Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

YRCC Rehearsal Review May 21 for The Newmarket Citizens Band Concert Sat. May 25th, 2024


We're going to look great with this band!

They have the same colour scheme. I'm happy that we don't have to wear jackets over our white shirts or blouses, just a scarf or tie. But, they look pretty snazzy, don't they?

The rehearsal was good! The choir sounded great (18 people, but strong). The band sounded great too, and very loud! Wow. What an amazing experience we're going to have! 

After that rehearsal, we went to our room and went over Seal Lullaby and almost all of our songs, and we're in good shape. There were a good number of little issues, so we should be fine on Saturday.

Looking at this shot of them performing, it's clear that we are going to be in our "Formal Concert Uniform". Long sleeves, white to the wrists, and long pants or skirts, black to the floor. The band's uniform notes also included a reminder to wear black socks/hose and black shoes. 

We are scheduled to be on stage at 5:30 to start sound checks, blocking, how to get on and off stage gracefully, and for a warm-up. I'd say aim for 5:00 to get there, find parking, find the Green Room, and feel settled before we get up on stage. Calendar says 5:15, I think. Order of the show is there. I will talk twice: before we start and after Nella.

You'll want to have water and maybe a snack with you. We'll be there until about 10:00. I forgot to ask if there will be refreshments at the intermission. 

Here's a link again to the call sheet for Saturday. Break a leg!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

YRCC 2024 First Seniors' Performance: Wow!

 We had so much fun with the residents at Delmanor in Aurora yesterday!

What a perfectly delighful evening! 

It's always good to sing for and with seniors in a seniors' residence. Delmanor was a beautiful building with pretty rooms and sweet staff and very very nice residents. It was really exceptionally nice there.

We had a good group of YRCC singers, a nice balance of parts, and Donna was in excellent form, even singing along to some of our songs, and adding embellishments to the sing-along songs which made us all sing with more enthusiasm. 

Something wonderful: we had a couple new folks sing with seniors for the first time and they loved it and said they're signing up for more now that they know how much fun it is. Yay! I love that. 

I had promised to put a link to the movie with the mice that I always talk about, the one we have Somewhere Out There from, An American Tail.

Here's a link to the song being sung in the movie. You can also watch the whole movie on YouTube. 

Watch this one too: Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram singing with clips from the movie. So nice, even nicer and more similar to what we do. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

YRCC 2024 Special Rehearsal Tues. May 7th for The Seal Lullaby

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard in that very warm room last night! 

The Seal Lullaby is beautiful, and it was sometimes surprising that the individual parts did indeed sound beautiful when combined with the others. It's a complex choral arrangement but we only have to learn the parts with lyrics. The band will take care of the rest. And, they will accompany us along with Donna. 

We got through the whole thing, but we all agree that we'll need to review our parts on our own for the next couple weeks too. There are videos of individual parts, and of the whole choir sheet music being performed, and of the band arrangement too. I've assembled them all on my YRCC Spring 2024 YouTube playlist. There's a link to that on our website already, but I'm going to provide links here for everything too.                                    

I suggest that you first work with the video of your part. Choose a device that easily moves back and forth along the timeline in a video, so that you can stop, go back, and review a short bit over and over again. 

Soprano Part

Alto Part

Tenor Part

Bass Part (bass 1)

Next, sing along with the recording of a choir with whole choir sheet music.  So, it's like choir rehearsals, where we learn your part and then you sing it with everyone. You can also go over small sections using your cursor to move back and forth in the recording.

Link to Choir recording

After that, sing along with a band recording. I've got a few. Before our rehearsal with the band, I recommend singing along with these band recordings, because there's a different feel to them and we only sing a short part. It would be good if you could be ready to fit yourself in not only by counting bars, but also by feeling how your part works in that context. 

Newmarket Citizens Band recording (from 2018, so the current band will have a slightly different assortment of instruments, and no melody where we will be singing the words.)

We have a half hour from 7-7:30 on Tuesday, March 21st with the band. After that, we'll go and rehearse on our own. We'll want to sing our songs too. I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to sing one of our songs last night. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

YRCC Spring Concert Wish Upon a Star- Resounding Success!

 I wish you all could have heard all of the wonderful praise I heard about our concert on Saturday. I'm so lucky to be the one to receive so many of the accolades! I have to share them with you. 

Wow! The choir sounded magnificent, and the song choices were great, a wonderful variety of songs, the theme was inspiring, the duet was charming, the soloists were impressive, the decorations were stunning, and on and on.

Thank you, my choir! 

We had a few little moments of stress, but the absolutely heavenly moments made up for them. 

You looked marvellous!

Stunning decorations, adorable duet. But, that water bottle-ugh.

Friday, May 3, 2024

YRCC 2024 Spring Concert Run-through Rehearsal Review

 It was perfect!

We had moments of utter perfection and moments where we knew we needed to work a bit harder. When not everything goes perfectly, it's the best. This way, our concert will be our best work, better than our last rehearsal.

On Saturday, everyone must be on stage, and all the baking should be put away by 6:00. Doors open at 6:30, so we will get ourselves in position, have a warm-up and file out down the centre aisle, so that we can file back in gracefully. Let me know if you have a request to review anything.

5:00 - 6:00 is for setting up the bake sale and ticket sales, decorating, and then soloists and small groups. Please let me know if you feel you need another go at your song. Don't forget to bake!

Be sure to get a good night's sleep Friday night so that you have lots of energy and staying power for Saturday night.  Put your feet up in the afternoon if you can.  Eat lightly, but well. Don't drink too much coffee, or alcohol. Maybe plan to have some friends over for drinks after. Hey, invite your friends and family to the concert and then out for drinks, or to your place for drinks, so you don't need a designated driver. 

Remember your uniform, scar or tie, black shoes, etc, and a water bottle that you will not be seen drinking from and that will not be in the way at all. 

Don't forget, Tuesday we meet at Trinity United in Newmarkst to learn the Seal Lullaby. It's such a cool song, and we're just doing the parts with words. The band is playing the oohs. Then, the following Tuesday is our first seniors' visit! There is an order up for all the seniors' performances. Always have all of your music just in case. You can download the sing-along lyrics if you like. There's a link on the same page. 

  • Remember your baking for the bake sale.
  • Remember to park farther away to give good spots to those who need it most.
  • Remember to sign up for seniors' visits- we need a few more people for Bloomington Cove and the Eldon, in particular.
  • Remember to hand in your binder before July, after your last performance with us, so that you get your Winter music in September. Peggy and Anne need to file away the music from this season, and will fill up your binders with new stuff. If your binder is missing, it messes them up and you won't have any music in September.

Break a leg, everyone!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. April 23

I'm very happy with everything! All the small groups are in good shape. All of our songs are in good shape, and we are ready for our show!

We started at 6:00 with the Rainbow Connection small group, and we did it! We got this together and I'm so grateful to Donna for making those rehearsal recordings! I love this song. Then, we rehearsed Anthem, and the sound of a men's group is a special treat. The song is pretty special too, and the soloists nailed their solos. Excellent. Night of Stars had a rocky start just because we hadn't reheared it in a while. We got it together again, and it was beautiful. I have to remember the slower tempo. Wishin' and Hopin' also took a moment to get back together again, to remember that the second sopranos carry the melody, that the melody is in the middle and not on top, and we added a couple of parts to second soprano. Such a fun, cute song, but I have to be sure to comment on how "old-fashioned" it is.

