Feedback

As a singer we need feedback, but it is difficult to get an objective feedback and to put it in the right context for ourselves.

👌Tip number one is:
Try to get constructive criticism from people who understand the issues and the profession.
For example, your voice teacher has to correct your vocal technique and your pianist has to correct musical nuances. (Please note that a Theater Director or a conductor might not offer you substantial feedback after an audition. His time is limited and his job is just to find a singer for this specific role.)

There are always colleagues who have the tendency to give feedback so…
👌Tip number two is:
Take an inner step back and ask yourself: “What is the underlying motivation why this colleague is commenting on my performance?” A healthy on the spot reaction is to say thank you and a short sentence like “I will think about it“. Please try not to explain yourself. A colleague is a colleague!

It takes time, thought and concentration to give a thoughtful and neutral Feedback. When I was in the first year of my opera career I was young and insecure, and I received contradicting feedback. It took me a while until I understood that they are just opinions, often from people who are in the same boat or have no career, or what I call “pretending to be more then they are.” I remember my first production as a very young Tosca and my Scarpia was the famous Franz Grundheber. I was on one hand so overwhelmed singing an opening night of Tosca with this great singer, and on the other hand I understood very quickly that he was a nobleman only concentrating on his art and singing. Instead of giving his opinion he was in peace and concentration with himself, and I felt then that I have the time, the space and the atmosphere to grow into my interpretation of Tosca. It was a very special opening night for me and one of these rare performances where you feel the God of the Singing Heaven has just put a magic glow on you 🌟
My advice is : Do not give unsolicited criticism and do not listen to unsolicited criticism. You never know in which state of development the singer is or what tasks he or she is facing in the career.

Hopefully you have trustworthy sources in your life, like a mentor, your voice teacher, your number one coach, people who have helped to guide you through the varied up and downs of your singing education and career. You have a bond of trust and honesty created between you and these handful of people, and this is unpayable in the life of a Singer. Until today I am thankful and blessed that I have my mentors David L. Jones, Friedrich Gürtler and Thomas Barthel in my life, with whom I have trustworthy and honest relationships with for decades, and where I get substantial advice. As well, of course, all the wonderful female singers which have influenced my way, like KS Birgit Nilsson, KS Berit Lindholm and Janet Williams. These are only a few to mention here.

In this special Weekly Nugget I also want to give a THANK YOU towards all the brilliant young singers, and also the singers who are already in careers in my studio, for their dedication towards the art. As well as for their substantial honesty in the working process with me and the people around them in this profession. I am grateful for your heartfelt testimonials that are featured on my website now.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

 

Photo: Vera Wenkert as Tosca and Franz Grundheber as Scarpia

How to take care of your voice in a coaching session

It might be a demanding task for young singers to get through a coaching session with a pianist whilst keeping the voice unstrained.
Number One definitely is to keep in mind that it is your responsibility to take care of your voice.

I know from my own experience as a freshman in the opera and theater business how intimidating it can be when one is confronted with professional opera pianists. As a matter of fact, coaches are so delighted to help us singers on our way to conquer the role or just to learn an aria! Most pianists in Opera Houses know a lot about the music and what would be the most wonderful sound of this particular word or phrase etc. They are full of ideas and advice regarding the musical phrasing, tempo etc, and it is more or less easy for the singer to take the advice and perform with it.

Often coaches want to help to correct an unpolished sound or other sound issues. Most of the time this is problematic because they are not voice teachers. They have good ears and intentions, but when they give sound or vocal corrections (I want to emphasize here) it is essential that you as a singer translate it in the vocal technique you have and then try to correct it in the session. If you feel that you unfortunately cannot solve it in this coaching session, be so kind to yourself and stand up for yourself. Also in this way you can respect the time of the pianist and tell him or her that you want to take the time to solve it by yourself or with your voice teacher. Especially young dramatic voices have to take good care of themselves. (Of course there are also coaches who have the knowledge of the voice to work on it a little, but they are not easy to find.)

Again there is nobody else responsible for your voice then the singer himself.

Sometimes it is not easy to stand up for oneself, to take this huge responsibility and to maybe confess things like:
“This does not feel right for me or makes my voice tired.”
“This coaching is too much for me on top of my rehearsal schedules and performance schedules which are very tight at the moment.”

💡If you do not feel well, mark in a coaching session, speak the lines in rhythm etc 💡

AFFIRMATION: I take responsibility for my voice in every coaching session, in every rehearsal and in every performance.

