Welcome to a very special edition of Musicality Now. We invited Glory St. Germain of Ultimate Music Theory back on the show to teach something very specific. Glory overflows with joy as she shares this powerful lesson.
Transformative vocabulary is a broad concept that many successful people apply in their lives. In this episode Glory St. Germain teaches how you can apply transformative vocabulary to your musical life. You will learn how to use words that uplift you – and fuel your excitement you to take on that next challenge!
If you wish for impactful musicality that inspires every one around you, you’re going to love this conversation.
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Christopher: Hello and welcome to Musicality Now. Today we have a very special episode. My name is Christopher Sutton. I’m the founder and director of Musical U, and although we normally do interviews on this show, today, I’m joined by a special guest who has previously done an interview with us, and is back to share something very interesting and relevant to you in your musical life. I’m joined by Glory St. Germain of Ultimate Music Theory. Glory say a quick hello.
Glory: Hey, Christopher, great to be back on the Musical U show. Thank you so much for having me.
Christopher: So when we spoke before, we talked about a number of things and if you haven’t seen that previous interview with Glory, definitely go back and check it out, for all about her own background in music and her perspective on music theory, which is definitely one I respect and admire, and recommend for anyone who wants to brush up on their theory knowledge.
Christopher: One thing we talked about a little bit in that interview was learning styles, and the importance of being conscious of how you best learn. And one of the things that we kind of touched on there, but didn’t go deep on, was linguistics and the power of words in our learning. Glory has recently been working on a fantastic new masterclass all about this, about transformational vocabulary and its impact on your music learning.
Christopher: And so I invited her back on the show to share a little bit of that with us today, and maybe we can just start out with Glory with the basic question of, “What is this transformational vocabulary idea, and why should people be interested?”
Glory: Yes. Well I think I’ll start by saying I am overflowing with joy and anticipation of our interview today. And sometimes when we even greet people, we are already impacting our vocabulary. So I have a question for you, Christopher. So that’s, how are you feeling today?
Christopher: I am feeling over-caffeinated. It’s probably the one word answer. Doing interviews in the evening is always a bit of a trip. So, over-caffeinated, which in turn makes me excited, and excitable.
Glory: That’s a great answer. Well, what’s interesting is, as friends and people that we meet, even family, sometimes we say we’re tired, or we’re excited, or we’re overwhelmed, or we’re in total bliss, or we’re just fine. And so, sometimes, when we think about the vocabulary, we listen to what other people are saying, but sometimes we need to also listen to our own vocabulary, because it puts us in that state, right?
Glory: So sometimes one word that resonates with you can have sort of a chain reaction, to create those emotions, and it gives us those results. Even before, like you said, you’re caffeinated, so you’re already feeling the buzz. And I’ve got my coffee going on here, too. So I think, one of the things that we share, Christopher, is that we need to be aware of the words that we choose, through transformational vocabulary.
Christopher: That’s really interesting. I’ve come across a few people in the last couple of years who make a point of answering, “How are you doing?”, or, “How’s it going?”, or, “How are you?” With something really effusive. Not just, “Yeah, it’s fine,” or, “Not too bad.” Once you become conscious of this, you really notice, and some people you ask them how it’s going, they will always say, “Not too bad.” And when you think about it, it’s like, is that your perspective on life?
Christopher: Things are going, they’re not terrible, versus someone who chooses to always answer that question, or at least, as long as things are going reasonably well, to answer it with something like, “Absolutely fantastic,” or, “Couldn’t be better,” I think it really does have an impact subconsciously.
Glory: Yes. Absolutely, it totally does. As a matter of fact, I had a young person working for me as a VA, and after a couple of days I said, “Okay, I need you to change your vocabulary.” Because every time I’d say, “How are you doing?”, She’d say, “Oh, okay.” And it drove me crazy, because if you ask me how I’m doing, and you know me well Christopher, I will always say, “Fantastic! Thanks for asking.”
Glory: Because it puts me in that mindset of saying, “Well, if I say, ‘Fantastic,’ then you’re going to go, ‘Oh, well this is, I’m happy to talk to you.’” And even if I’m maybe not, I mean, everybody can’t have a perfect, fantastic day all the time, but it certainly does shift your thoughts, right?
Christopher: I think so. And it reminds me of something that came up in a recent conversation with Mark Morley-Fletcher, who is an expert in performance psychology and peak performance. And he was saying, “You know, the physicality of what you do and the way you talk about it, and the way you think about it, the words that are going on in your mind, they genuinely affect the emotions that happen.”
