“Sing Fresh and Focused”

Many of you have asked me what my daily routine looks like that has kept voice so fresh and young even after my long stage career in the heavy dramatic Fach. So I write some aspects down for you:

1) Every morning instead of connecting with the world outside I first connect with myself within. My routine is a 15 min meditation, which I’ve been doing for years and years. It is my routine to connect with my inner self. I find peace and concentration doing so. (It is so important for a singer that you are able to concentrate.)

2) For 25 years I have been vocalising my voice in a very healthy and smooth way. I do this in the morning for 25 min and then I work on repertoire. Again it is also a wonderful tool to stay in good vocal shape by having a routine in warming up the voice.

3) I have a very healthy food plan, which is also vital!

In the afternoon I teach vocal technique as well as coaching singers in my mentorship program at my Institut Stimmkunst. I have choosen a joyful and nurturing life, where I am able to nurture with wisdom and passion not only in my life, but lives of so many professional singers and voice students.

Sometimes professional singers are entering my studio when they have free time between engagements to study a part or to take care of their voices after singing a heavy part. This is sometimes a difficult time for you singers. I want to encourage you to focus on what you have already achieved in your singing career.
In times which were demanding in my singing career on stage, for example singing Elizabeth and Venus in the same Tannhäuser production, I was so grateful that I have had the honor and the opportunity to fulfill my life dream day by day: TO BE ON STAGE AND SINGING.

My advice is to train your voice, your body, your mind and soul. You are the leader of your Kingdom or Queendom.

Wishing you all the Best
Vera
Dramatic soprano and Voice Teacher
Institut Stimmkunst/Zürich
www.stimmkunst.ch

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

How to work with a conductor

For young singers it might be challenging to work through the first orchestra rehearsal process with the assistant conductor and the principle conductor of the opera.

?Here is the good news: There are so many supportive hints by the composer in the opera score,

When you follow the advice given by the composer, and your vocal technique is healthy and brilliant, you feel the ground beat in your body, then magic can happen between the orchestra and you! The conductor will guide you with love for the music and passion for the art.

Make sure you are able to sing at the orchestra rehearsal with full voice. Sometimes if the schedule is tight, you can discuss with the conductor to mark one rehearsal, especially when you have to sing a heavy big part or leading role. Later on in your career when you are a more experienced artist you might be able to weave your own interpretation ideas with the composers ideas, too.

Always remember that to be an opera singer does not mean to shine through your ego, it means to serve the music with your unique beautiful soul and artistry. I remember in most of my big dramatic roles I was feeling so comfy in this sound bubble created by these wonderful instruments around me, that I was totally absorbed in this music and character I was singing. Then Opera is in this moment is a better world because of this incredible music.

?My advice is: Fall in love with the music (not only with your melody) then most conductors will be by your side?

You will find more details about the good spirit we have to nurture and shout out in the opera and music business in my e book: “Methode Stimmkunst.” You can order it through my website: www.stimmkunst.ch

To your greatness
Vera Wenkert

Care of Knowledge to be a Shining Opera Singer

Out of my experience as a dramatic soprano, having sung more than 30 major roles on various opera stages, it is my passion to give my knowledge and skills to young artists and aspiring talents.

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Since 2012 I have been conducting Opera Workshops and Masterclass courses with talented young opera artists and voice students. In these workshops and courses participants hone their performance skills in recitative, auditions and role preparation.

Every fact of a singer’s career is addressed by me and my professional team of opera accompanists and art song coaches from Opera House Zürich.

I help with audition preparation, dramatic interpretation, musicianship, acting skills, healthy vocal technique plus how to overcome stage anxiety.

In private lessons, I offer the healthy vocal technique based on the Swedish-Italian School of Singing, the technique that Kirsten Flagstadt and Birgit Nilsson sang with.

In private coachings I work out with you individually how to find your unique path in the music world and in the Opera business.

*For further information about the upcoming Masterclasses and Workshops in 2019 please visit my website: www.stimmkunst.ch*

With appreciation
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

Dear beautiful singers

In my career on stage and in concerts I have sung many Wagnerian roles: Elsa, Elisabeth, Venus, Senta, Sieglinde, Brünnhilde, Isolde. Out of these experiences and from the experience I have with my teaching practice in teaching dramatic voices, my number one advice is:

DO NOT RUSH INTO THIS DEMANDING REPERTOIRE AS A YOUNG SINGER

The chief characteristics of Wagnerian music are beautiful long phrases combined with a brilliant, emotional text and a big orchestration underneath the vocal line. This demanding music requires you to have a solid technique. Not only this, but I have learnt from my time on stage that it is a great help to have some stage experience beforehand. Having this, you can float on the music and orchestra and you are able to taste the German diction in this beautiful music, and you can caress the text and music together. There is also the big misunderstanding that Wagnerian music always has to be sung loud. On the contrary, if you study the orchestra part of a Wagnerian opera you will find so many piano markings and other dynamic wishes of Wagner himself. Do not to forget: Richard Wagner loved Bel Canto!