At break we heard Mona and Stanley's duet, I See the Light. Their performances almost always make me cry. Stanley sings: "Now she's here, shining in the starlight; Now she's here, suddenly I know." This song is about a moment when your dreams change. We talked about how the things we wish for blowing out candles, or on Santa's knee, change over the years. In this song, the lovers find each other and then see things in a new light. Many of us sang along with Marlene's Climb Every Mountain. So good! Some of us dream about reaching those high notes. 

1. Somewhere Out There: Sweet.  Remember the little mice, alone in a new country, but feeling the presence of their sibling looking at the same sky and "wishing on the same bright star". This song should have a sweetness and a lovely hopeful child-like positivity. Our show is about wishes and dreams, the things we wish for, and how our dreams come true, and how wishing, dreaming, praying for things helps us. As always, my big theme is that singing about these things is good for us. 

2. Nella Fantasia: Gorgeous. I love this song, and yesterday, you nailed it. It was so good! This is the big wish, the dream: a peaceful, just world, where we feel- deep down in our souls- free and as light as floating clouds in the caress of a warm wind. 

3. Rewrite the Stars: Solos nailed. Bass clef entries nailed. I love how this song moves. This song is not as positive as all the others. Hope is good, dreaming for a better world is good, and we can change the way we think and act but we can't change everyone and we can't change everything all at once. The ending is not a big happy one. In that movie, the people who are disrespected by the public, in the end they are not accepted by everyone, but they feel empowered, and the people around them understand their value, and we admire their courage, so it's a step in the right direction. We're moving in the right direction, becoming more inclusive, accepting diversity. Performance note: please get your first page set to where you come in, and don't follow along with the solo, so that we don't have distracting page turning going on during the solo. For the second solo, you can clip those pages together for one clean flip.

4. Power of the Dream: We got it! This was the most difficult thing we did this season, our only completley new song. I love how we all pulled together to get this one sounding great. The big ending is going to make us all proud. We are all making it up, creating it together, and I love that! This is the power of the choir. I described my vision to you, and with all your individual skills and talents, working togehter, you made my vision come to life. 

5. Star Canon: Sweet! We're going to walk in up the aisle like celebrants in a wedding, to Canon in D, and once we're all settled on the stage, we'll start singing this. This is our first song, but not the beginning of the concert, as our first song usually is. I will enter first, with Tab, and we're going to start with a thoughtful, even prayerful, and inspiring musical treat for our audience, with Jane's inspiring and impressive decorations to help guide the audience to open their hearts to our offering of things worth dreaming about.

6. Hallelujah: Always a treat. The audience will love this as our ovation song. They will possibly have wished for us to sing this, and we will deliver. 

7. You'll Never Walk Alone: Powerful! This is impressive and a pefect finale. Whatever the stars have in store for us, no matter how many of our dreams get blown away in storms, we have our friends and family, we have Love, God, hope in our hearts. Hope. We keep dreaming. 

We talked about:

The bake sale: bring your baking in smallish, individual portions, but not individualy wrapped. You can bring a tin of cookies, a plate of squares, or a tray of tarts, or a loaf (or strudel, or whatever) cut up and ready for us to put on a platter. There will be a buffet of sweets for our audience. They will make a donation and fill up their plates. It's always a great success. Coffee and tea, water and juice will be there too. The intermission feels like a celebration.

The concert order is available on the website, and there's a printable version there and here that you can download if you like. Please have your binder in order for next week's run-through so we don't have to wait for anyone to find their music. 

We talked about avoiding flipping pages while soloists are singing. We'll need to talk about avoiding other distracting behaviour during small groups and solos too. 

Tickets are still available for you to buy, but only at breaktime next week, and by calling Carol with a credit card. Tickets will be sold at the door too, but we would love to sell as many tickets as possible in advance to help getting people in the door smoothly.

After the concert, seniors' tour and Citizens Band concert: Please sign up on the website, in Events, for all of the Tuesdays after the concert, and for our concert with the Newmarket Citizens Band on Saturday, March 25th. 

Next week, Tuesday, April 30th- early start 7:00

Run-through rehearsal at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora, like a dress rehearsal without the dress. Everyone will be in place by 7:00. We will walk through the whole show, figuring out where and when to walk, where and when to sit, and all the logistics of the concert, and test out the order of songs to make sure that works. We'll test the sound, working with microphones and the sound technician, Doug.  

When I find out when we can get in, I'll post the start time for small groups and soloists, sometime between 6 and 6:30. 

No dress for our dress rehearsal. Come in comfortable clothes because it will be a long night. We often go past 9:30. For the concerts, on May 4th and on May 25th, our concert uniform is simple: black on the bottom all the way to the floor (long pants or long skirt, black socks, hose, shoes), white on top all the way to the wrists (long sleeves). We have red scarves and ties. If you're new, you'll get one from Lauren next week. 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Upcoming Events Schedule- Sign up Please

There are two places you, YRCC members, can see what's coming up: the YRCC Calendar, and the Events page on the website. 

Here's a screenshot of the Calendar on the Agenda setting. When you click on any of those entries in the calendar on your device, you'll get the times and locations with links to a map view. You can copy things to your own calendar very easily, and there are print options too. I don't recommend printing, because I change things sometimes. Like, I don't know where the rehearsal on the 21st will be. Probably the Old Town Hall, but idk. Timing for the small groups on the 30th is not clear yet. So, I've entered a guess. I'll update it when I know for sure. I add more information as I get it and when I can.

In Week or Month view (see below) you'll get more detail, but keep clicking, and you'll want to click on "more details" when you have that option. 

agenda view

month view after clicking on the blue entry

more detail view

Below, you have a look at the Events Signup Page on the website in the regular (List) view and Calendar view. You need to log in with your password. It's in the Members section. Click on "Show details" (bottom right) to see the whole entry. You can see who else has already registered and you can register too. Please do register for all of the events that you can come to. The Calendar view is very nice. I always forget that it exists. Make yourself at home on our website, click around, snoop in all the places thhat open up. 

Please sign up so that I can see who's coming (or not) and I can plan our performances. 

I'm especially interested in everyone coming for the Citizens Band Concert and rehearsals. Sign up as soon as you can. Thanks!

calendar view of events list

details of event after calendar view- nice

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. April 16

We're almost there! This was our second-last rehearsal in our room. 

Rainbow Connection small group met 6:30. I was late and things were a bit messy, so Donna has offered to record parts and meet with us early next week. Write the instructions into your sheet music. And, here are the la-las. Write these in too, please. Big harmony on the last note. Choose a Bb, F, or D. 

Warm-ups included light stretching and breathing with light cursing. Breathe in a cleansing breath and let it out with fudge, then cleanse and let out fudgity-fudge, then a big fudging Mc Fudgity fudge. Just now, I tried it and then did it backwards to calm down even more, like a crescendo-decrescendo. If you're having an especially stressful day, don't use the euphemisms; enjoy the power of the four-letter word.  