Good luck! Rise and Shine!

Vera Wenkert

Cool down after a Performance

Out of my long stage experience I want to encourage you young singers to install the habit of cooling down the voice after a performance. Like in the sports world, singers also use muscles to sing. In my opinion it is not only important to exercise the voice everyday but also to cool it down after a long performance or recital.

You can use the “u“ vowel to do so only in the middle register of your voice. For example you start with quinte third tonica or you go down a five tone scale. When you sing it softly abd with your support, the vocal chords return to freedom. It just takes 5-10 minutes to do so, but the benefit is a healthy relaxation of the voice. Remember treat your voice like your best friend and acknowledge and take care of its needs.

There is another benefit of this procedure: You will build up a sensitive relationship with your voice, knowing if you have sung in the right way through your performance.
The voice will show you afterwards, if it is too tired, you definitely pushed too much, gave too much volume etc. There can be several reasons for this, but now you know you have to find out. Knowing how to keep your voice healthy and fresh is crucially important for a singers life and career.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Diction in Opera

For many singers it is a challenge to learn and sing contemporary music or even music of composers, who nowadays are not “contemporary” anymore i.e A. Berg and A. Schoenberg. Instead of being overwhelmed by the first look of the score, take it as an interesting walk into a foreign landscape and be curious.
Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” for example has clear patterns to follow, which you have to do to make it work for you. In “Wozzeck” the Singer has to find an honest way of expressing all of the music, plus diction in this very demanding opera. Every diction and declamation has to be articulated on the airflow and routed in a good support system. There is no character in the opera who does not get out of ones depth. The instructions of Berg are crystal clear and the singer has to follow them.

My advice is: read the whole opera. Then in an opera like “Wozzeck” first speak the text until the text and the proper articulation is your first nature. Second, learn the music and sing the text in a bel canto way, phrasing and articulating the words. This is an important step so that the voice finds, what I call the “HEALTHY SINGING PATH”.
Afterwards work phrase by phrase the words and music together which will bring you to the next step of expressing the emotion in the music.

I want to emphasize here that out of my experience, the healthiest way for every study period is to first work the basics of your role and then later carefully look at what are the emotions of the character so you can dive deeper and deeper into them.

💡ATTENTION: Do not take emotional risks in these kind of operas. If you are not yet able to handle them with your vocal technique and musicality, find a way which fits you now in this moment of your development or career.

AFFIRMATION: I take the time and spirit to explore difficult music.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Don’t fall into the trap of jealousy and envy!

Last week a singer wrote to me a request to write about jealousy and envy. She has had an outstanding success with a performance, but she was confronted with the behaviour of jealousy. Unfortunatly in every profession we are confronted with these reactions. Of course it especially hurts when you are an artist as you open your heart and soul in a performance. I would love to dedicate this weekly nugget towards all the artists who are exposing themselves with their artistry. Congratulations and appreciate yourself 🌟 Bravo! 🌟

Now there are also times in every artists life where one has to cope with difficulties or what I call “desert periods”. In these periods it might be difficult to say a honest compliment to the success of a collegue. Why is it like this?

Often it is that we emotionally interpret someone else’s success as a judgment against our own lack of success. Sometimes the thoughts of artists go: “When he/she succeeds, it means I have failed.” We interpret it as a reflection on ourselves: “Why do they get to enjoy success? Am I not worthy of the same success? Why do they get to have something that I don’t?”

Many believe that jealousy or envy are emotions that concern other people. In fact, they are all about us. Envy and jealousy come from our insecurities, anxiety, and fears.
When all you do is compare yourself to other people, or at least to the image you have built of them – which is often not based in reality, you can’t focus on being present and making art. To create art requires introspection and self-connection, and when you feel jealous or envious, you are about to loose your true self.

So, what to do if you feel envious?
Ask yourself “WHAT is my jealousy telling me about myself?” Instead of asking the “WHY” questions. You will see what the underlying answers can tell you.

