like this, Jordan running, jumping, slamming with his tongue out.
        • May 23 2013: hi Dear greg dahlen,what is the so called stronger tongue?does it mean:flexible tongue?I don't think big tongue is good:)Lol,Joking kawa
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        May 22 2013: Ed, I would have thought it a bit weird too, except he already detailed the exercises in Lizanne's conversation about music. Lizanne explained how singers also exercise the tongue to get their mouth ready for singing.

        I know you must have had one eyebrow up at that one :o
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        May 23 2013: Well, I'm enjoying them, ed, I just wish I could put into words why it seems good to have a stronger tongue. People don't see your tongue, you don't hardly use it for anything that requires strength, yet I have the feeling it's a good thing. Tongue exercises do seem to burn calories. Normally I weigh in at about 166, for the last few days I've been going 164.5.

        Tongue exercises can feel really good, sensuous, because there's no bone in the tongue, it's all tissue.
    • May 22 2013: Hi Dear greg dahlen,do you mean:vocal practice?
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        May 22 2013: Well, it does make your voice better, ed. But I'm interested in why it might be good to have a stronger tongue, most people can see the sense in having stronger arms and hands, but it seems to me it might be good to have a stronger tongue, but you don't lift anything with it like you do with your arms and hands. Why would it be good to have a stronger tongue if you don't lift anything with it, can you think of a reason?
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        May 22 2013: got this idea from Michael Jordan, famous American basketball player, he often played with his tongue hanging out, here is a typical image, but you can find hundreds of photos like this on the Net:

        Why do you think Michael would let his tongue out like this?
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        May 23 2013: Well, ed, I tend to think people have some practical reason for the habits they develop, don't you?

        Flexibility is good too, but I was thinking about strength, in the same sense that someone who lifts weights gets stronger arms. But I can't put into words why someone would want a stronger tongue because you don't lift anything with it. But it seems good to have. Maybe it would be good to have a big tongue, men like it when they get bigger arm muscles.

        Sure, share your mom's exercises.

        Too bad you don't get YouTube. I put an interesting video on there about exercising by belly dancing while you lie in bed, rolling your hips and stomach like a belly dancer. Do you have belly dancing in China? You might enjoy the video.