Exploring Values & Beliefs in Teaching Voice – This Is A Voice podcast S8 Ep5

In the first episode of this special two-part interview for #ThisIsAVoice podcast, we’re chatting with singing teacher, science teacher, life coach and our very own VocalProcess Associate Trainer Anne Leatherland.

In This Is A Voice podcast S8 Ep5 we dive into the fascinating world of values and beliefs with our special guest, Anne Leatherland of Vocal Intuition.

We discuss how understanding your values can transform your teaching and coaching, help you to align with your true self and move your career towards a life that’s more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Anne Leatherland started her professional life as a chemistry teacher. As a recreational singer she had no qualifications and did not go to “music college”. But a sense of her own values and determination led her through a singing diploma to singing teacher, training with VocalProcess and now co-teaching with us on our Accreditation Programme.

  • 00:00 Introducing Anne Leatherland of Vocal Intuition.
  • 01:03 From teaching chemistry to teaching singing
  • 03:33 Embracing failure as improvement
  • 06:17 Vocal Toolkit mentoring beginner teachers
  • 08:56 Aligning beliefs with personal values
  • 11:03 Moving from being “right” to “helpful”
  • 12:23 How your core values influence your life
  • 18:35 How “beliefs” can shape our actions
  • 22:48 How “beliefs” can conflict with core values
  • 24:18 Transforming your life & career with your values
  • 25:21 Tackling beliefs & values in the Accreditation Programme
  • 26:29 The importance of listening
  • 27:36 Invitation

This episode explores the deep connections between personal values, beliefs, and effective teaching, shedding light on how understanding and aligning these aspects can lead to transformative growth in both teaching and life. Anne Leatherland’s insights provide valuable guidance for educators and coaches in the field of voice training.


Exploring Values & Beliefs in Teaching Voice, with singing teacher and life coach Anne Leatherland

[00:00:00] This is A Voice, a podcast with Dr Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.

[00:00:21] Hello and welcome to This is a Voice Season 8 Episode 5, the podcast where we get vocal about voice. I’m Jeremy Fisher and I’m Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and our guest today is the wonderful and fabulous Anne Leatherland of Vocal Intuition. Welcome Anne. Hi Anne. Hi, great to be here and thanks for that wonderful welcome.

[00:00:42] You’re very welcome. Wonderful and fabulous, that’s a real… thing to take forwards, isn’t it? Especially from you two. Thank you. For those of you who don’t know, Anne is our Associate Trainer. She was accredited a few years ago with us and she is now helping us co teach the accreditation program and various courses that we do.

[00:01:03] And she’s co led courses with me and with you. Yeah. So a very valued member of our team, but also running her own vocal coaching business as a separate entity. And we’re going to be talking with you about all of those things, actually, Anne. So we thought we’d introduce you to the people who don’t know about you.

[00:01:22] So hello, Anne. Hello. Who is it? What do you do? Who are you? What’s happening? What day is it today?

[00:01:33] Can we start this little bit again?

[00:01:39] I want you to give us a bit of background history, you started off life in one profession and then you sidestepped to another and that’s what led you to find your way to us. Yes, my, my background is that I’d always been a musical person and we had a big tradition of music in our family but when it came to it at school I took sciences.

[00:02:03] I didn’t take music, although I did manage to cram in an O level in musical appreciation and history or something during my A level years. I just went with the sciences and I ended up teaching chemistry with some physics and a little bit of biology, which I did for 11 years, and I really liked that, it was great, but I felt a bit like I was around peg in a square hole, so I started while I was at the school to produce musicals.

[00:02:33] and do things with young people. And in the course of that, I felt that I needed to know a little bit more about voice work. And anyway, I was keen to work on my own voice because I was a big am dram aficionado in those days, and I used to be in local groups and do shows, and that was great, so I took training locally with Coral Gould, who was very important actually in my development as a teacher. Because after two or three years, I think it was, I said, I really want to do something else.

[00:03:09] I want to move somewhere else, do more with my life. This school teaching business is grinding me down. She said why don’t you do a grade six singing exam? And I’ve never done any before, ever. I had a go. I went in at grade six because I happened to have a grade five theory. And I happened to have a very good background of singing in school.

[00:03:33] There was a very good culture of singing. We had a madrigal choir. And so I wasn’t a complete beginner in that sense. As far as the musical side went, and so we did that and that went really well, and then she said great, we’ll do a diploma next. I love this idea, you’re leapfrogging all sorts of things.

