Understanding versus belief in singing teaching

Calm woman and shouty man

What’s the difference between understanding and belief in singing teaching?
Is it cut-and-dried or subtle?
Are they interchangeable?

Been reading an interesting book on power v force this week. The way I see it in singing teaching, power equates with understanding and force equates with belief. So power = “I share my truth so we can both understand it better” and force = “this is my truth and therefore your truth because I say it is”.

Even in 2019, the act of singing is full of beliefs: “we sing on a continuous column of air”, “you can’t change volume in falsetto”, “raise your eyebrows to bring the sound forwards”, and so on. Many of these beliefs get passed on by singers who become teachers. Sometimes they work, sometimes they just get in the way. What matters in singing teaching is the force with which you share them with your students.

Our job as voice trainers is not to make you believe something, no matter how passionately we believe it ourselves. Our job is to help you to understand something, perhaps in the way that we do, perhaps with a view to you understanding it better, and on a deeper level, than we do.

Singing teaching then becomes sharing, exploring and learning on both sides. Can I help you understand this, and do you understand it in a different way to me that you can share back and we can both grow?

And away from the student, our job as a teacher is to think. To use our intelligence and our gut brain to filter out other people’s beliefs, urgencies and force, and to understand for ourselves, in our own words, in a way that we can share with clarity.

The most important thing you can do as a teacher is to ask questions, of our students, of ourself, of our beliefs and our understanding.

Force comes from without, power comes from within. Ultimately, belief might benefit me but understanding benefits everyone.

If you’re wondering what sparked the thoughts in this article, check out “Power v Force” by Dr David R Hawkins

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