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.
Photo: Vera Wenkert as Tosca and Franz Grundheber as Scarpia
Cheery News for a Singers Life
As long as you are certain you want to have a career as a singer my advice is: GO FOR IT!
Get in touch with your dreams and take steps now to build a profession as a singer.
I have some steps you can take, starting right now…
1). Do your very best to learn a healthy vocal technique with a responsible voice teacher.
I myself teach the Swedish-Italian School of Singing, which I have learned from David L. Jones, Birgit Nilsson, Berit Lindholm and Gloria Davy. With this technique I have sung and still sing so many dramatic repertoire.
2). Learn the Musicianship.
3). Are you attending every training opportunity? i.e coachings, Masterclasses, little performance opportunities etc.
4). Be honest with yourself. Do you feel you get the right education which you need with your instructors? If you feel you are not making progress you might take into consideration to find an instructor who might be addressing your special needs. As a singer you have to stand up for yourself in any aspect .
I will never forget what a World Famous Singer told me once. He was one of my Tannhäuser and I was Elisabeth:
“Vera, it is also a talent of a singer to find the right teachers and people to learn with.”
THIS is what I wish you young singers to search and to find ?
To your greatness
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
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
My singing and my teaching work is my place of worship!
I feel deeply grateful that I can show through my work as an opera singer and through my individual teaching that every rehearsal and every performance, even every lesson is sharing: giving and taking! The meaningful aspect in singing for me is to connect and move the audience. How can we engage the audience on a deep level? Most important is a solid vocal technique and a refined musicality. And of course to work and sculpture your character you portray before giving it birth on an opera stage. This needs a lot of professional discipline and dedication, but it is a great joy to sculpture an operacharacter.
Yes, I know, how difficult it is in our times of social media and the feeling, one has to be available for the outer world any time, to find the silence and the “room” during each day to dive into the – let it call – solitude hours to be just with oneself and the character or the aria or the art song…
But I promise, if you make the decision to do so on a regular basis, you are nurturing your inner artist! Then you can describe the feelings in the opera characters you interpret.
Yesterday, when I was rehearsing the Immolationscene from Brünnhilde Götterdämmerung I was feeling this deep THANK YOU to my artistic way in my life.
Thank You to all my teachers and to my Mentor. I strongly believe that every young singer and singers in a career need an expert vocal teacher musician and a coach and need one or two persons to trust on the career path.
This time of the year is audition time. Yeah, superb! You made it until here. So let’s see, if everything you need is on the peak:
Number one: Your beautiful voice is a free voice with the help of a good vocal technique. The effortless flow of sound, vocal freedom is a satisfying experience for any audition panel.
Number two: Perform with unfettered musicality.
Number three: Is your confidence and self esteem so solid, that you feel secure in yourself in any aspect and that you communicate the joy of being a singer and performer to the panel?
Number four: Your Italian diction sounds Italian and your German diction sounds German… You have translated the text by yourself and not only with a given translater….
Feel inspired by this 1st part of the checking list of ” Sing and Shine”.
You are in a working progress and go for it. Next week here on my Stimmkunst page you will find part two on GREAT AUDITIONS. For masterclasses, voice lessons, career coaching and auditions workshops have a glimpse on my website stimmkunst.ch.