1. All I Have to do is Dream: sweet and soft for a vocal warm-up. We spent a little time on the timing of the bass clef Oh in the pick-up to E on page 6. Make sure you're only holding the last note of dream for two beats, so you can breathe for half a beat on beat 3 and come in on the and. "and4.1and.." After that bass clef section solo, the passion of the song is higher, so I want to hear a big "Gee whiz", and "need", "die", "love" and "so" should all be accented. We spent a little time on the last page, the oos and watching, as always at the end (and I'll try to remember to to give the sopranos their 1.and2.). 

2. City of Stars: smooth and cool. We remembered that all bass clef singers can sing the optional solo section, just be soft and tightly together. The whole beginning is soft and cool, getting a little stronger at 21, and a little more at 29. We need to empasize "It's love" and the word love in the last line there. At 35 we're quite strong, where everyone is together and it swings so nicely. That section builds up to the "rat-tat-tat on my heart" and then is suddenly soft again with the bass clef voices soft and together, watching for each beat in bar 49. The altos and sopranos are perfect on the ending!

3. Power of the Dream: we're still learning this, but it's gotten very good. We're doing a big Renate-ending where everyone sings the last line: to realize the power of the - dream! Ignore the sheet music there. Bass clef voices can sing the melody or a harmony, even all on one note, if you like. Altos can do that too. Make up a big harmony for the ending. And if we have 6-8 parts on the last note, dream, I will be so happy! This song is at the end of the first half, before we break for the bake sale. If there's a good strong ending, we'll be forgiven if we have some weak spots, and the weak spots might seem like a bit of drama. One more rehearsal for this, so if you're feeling lost still, can you spend a half-hour or so on your part with the recording on the website? Download it so it's on your device. Sing along a few times. Sing the words and adjust for our new inclusive wording. There's a part where a couple sopranos still want to sing the notes as written, adding an extra note. It's at the top of page 3. "And since time began" it's simpler now, a1.2.and3. (not a1.a2.and3). And, sopranos and altos, on page 6, please remember to come in on beat one. There's no pick-up before "Every one of you" (same number of syllables as the original). The rhythm at the top of page 4 is still giving us trouble. I've marked beats on my music to help me with this,  and I circled the words to lean on. Here's a screen shot:

4. Rewrite The Stars: wow! I love this song, and now we've figured out the solos! Lorraine on the first and Tab on the second sounds perfect. The bass clef pick-ups on beat 3 are so good now! (what if we, say you were, no one can, how can you, say that the,...). Remember after Tab's solo, we get more passionate, and it's negative. I'm not the one, it's not up to you, it's not up to me. Stress those negative words, and you'll be sure to fit them in. 

5. Joseph Medley: By request. So much fun and so satisfying! So worth going overtime! 

We talked about signing up for the band concert and the seniors' visits. Numbers are limited, so please sign up on the Events page on the website. Dates, times, and locations are listed there, and they're also entered on the YRCC Calendar. 

Next week, Tuesday, April 23rd- last rehearsal in our room

6:00 Rainbow Connection

6:30 Anthem, Night of Stars, Wishin' and Hopin'

We're going to talk about the bake sale, uniforms, the band concert, and the seniors' tour.

  • Power of the Dream
  • Nella Fantasia
  • Any bits of anything you want: come with requests
Week after next, Tuesday, April 30th- Run-through Rehearsal

We'll be at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora
You will have your binders in concert order. (see website)
We will start at 7:00
We will sing parts of all of the songs, so we can hear how the concert flows.
We will find out how best to stand, sit, and move, how to enter and exit.
We will have a chance to see how the soloists and small groups will use the microphones. 
Everyone must attend.***
***If you can't be there, be sure to let your neighbour in your section know so that they can leave a space for you and guide you at the concert. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. April 9

I love my choir. Thank you for giving me a wonderful evening of respite from my grief. My brother passed away after a 10-month battle with Leukemia on Monday. I was not sure I would be able to manage choir night, but also needed it so badly. I'm always telling people to come to choir if they're feeling rotten, because I know it's such a good escape. It sure is.

The Rainbow Connection small group met at 6:30 to work through the revised arrangement. It was great. I tried to play my ukulele, but it was not great, and one cute instrument alone is just a little weird. So, we'll just work on the singing. I can conduct. 

Our warm-up involved picking up the music that Peggy brought for us (Thank you, Peggy!), the words for the concert sing-along pieces, Over the Rainbow and Catch a Falling Star. We sang Catch a Falling Star with Perry Como. So smooth. We'll do a straight-up version like we do with seniors, easy-peasy.

1. Over the Rainbow will be a choir and band collaboration. So, we have their arrangement, and I've entered the bar numbers on the lyric sheet so we don't have to worry about the sheet music, or copying it, but can be "on the same page" as the band. If their conductor calls out "Let's go back to bar 21", we'll know where to go. There's a big instrumental section, and after that a repeat at bar 53, and then a little fancy ending, a Coda at bar 54. Donna was so impressive, sight-reading the arrangement for us to sing to. Wow! It was pretty easy for us. For our concert, we'll do an easy straight-up version that everyone will be able to sing easily. 

2. We took a quick look at Seal Lullaby, the choral piece we're singing with the band. We will sing the parts with lyrics, leaving the oohs and ahhs to the band. You can find recordings of your part on YouTube, and I've collected them on my playlist for the choir. (screenshot below). We will have a whole rehearsal to learn this on May 7th. 

3. Nella Fantasia was excellent! All of your hard work is paying off. 

4. Power of the Dream was also very good. We spent a little time reviewing some of the tricky bits: top of page 10, and top of page 11 where it's easy to get lost when your words have moved, the low notes and rhythm at bar 13, and the ending with the bass clef folks singing pretty much whatever feels good, the melody with the sopranos or a harmony, and then the last note, a real Renate ending where you can all choose a good landing note. We just have to repeat this piece a couple more times for your confidence. Sopranos, sing out loud, especially where you're the only ones on the melody. This is big: With support, we can make dreams come true- like Olympic dreams, reach for your own star, but also, the flame burns forever for us to unite in peace. This is our big message along with with Nella Fantasia, a fantasy of a world of peace, justice, honesty, and freedom. Dreams, fantasies, wishes are related to hope, and they're vital to keep us going with positivity toward better futures for ourselves and for the world.

5. Joseph Medley: Wow!!! It's so good! The soloists nailed their solos and we all got it all in one shot. We just spent a quick moment on the timing of the Go, go, gos. From the end of Benjamin Calypso, those la-las, you count La-2-3-4-1-2-3 and 4 and Jo-seph! Go, go, go is "and four and".  Take a quick breath on the beat 3 just before. Bam. It was perfect. 

6. Star Canon: Wow! It's so good. This will be our first song, a sweet hug for our audience, and it will also be impressive. You sound great. Keep the beginning sweet, only getting a little stronger when there are two or more sections singing together. When we're all in, for that last part, it's big and awesome.

7. You'll Never Walk Alone: Our big finale song, this will leave the audience uplifted, inspired, and impressed. We briefly reviewed the tricky second soprano bits. It was fantastic! We would for sure have gotten a standing ovation on that performance. 

8. Hallelujah: Our encore. They're going to be so satisfied! Your performance brought me to tears. Thank you, my beloved choir! 