Christopher: And it’s that thing of smiling to make yourself happy and saying, “I’m fantastic.” Because as silly as it sounds, you’ll feel a little bit better after you say that, compared with if you say, “Oh, it’s going okay,” and then you feel a little bit worse than before someone else.
Glory: That’s right. “I’m a little stressed,” yeah. Well, I think most beliefs are, honestly are, formed by words, right? So transformational vocabulary is when we choose our words to alter our state. And that can happen, whether you communicate with other people or whether you’re talking to yourself, as you would say.
Christopher: And our listeners may be wondering already, what does this all have to do with musicality and musical training? You know, it’s all very well to, to cheer ourselves up, and be thinking about positive psychology or self management, self regulation emotionally. But if they’ve come here to learn about music, what’s the relevance?
Glory: I think the relevance is that sometimes, when we talk about musicality, and we use words, such as, “Though, I don’t think I can do that,” or, “This is really hard,” or, “I don’t know, I can’t understand the chord structure.” Or we have these negative thoughts, and we’re already saying, “I can’t do it.”
Glory: I’ve seen a million people who, you hand them an iPhone, and if they’re not used to texting. They go, “Oh, I don’t know how to work this thing.” And they don’t even try. And so, that really is a mindset, that I can’t do it. And if you’re open to learning and you use those transformational vocabularies in your learning, you’re going to learn faster, and more enjoyably.
Glory: And there’s one thing, not only that we need to learn music the easy way, but we also need to develop our self-confidence and implementation skills. And it’s lifelong learning. And one of the things that you just said, Christopher, you talked about performers.
Glory: You need to have the mindset and powerful transformational vocabulary, it’s a long word. It has a huge impact on our learning, on our performance, and ultimately, on our attitude, right to life in general, I think.
Christopher: And so, let’s unpack that a little bit, and maybe give people some more specifics. Because I think the concept is clear, and the motivation is clear, but what are we talking about really? Presumably, we don’t need to think before every single word we speak, and carefully switch out one word for another.
Christopher: How do we make this practical? How does it work?
Glory: I think sometimes what you need to do is you need to switch things. There’s a big thing, and it’s, the words you habitually choose, affect how you communicate with yourself, and the result is with what you’re going to experience. So I want you to think about words that you often use to describe a situation.
Glory: You know, “I don’t have time,” “I don’t know how to play this,” and we can change that vocabulary. And here’s a little example. I think I left myself a couple of notes here. So if we think about, “I want to rise up a little, I want to be a little taller, I’m going to come to that challenge.” Then by using that, we are already opening up ourselves to learning.
Glory: Now, when people are studying your courses, Christopher, they come with a mindset that, “I’m ready to learn,” and I’m excited to learn, and the words that we choose, number one, we read them. But here’s an interesting thing that I learned, because I was studying this. And that is, that the words… If someone said to me, “Glory, what words are not in your vocabulary?” Words that are not in my vocabulary are “depression,” are “suicidal thoughts”, are “anger”. Those are words that I don’t use about myself. Right?
Glory: And so, when you use words like that, it affects your thought processes, and it affects your actions. So you really, and you can alter your words, you can alter your state, and it can be simple. Instead of saying, “I am so angry right now,” you can say, “This is a little bit challenging.” So it always can change how you’re approaching a thought.
Christopher: Interesting, yeah. And I think it’s a virtuous cycle, in that if you become aware of the less helpful vocab, and you switch out for something positive, you gradually become the person who wouldn’t even think of that negative vocab. And you come to embody those positive terms instead. And it just kind of, it develops your character and your personality, I think, and your attitude, in a very natural way, just becoming conscious of those habitual words.
Glory: I think you nailed it when you said, “To become conscious of that.” Because if you look at words to describe yourself, and say, if you complete a goal, and you say to yourself, “Huh. Well, that was well done.” Well now, in your mind, it was well done, but what if you use the words well, “That was impeccable, that was awesome, that was excellent, that was outstanding,” you create more intensity, then just trying to make things up here a little bit better.
Christopher: Yeah, I love that. And to be clear, I don’t think we’re talking about like Pollyanna-ism, and just whitewashing everything, and denying there’s ever anything negative, or any problems. It’s not about denial or deluding yourself, it’s, I think it’s just, it’s more about the spin you put on things, right?
Glory: Absolutely. As an educator, I teach a lot of children. I have five kids of my own with my husband, and I think it’s also about communicating with other people, because sometimes, even when you and I just jumped on the call today, I said, “Hi, how are you doing?” It’s the words that I’m choosing to, and also, tonality there, of course, to just open up a conversation with positivity.
