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

Daily Voice Cart Part 3: Preparing an Operapart

I work with high level performing artists , with whom I make an extramindful preparation plan.
This means, we work the part mindful and when the time allows gently in the voice. For example pushing your voice in dramatic sound to fullfill the requests of dramatic sound is a completly wrong path and the risk is there of falling into bad habits of tension and other compensations that will be difficult to unlearn. In my opinion and according to my results in my own professional life and in the performance life of my artists it is a healthier way first to show the singer the special kind of self-awareness, so that he or she feels that every operasound has to be sung without strain in the voice. The singer needs patience to go through this process then he or she will get the way of steady progress. Once the singer has digest the healthy route to sing it is easy to put the dramatic into the piece. I remember when I sang Butterfly I started 3 months before the rehearsal time at the opera house started to sing it into my voice and to learn everything around the character etc. Then, when stagerehearsals start, I felt so easy in the part that I could fully concentrate on the character and staging.
Your body sensations and your mind and your emotions work together and all three are wired into voice. To understand this and to stay attentive to the process of feeling the voice is effortless singing is the important thing for keeping your voice healthy.
In my everyday teaching I see that it takes the crystal clear intention of the singer to trust in this profound work process. Singers who get involved in my special well-foundet way of working, which I have created, experience fullfilment and success in their performamces.
The magic pill you cannot find in a quick way , the magic pill lies in trust that your day by day self work will bring the result and hopefully with the help of a trustful voice teacher you will learn in a profound training or retraining to understand your individual vocal production.
Merry Christmas and a blessed time for you and your loved ones . Toi toi toi for all my wonderful singers, who have concerts and performances coming up the next 2 weeks. Next weekly Nugget comes 2018.
You are also welcome to find out more about Methode Stimmkunst 2018
With appreciation and warmest wishes
Vera