Next week, Tuesday, April 16th

6:30: Rainbow Connection small group

  • Al I Have to do is Dream
  • City of Stars
  • Nella Fantasia
  • Power of the Dream
  • Rewrite the Stars

Monday, April 8, 2024

My Singing Night Moved to New Blog

Trinity Newmarket Singers is my new blog for all the singing stuff at Trinity, mostly for the weekly reviews of my Thursday nights, with the list of songs we sang and the stuff we talked about.

YRCC (York Region Community Choir) members are still more than welcome to come to my Thursday nights at Trinity! In fact, My Singing Night has been rebranded as Sing-Along Café , a Community Singing Evening.

We want to share our Singing Nights.  The Thursday evening gathering evolved from a choral singing and sing-along evening to simply singing along to music on my Apple Playlists. We moved from the Choir Room to the Fellowship Room. 

 Armchairs, sofas, a big TV screen for the lyrics, and playlists with themes, tea and cookies or squares (often home made), and good conversation with lovely company, this is our new singing night, a Sing-along Café.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. April 2

Another fantastic evening! I was so tired at first from the long weekend, but at the end of the evening I left invigorated, high and happy!

The evening started with Rainbow Connection, the small group at 6:30. Love that song!

Our warm-up included a little twisting, and so many people know the words to Let's Twist Again- fun! We did a bunch of "Maybe my mummy will go to Miami, and maybe my mummy will not". 

1. Hallelujah is always wonderful. We reviewed a few tricky bits that some of us sometimes miss. There are the three alto tricky bits: page 3 "the baffled king composing Hallelujah", page 6 "the holy or the broken Hallelujah", and "with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah". When everyone comes in, there's almost always someone who forgets that our version has a different rhythm on "It goes like this". Circle that if it's you who gets carried away right from the beginning. And, there are often sopranos who go up, up, up in a different way than what's written. Try your best. If someone beside you makes these mistakes in a performance, don't panic. It's not horrible, and everyone loves this song. I promised we'd sing it again at the end of the night if everyone was good ;-) We did, even though we went over time past 9:30. It was so worth it, right?

2. Nella Fantasia is also wonderful, one of my alltime favourites. I know some of you disagree. It's hard, but you're getting it. We spent time on the first page, getting the sopranos together, clear and strong. We reviewed the ahhs for everyone and repeated the in "fondo al l'anima" for everyone several times so that it's strong and clear. There was a brief moment of discussion on the ending of Nella Fantasia, and whether it was a Renate ending or should we add something. Although I appreciate the thought, I do like it, and one thing that I like is how it reminds us of this moment in the first verse, but it's a bigger version of this one. We spend time getting the tenors and basses together at bar 23, and in bar 35. Please review this if you can. 

3. Rewrite the Stars: Wow! We tried a few different soloists and Lorraine and Tab nailed theirs! Can they be our star-crossed lovers? Maybe! We spent time on the tenor and bass entry at the beginning at bar 18. I often yell "one two" here so you come in strong on beat 3 with "What if we". There are a bunch of these pick-ups where the bass clef folks come in before everyone else. It's so important that you do, and do so with confidence and volume. The next one is right there in bar 20: "Say you were". I suggested that you circle all of those in pencil on your music. I have them all circled. The last time we sang this, we added the altos to these bits, but I'm confident that the bass clef sections can do this. This is another of my favourite pieces. If you haven't seen the movie The Greatest Showman, please do. The music is outstanding. The story is beautiful. The love story of the star-crossed lovers is powerful. For this song, see this video. 

4. Power of the Dream: Yes! We're getting it. It's hard, but it's coming together. We spent time just saying and then singing the rhythm of the first couple pages. Those melodies are repeated. We reviewed the top of page 4 "special part every one of us will play" I marked the beats in this phrase. "one" comes on beat 3 and "us" on beat 4. On page 6 "Every one of you, as you come" is a little confusing because of the new words- a little like the Italian and English in Nella. E---vry-one-- of--you. Slow, fast, fast, and 3. The next thing we spent time on was page 8. We'll go over that again. We added a beat at the bottom of the page, changing the 3/4 bar to a 4/4. So, you hold that lst note "can" for two beats in that bar, then rest a beat before coming in on beat 4, for the pick-up "feel the".  The ending will be a Renate ending, with the bass clef voices added and then on the last note, "dream", we'll have a big crazy harmony with everyone singing a note they feel like singing. I love those. It's goinig to be fabulous.

Next week, Tuesday, April 9th

6:30 Rainbow Connection Small Group

  • Nella Fantasia
  • Power of the Dream
  • Sing-alongs: Catch a Falling Star, (Somewhere) Over the Rainbow
  • Rewrite the Stars? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. Mar. 26

What a fun rehearsal! Ending with the whole Joseph Medley was so good, and the choir sounded so good that I was dancing on my riser/platform thing. (I want to day dais or pedestal, but that's too grand)

And the elation started right away with the small group singing Anthem so beautifully. It took some work, but in the end it sounded excellent. Second Tenors, watch out for those As. 

We started off before warm-ups listening to The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre (that's a link to the video with the sheet music). It's so special and lovely, and we're going to sing it with the Newmarket Citizens Band! Yay! I've been listening to it on repeat. I can imagine that it will be very powerful to sing it with a band. And, I think we'll want to sing it ourselves in the future. I have videos of the parts in my YouTube playlist. (There's a link to that playlist on the website so you can find it any time.) It's a piece that lends itself to many themes: childhood, parenthood, home, safety and love, diversity (empathy with others living in other climates, dangerous environments, animals), etc. And, it's a big "Choral" piece, unlike mosot of our stuff. Eric Whitacre is a big name in modern choral music. 

1. City of Stars is ready to perform, we just have to get more consistently confident. There's a little bit of messiness on page 5 that we reviewed in the bass clef: "there in the bars and the crowded restaurants". Tenors and basses, please review that. 

2. You'll Never Walk Alone. I absolutely love this. I love it from the very beginning where Donna has that powerful gospel intro, to the very end which is my kind of really big ending! We spent time on this for all the newer folks who have been patiently following along. We reviewed the swing notation and the different feel of the eighth notes in the triplets and the regular eighth notes, in pairs and alone (at 65, for example). We looked at the second soprano part at bar 31, the special "though your dreams be tossed" and noticed that it helps if you start thinking about staying on the C for "your dreams" at the C on the word "rain". Try that. We divided the sopranos instead of the altos because we always had more sopranos than altos. We maybe could have looked at dividing the altos this time? We also looked at page 7 for everyone. Observe your rests; this is key. Look at all the parts, how they go back and forth. Your part needs to be clear and tight so that the other parts come in at your rests. Look at the accent marks on "never". Punch those. 

3. Power of the Dream. I love this song, but it's not very lovable yet, is it. Have patience. We haven't tackled a piece like this in a long time. We studied page 8 and page 11 and half of page 12. It will come together soon. At the top of page 8, because of the revision of the words, we're going to keep only the B in the pick-up to bar 48. "It's time that we began." So, "it's" will be one syllable. But, we can keep the two syllable "we" in the treble clef (where child had two syllables). Page 11 is cool! The alto line finishes the thought "It's the power of the dream that brings us here" while the rest go on to next section at 66. Interesting transition. We left the ending because I'm writing in notes for the tenors and basses. I need a bigger ending there. It won't be pp, LOL. 

