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

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

Working with Jaw Tension

I remember I worked with a professional Mezzosopran on the “Hexe” in Humperdinck’s “Hänsel und Gretel” who was having her opening night in less then 5 days. Whilst working on the whole role with her, I realised that her jaw was becoming tighter and tighter as a result of all the quick diction and musical leaps in the part. I know stage directors and conductors often ask for a lot of diction and expression, but you have to know how to do it without straining the vocal chords and without building up too much tension in the whole vocal production and support system.

What to do?

For example, I worked with her the “Hexenbann” without words and let her do the whole magic spell on “ja ja ja”. This exercise frees the jaw. We also did light and easy staccato exercises (tonica, third, quinte, third, tonica) and then legato the same.

We singers always have to remember that the jaw should be just relaxed in an open position, slightly back and in most cases not forward. (Maybe there are anatomical exceptions.) Then the breathing gets deeper into the body naturally and the support system starts to work. When a tight jaw is doing the job it is very difficult to connect the voice to the healthy body support.

With the Mezzosopran the next step was to solve the diction. It is vital that the vowel and the consonants have to be on the airflow. We worked it very slowly with patience and joy and finally the “Hexe” was really magic

💡TIP: From my own experience it is helpful to gently move the jaw up and down to the right and left. If the jaw is too tight, you might have difficulties to do these gentle movements. If so, you can gently and tenderly massage the muscles around your jaw, the muscles under your chin with your thumb and your index finger. ATTENTION: never massage the area directly around the larynx.

AFFIRMATION: I find a solution for all the technical issues I am solving.

With appreciation
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

Death of beloved Mentor

This week one of my beloved mentors and friends since my early study days has passed away.
Dr. Leo Haffner
There is so much gratitude in my heart towards you, Leo, being in my life. There are not enough words to express my gratitude for your wonderful footprints on my lifepath, for our fundamental talks about music and life, for your guidance during my freelanced work for you at the Austrian Broadcasting and Television Corporation during my singing studys.
I remember all the wonderful literature features with artists and authors I was able to do for the ORF.
You were a shiny light for me when I came to Austria. I embrace you and I wish you angels blessings and rest in peace.
At this very moment I feel so profound in my heart that it is a treasure of destiny and life to find friends and mentors who are so close in our lifes and give us so much loveable support and input and warmth.

Thank you for ever and ever
Vera Wenkert