[00:03:54] I was about 30 at this time, so we went for the diploma and I did very well, but I fell down on the theory side and had to swot up and do all the harmony and all of that business again. But eventually I got it. It was good that I didn’t get it the first time because it taught me more. I had to understand more deeply than I already did.

[00:04:18] So I think sometimes failure helps us to do better. than we would have done if we’d got it the first time. I think I just want to come to that because it’s so valuable having somebody for us on the team who has that outlook which is, failure is not failure. No. Failure is just a step and actually sometimes in the failure that you have what you think of as failure is somewhere that you go, I really need to know more about this and you end up knowing far more than you would do if you had passed the first time and just written it off. I love that outlook. And I want to jump in because I want to say about Coral, how wonderful that she had this belief in your abilities. Let’s dive straight in at grade six. Actually, you’re perfectly capable of doing a diploma.

[00:05:07] And I’m not sure how long ago that was, but you know, in terms of getting the diploma as a sort of legitimizing yourself as a voice teacher, as a singing teacher, must have been very important at that time, am I right? Yes, it was, because, coming up this way, I hadn’t thought of being a teacher at that point, but we did a diploma and it was then when I finally got it that we said Let’s go for teaching.

[00:05:37] But right from that beginning stage, I did feel that I didn’t quite fit into the mould, that I hadn’t gone to conservatoire, I couldn’t play the piano, I couldn’t do all the things I suppose that Coral did. And when you have that first teacher who makes a big impact on you, then you want to be like them, don’t you?

[00:05:57] You want to do it like they do. And it’s taken me some time to understand what kind of teacher I am. And to actually show up in that way. And I suppose it was the same when I worked with you or wanted to be like you. It’s that’s how it is. We want to be like the people we work with and who we respect. Very much. And we get a lot from.

[00:06:17] But I did eventually do a second diploma and set up, and it was about 1996, 7-ish and began teaching from home. So that was the beginnings of my work as a singing teacher.

[00:06:32] Nice. I want to go back to something that you’ve just said because there are so many people that we work with who’ve said the same thing.

[00:06:40] And I’m not just now talking about singing teachers, but I’m talking about musicians I’ve worked with, musicians I’ve accompanied, and they say, I didn’t go to college, I didn’t go to music college, and therefore, and they often feel like failures, or they feel out of place, or they feel less. or impostors.

[00:06:57] It’s absolutely not the case. I mean, I suppose I’m talking from my perspective of having been in college, music college for six years, which is enough to kill off the musical instinct in anyone. But there’s something, you learn certain things and really the only thing about being at a college is that you have opportunities to do.

[00:07:15] I don’t know how well college, and this is a terrible thing to say, but I don’t know how well colleges actually teach. But you certainly have opportunities to do, and you have opportunities to be around people who are also doing. And I think that’s really valuable. But the idea that somehow people miss out because they haven’t gone to music college, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

[00:07:38] Yeah, and also the thing about playing piano because I can remember someone else that we accredited several years ago, who is very good and you know he’s done a lot of music production work and had worked themselves as a CCM singer, and just hearing from someone else via the grapevine, oh, but they don’t play piano, I don’t know if they read music properly, and Sorry, that was a little gentle snigger.

[00:08:07] Absolutely, that, I mean, and that, that, that’s a very, you know, outmoded view now. But I will say that, people who are interested in joining our Teacher Accreditation, I still get people asking me, is it all right that I don’t know all those musical terms? You know, The ones he had to learn through rudiments of music for grade five theory, and most of which I’ve forgotten now, all of those things.

[00:08:34] So that, that culture was around then and, bravo to you for getting what training you needed. And you then ran a highly successful studio. In fact, you were so successful, you trained two of your own teachers, didn’t you? Yes. Yeah. I got them started. And I still do that. I still work with beginner teachers.

[00:08:56] I have a little program called Teacher’s Toolkit, and this is people at the very start of their career or who were just thinking maybe I could be a singing teacher, but they’re not entirely sure. And so that’s been a success. But yeah, of those teachers, of course, you know Heather, Heather Grace, who came and did the accreditation, don’t you?