AFFIRMATION: I concentrate on myself with dedication and joy. On my unique artist path I am evolving my unique success 💞

With encouragement
Vera Wenkert

Working with the airflow

I remember when I worked with a dramatic soprano on Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung. (In my opinion to sing this Brünnhilde is the most challenging of the three Brünnhildes.)
We worked the whole part and I cannot emphasise enough that to get through this big emotional and technically demanding role, the singer has to know crystal clear what to do technically. I tried to convince her that she just has to think of the pitch and to trust that the airflow does the work with the open throat, that the fexible support system is working and supporting the vocal production. 👍 She is a very fine singer, but when nerves or a little stage fright comes in, anxiety habits sneak in and she locks the ribcage and stops the breathflow. So, in our lessons we worked a lot with exercises to free the diaphragm and to unlock the jaw. As a result she finally she got rid of the increasing subglottal pressure and her big beautiful sound came effortlessly out of her mouth. It was pure joy to hear her Brünnhilde ❤️
A word of advice from my experience on stage: Never give 100% of your voice. Sing with 80% only. Then you will sail safer through your entire career.

AFFIRMATION: Healthy singing is singing on the airflow and not trying to make a big sound with muscle strength.

All the best,
Vera Wenkert

How to find the right voice teacher for you

The right voice teacher is a person who can build up not only a healthy vocal technique with you, but empowers you to fully express your vocal gifts. So, how do find out if this particular teacher is the right one for you?
In my opinion it makes no sense just to book an expensive audition lesson with a possible future voice teacher because the teacher must see you in the working process first, and you yourself must get a good sense of how the teacher’s approach towards your voice is. This is the reason why I always schedule an hour of real work with a possible singer. Sometimes professionals come to me and they want to do a Fachwechsel (voice change) and in this case it is essential that the singer takes his or her time to work with the teacher and trust in the process with the teacher. Again, there is no magic pill in the singing universe.

In my long stage career and out of my extensive teaching experience I can say that if you are a different vocal Fach than what you previously thought, then your current teacher with good ears and knowledge will hear it and guide you through the process.You might be super lucky if the teacher also is a wonderful musician, a healthy personality and a generous character. I have had wonderful teachers and mentors like Friedrich Gürtler and David L. Jones, and until today I know if I need any advice I can contact them. I feel so grateful for these Mentors 💕

How do you recognize a healthy character in the teaching community?
– Teacher nurtures your unique talent
– They give you explanations and healthy vocal exercises for your voice
– Empowers you to become independent
– Is honest with you and can give you heartfelt compliments for the progress you achieve
– Is not moody/arrogant
– A healthy teacher nurtures you and does not feel the need to make himself big and important on the back of the student
– Has good ears and knows the music repertoire
– Treats the student with respect and attentiveness

These are only a few aspects but there are of course many more.

AFFIRMATION: In my life I find the right voice teacher who is attentive, kind and appreciates me. I enter a field of Life responding to me.

Best Wishes,
Vera Wenkert

Create a Culture of Mastership

Sometimes singers come to me and they are in a super doubtful state of mind about themselves. Often there has been an influence from outside either positive or negative. I am always wondering why young singers or young professionals give their power away so easily and let somebody judge them even when they may not know this person, or this person is just an acquaintance. Again I want to emphasize, you must take 100% responsibility for yourself.

As an artist you have to be a powerful human being, grounded in yourself, but with room for your inner vulnerability and imperfections. This will help you grow step by step on your way to the profession and then of course in the profession.

Affirmation: I hold my inner compass⭐️

Safe travels in the Universe of wonderful music and art 💖

Vera Wenkert

Activate the seeds of your potential

The Singers in my Auditioning Masterclass have shown again, that we all have to focus on the process to bring out our deeper potential as a singer and musician and then we can fully express our music soul and vocal gift. We want to create and manifest our unique individual artistic soul.
This also means to release inner barriers which are blocking our development.
Healthy and artistic singing is rooted in the trust of flow. Flow in many ways: Sing on the airflow, let your voice float not be pushed by willpower, trust in your music sense etc. etc.
I am delighted to guide you through this process with my work. And I am delighted to give you a glimpse in the professional topics with my weekly nuggets.
With appreciation
Vera

Learning new Operaparts

This is a really wonderfull feeling, when you have the score of your new part in your hands. But how to learn it in reasonable time?
First of all: You can do it.
Here is the recipe :
1) learn the rhythm
2) learn the music , means your line and as I always did learn the lines of your partners.
3) practice rhythm and music together at the piano in an easy way .
This means do not put big sound or voice on it, just with easy sing singing.
4) learn the words
5) first sing your musical line on a vowel, then on the vowels of the words and last but not least with words
6) study the accompany lines
Melody line and Accompany line belongs together
Wow at this point you have already made a lot of progress in conquering your new part. Bravo!
7) find out where the story takes place and read about the time, the history etc.
8) study your part with your voice teacher and a good coach
If it is a different language, you might to have to see a language coach too for one or two times.
9) Now you are ready to sing it with your beautiful voice.
Believe me out of my own career experiences and out of my teaching experiences this is the quickest way to make an opera part your own.
Enjoy the artistic way.
Wishing you a wonderful day
Vera