4. Joseph Medley: from Close Every Door to the end, but we didn't review any parts. It was good! And, we sang the whole thing from the beginning, and it was exhilirating. Lauren sang Carol's solo wonderfully, Winston is an awesome Jamaican, and Blair and Winston both sang Colby's King solo. Fantastic. This piece is so much fun and such a great variety of songs! I'm sure our audience will love it too. 

We talked about:

Posters and ticket sales! Lauren and Jane had posters for us to take and post wherever we have space to do so, and we can buy tickets starting now! $20 each and you can pay by cash, cheque (to York Region Community Choir), or credit card (tap, Square). Get your friends and family tickets and if you like, we can hold them at the door for you, as long as they're paid for, otherwise, there will be ticket sales at the door too. 

I had posters for the Sunday, May 19th Piano Recital at Trinity United Church in Newmarket (my church) at 3:00, pefect for an uplifting concert followed by a nice dinner on Main Street. The award-winning Austrian pianst, Cornelia Herrmann will be playing Bach, Mozart, and Schubert. The church recently was gifted a beautiful new piano, so this will be the first of many ways that this piano in this beautiful building will be shared with the community. You can buy tickets at Eventbrite here. 

Next week, Tuesday, April 2nd

6:30 Rainbow Connection Small Group

  • Nella Fantasia
  • Power of the Dream
  • Rewrite the Stars
  • Hallelujah

Monday, March 25, 2024

YRCC Choir Keeps our Brains Agile and Resilient

Everyone in the York Region Community Choir knows intuitively that singing in the choir is good for us. 

We know this, feel it, experience it, and, more and more, published research is supporting it with data. One example of a study is the PROTECT Study in the UK which has been collecting data since 2015, aiming to understand how healthy brains age and why people develop dementia. Researchers are analyzing the data and discovering that playing an instrument or singing in a choir can help us age better. 

A new study has found a connection between brain health in old age and playing a musical instrument. Significant associations were also found between singing and executive function, and between overall musical ability and working memory. The research, published recently (January 2024) in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, concluded that education and engagement in musical activities throughout life are a valuable "means of harnessing cognitive reserve as part of a protective lifestyle for brain health." I'm always saying that we're having fun while protecting ourselves from cognitive decline, warding off dementia. 

This recent study was the subject of a couple of articles that you can read. One is here, on Fox Media.  They know that we know. "There’s nothing like a nostalgic song to transport you back to a special time and place -and now a new study has shown that music could help protect those memories for a lifetime." Catchy statement. Doctors involved in the study stated that engaging in music can help maintain and even improve cognitive functions, serving as a protective measure against cognitive decline. Yes. I'm positive that's what is happening with us and our audiences. 

Another article that shared the results of that study, here on Forbes, states that cognitive reserve, the agility and resilience of the brain, is "harnessed" by musical activity. We're making sure our brains stay agile and reslient. I feel that. They had this wonderful quote from a musician: 

    “I learnt to play the accordion as a boy living in a mining village in Fife [in Scotland] and carried on throughout my career in the police force and beyond,” 78-year old accordion player Stuart Douglas told the University of Exeter. Currently, Douglas still performs with an accordion band. “We regularly play at memory cafes so have seen the effect that our music has on people with memory loss,” he says. “As older musicians ourselves we have no doubt that continuing with music into older age has played an important role in keeping our brains healthy.” (my italics and bolding )

Once a week, at our choir rehearsals, we feel great for a couple hours, and it often sets the tone for the rest of the week. We're out of the house among other people, moving our bodies, stretching our minds, benefitting from and contributing to something positive and beautiful. Our concerts twice a year are the cumulation of hours and hours of preparation, the consummation of our work together. And, they're an opportunity to share this musical side of our life with friends and family. Then, we go out to care homes and retirement homes to share our music and to sing along with our audiences there. We have no doubt that we're doing a very good thing. 

Performing after months of preparation, study, and teamwork.YRCC 2023

Friday, March 22, 2024

My Singing Night at Trinity 2024 Thursday, March 21st

We talked a lot more than usual, but it was excellent, and we still sang a lot, and danced! 

It was an evening of music, connection, harmony, and spirit.

Here's the list of the songs we listened to and sang. 

  • True Colors by One Voice Children’s Choir, video with Holi theme
  • Dooset Daram  by 7th Band video, with English and Farsi lyrics
  • I’m Coming Out DanceTHE D SORAKI  video
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today by Amen Choir &National Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today  by PraiseCharts
  • Power of the Dream by Celine Dion
  • Nella Fantasia by Celtic Woman, and videos by YRCC, and Jackie Evancho
  • Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone
  • Karma Chameleon by Culture Club
  • The King of Wishful Thinking by Go West
  • Wishful Thinking by China Crisis
  • Someday by One Republic
  • Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us by Starship
  • Computer Love by Kraftwerk
  • Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Too Much Heaven by Bee Gees
  • You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates
  • All Out of Love by Air Supply
  • Kiss From a Rose by Seal
We started off with the video of True Colors by the One Voice Children's Choir. We've seen that choir before, and they're amazing. We sang True Colors by Cyndi Lauper last week for PIE Day. This video referenced the Hindu festival of colour, love, and spring, Holi, which falls on Monday, March 25th this year (the full moon). Holi marks the end of winter, celebrates that light conquers dark, honours the triumph of good over evil. And, there's this, from Wikipedia: "There is also a popular symbolic legend behind the festival. In his youth, Krishna despaired whether the fair-skinned Radha would like him because of his dark skin colour. His mother Yashoda, tired of his desperation, asks him to approach Radha and ask her to colour his face in any colour she wanted. This Radha did, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. Ever since, the playful colouring of Radha and Krishna's faces has been commemorated as Holi." I love this! Love. Of course they loved each other no matter what colour. We talked about the coloured powder being natural and safe, hopefully. There are natural and synthetic dyes of course. These powders go into faces and into the environment. Surely they are safe?

We had to talk about the Persian New Year, Nowruz, which my family celebrates. Nowruz means new day, but it's a weeks-long festival that celebrates the beginning of the new year, the new cycle of seasons. The countdown to the new year doesn't happen at midnight but at the moment of the vernal equinox, which was March 19th at 11:06:26 this year. I've written about Nowruz traditions in other posts. What we talked about today was the love of dancing. Iranians celebrate everything with lots of dancing, in addition to lots of food and flowers and dressing up. We listened to some music that reminded us of other kinds of dance music and the words were so passionate, about love and heartbreak ("you're the reason I breathe... I die without you"), words we've heard so often in the songs we sing. 

We listened to two very different versions of Christ the Lord is Risen Today. The first was a big, bombastic choral and orchestral recording. Trinity's beautiful organ can sometimes sound like an orchestra and this is the kind of Easter Hymn we're accustomed to. The second was a big, energetic "Praise" song. We wondered if our congregation would like it, or would only want the traditional version. We thought they probably would. It was excellent and full of the positive passion that Easter Sunday inspires. We've enjoyed lots of Contemporary Christian Music at our church, including some fun and energetic songs like My Lighthouse and Fix My Eyes. I think we're going to have to have more of that. 