[00:09:17] And stage and screen, StageScreen is the name of the school. And she’s very successful in various avenues and still performs a lot as well. In fact, I don’t know how she fits it in all the time. Heather, if you’re listening to this, I’m just telling you. But I have about four or five at the moment who were working with me on teacher mentoring, with a view to taking things forward. Amazing. And of course, I know where to send them, don’t I, when they get to us? Absolutely, and we do recommend your program because it’s so useful. Thank you. How did you find it, because you were saying earlier about having, admiration for people that you work with, that happened with Coral, and it happened with us, and I, we all do it.

[00:10:06] As you say, it’s a human thing. It gives us aspirations and that is positive. When you first started teaching for us, we’d give you a little teaching slot in one of our courses what was that like? Nerve wracking. What’s interesting is, when I first decided that I would do the accreditation, I did it because I thought to myself, I want to do that.

[00:10:35] I want to teach people in this way, i. e. in, in workshops or in groups, and that kind of training, rather than necessarily the one to one, and I won’t say just one to one, which I nearly did, because it’s not just, it’s very important, but that was part of the aspiration. And now I’ve forgotten what the question was, so it’s well, it was, what was it like teaching for us?

[00:11:03] Sorry, so yes, it was nerve wracking because this is a really important point. I wanted to be right. I wanted to get things right. I wanted things to be at the right standard. I didn’t want to let you down. I wanted to make sure that the people I was teaching were getting a good experience that was worthy of the VocalProcess brand, if you like, was worthy of you. And so what I would do would go away and over prepare massively, as Jeremy knows, because we spent an hour and a half one day just working through a simple thing. Should I say this? Should I say that? What route should I take through that? But you know that doesn’t happen anymore, but I think at first because of those feelings you want to be able to pin it down, and I’m very methodical, and I wanted it clear in my head as to what I was doing.

[00:11:56] I think that paid off though. If you’re not clear about what you’re doing, then it’s a disaster, isn’t it? It doesn’t work. What’s going on? That clarity is important and actually I remember the first time and that you and I taught a three day course together and Anne had prepared all the notes that she was going to teach and she’d put them all on a powerpoint and I looked at those notes and I thought, oh my god, I don’t prepare like this.

[00:12:24] But you didn’t need to, did you? No, but it was phenomenal. I mean, and I love that methodological brain of yours, it’s, you are a fabulous asset to us, actually at VocalProcess from that point of view. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:37] There’s something very interesting about what you’ve been saying because I think a lot of people fall into this category, which is, I want to do the best. I want to get it right. I want to know what I’m doing. All of those things. And there’s a really interesting ’cause I remember going through this with you, and we go through this with all of our teachers. There’s a point at which you need to know what you’re doing. You need to know what your process is, if you like, and you need to know certain pieces of information.

[00:13:03] And then once you get past that, once you sort of, this gets embedded, there’s a point at which you go, but I need to do my version. And I remember encouraging you to take the information that we’ve got and do your version of it. And I think it’s so important because the next level is not just that you’re comfortable with your knowledge and your information, but you’re comfortable with the way you deliver it.

[00:13:25] And it’s yours to deliver. It was really interesting with that particular course. I don’t know if we’ve even shared this with you, but once you’d done that a couple of times and then of course the pandemic came afterwards. But I remember saying to Jeremy, I think Anne’s version might be better than ours.

[00:13:41] And do you know what I think? And this is one of the joys of us all being able to work together now in the way that we do, that having another person who’d gone through the process allowed what we had put together to evolve. And I think that’s actually a very powerful thing because it enables growth.

[00:14:04] Thank you for that. It’s very important that you have other people. Not just to look at what you do, but to do what you do. And because everybody, I mean, this is we feel this so strongly. Everybody has their talents. Everybody has their base. Everybody has their way of looking at things. And that way of looking at things is incredibly valid.

[00:14:25] And therefore, if we can provide an arena where different people come in and go this is my viewpoint. This is my version. This is how I see it. And you’re open to that level of discussion, then whatever you are all there in the room to do will grow and will improve and will expand. It can’t not. It takes it away from that whole being right thing. It does. Into, as I often say, being helpful. So being helpful, not right, is something I’ve discovered since I’ve got into life coaching and I’ve added that to what I do, which I did as a result of a personal discovery really, but it turns out that it works really well with the teaching.

[00:15:08] I really want, I want to know, I want to know all about the life coaching because we know who your life coach is. And I think that the whole journey that you’ve gone through doing the life coaching and getting to where you are now is so fascinating. Do you want to go there next? I do. Okay. So tell us about this.