Performance Opportunities

In this weekly nugget I want to encourage young singers and artists to find performance opportunities, where you can see and proof what you already have accomplished and also for the joy of singing..
Use your phantasie for finding or creating a performance possibility.
Maybe you could sing in a church, in an elderly home, in a hospital, in a fancy big hotel etc. or in little productions.
Every young artist needs this route of experience before he or she can shine with selfconfidence on an operastage.
When I was studying with Gloria Davy as a very young singer, she always said no singer stands on a stage over night. She was right.
I seriously suggest first own your confidence young singers and start taking actions on your career dreams. Step by step.
For this reason I offer the young singers two times a year the opportunity to sing and perform in a staged public concert after a 5 day Masterclass, where we work on staging scenes.
It is wonderful to see their growth in the performance situation.
To become an artist needs talent, dedication and discipline and over all love to the art.
Wishing you : Feel inspired every day on your singing journey. Embrace the fact that you are on an exciting way and honor your learning path.
Warmest
Vera

Acknowledgments

We artists are all on a never ending journey to become the true version of ourselves and to develop and come into alignment with the unique inner artist in us.
If you nurture the relationship with yourself, means with your soul, body and artistry and spirit you will build a stable footing into your life as a human being and as an artist.
I am a strong believer that we -especially in the art – learn from so many wonderful sources and human beings. There are the giant composers, the poets, our teachers and mentors, our share of luck and our obstacles to overcome.
Young singers , there will appear a flower bouquet of different experiences on your career path, find two people in your life you can really , really trust ,who honestly believe in you as a human being and artist, who are honest with you in a warm and understanding way and who give you the permission to reveal yourself.
If you already have found them feel the happiness of gratitude.
On this occasion I give a deep heartfelt Thank YOU to David Jones and Friedrich. Thank you for your enthusiasm for me, your knowledge, your work .
Wishing you the best
Vera

Singing Wagnerian Repertoire

This week I worked with a young dramatic soprano who is preparing her first Sieglinde for stage rehearsals. It is an extraordinarily beautiful role and music. I have sung it so often on stage and I just love and adore the music and the role. The love duet is just very moving and needs a lot of colour and body and tone. In all Wagnerian singing are a lot of technical demands! As a Wagnerian singer you usually have the weight and heaviness in the middle of your voice but due to the emotions of the respective characters the singer has to sing a wide range of tessitura. Singing the very top notes can be a challenge when you have sung dramatic and weighty in the middle range. For example, when I sang Siegfried Brünnhilde on stage, the best approach for me was to take it more lyrical. Siegfried Brünnhilde’s tessitura is high. It is different with Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde. The role is lower and more dramatic and reflects the whole development in the Ring Cycle…
In Wagnerian Singing it is essential that the singer has an excellent breathing concept and that he or she has a chrystal- clear concept of the role in mind.
One challenge is the diction in Wagnerian music:
Of course, one has to understand every word but it has to be DICTION IN A HEALTHY SINGING PROCESS AND VOCAL PRODUCTION.
I stressed this with capital letters because when professional singers come to me to get their part ready to perform I have nearby always to correct their diction approach. The voice still needs to travel on the airflow and the consonants should not stop the airflow. I remember, when I worked my Elsa, Senta, Sieglinde, Brünnhilde etc. with Richard Trimborn, one of the old school and competent coaches from Munich State Opera house, he was emphasizing all the time, that you have to sing R. Wagner’s music with naturalness and beauty and there exist a lot of dynamics. PIANO!
Richard Trimborn was just a very competent rock in the music world of R. Strauss and R. Wagner.
Thank you Richard that I can pass your precious music advices to the singers in my studio.
Fazit: Sing Wagnerian music with a wide range of dynamics.
With love for the art and for every artist
Vera

