A.J. Wester

Voice Teacher
Jazz / Popular Voice
Classical Voice
Program Area: 
Private Instruction
With Music Institute of Chicago since: 

B.M. Vocal Performance Roosevelt University; M.M. Vocal Performance DePaul University Programs and apprenticeships: Utah Opera, Banff Centre for the Arts, Brevard Music Center, Wesley Balk Music Theatre Institute

Significant teachers and mentors: 

Susanne Mentzer, Jane Bunnell, Theresa Brancaccio, Karen Brunssen, Maria Lagios, Peter Amster, Harry Silverstein and Michael Ehrman

Teaching philosophy and areas of expertise: 

I am well versed as a classical voice teacher as well as a musical theatre (CCM) voice teacher. My feeling towards teaching is that this is a collaboration. I'm giving you the tools to work with your voice. I can't get into your head and know exactly how you are feeling what we are doing. We have to work together. I use a very full bodied approach (Alexander Technique centered). I want the student to understand why they are doing the things that they do.

Awards and achievements: 

2017 Winner of the Make a Wave award from 3Arts for Teaching Artistry

Farwell Award Winner - Musicians Club of Women

Former voice students have gone on to acceptances with: The Tisch School of Music, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Boston University, Illinois Wesleyan, University of Illinois, Roosevelt University, Illinois State University as well as a host of other prestigious universities.

Professional affiliations & activities: 

Musical Theatre vocal instructor for the Chicago High School for the Arts

Teaching Artist for Lyric Opera Chicago and Music of the Baroque

Adjunct Faculty - DePaul School of Music

Former stage and voice director of the Opera Musical Theatre Ensemble at Merit School of Music

Former Director of Musical Theatre Experience and Chicago Opera Theater for Teens with After School Matters

Member of NATS and AGMA

Interests outside of music: 

All things food (cooking, baking, eating), swimming, writing, hiking. Outside of being a voice teacher, I am also a stage director.

Favorite quote: 

Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo

Favorite practice tip: 

Go in knowing what you want to achieve - It's better to do 10 minutes of focused practicing than an hour of unfocused practicing. Also, singers can't practice like instrumentalists.

Favorite composer or piece to play: 

Kurt Weill, Erik Satie and Leonard Bernstein

Favorite musical moment: 

It was my first time soloing with the CSO. I just couldn't believe I was singing in front of them!