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, March 23, 2023

YRCC Rehearsal Review 2023 March 21

 Happy Spring!

Mad About Mozart met early, having encountered and overcome a couple obstacles. 

Lauren started the warmup, since I was talking to Michael, our new Tenor or Bass (squee!). We danced to Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing by Stevie Wonder, but it was the version from the movie Sing! It's sung by the Elephant named Meena (I think I said she was a hippo), the voice is Tori Kelly. We sang along to Let the Sunshine by the 5th Dimension. These are parts of my Sunshine Medley.

Tori Kelly and Meena

Meena gains confidence singing

1. Top of the World: very good. I've started conducting this in 2 instead of 4, and we'll feel more of a dancing and romantic energy. 

2. I Can See Clearly Now: yes! We did very well. This has a very different feel from Top of the World, and even from the popular radio version- it's supposed to feel Caribbean, laid back and groovy. This is a good piece to learn repeats and special instructions like D.S.al Coda, and a good introduction to reading the instructions and notations on sheet music. If you need help, go to the website where you can find recordings of parts. We worked on getting our notes at the coda, at bar 45. 

3. Viva!: Mozart, Italian, but easier than I Can See Clearly: no repeats, nothing confusing. We looked at the section from 38 to the end. We're doing great, and next time we'll look at dynamics, when to sing loud and when to sing soft. 

4. Sunshine Medley: Introduction, although some of us (maybe a dozen people) started learning this last spring. This is a post-pandemic, opening-up song. We think about getting out in the spring after a long winter, worrying about all kinds of things, fears lingering, but with friends by our side we let the sunshine in, feeling more and more confident. At the end, we'll invite the audience to sing along with us on "let the sunshine". There are ba-bas. Everyone gets to sing the do-do part of Here Comes the Sun. The accompaniment is on the website for help. 

5. We Rise Again: We started learning the oohs under the solo, but also reviewed the different sections, A, B, C, etc. We'll keep on working on this, even though it already sounds so good! I hope we get closer to the way it's written, but even if we don't, it's such a powerful piece that our audience will love it. 

We were talking about: the concert date. Saturday, May 6th. We will announce the time and date next week, and we'll start booking our friends and families. 

Next week, Tuesday, March 28th

Mad About Mozart meets at 6:30 again (hopefully the door will open on time)

  • Hallelujah
  • I Can See Clearly
  • Sunshine Medley
  • Viva
  • We Rise Again

Thursday, March 16, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review March 14th

6:30 Small Group: Mad About Mozart is coming along swimmingly! We sang up to bar 46. Melinda and I were thinking we should give the little sections that we've been learning letter names, like in We Rise Again. I'll do that at the end of this review, so that you can start using them next week. One small issue: the doors are supposed to open at 6:30 but it wasn't until about 6:40 that we were able to get in. 

Warm-ups were fun, again. After a brief physical and vocal warm-up, we did a big physical warm-up. We danced to Lady Gaga's Born This Way. Such a fun song, and appropriate for pi π day, or PIE day (where affirming churches are public, intentional, and explicit about their support of the 2SLGBTQI+ community.) People don't expect to hear this song at a choir concert, but they did, in 2012! 

1. On Eagle's Wings: a choral piece that people expect to hear. I love this arrangement, the best I've ever heard of this hymn. We reviewed some alto parts, and all parts on the ending. 

2. We Rise Again: we did section C (see the post about our arrangement and the letter names I gave to sections). Tenors and Basses have a cool special part which I want to hear, so Sopranos and Altos have to be quieter. There's some moving around of parts, so please look at that post. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: we sang both verses all the way through and it's really very good. 

4. Walking on Sunshine: we did a quick review of the key change, and the tenor/bass part after that. It's very good. 

5. Happy Together: our concert title is Happy (singing) Together, or something like that. This is going to be fun, energetic, and kind of cute. The ba-ba section is super! We had trouble getting the note where we're all together in the last section, the ending. We've got to figure something out- maybe a pause and Donna plays a chord?

Next week: Tuesday, March 21st, the first day of spring, first full day of the Persian New Year, which this year falls on Mon, Mar 20, 2023 at 5:24 PM 

6:30: Mad About Mozart

  • I Can See Clearly
  • Sunshine Medley
  • Top of the World
  • Viva
  • We Rise Again

YRCC Arrangement Review: We Rise Again

I found the old post on our arrangement of We Rise Again with my notes on who sings what that I was talking about. Click on that link, if you like, but I'll redo it here and now.

Our version starts with a solo, which Marlene has agreed to sing for us. I'm looking for a back-up for that solo and for help with the First Soprano part. (Sop1 is a challenging descant part. Preview it if you can).

The Second Sopranos and the Tenors move a bit, from their usual lines- down to the Alto line for the Second Sopranos and down to the Bass line for the Tenors. Make notes and draw arrows or lines where you move down and back up. 

I have assigned letter names to the sections of the song so we can refer to them easily.

Section A: The beginning up to bar 13 is section A. Solo (Marlene) alone

Section B: bars 13-19: Solo on the top line, the solo line. Everyone else sings mm, oo, ah, SATB in the choir bracket, as usual, except Tenors move to sing the top part of the Bass line at bar 16 (nobody will sing the tenor line there-it's boring and useless) and Basses are on the bottom. (Bass is the bottom throughout- easy, also Altos are in their usual home throughout- easy.)