Glory: And of course, it doesn’t mean, like you said, you’re not going to whitewash everything. But it is very, very, very important.
Glory: And I’ve seen it firsthand in my own communication. If you think someone is annoyed with you, well, the words that you choose can change that, can’t they? You can either get into a really big fight because of the words you choose, or you can alter that by, I mean, of course, you can say sorry, but it can also be the way that you say it.
Christopher: 100%, yeah. And I’ll confess to have been very naive about this for a long time. I think in running Easy Ear training, starting 10 years ago, probably for the first five years or so, I just thought, “Education, as long as the material is good, the student will learn. As long as the app is well designed, the student will get results.”
Christopher: And it really honestly wasn’t until we shifted to Musical U five years ago, started the online site, and we were there not just doing support via e-mail, but in there every day with our members, helping them learn, seeing how they responded. I think it wasn’t until that point that I really began to value this, and appreciate the significance of attitude and mindset, and the responsibility we have as educators, to nurture the right kind of mindset and show our students how important this stuff is.
Christopher: Because I know that a lot of them will otherwise be taking the attitude I always did as a music learner, which was just like, “Do the practice, develop the skills, get the instrument.” And if you have the wrong attitude, or you have the wrong mindset, you can have the best tools in the world, the best information in the world, and you’re not going to make the progress you could, if you paid a bit of attention to that side of things.
Christopher: And so, I think it’s something that should be talked about more, and if we can do anything to help people become more conscious of the power of it, that’s a really good thing. It’s something. Yeah, I think also, I’ve been late to the game in terms of how I work with my team.
Christopher: You have a team yourself, Glory, as a leader, the way you talk about things really matters. And I’ve become very careful about gently reminding my team to talk about things in a certain way. We call it this, we don’t call it that. We discuss things in terms of this, not that, because it really, it creates that culture, it creates that attitude, and it has a very clear impact on the results you get.
Glory: Absolutely. And I think, too, you talk about dealing with your customers, or your family or your friends, or even whatever you’re doing. Sometimes, if you’re getting an e-mail and they say, “I am furious, or livid,” or, “I’m enraged,” or, “I’m angry,” or “I’m upset,” I actually want to share with you a statement that I learned from Tony Robbins.
Glory: And he said, “The essence of transformational vocabulary, the words that we attach to our experience become our experience.” And I love that quote: “The words that we attached to our experience become our experience.” So if you’re already saying that you’re annoyed or you’re angry, or you’re frustrated, well, then, that becomes your experience. And I think that there is no such thing as failure. There’s only feedback and lessons learned. That’s just my personal philosophy.
Glory: And when I go on, and I’ve had websites, too, that I’ve gone on, and I’ve found it challenging to navigate, and have I been frustrated? Yes. So what are your options here? Well, your options are to contact support and say, “Hey, I need a little bit of help.” And get that help, get that feedback, communicate with the course providers when you’re studying and saying, “I need extra help with this,” because really, you and I, Christopher are here to serve our musicians, right?
Glory: We want to make sure that we’re helping them, and when we change the words of frustration and anger, to being disenchanted or having a little bit of a setback, or being a smidge cranky, when I actually thought about that, I kind of laughed out loud. Because if you’re really annoyed with something, to go from that to just a smidge cranky, it’s kind of hard to not laugh, right? Because it alters your state if you say, “Well, I’m a smidge cranky.”
Christopher: Definitely. And I know we’ve talked a little bit about words, and specific examples of nouns or adjectives or verbs you might switch out, but I know that one other area you talked about a little bit is metaphor. Could you explain the relevance of that, and how that can be helpful?
Glory: Yeah, absolutely. I think, in order to just have phenomenal growth, and laser-like focus, you need to make sure that you’re using your words that you’ve got, one word actually can make a profound effect on your thinking and your attitude and your words also influence others, right? And metaphors.
Glory: So when we’re really thinking about sharing something like that, my mom was always talking about how awesome it would be, and as soon as she used those kinds of words, it changed things. So for instance, for example. if I’m going to talk about a metaphor, let me use, for example, if you want to be a bit of a detective, and you’re going to simply use words such as, let’s talk musical terms, for example.
Glory: So now, I’m going to be a detective. I’m going to be analyzing a piece of music. So now I’m going to be a detective. And simply by changing words, and I’ll use the Italian terms.
Glory: When you change the words, let’s say tempo, you go from adagio to allegro. In dynamics, you go from forte to piano, and articulation, you want to go from legato to staccato. You can even talk about going from tonality, from major to minor.