[00:15:27] That’s easy then. So yes, no, it was a big journey of discovery for me. About seven years ago I had to have a total hysterectomy because I had a stage one cancer. And that was fine. I mean, physically it was over and I was better in six weeks, just like they said I’d be, but mentally I wasn’t and emotionally I wasn’t because nobody warned me of the fallout from such a big operation.

[00:15:57] So essentially, I was into an immediate menopause, everything was different. I was teaching in Liverpool at the time at Liverpool Theatre School. I was finding it absolutely exhausting for no apparent reason. And it was only then that I discovered it was going to take a year or so for my body to really get over that operation.

[00:16:17] But I just got very down about it and very low and lost all my confidence and became very depressed to the point where I was almost going to give up. But then I think I’ve been chatting to Gillyanne and she said, look, why don’t you speak to our coach? And so I did and I’m still speaking to him today.

[00:16:38] But at one point along the line, he said, why don’t you do my course? Because I think it would really help you. So I did and I did the first module of Making Lives Work. And then from there the second, the third and the fourth because it really took me by storm. It helped me to sort all my own stuff out, but also, I thought, this is brilliant.

[00:17:01] This is where I feel I should be as a teacher. I need to be a coach and also somebody who’s expert with voice really, and I don’t at this stage mind whether it’s singing or speaking. Although singing teaching is always going to be a big thing for me and teaching teachers is as well. what was so interesting about you going on that journey is that you began to be able to give input into our Accreditation Programme. First of all, in terms of, what I’ll just sort of call pastoral skills, if needed, that sometimes somebody, when they’re on an intense training journey, they will have a meltdown.

[00:17:44] I was going to say join the Accreditation Programme, get a meltdown free. Because sometimes a meltdown is part of growth. We don’t advertise it, but yeah, we don’t encourage it either, but you know, it’s challenging. It’s a challenging program, growth is. challenging.

[00:17:59] That’s the nature of the beast. But we found you were very, very good at helping people through that. And you also did something else that happened. Actually, that was a result of me having an operation and being in hospital. and not being available for a training, you two decided that you were going to do a training session on Values for our Cohort21.

[00:18:23] That was so good. And it turned out to be an absolute game changer for that group, so we’ve kept it in the course. So Anne, I want you to talk a bit about values.

[00:18:35] Okay as I see it, values are the things we hold dear, the things we live our lives by. Now, the difficulty is, of course, that we may think we know what those are, but without a full investigation and a real deep level of thought, we can miss it. We might come up with one or two words. Or we might think things are values when they’re actually beliefs, which is a slightly different thing. Absolutely. So a value is something that we just couldn’t live our life without. It’s something that encapsulates who we are at a deep level and it helps us in every aspect of our lives.

[00:19:25] So it might be something like love or integrity or creativity. But there are so many words like that. So what we did in the accreditation was to take the teachers through a process where they could examine possibilities and choose the things that resonated with them, and then examine them at a very deep level by going that means.

[00:19:49] Or, why is that? So if they chose, say, family as a value, we’d just come back and say well, which means? Or honesty, which means? And very often there would be something deeper even than that, which we’d call a core value underneath it. So it’s a bit of a complex process, but it’s really worthwhile. Now the thing about belief is this, belief is something that’s programmed into us, actually, so are values, but in a slightly different way. We tend to pick them up throughout our lives and we listen to them and we formulate plans in our head according to our beliefs. Now sometimes beliefs can run alongside values and they work together and that’s ideally what we want.

[00:20:43] But other times beliefs just don’t support our values. So for instance, if I have a value of self care, I believe in looking after myself. It’s not selfish. It’s what my being needs. It’s what I need as a person. But at the same time, I work myself ragged and never give myself time off and I don’t look after my health or my diet or get enough sleep because I believe that I have to work hard to live. Then my belief is not running in line with my value.

[00:21:16] Yes, I could share a similar thing actually, which is because one of my core values, in fact, I think it’s my top, is harmony. Which is very nice if you’re a musician. But I think simply because of childhood experiences and so on, I grew up with the belief, I must make things right with people, I must make, that people mustn’t argue, they mustn’t be unhappy with me, they mustn’t be unhappy with each other.

[00:21:43] And that meant that there’s several times in my life that I was driven by that and I didn’t even know I was driven by it. And therefore I compromised something that actually did not work for me. You know, I suffered as a result of that belief. And occasionally he still has to remind me of it. We say, hang on, is that, is that belief going on?

