I work with talented singers around the globe and am passionate about building foundational classical technique.

One on one private lessons (1 hour in length)

For those that prefer to have remote/virtual lessons, Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime options will still be offered.



Masterclasses in Vocal Technique, Performing/Singing-Acting, and The Business of Professional Singing


To inquire about lesson scheduling, services, and rates, please email:

karen.kanakis (at) gmail.com



Photo by Jeannie Liautaud

Teaching Biography

Dr. Kanakis (D.M.A., voice, University of North Texas), is based out of St. Louis, Missouri, where she currently teaches voice and serves as vocal coach for the Opera Studio at Webster University, teaches voice and is the Interim Director of Opera Workshop at University of Missouri - Saint Louis, teaches for Opera Theatre St. Louis' Artists-in-Training program, and maintains a private studio teaching aspiring and current professional classical singers. Her students frequently win competitions, attend top graduate schools for voice and opera performance, and enjoy successful professional singing careers. 

In competitions, Dr. Kanakis has produced district and regional winners, and a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MONCA), and finalists and winners of other competitions including the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Opera Index, The Richard Tucker Foundation, Queen Sonja International Music Competition (Norway), FAVA (Franco-American Vocal Academy) Grand Concours de Chant, the International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition (NámÄ›št’ nad Oslavou, Czech Republic), Palm Beach Opera Competition, the AIMS (American Institute of Vocal Studies) Meistersinger Competition (Graz, Austria), Schubert Club Competition (Minneapolis, MN), the Classical Singer National Competition, and NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Student Auditions.

Her students have appeared in young artist programs and on the mainstage with the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Seattle Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Kentucky Opera, Dayton Opera, Knoxville Opera, and the Cedar Rapids Opera. 

Two of her former students (Emily Fons, mezzo-soprano and Andrew Stenson, tenor) were featured on the October 2015 cover of Opera News magazine as two of “Opera’s 25 Top Rising Stars.” 

Emily Fons (seated lower left) and Andrew Stenson (seated lower right)


A 2008 recipient of the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) “Emerging Leaders” Award, she earned her D.M.A. from the University of North Texas, her M.M. from Stephen F. Austin State University, and her B.M. cum laude from Missouri State University, where she studied viola and piano in addition to voice.  As a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar, she also studied abroad at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany. 

Dr. Kanakis previously served as a sabbatical replacement at Webster University in St. Louis, teaching voice, Voice Performance Masterclass, and Music Education Masterclass, and also served as the Vocal Coach and secondary rehearsal pianist for the Opera Studio.  Prior to that she was a tenured Associate Professor of Music (Voice and Opera) at Luther College, and has also previously taught applied voice at Texas Woman’s University, Missouri Southern State University, and as a Doctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas.  As a Master's Graduate Assistant, she also taught voice and class piano at Stephen F. Austin State University.   


Student Testimonial 

Emily Fons, mezzo-soprano

"Dr. Karen Kanakis was an integral part of my vocal education during my time at Luther College.  Dr. Kanakis' wonderful ability as an educator is obviously due to the fact that she is a highly accomplished musician herself, and speaks from not only a large pedagogical knowledge base, but from experience.  Dr. Kanakis inspired me to find repertoire that interested and inspired me, and in that way helped me to discover what made my voice unique, and to really take ownership of that.  Dr. Kanakis helped me build the skills that would take me from college, to grad school, to the audition circuit, and eventually to a career as a professional musician.  I always felt nurtured yet challenged, and above all respected the professional atmosphere that Dr. Kanakis provided.  Dr. Kanakis was and is a symbol to me of what hard work and a passion for your gifts can mean in terms of success, a career, and a life's calling.  I'm sure whatever a student's vocal goals are, Dr. Kanakis can help to achieve them."

Emily Fons