As a result of the intense emotion in Wagnerian repertoire, a singer sometimes starts to push the voice…then you can really harm yourself! Last week, a Wagnerian singer travelled to me to work on Sieglinde. During the lesson I could hear that the coaches at the opera house have put her too much in the “diction mode” in the front of her mouth in the narrative “Der Männer Sippe…” I completely understand why the coaches wanted this crystal clear diction, but it has to be produced in the RIGHT WAY.

So, my suggestion for you Wagnerian singers is: Study your roles early enough, sing it in your voice with the help of your voice teacher and then go into the theater rehearsal process. From my own experience and love affair with Wagner’s music, I can confess that this is the most efficient and joyable way to improve significantly in this repertoire whilst remaining healthy.
This is also how I work with the Wagnerian singers in my studio. If they are vocally well trained and musically ready, they can concentrate on all the other obligations they have in an opera production.

?Affirmation for the day: I allow myself to grow into my future-self of a radiant Wagnerian singer.?

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Break through your inner barriers

Dear beautiful Singers,

Sometimes a singer comes to his or her voice lesson with me with a vocal issue to solve. This could be a technical problem in the development of the voice or inner personal growth work. First of all you have to give yourself the allowance to be seen and let your light and talent shine bright. Of course there are all the technical skills to learn and the professional craft tools, but there is also the self esteem that you must gently build up to create a wonderful singing life.
I am a strong believer that the more you connect with your deeper artistic self the easier it will get for you to make steps on you path in the singing profession. You cannot control all opinions of others or private things showing up in your life nor should you not and cannot control other people, but you can take good care of yourself. You can nourish your beautiful being and artistic soul and this a very powerful way to build up your self esteem and the underlying sense of who you are.

Affirmantion: Today I give myself the allowance to shine as a radiant singer ?

With appreciation
Vera

Step Into Your Unique Talent

As singers we have to overcome the barriers which block us from our successes. In my Masterclass and Audition Workshops I always recognise that the singer standing before me is yearning for something that can only be created through his or her voice and presentation. As a Singer we not only want to express ourselves but we also have a longing that our artistic gifts will impact others.
A powerful approach to waking up as an artist is to have excellent Vocal technique and music skills. Then together we can work on your authenticity, confidence and your gift of the interpretation of the arias. We do this together in a way that is well received and valued.
In this quick music world it is important to strengthen your inner self and your talents at the same time. Set yourself the goal to be a wonderful shining singer and artist and take this into auditions and performances.

I am passionate about my work to take you step by step through the growing process to become a Radiant Singer.

Have a gorgeous day!
Vera Wenkert

Last Saturday I worked with my Singers

Last Saturday I worked with my Singers in an Acting Class on different Opera Monologues. It is a real task for Singers of all stages to keep the artistic energy flowing in a big Monologue. During our intensive work on the Marschallin Monolog from Der Rosenkavalier and the Prayer of Marie from Wozzeck. I pointed out more than once that you are the powerful creator of the Scene.
GIVE YOURSELF THE PERMISSION TO BE THE CHARACTER!!!! Then we can work, develop and polish it.

It is my passion to guide you through the process with all my stage experience and knowledge of vocal technique and music. I am super proud of all the Singers who have the courage to develop their talents with intensive work and dedication to rising with their wings. Bravo!! You are taking the responsibility for sculpturing your talent.

To be an Artist means also to work on our talent, our strong and weak points every single day.

?More in my Weekly Nugget next week:
“Step into your unique talent.”

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Power Practice

Dear Singers, last week I prepared 8 international singers for either upcoming engagements at opera houses or upcoming auditions.
I cannot emphazises enough that you have to be fully prepared to nail an audition. This means have your arias super polished and ready and have a sort of love affair with your music you want to present. It takes much more then just to sing the arias properly. That means : Know the situation the operacharacter is in
Know the relationships of the operacharacter
Etc.etc.
Commit to yourself to put your practice first to gain your empowerment.
You are welcome to find more practical precious advices in my e book and on my website www.stimmkunst.ch
With appreciation
Vera

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