Glory: When we talk about words, you can imagine, because we’re all musicians here, everything changes. And so, we can alter our state, as we can alter music. You’re not going to play funeral music at a wedding, and you’re not going to play wedding music at a funeral. These are things that alter our state.
Glory: And that’s why it’s so important to listen to the words that we use because we are musicians, and that expression is going to come through in our music. Does that make sense?
Christopher: It definitely does, yeah. And I love that metaphor of a detective. It reminds me, one of the, my favorite word substitutions I’ve come across, is the idea of just reminding yourself to take a curious attitude. We had one of the Curious Piano Teachers on the show awhile back, and-
Christopher: I love that brand name, because, what better encapsulation of the right attitude to learning? It’s not hard. It’s interesting, it’s not strange. It’s curious, like that. It just immediately shifts how you see challenges, how you see points of confusion, how you see opportunities, I think
Glory: Yes. Well, a metaphor is actually symbolic. It’s explaining a concept that has a familiar association. And so, oftentimes, even when I’m speaking, I might say, “Well, do you want to play that fast or slow, or do you want it…” So now, I’m almost pre-teaching the term of tempo, right?
Glory: When we can use something, such as being a detective, pretty much everybody knows what a detective is, then you can… Analysis, the word “analysis” doesn’t seem as challenging of, “All right, now we’re going to analyze this piece of music. How boring is that? But if you want to be a detective, so now, let’s go through it, and see what the chord structure is, or…”
Glory: So I think whenever we explain or communicate a concept, and associate it to something else, that’s when we’re using a metaphor, and it allows us to gain, I think, deeper understanding. It’s simpler, right? It just makes it familiar for us.
Christopher: And you make a reference there to Tony Robbins, talking about this topic. So presumably, transformational vocabulary is not something that Glory St. Germain invented last week. This is something that’s out there, a broader concept which you’re applying to music learning.
Glory: Absolutely. I think it’s essential. I’m an avid student of everything mindset. You know, I have a massive library that I love. I really enjoy reading it, and Tony Robbins is one of the greats, of course. But when I learned something, I think the key is to implement, and share it.
Glory: When something has a profound effect on me, and I realize, in my own business, as a business owner, we often, and especially when you’re the CEO, you’re at the top. Yes, of course, I have a web developer, I’ve got, an editor. I’ve got lots of people that are on my team, but the buck stops here.
Glory: In my mindset, if I don’t have that positive mindset, then I can’t lead. And that’s the key. And it doesn’t matter if you are in a band, and you’re a part of a group. Somehow you are still leading. You are an influencer there. When you’re playing the piano, and you’ve got somebody else on guitar, you know you’re part of a team, and the words that you use are going to help that team be successful.
Glory: So you’ve got to lead, and you’ve got to know that your words matter. You can’t just go, “Well, that was a great rehearsal, guys.” What does that mean, great rehearsal? It doesn’t mean anything, right?
Glory: You need to use words that will really uplift you, and like I said, be laser focused on your goals, so that when you get there, you feel proud of yourself, and you’re excited to take the next step and the next challenge.
Glory: To our listeners today, Christopher, I really challenge you to be aware of the words that you use, not only when speaking to other people, but the thoughts inside your head. They, they’re a game changer for me. They really are.
Christopher: Fantastic. And in a moment we’ll point people to where they can get access to the free master class you’ve been running, where you go into this in much more detail. But before we do that, we’ve kind of sprinkled lots of good examples, I think, of how this applies to music learning. But you just said, become aware of your inner voice, as well as what you say out loud. Are there any particular things you’d recommend people look out for, or any favorite substitutions you’d recommend they make, if they were going to take away something from this conversation, to go and apply?
Glory: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a few of them. Sometimes when, for example, when you change your words, you change your outcome.
Glory: So if you say, “I’m confused,” maybe you can transform that into, “I’m curious.” “I’m depressed”? Transform that into, “You know what? I’m on the road to turn it around.”
Glory: “I’m impatient!” You can transform that into, “I’m anticipating,” right? Or if you say I’m exhausted, why not use, “I’m recharging”?
Glory: Failure transforms into learning, I think that’s a big one. And really, you make a difference. And I want to share a couple of sentences, then, and if I can, Christopher, because I think it’s something, that, even as I was writing this down, I had a hard time saying it out loud myself. And I always think, if I’m going to share something with you, I better be doing it myself, right? You can’t teach if you don’t implement. So I will give you my words, if that’s okay. So, deep breath, and a big smile. Okay, are you ready, Christopher? Say yes.
