Building Trust in the Vocal Studio

“Authentic and positive relationships are not built in a day. Put your best and most honest self forward and then trust the process. A mentor of mine said that experience is just time in disguise. Neither can be truncated or expedited. You just have to keep showing up, keep expanding your reach, keep learning and growing, and individual relationships will fall into place as they should.”
~Grace Stern,
from TomatoSass, a Blog for Women in the Music Industry

Brené Brown continues to give us gifts of magnificent proportions.  I just saw her talk on the “Anatomy of Trust” and wanted to rebroadcast it’s existence in case someone out there happens upon this blog and has space for 20 minutes or so of life-altering goodness.  (video below, btw)

I love technology and our ability to freely broadcast transformative information!  So much it makes me want to cry, but I digress.  On with the show.

Brené’s research reveals how trust functions, and in typical BB fashion she brings it home through real-life stories and her wide, open heart.  This video settles like warm hugs in your chest the same way a deep and intimate talk with your bestie does, at a time when you need it the most.

I contend most of us are searching for more trust and depth of connection in our relationships, or as Brené says “more marbles in the marble jar”.  (the video will teach you all about your marbles, never fear)

And! Where do we need trust, maybe more than most places??  In our vocal studios.  If we can’t get vulnerable and real while learning to sing, and while helping others with their voices, then we might consider changing professions.  Clearly that is my opinion, but I don’t feel like I have time to mince words any longer.  We are on the front lines of a campaign for MORE LOVE in the world, people.  This is important stuff.

The Anatomy of Trust, Thoroughly Researched and Expertly Presented

First, let us establish: trust is built on the smallest of moments and the smallest of interactions.

Brené explains that researchers keep circling back to the same concept – trust isn’t made of grand gestures and extroverted overtures.  Trust is established when your co-worker asks how your mom is feeling, and when your friend texts you out of the blue to ask how your day went, and when you buy your friend’s coffee just because.  She says these small moments are “opportunities to connect.”

Flip side: those tiny moments where trust has the potential to arrive on the scene, are also the moments where betrayal can be created.  This is worth pondering as we interact with each other and our students.  Again, the small interactions are the ones that matter.  They hold potential for both the good and the bad.

Here’s where Brené Brown’s work gets really juicy.  She wanted to figure out the nature of the “marbles”, or tiny elements of trust (again, watch the video so you can learn about your marbles), and through research she did.  Here’s what she found:

“When we trust, we are braving connection with someone.” ~B. Brown

The elements of trust fit into the acronym: BRAVING.

B: Boundaries
R: Reliability
A: Accountability
V: Vault (Being a vault)
I: Integrity
N: Non-judgement
G: Generosity

Wow.  Beautiful, right??  And I didn’t even scratch the surface here.  Brené discusses each element of trust at length, and if you aren’t already watching the video, I hope you are on your way there right now.  The bottom line: we can say “I love you” and “I’m trust worthy” all day long, but if BRAVING doesn’t exist, there is no real trust and we are just flapping our gums.

Just like a good voice lesson, if we are going to get something accomplished, shouldn’t we know what we are talking about?  If we are going to have trust with our clients, students, and colleagues, shouldn’t we learn what it is and how it works?  Brené thinks so, and I agree with her 100%.

That’s what I think about the voice too – if I’m going to instruct someone on how to use their voice, it is my responsibility to know how it works.  At least to the best of my ability.  A very wise and respected voice teacher said recently, “[voice teachers] don’t get a free pass on learning how the voice functions.” Agreed. After watching this video, I don’t think we get a free pass on understanding trust either.

Trust and Helping Others

As the topic of trust is much too large to fully address in a blog post, or anywhere for that matter, I want to highlight just one element of trust and let you ponder the rest.

One of Brené’s points in the video has to do with asking for help.  People trust us when we are able to ask for help.  And, as she asks the audience in the below video, how many of us are good at helping, but horrible at asking for it?

Hopefully as voice teachers we create spaces where students and clients feel safe to ask for help.  What if we also ask them for help?  Would that foster an atmosphere of trust, and an atmosphere for deeper learning and healing?  What if we are just as curious about their voice experiences as we are in “instructing them”?  What if we ask for their help too?

A very poignant teaching story comes from one of my mentors.  Someone who knew absolutely zilch (zero, nada) about any singing style other than classical.  But she knew vocal function like the back of her hand and had a heart for helping ALL singers learn about their voices.  One day a bluegrass singer entered her studio, and my mentor had the courage to say, “I don’t know anything about bluegrass singing.  Will you teach me about it?”

A moment of trust established.  Needless to say, these two had a wonderful and fruitful working relationship.

The Video

Below is a ticket to understanding trust in a deeper way.  I hope Brené Brown helps and encourages you to build more small moments of trust in your personal and professional relationships.  Lord knows we are all searching for ways to make this crazy earth-journey a little brighter and more loving.  #connectioneconomy #loverevolution


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