Mar 072019
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

Want to discover more? Book an online session with us or check out our  downloadable training Webinars 

  4 Responses to “Understanding versus belief in singing teaching”

Comments (4)

    I really liked this. I think it’s a great way of thinking about how we go about the business of teaching and communicating. I had an interesting and challenging lesson last week with a student who I had thought I’d understood her beliefs but I’d actually not even came close. This has made me think about listening more and not making quick assumptions.


      Such a great point Clare. As teachers it’s part of our job to identify issues and make snap decisions – I like to think I make a decision very quickly (in seconds) then take a little more time to confirm whether my first thought was good or whether I need to change it. Same in auditions!


    Hi Jeremy,

    It’s interesting to know you are reading Power vs Force. One thing in particular that struck me in this book when I read it several years ago is David Hawkins’ research on emotions in which he used kinesiology as a defining tool.

    I have referred to his reserch many times in my own work. I do this in order to facilitate awareness on a bodily level, versus the emphasis being always on the inflated use of the intellect; mind PLUS bodymind.
    Shame is the very lowest on the vibratory scale, even lower than hate or guilt, whereas bliss is the highest, even higher than love.

    If we as teachers project our beliefs on to our clients, this will inevitably produce a low vibration within them, and between teacher and client, plus performance is impaired, as the singer is not engaging with their personal sense of wholeness and authenticity.

    On the other hand, as you so rightly point out, if we open the space with the possibility of more BEYOND purely having an idea imposed, we begin to raise the vibration in the room, in the client and therefore, within performance.

    Lovely article. Thank you Jeremy!


      I so agree with this Felicity. I was actually weirdly pleased to discover shame was the lowest on the cycle as it’s utterly destructive and keeps you “frozen” and unable to act. I’ve always instinctively felt vibration levels in my coaching – it’s one of the main ways I work out if something is successful on my singers/instrumentalists. But this was the first time I’d seen it put into clear understandable language.
      Gillyanne and I both feel very strongly about honouring each client’s authenticity and helping them to acknowledge and express it.
      Working on raising my own vibration right now!

Leave a Reply