We talked about how the dancer THE D Soraki moved to the percussion part of I'm Coming Out rather than to the melody, which made it surprising and creative. It opened our eyes to the fact that we don't all experience music the same way. Some of us love classical music and others hate it, same with country music, or bagpipes. Electronic music, opera, musical theatre, bluegrass, folk, CCM, traditional hynms, traditional music from any other culture, all can sound pleasing or exciting or calming or upsetting. Something we felt strongly about was that to be inclusive, our church should include a variety of musical styles each Sunday, because people's taste in music is so varied. We can be turned off by some kinds of music just as we are empassioned by other kinds of music. And, we can't become bland or neutral and stay inspiring. Difficult.

Some of the music we listened to and sang reminded us of important life moments: a trip to Europe, falling in love at 18, when our young husbands had a moustache, and dancing dates. This is good for our cognitive function, remembering the past connected to music. We're keeping our brains working.

As often happens, we were surprised by the lyrics of some of the songs we thought we knew so well. We sang these songs, danced to them, heard them many times, without paying attention to the words, the meanings (or seeming lack of meaning, LOL!). This is a really interesting and fun part of our evenings. We didn't have the lyrics to all the songs back when we were young, and even if we did, we didn't take the time to think about them like we are doing now. 

Something we often end up talking about is our current concerns about our health: knee surgery, hair loss, skin tags, pain and stress, dental health and mental health, our own and in our families. We worry about our spouses, our parents, and our children and friends too. We usually have a break, time for tea and discussion, and I often bake. This time, I had banana chocolate chip muffins that I had made earlier in the day. This aspect of our evening is a treasure too. 

We love the little group of Thursday friends that we've got, but at the same time we wish we could share this experience with others. Other singing friends from church or choir and others in Newmarket and the surrounding communities would love this and could benefit from it. I'm thinking about how to get the word out that this is good and we welcome more people. I think we could rebrand, change the name, advertise, maybe change the format, announce the theme the week before with some titles? We're not meeting next week, so maybe I'll spend some time on that. 

I love the accordion. If you don't, you haven't met the right accordion player.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. Mar. 19

Happy New Year! Nowruz Mobarak! 

It's the first day of spring, and a really good time to celebrate new beginnings. Persian new year makes sense, and it's been celebrated for more than 3 thousand years. I spoke a little about the Persian new year traditions, and my favourite part is the symbolism of the items of the 7-Seen spread. If you're interested, here's a link to what Wikipedia says about it. My husband, Harry Hooshang Naghavi was born in Iran and this is one Iranian tradition that I love maintaining. Our grown children have created their own haft-seen spread in their house in Ottawa.

The Anthem from Chess small group, tenors and basses only, met at 6:30. This group sounds so special! If you've missed the first two rehearsals, you can still join and sing the melody in the four-part sections, up high if you're a tenor, or an octave down if you're a bass.

We had a brief warm-up with deep breaths, some of our usual stretches and arpeggios on la, mi, ho, and ha.

1. Somewhere Out There: We reviewed the way the D.S. al Coda works.  D.S. al Coda is an elegant way to repeat a section. It stands for "dal segno al coda." It means repeat from (go back to) the 𝄋 sign, the segno at bar 25, sing that part again until you come to the bar marked To Coda, 36, then jump to the coda on page 7 (so second time, we skip page 6). Coda means ending or conclusion. Musical notation is a little like a road you follow, or a map, and the segno is a navigation marker like an inukshuk or a buoy or a blaze on a tree. When you see a segno, take notice, because you'll need to find it again. We also looked at the way the lyrics are written at the top of page 7 right at the Coda. It's just like last week's Power of the Dream section where the lyrics suddenly appear in three places instead of only in the middle. Look at how the lyrics match your section's notes. The altos have a special little melody here while sopranos and tenors and basses are holding a note. The middle line is for the altos, and you'll see the syllables match the melody there. Soprano, tenor, and bass words have moved. Sopranos go up and tenors and basses go down. Be careful to sing "love can see us through, then we'll be together. Altos sing "love can see us, love can see us through. We'll be together."

2. Joseph Medley: From Angel to Calypso. We reviewed the timing at the bottom of page 12 and top of 13 in the bass clef. Make sure you're coming in on beat 4 and observing the rest in "well, now that's __not quite true." make "that's" short. For the sopranos, we reviewed the ahs at the bottom of page 13 and top of page 14. It's very important to come in on beat one after you turn the page. At the bottom of page 18, we reviewed the hum-uh part for the basses. It's a super-cool moment for the basses. The transition from Close Every Door to Benjamin Calypso, will not be long, as written. We're cutting out a bar. We don't have drums, so Donna has to play the pick-up to that second bar at the bottom of the page, but we'll put that in the last 3/4 bar. Luckily, Donna will take care of us through all of the transitions, as always, watch me for beginnings and endings. 

3. Power of the Dream: Oof! This is harder than it looks. We started at the beginning, where the melody gets passed between the treble clef and bass clef voices, mostly in unison. Looks easy, but the rhythms are difficult. Winston asked what the word marcato means in the performance note at the top of the first page. It usually means accented, coming from the Italian "marked" (not march), and is applied to a note. In this case it says a mercato feeling. Which Donna and I interpreted to mean the rhythm should be strong and regular. In the accompaniment, there is a focus on beats one and three. However, having thought about this for a bit, I think the instruction is to not let the slow tempo influence a relaxed approach, nor to speed up to make it more animated, or passionate. The tempo is slow, but the feeling is intense, so mark the words, stress the meaningful parts of words, enunciate them well, and resist speeding up. There are some phrases which I've changed to make them more gender-inclusive. They are marked on the pdf on the website, and I've listed them in the last two review posts.

4. Nella Fantasia: It's getting closer and closer each time! You're getting really good at this. It's a really hard piece, but it's one of my favourite songs ever. The Italian is excellent, and the oohs changing to ahhs is perfect. We just have to keep at it. 

5. Star Canon: So pretty! All you have to do is remember when and where you're singing, which by the second time, you did perfectly. Sopranos were much better coming in on beat one throughout. Maybe all you needed was a reminder to sing in Part l and not in the top line on pages 6, 7, and 8. 

Next week, Tuesday, March 26th

6:30 Small Group: Anthem

  • City of Stars
  • Joseph Medley: King to the end
  • Power of the Dream
  • You'll Never Walk Alone

D.S.al Coda

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Friday, March 15, 2024

My Singing Night at Trinity 2024 Thursday, March 14th PIE Day

Our PIE day Singing Night was humble but wonderful! We wish we could have shared it with more people. We still had pie left to share, and I would have loved to have had to buy more pies. 

It was an evening of music, connection, harmony, and spirit.

Here's the list of the songs we listened to and sang. 

  • The Village by Wrabel, the video ft. UNITY, and the song to sing with
  • This is Me from the Greatest Showman, video, and the song to sing with
  • Born This Way by Lady Gaga
  • Beloved by Jordan Feliz
  • You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim
  • You Are Loved by Josh Groban
  • True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
  • Same Love by Macklemore 
  • Bad at Love by Halsey
  • I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross, and video clip of THE D SoraKi dancing to it
  • Faith by George Michael
  • Express Yourself and Vogue by Madonna
  • You Need to Calm Down and Cardigan by Taylor Swift
  • Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
  • Constant Craving k.d. lang
  • Grace Kelly and Elle Me Dit by MIKA
  • Livin’ la Vida Loca by Ricky Martin
  • Raise Your Glass by P!nk
  • Appalachian Spring Vl by Aaron Copland
As I was preparing my playlist, I Googled "queer composers" and there was a huge list of classical composers who were gay but had to hide it because it was illegal at the times and places they lived in. So sad. We listened to a couple samples of classical music, including a larger snippet of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring that featured the melody that we know as Lord of the Dance. We wondererd if Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet was so beautiful because of his understanding of star-crossed love. It brought to mind the song Rewrite the Stars that we're singing this season in the YRCC.