[00:22:02] And I go, Oh, okay. And then if those conflict with each other, of course, that is one of the causes of human misery, I think, don’t you? Absolutely. I mean, it’s probably the main cause. That conflict is where we get stuck and we can’t move forward. And we talk a lot about beliefs in the Accreditation programme and how difficult they are, if somebody has a belief, and it’s a very powerful belief, how difficult it is for somebody else to move that person in any direction, really. In teaching, you mean? In teaching, yeah. Absolutely. And therefore, some of the work that I do when I’m coaching people is to check whether there is a belief there and whether it’s serving the person or whether it’s serving the value.

[00:22:48] And if it is great, we leave it alone. We identify and leave it alone. And if it isn’t, then I go, do you want to look into that belief and find out why that’s there? And if it’s necessary for you. It may have been protective for you in the past, but is it necessary for you now to still carry on? I think that’s, again, another really important point is that beliefs are very often protective.

[00:23:11] They’re things that we formulate because things have happened in our lives. What people have said things to us, we could go right back to childhood on it, or it could be more recent. For instance, we could have tried to sing at a concert and it didn’t work out well because we were afraid. And so we then have a belief that we’re no good and everybody thinks we’re rubbish, basically.

[00:23:36] And so the next time a concert comes along, it’s worse. Because the belief is just ingrained. And then it’s a self perpetuating belief. Absolutely. And then that gets mapped in the brain and then the brain goes there because the brain, is geared towards protecting itself, protecting us from negative experiences.

[00:23:56] Frightening experiences. I think the value session that we did for Cohort21, they still talk about it. They do. And it was one of the most powerful things that we did because when you understand what your values are, you then decide to put them into your life in a much more obvious and sort of conscious way.

[00:24:18] Way and your life starts to change. It’s absolutely dramatic with some people, and it’s like you, I took, I call, the phrase that I use is getting people online. Now, that doesn’t mean online as in the internet, but it means congruent with themselves if you like. Congruence. I like that, and I love that. I love that.

[00:24:36] That’s great. that people, when you understand your values, you go, this is what really matters to me. And the fascinating thing is the things that you don’t realize don’t matter to you drop away. Yes. Because you’re focused. And it helped people shape their businesses. It helped the teachers realize what kind of teacher they were and to appreciate and value that.

[00:25:02] And that also gives us certainty as we’re navigating in, in, in the world. And I honestly think it’s one of the things that’s made that cohort, who they are, and now we’re watching Cohort22 doing exactly the same thing. It’s wonderful. And Cohort23 have that to look forward to in a few months.

[00:25:21] They do, if they’re listening, yeah. It’s also very interesting that when we do that, when we do the values session. It doesn’t usually hit immediately. Yeah, true. It takes several months for them to go, Actually, this is really interesting. This filters down. You start to change the way that you react to things.

[00:25:41] You change the way that you behave. And sort of six months later, people come back and go, Oh, that was powerful. Yes. Really interesting. Yes. It takes a while to process exactly what a value is. And to start with, people very often come up with things that are not really a value. I want to make sure I do it right.

[00:26:02] That’s not a value. What does that mean? I want to get it right. What does that mean? I don’t want to make a mistake. What does that mean? I want to do my best for the student. Aha, now we’re getting towards a value. What does that mean? I want to help the other person to grow. So the value is perhaps growth, or the value is perhaps some version of caring.

[00:26:29] Yeah, so it’s digging down like that so that you understand your own behaviors and why you’re doing them really, why you’re carrying things out the way that you do. And absolutely, in lessons, we all meet beliefs from other people, but we also need to examine our own beliefs, I think, as teachers. Mm hmm. It’s very easy when somebody comes in the room and we hear them and we look at them to suddenly go, Oh, yes, I know what that is. That’s. blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so we go along teaching and, if we don’t take the time to listen and stop and give space, then we don’t hear what we need to hear.

[00:27:08] We just carry on with our own assumption. And you miss cues. Yes. You don’t know this, but I am actually writing a set of articles right now that will be the first one will have been released by the time this podcast comes out. And it is on exactly this subject. Amazing. So, People listen out for that.

[00:27:25] This has been a blast so far, but we really do need to leave it there. I think we’ve got a lot more to talk about, though. I think we should invite you back for the next episode. We’ll see you then.

[00:27:36] This is A Voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.


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