Singer’s Wisdom

Weekly Nugget: Singers’ Wisdom So many voice students and singers have asked me to write a book about Methode StimmKunst©. I am delighted and super proud that now the e-book “Methode StimmKunst© – Advice from Vera Wenkert” is available: Join me on http://WWW.STIMMKUNST.CH/COMMUNITY/ and download the free e-book until May 14th 2018. This book is the precious seed of my future printed book. I have decided to give the e-book as a gift to you, beautiful singer, for 2 reasons: First of all: Support is crucial for success in an artist’s life. So, take it as an enchanted help! Second: My life path and music path have taught me to truly see my value and I like to put value into the world and to help artists to blossom and to find their way to grow. I cordially invite you to join the StimmKunst community.
With all my love💕for the art Vera

Daily Voice Cart Part 3: Preparing an Operapart

I work with high level performing artists , with whom I make an extramindful preparation plan.
This means, we work the part mindful and when the time allows gently in the voice. For example pushing your voice in dramatic sound to fullfill the requests of dramatic sound is a completly wrong path and the risk is there of falling into bad habits of tension and other compensations that will be difficult to unlearn. In my opinion and according to my results in my own professional life and in the performance life of my artists it is a healthier way first to show the singer the special kind of self-awareness, so that he or she feels that every operasound has to be sung without strain in the voice. The singer needs patience to go through this process then he or she will get the way of steady progress. Once the singer has digest the healthy route to sing it is easy to put the dramatic into the piece. I remember when I sang Butterfly I started 3 months before the rehearsal time at the opera house started to sing it into my voice and to learn everything around the character etc. Then, when stagerehearsals start, I felt so easy in the part that I could fully concentrate on the character and staging.
Your body sensations and your mind and your emotions work together and all three are wired into voice. To understand this and to stay attentive to the process of feeling the voice is effortless singing is the important thing for keeping your voice healthy.
In my everyday teaching I see that it takes the crystal clear intention of the singer to trust in this profound work process. Singers who get involved in my special well-foundet way of working, which I have created, experience fullfilment and success in their performamces.
The magic pill you cannot find in a quick way , the magic pill lies in trust that your day by day self work will bring the result and hopefully with the help of a trustful voice teacher you will learn in a profound training or retraining to understand your individual vocal production.
Merry Christmas and a blessed time for you and your loved ones . Toi toi toi for all my wonderful singers, who have concerts and performances coming up the next 2 weeks. Next weekly Nugget comes 2018.
You are also welcome to find out more about Methode Stimmkunst 2018
With appreciation and warmest wishes
Vera

Tips to help you to improve your practice routine

Make sure that you continuously working with your mindset
everything you want to accomplish in life starts with your mindset.
Believe that you can do it and surround yourself with the right people, who influence you to stay motivated and focused on your learning or working process.
Practice discipline and working on becoming consistent: You want to take an effort on practising your voice and music every day until you have solved a problem or achieved a different level…. etc.
You are working towards your goals!!
Set specific and measurable goals, so that you can see how you are doing as you make progress towards your goals
Last tip for today : Create a plan what you can do to accomplish your goals.
Have joy to start today

Vera

Shine up and Sing

Today is the public concert of my Dublin Masterclass.
I’ m so excited to help the young artists to start their career during the next months.
The results of the Masterclass inspired me to remind you beautiful singers despite all work you have to do and all the intense studies and devotion it takes to be an artist, allow yourself to glow in the brightest light from your heart.If you like you are invited to join my weekly nugget to guide you with uplifting and substancial messages on your way. Vera

Stagecraft Masterclass

Good morning singers!

I am giving a Stagecraft Masterclass this weekend, and I would love to give some input into how to make a role yours. Of course, you have to know the music and you have to be able to sing it beautifully with your unique voice,
but this is not enough for giving the role birth on stage in rehearsals, and later in performances. So let us dive deeper in the process…

…You have to know all details about your character as if it was a real person. Find out the age of the character, the surrounding and social status it lives in, the relationships to the other characters in the opera, the state of mind, which scenery, when you sing the aria or duet etc.
You become an interesting working partner for the stage director when you have done this thoughtful work before you meet him/her. They will give to you their ideas and then you can work with these on a serious empowered basis. (These are only the basic things to take into consideration . There are many other things to conquer)
I remember when I was preparing my debut Lady Macbeth (Verdi), I was so thrilled by the idea to not just portray her as cold and power greedy, that I translated every word and searched for the deeper meaning therefore finding a more versatile character who I could give life to on stage.

Wishing you joy with your unique approach!
With appreciation,
Vera