We talked about misinterpretations of Bible verses out of context, and the fact that the word homosexual wasn't in the Bible until 1946. We talked about how everyone wants to be seen and known and loved. The theme of being seen and known has come up many times in love songs and songs about God's love that we've been singing. We want to be loved just the way we are and not need to change things or hide things about ourselves. We noticed that nothing in nature is perfectly symmetrical, and each of us is unique, and thought that this could be God's way of letting us know that imprefection is beautiful and we shouldn't strive to be the same as anyone else. Quilting teaches us this as well. 

Dancing became a theme of discussion and we decided it would be good to end the evening with dancing. So, I turned off the lights, as I did with my Teen Choir (TTC), back when my kids were teens, at the end of every evening, and we moved our bodies. Dancing to disco-type dance music is a wonderful way to release stress, to free yourself, let go of inhibition, to lose yourself to the music and just be. It was form me in my 20's a kind of therapy. 

We didn't pay much attention to the meanings of the words of songs when we were young, even if we sang along. We use music for our own reasons and miss some of its elements. That's okay. Now, looking at the words, and in this context, it's surprising and illuminating to look at the words and see the messages. And, it's wonderful to talk about it with lovely, open-hearted friends. 

I'm including here a video of a dancer, THE D SoraKi, dancing to I'm Coming Out. It's astonishing and fantastic to see dance that is so brilliantly original! It reminds us that beautiful and good are ever-changing concepts, that creativity is hugely important, and an open mind is vital. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. Mar. 12

Fantastic rehearsal! We really got a lot done.

At 6:30, the Anthem small group started, and got to the end of the song. I've adapted the SATB score that Blair gave us to TTBB and to provide solos for the two people who came to me to offer this song as a solo, and to take advantage of our bass voices. There are 3 solos. Everything up to page 6 is solos. From page 6 on, I've created a new 4-part arrangement which you have on a one-sheet copy. You should not need to use both the score and that 1-page. I hope the soloists can memorize their parts. 

We did a brief physical warm-up and a little vocal warm-up before singing Hallelujah as our main vocal warm-up. 

1. City of Stars was great! We looked at the swing notation and talked about how that gives the song its jazzy bum-ba-bum-ba feel. The moody/wistful/dreamy quality is there too, but comes more from the slowish tempo and the soft low voices at the beginning. At 29, we brighten up with the treble clef voices on "It's love" and then at 35 when we're all together it's big and swinging and positive culminating in the "rat-tat-tat" on our hearts, the crazy feeling of love. Remember, you're watching at the bottom of page 7 (bass clef voices) and at the end (treble clef voices) where we  slow down dramatically.

Swing Notation on City of Stars

2. Power of the Dream: We all have good copies or scores now. We learned the section from bar 52 to 66. There are a few spots where the words move around.  We saw this at bar 58/59 and 64/65. Most of the time, the words are in the middle of the treble and bass clefs, so treble folks are reading down, and bass folks are reading up. But, in these special places, the middle is for the altos. Sopranos words moved up, and, bass clef voices, your words moved down, to match your notes. We looked at the places where I've changed the words to make the language inclusive. These are: page 3, "since time began"; page 6, "Every one of you, as you come into this world, you bring the gift of hope..."; page 8, "... in all of us, it's time that we began." The pdf on the website is a scan of my score with those changes. Remember to make your notations in pencil only, or make yourself a working copy to mark up in pen or with highlighter. 

3. Rewrite the Stars: We slowed this down, not only for the soloists, but also for everyone when your eighth note rhythms change depending on the words, so you can pay attention to that. For example: "It's up to you, and it's up to me" changes to "It's not up to you. It's not up to me".  "When everyone tells us what we can be" and "No one can say what we get to be" is even harder. Soloists did a great job! I put you on the spot at the front, but hearing the other soloists was effective. Eventually, I have to pick a soloist for each part and choose a back-up for each as well, so there will be 4 of you. And, we have to think about logistics, where will you stand in the concert, and whetger or not we use microphones (I'm thinking not- you can stand in the front row or first step up?). 

4. Nella Fantasia: We slowed this down too. Sopranos, when Donna starts playing, start singing in your head "io ve-e-do un mo-on-do giusto" or "li tu-ut-ti vi-i-vo no" or even just ba-ba-bas on quarter notes to make sure you're ready to sing those triplets and can come in confidently. We sang aahs instead of ohs, and it sounded stronger. We reviewed the alto ahs. We reviewed the special soprano part at the top of page 7. I love this song, and it's sounding beautiful. We talked about the recordings on the website. The ones where you hear Richard singing are really very helpful, except for his "nella fantasias" all the way through, even though it's all English. It was really nice to sing it that way at the time. Please take advantage of this excellent resource to help you if you're feeling unsure of your part.

5. Joseph Medley: We sang to the end of the Elvis song. We were meant to focus on the first two songs today. The first was excellent, Jacob and Sons.We added a cut-off with the fermata in Donna's intro to move to a sudden change of tempo. The intro is big and showy, broad, and grand. Then, when we come in, we move with a driving energy. You'll see that the notation is for a broad, slow (92) intro which speeds up "accel." to (138) "with energy". Much better when we sing as written (haha). I'm still not hearing enough tenor on Ja-cob. I'm thinking of adding some altos there. Otherwise, this is perfect. Any Dream Will Do has one little thing. The beginning is medium loud, with just the sopranos and tenors, no altos and no basses. This is important because it makes bar 47 more dramatic, and louder, when we're all together at medium loud.  We kept going, with One More Angel in Heaven, where we had a little issue in the bass clef with timing at bar 96/97. "Well now that's--not quite true" is 1-2-3-4-1-2and-a-1. You'll get it if you start on beat 4, stress that's and keep it short to observe that rest. Not quite is the second two notes of a half-note triplet. So, the rest is the first part of a half-note triplet, which is not quite a full beat. Sopranos, try to come in on beat one on page 14. It's a page turn, so maybe you need to write it in on the bottom of page 13? It's your second aah phrase. 123a41. Song of the King is fun, except the basses have very little to do for the first 3 pages. There's the solo, which is Colby (and we'll need a back-up, so it's not horrible that you've been singing it), and the sopranos, altos, and tenors sing the bop-shu-wah parts. Basses only come in at bar150 with "hum-uh-hum-uh-hum-uh-hum-uh" I want to hear all the basses there except Colby. 

We talked about: 

The Choir!Choir!Choir! concert (excellent-highly recommended) and what I learned about my own conducting and talking and chorister sitting and standing. I don't think I'll use their "try harder" strategy. 

