Opening night for my new website

Dear beautiful singers,

I know exactly how alone you sometimes feel when you have a special voice and the desire to have that voice trained into an opera or concert voice, and how desperate you are to find teachers or a place where you can be seen and heard. A place where you can technically develop your voice and also work on repertoire and roles with professionals who have brought them to the opera stage themselves. In recent months I have been brainstorming with my team of pianists from the Zurich Opera House.

The master classes and workshops at the International Institute Stimmkunst have been tailored even more specifically to your needs and stage of development, so that everyone, from beginners to professional singers, can develop their own potential with our know-how and help.

I am pleased to announce that you can now access this information on my NEW website: www.stimmkunst.ch. Here you can also subscribe to my FREE Weekly Nuggets, where you can get an insight into the world of opera from my 30 years of stage experience and teaching. You also find it on the stimmkunst-page on Facebook.

Cordially, in bocca al lupo!

Vera Wenkert

 

Performing the right roles at the right time

What does this mean for us singers?

Firstly it means that you have to connect with your inner truth. Do you have solid and secure vocal technique, musicality, plus the inner soul strength to sing this offered role? You must not just be brilliant in the famous aria, but in the entire role.

You will also encounter certain expectations from the Director, from the Conductor, from the Agent etc. and it might be possible that there is a difference between their expectations and your inner truth about the role. This is a situation which you will find on a regular basis in the Opera business. Here is an invaluable guideline for you to know, understand and follow – especially if you choose to build up a long-term singing career:

1) Consult your vocal teacher and an opera coach you trust. Discuss and sing the part through with them. 
2) Listen carefully to this tiny loving inner artist voice of yours. Is it shouting out with joy and enthusiasm or is it gently warning you? 
3) Become clear with what you need to be able to do to sing this role – is it a possibility to sing this role or to confess it is too early in your career? Schedule an appointment with your Director and discuss briefly and thoughtfully your point of view. 
4) Remember as a singer you are a one person company and it is your obligation to take care of you and your instrument. You only have one voice in life!
5) Yes it takes self-esteem and courage to handle these situations by taking the responsibility for ourselves, but you do not want to be everybody’s “darling” – you want to be a singer who knows their craft, their possibility, and is known as a great, reliable and professional artist.

(Of course there are shorter, cosier ways on this path, but in the long run they will not pay off.)

With quality in singing, reliability in the rehearsal and performance process, professional behavior and with healthy self-assessment, you will build up a professional reputation.

Fingers crossed for your next engagements!

Warmly, 
Vera Wenkert

Voice Disorders

Sometimes a singer enters my studio showing signs associated with voice disorders. As a singer we are depending on a perfect voice function. I want to give you some advice to avoid unnecessary vocal problems.

There are phonatory disorders like swelling of the laryngeal tissues etc. and disorders which appear because of inappropriate use of your voice. When you use your voice in an unhealthy way, it can lead to laryngeal problems.
Sometimes a singer suffers from Acute Laryngitis after a cold. As a result, the singer feels major stress, because our life depends so much on our voice. My advice is find an excellent ENT and rest your voice until the reddening and swelling of the vocal chords is gone. I tell my vocal students go on “Silent Diva Days“. Afterwards slowly begin to get your voice back in shape.

There are of course many reasons for a voice disorder, but this has to be discussed in a different context. The voice disorder can sometimes come from too much pushing of the vocal chords during singing, and this is also result of poor vocal technique or singing in the wrong Vocal Fach. The voice sounds pressed then and has often a hissing sound. Sometimes there is an incomplete glottal closure in the Arytenoid region. Also here you will find many more reasons and roots for voice disorders.

So what to do?

First aid is to rest your voice, then find a good and responsible voice teacher who helps you with specific exercises to get back on track.
My second advice is: Do not sing heavy repertoire when your voice is not in good shape. Listen to yourself and do not let yourself become persuaded to sing “just this one time.” You will be in danger if you do so.

AFFIRMATION: I use my voice wisely and economically with a healthy vocal technique.

To your greatness,
Vera Wenkert

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
Vera

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

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.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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

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

The Right Voice Teacher for me

Often young Singers come in my studio after years of studies. Some are super prepared for the exciting and demanding profession of an operasinger others need still a lot of work.
These experiences and my knowledge of the profession ( I have sung over 30 dramatic roles on different operastages, festivals and concerthalls) inspiries me to write my advice today:
Young singer or singing students you have to find ” your ” voice teacher!
What does this mean in reality:
This teacher must have the ability to pass to you a healthy vocal technique in a way that.you understand it and that you feel, you are making vocal progress.
This also means you should not feel hoarse after lessons!
Your voice teacher should have real interest in your development and most important he or she should have enough time to teach you.
In my opinion it makes no sense to study with a famous singer, who is still in a career, because he or she will not have enough time for teaching and nurturing your freshman career.
I am a strong believer in the fact that you when it comes to day x – YEAH- you have to know how to sing with your voice and to know how to make music and to be able to stand on your own feet.
This is the number one priority.
No one cares wether you have learned with a famous singer or at an institute or with a private teacher.
It counts what you can do and how you sing.
My number one advice is find a teacher , with whom you get at least regular vocal lessons and who has the time and spirit to nurture you individual and who offers a
healthy vocal technique.
When it is your desire to start an operacareer it is very helpful, that your teacher has been on stage too. This is not a must but it gives you also input from reality.
There is one big advice I want to tell you closing this precious weekly nugget. Take your responsibility young beautiful singers. This starts with finding the right vocal teacher for you. All of you have a unique voice and a unique path in life and profession and this means only you can feel and decide who is a good voice teacher for you and where you are in best hands for yourself.
With appreciation
Vera

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.
Warmest
Vera

Good Morning Singers

Today part 3 about auditioning
In the former weekly nuggets I concentrated on how to prepare for an audition and what you need in your presentation folder. Yeah, you’ve got an invitation for an audition or a request to send an audio or video beforehand! Most important is: Send an audio or video only, if it is without any musical faults (what means no rhythm mistakes, all dynamics the composer wanted, no question in vocal technique, etc.). Choose only an aria or artsong that you can manage to sing with ease and effortless. A theatre or an agent is interested to listen to a recording which shows what you can do now. Pieces you are working at and “Fach Changes” you are working at do not belong in the audible equipment of an application. On top of all this you have to take into consideration that people who get your audio or video recording can listen to it often and it will never give the same impression as you would give in a live audition. I remember when I sang for an adviser for singing career years ago in New York, how penetrating he insisted that one should only send super polished audible materials. So, it is worthwhile to work on your presentation until every puzzle is so convincing that all your competitors are left behind and the theatre has no other choice than to take you!
With my appreciation
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

Great Auditions

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.

With appreciation
Warmest
Vera

Singing Treasures

Nowadays, more then ever, the singer has to have a refined concept for a success singing path: Of course a solid healthy vocal technique but to catch the interest of managers or casting directors in operahouses the singer has to blossom into a fine unique artist; that means to portray in any singing piece taste and musicianship. A performer serving the composers art and shaping and sculptering his or her aria or artsong out of this desire is one of the privilege and duty. Then miracles can happen, the singers individual artistry melts with the composition. I remember when I studied Isolde, every day I could not wait to dig into the harmonies to understand R. Wagners intention between the colours of the orchestra and the Isolde melody lines. I studied on top of my role also the Orchestra partitura. I suggest this for every main role. Have a glimpse into the full orchestration, find your leading instruments, listen to the colours. As singers, we are part of the orchestra.
More next Friday.
Wishing you an exciting journey into your special music land.
Vera