Christopher: I’m ready.
Glory: Okay, here it is. So, and I will say it, and in your mind you should be repeating this out loud. So, “My bewitching smile is captivating. I am enchanting and mesmerizing.” Those are great words, right? “My enthusiastic presentation is fascinating. I am extremely interesting.” “My powerful learning is outstanding. I am exceptionally fantastic, and my transformational vocabulary impacts my learning.”
Glory: And as I was saying, writing things down is different than saying them out loud. It’s huge. It’s absolutely huge. When I took a course that I was taking some time ago, it said, “Write down your thoughts about something that you haven’t been a success at.” And so, I had to write things down like saying, “Oh, you’re always overdrawn. You always spend more money than you make,” and it was sort of down that line.
Glory: And then, the powerful transformation for me was this. The presenter said, “Now imagine your child or spouse sitting beside you, and say those words as if you’re speaking to them.” So, for example, “You are always broke. You always spend more money than you have in your bank account. You never learn things properly. You don’t do this well.”
Glory: You know what? It brought me to tears, because I thought I would never speak to my children like that, and yet, you speak like that to yourself. Wow, boom! I had this awakening and I went, “Oh my goodness, I have to have a conversation with myself!”
Glory: So you know, today I just want to say, if you’re still on listening with us, give yourselves a round of applause. Because you make a difference in the words that you choose for yourself, so be happy, be inspired.
Christopher: Yeah, I love that. It’s such a powerful point, to be a good friend to yourself is not something that comes naturally, I think, to most of us and it’s so powerful when you take that moment to be like, “Would I speak to anyone else this way? Well, no. Then why am I doing it inside my head?”
Christopher: I think it definitely can be really impactful. And I love the sentences you shared there. I feel like I have to hold back from opening a whole other can of worms, which is, you may have come across the recent book published last year, The Alter Ego Effect, where it’s all about this idea from sports psychology, of crafting a whole persona, that you can just shift into, and become that person, and how genuinely powerful it is for changing your outcomes.
Christopher: And I felt like the description you were sharing there was so evocative for how that could work. If you were about to step on stage with your band, and you normally think in terms of, “I’m nervous, I get stage fright, I’m not sure I can do this.” And you switched into a set of sentences that laid out exactly the kind of performer you wanted to be…
Christopher: Saying those to yourself right before you go onstage would totally change your state, totally change the outcome you get. And I hope that underscores for everyone the importance of this, and the power for any music learner.
Glory: Yes, and speaking of music, even when I’m… Well, my husband can attest to this, I did seven live workshop presentations, in seven different cities, in a matter of three and a half days.
Glory: So my husband, we literally drove. And then I had to present, and we’d get in the car, we drove for two more hours. There was another location, then we checked into the hotel, and this happened for three and a half days, and seven workshops live, each of them was two hours. It was intense.
Glory: My husband will tell you that before, while we’re sitting in the car, before I’m going in, I have, just a routine, and I listen to certain songs that are my motivation, that put me in state. And without those words, I don’t have my energy. Because you got to go in there, and have to have energy.
Glory: And whether you’re an educator, or whether you’re just going to have a team meeting, or you’re going to a band rehearsal show up, but show up, fully present, be present. Don’t be thinking about grocery shopping, or you didn’t clean out the garage, or anything. Just be present and bring your whole self.
Glory: And then when you’re going on to your next activity, do that. But I think that’s something that, when I come into a Musical U, and I want to listen to a podcast, be present. Yeah, you can be on the treadmill, or you can be doing whatever you want to what you’re doing, but be present.
Glory: Listen to these incredible interviews, because you’re going to learn something. So I think when you’re focused and open to learning, then be present, right? And use those, use those words in your head to say, “I’m going to implement what I’m learning today.” That’s the big takeaway.
Christopher: Absolutely. Well, Glory, I could happily talk to you all day long, and I have to be respectful of your time. Thank you so much for coming back on the show. I really wanted to bring you into talk about some of this, because it is so powerful, and we’ll end by pointing people to the full master class.
Christopher: I’m sure some are hungry for more, and want some more detail of how this works, and what it could do for them. So the web address, I believe, is musictheoryclass.com, is that right?
Glory: Yes. They’re going to learn about the three essential elements of musicianship skills in our free complete music theory master class. So it’s, just simply goes to music theoryclass.com, and I’m excited to see you there. Thank you so much, Christopher.
Christopher: Thank you, Glory.
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