Bloomington Cove Seniors: we can't sing there in the evening, so we'll try to do an afternoon, a Tuesday in May around 2/3:00 so we can go home and have dinner before our evening seniors' performance. A show of hands looked promising. We need at least one person from each part, 2 or 3 sopranos, so even 10 people would work well. We would sing a half hour of our music and a half hour of sing-alongs. Jane is working on the schedule for May and June, and it will be up soon. I've already set up a peformance order on the website. Log in and click on Members to find "Seniors' Performance Orders" in the left menu. The order can change depending on who is there, what parts we have and how I'm feeling ;-)

Log in, click on Members

Next week, Tuesday, March 19

6:30 Anthem
  • Joseph: Angel, King, Close, Ben
  • Power of the Dream
  • Nella (maybe)
  • Somewhere Out There
  • Star Canon

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

YRCC 2024 Rehearsal Review Tues. Mar. 5

 It was so good! We had a couple new members and discovered a couple of new soloists among us. We had fun visualizing the way we want to sound when we're singing loudly and confidently but sweetly. Also, the opposite. When we're singing sweet words loudly and confidently, it can sound creepy-agressive.

6:30 the small group singing Night of Stars made huge progress. We slowed the tempo down to feel the strong and slow rhythm of the oars of a gondola in Venice. By the end, it was sounding sweet and maybe a little coquettish and maybe a little wistful. We were sure to stress and enunciate clearly the words that are loaded with meaning: Night of Stars, gently, love, floating, light, sing, etc. Watch for the pronunciation of cadenced: kay-dinst, meaning rhythmical, so the cadenced oar is rowing with a musical rhythm. We changed the dynamics to add a few crescendos before the important melodies: Page 5, last bar of the second system (sopranos get louder singing ah over the altos getting louder over Till the dawn and then Night of stars is loud, not soft; and, top of page 6 on the word shore which is marked as a sforzando diminuendo (we want a sforzando crescendo to the soprano run "Night of stars and of love" because those are the most important words and the altos repeat them right after.) Strong, please, so we're moving the forte up a few bars. This was fun!

1. All I Have to Do is Dream was our vocal warm-up, after a brief stretching and breathing exercise, and a vocal fry and some rollercoaster trills. We spent a little time on parts, going through the whole song on the baritone part and then the alto part. We talked about the same kind of challenge with Night of Stars, that the words are sweet and light but we need to sing strongly. So, we want soft sound but not soft volume. It was actually a very clear concept when the men needed to sing loudly and confidently the words "I can make you mine". We don't want that to sound creepy/threatening, so you need to play with your voice to sound wistful/dreamy instead. If you need to review your part, head over to the website and log in. The accompaniment and parts recordings are there.

2. Nella Fantasia is coming along really well. This is our most difficult piece this season, and you're doing great! The sopranos are becoming more comfortable with the Italian in the first verse and the Oos are getting better too. I'm thinking of changing them to ahs, though, because thy're maybe a little too soft. We reviewed the soprano part at the top of page 7, and all the parts at the top of page 9. If you feel a little lost or behind on this piece, you can find your part on the website to listen to. I have posted the other set of recordings, the ones with the words from Richard Heinzle. And now you'll see why I keep singing Nella Fantasia and pronounce it nella instead of nail-la. Please take advantage of this excellent resource.

3. Joseph Medly: Benjamin Calypso review and Go, Go, Go all the way to the end! We sang the whole medley from the beginning to the end! With Benjamin Calypso, we found our soloists, but we will need back-ups, so please consider letting me know you'd like to have a go at it. Winston gave it a shot and we were all so happy he did! We discovered that he's been blessed with a strong and beautiful voice. Carol sang the second solo wonderfully, but we were not surprised. We've known about Carol's superlative expressive, storytelling singing forever. 

4. Rewrite the Stars: We discovered a super soloist on this too. Nadine gave the second solo a shot and nailed it! Winston tried the first and did a pretty good job too. We're getting closer with these. We'll try out different soloists still though, because both of these are super-hard and some folks will want a second shot, or want to try the other solo. There are still some timing issues all the way through, which is understandable; it's got unusual timing. Next time we sing this, we'll slow it down a bit. I maybe speed up on this because I love its energy; there's a drive, a push, that the timing gives it that I love. 

5. The Power of the Dream: I just realized that the pdf on the website, which Peggy used to print the working copies, is the problem, is missing pages 2 and 3. I'll fix that. We took a quick look at the changes I've made to remove gender-specific language. On page 3, we'll sing "And since time began", on page 6, "Every one of you, as you come into this world, you bring the gift of hope and inspiration."And, on page 8, "There's so much strength in all of us. It's time that we began. It's the moment that you think you can't, you'll discover that you can. Feel the flame..."

Next week, Tuesday, March 12th

6:30 Anthem from Chess Small Group (all men, please)

  • City of Stars 
  • Joseph Medly: review ending, and first two songs
  • Nella Fantasia
  • Power of the Dream
  • Rewrite the Stars

Friday, March 1, 2024

My Singing Night at Trinity 2024 Thursday, February 29th

  An evening of music, connection, harmony, and spirit.

Here's the list of the songs we listened to and sang. 

  • Breathe by Jonny Diaz
  • Beloved by Jordan Feliz
  • You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim
  • Stars by Skillet
  • Dream a Little Dream of Me by The Mamas & The Papas
  • Dreaming by Blondie
  • You’re the Inspiration by Chicago
  • Space Oddity by David Bowie
  • Got to Get You into My Life by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
  • All My Loving by The Beatles
  • Holly Holy by Neil Diamond
  • Come On Get Happy by David Cassidy
  • Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers
  • I Love You Always Forever by Donna Lewis
  • Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
  • Dust in the Wind by Kansas
  • I Love Rock ‘N Roll by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Don’t You Want Me by The Human League
  • Downtown by the Headstones
  • Can't Take My Eyes off of You Frankie Valli
I spend some time compiling my playlist each week, adding songs when I think of them or when they appear on another playlist I'm listening to. Sometimes, I go searching for things in a theme. I use the search function in Apple Music, on YouTube, and Google. Sometimes, I find something and it leads to others when an app recommends things to me. That can also be annoying, but often it's good. I don't remember how the three CCM songs at the top of the list came to my notice, but I'm glad they did. They're such good songs! I really want to sing those at church, especially Beloved on Pride Weekend. I think it would be pefect. We handed out buttons with a rainbow heart and the word Beloved on them at the Pride parade last year, and they were very popular, as well as the God Loves Me rainbow hearts. It felt really good when people got excited about wearing a button that says God Loves Me with a rainbow heart. We'll be making those again, this time with Trinity United Church printed on them as well, so people will remember where they got them. 

On Thursday nights, I start playing songs from my list, and then we look at the list together and choose songs, and sometimes artists, that we feel like listening to. It's always fun to see what the lyrics actually are compared to how we remember them. We can look up the albums to find out what year they were made, and who the composers were. We sometimes find songs that we like even more on an album. Remember when we had to buy a whole album if the song we wanted wasn't a "single" on a 45? 

I'm so grateful for my Thursday nights! It's always good to gather, and sing, and talk about music and life together. We would be happy to share this with more people. The invitation is open. You can come any Thursday that you can. Except, you can't come next week. We've cancelled March 7th because I'm going to experience Choir!Choir!Choir! in Richmond Hill at the RHCPA with YRCC friends.