Section C: bars 19-27: No solo. Soloist moves down to the Soprano line with the First Sopranos. This is a descant part. Second Sopranos move down to the Alto line to sing the melody with the Altos. This is a very high Alto part, so I'm not taking away the Alto's special moment, I'm giving them a hand. Tenor and Bass each in your own line. Watch out for bar 22 beat 2 (come in nice and strong before the melody) and we moved the Basses beat 2 of bar 25  to beat 3, so you're together with the Tenors on the word ocean for a strong beat 3. Let the Tenors and Basses shine in this section, and let the melody of the chorus be softest (all sopranos and altos soft). (like Hallelujah, we want to hold back with the melody of the chorus for extra drama, but here we also have the extra drama of the T&B parts)

Section D: bars 28-39: Like Section B, the solo, plus choir oohs (and ahs!) SATB, as usual. The oos change to ahs after "we look to" in bar 33: at the pick-up to 34 for SAT on beat 3 or 4, and in bar 34 for Bass. (so, it's: oooo we look to aaahh)

Section E: bars 39-43: No solo. Like Section C, Soprano 1 is on the Soprano line, Soprano 2 and Alto sing the Alto line. Bass divides here, so Tenor takes the top and Bass the bottom. Nobody sings the tenor line in section E. (I've got pencil scratches completely obliterating the tenor line- I don't like reading the Tenor clef)

Section F: bars 43-51: No solo. This is where Alto, Tenor and Bass have melody! Everyone is in unison, except First Soprano. So, the Tenor line can be scratched out again. Bass clef is easier to read,  right?

Section G: bars 51- end. No solo. Almost exactly like Section F, but higher and louder. Scratch out that Tenor clef line again. There are a couple special Tenor bits but we're not using them. First Sopranos have a special bit in bar 58 (watch-it's lower than you expect), and then there's the ending. Bars 62-65: Second Sopranos move up to the Soprano line where they're supposed to be, the lower part there. Altos are alone on the Alto line, Tenors sing the top of the Bass Line, and Bass sings the bottom of the Bass line. Nobody on the tenor line.

Friday, March 10, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review March 7th

 We danced and sang with Beatles songs as part of our warm-up. Yay!

The Mad About Mozart small group started today. It was fun, but kind of hard. I'm happy that Lauren is going to be leading the small group ;-) We'll see if we can get recordings, and for now,  here's a YouTube video. Maybe this will help. 

1. Happy Together: Done! The ba-ba section is much easier than it looks. We reviewed the parts, and they're also pretty easy. We'll have all tenors and basses on part 2 with the altos for now. Once we're all together, I might ask one or two tenors to sing part 1.

2. Walking on Sunshine: Done! But, we'll keep reminding the tenor/basses about their part after the key change. Something about the key change pulls them to melody. I'm actually starting to like it that way, but maybe if some of you could sing the tenor harmony, it would be better. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Done! We sang both verses! It's so good. The second verse needs to be looked at because the words are not as well known and fitting them into the melody is a little different. Pay attention to the phrase/slur marks that show you where the syllables go. We'll need to work on dynamics, but it's really very good as it is. 

4. This Little Light of Mine: Fun! Debbie and Blair sang the solos and they were great! This is an important part of our theme of rising like the sun. We feel the light and blue skies because of love, because of God, because it's our nature to cycle through seasons, but, but we have the power to shine our own lights! We shine! Every day, we must decide to let our lights shine, every day. 

5. We Rise Again: Powerful. Marlene does such a great job on the solo that people won't notice if we're a little messy on the oohs and ahhs. And, the choruses, and the key change work so well that everyone will love this song. All you have to do, really, is feel it and sing with passion. I want you to feel that the rising again is not passive, just something that happens in nature, and we are happily aware of it. But, instead, I want it to feel like something that we do with intention and joy. We rise! We get up, get outside, and like the sun, we let our lights shine, and we rise again and again. Happy Together, because we stepped out of our homes, and got in our cars and drove to choir (or walked to choir- Melinda). 

Next week, Tuesday, March 14th

6:30 Mad About Mozart
  • Happy Together
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Walking on Sunshine
  • We Rise Again
Next Tuesday is PIE day: 3.14. Eat pie! I'll probably have a savoury pie for dinner. 
Also, at our church, it's a day to be Public, Intentional, and Explicit (PIE) in our embracing the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I'm on the Affirming Church Team, so I'll be serving pie on Sunday to observe PIE day. So, maybe we'll talk about gender and sexuality at choir?

Next Friday is St. Patrick's Day.  
Make plans to wear green (drink something green?) and have fun! If you have a chance to dance next Friday for St. Patrick's Day, take it.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review February 28th

 Oh what a night! It was fun and it was productive. 

Part of our warm-up was singing to an accompaniment soundtrack of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by Burt Bacharach who recently passed away (Feb.8, at 94). He also wrote What the World Needs Now, which is in our archives. It's amazing how many of us knew most of the words. Well, not so amazing. Music does that. It stays in our memories wonderfully, even when other memories fade. Music is magical. Part of our warm-up included stretches that we felt more than usual because of having had to shovel snow. 

Bill met with Donna at 6:30 to practise his solo piece. It's so beautiful! You're going to love it. 

1. Top of the World: It's very, very good! We talked again about what the basses could do. I think we ended up deciding that it was easiest if they sang what was written, or an octave down from what's written, and not the melody/soprano part an octave down (except for the entry/solo section which is all melody an octave down, with no harmony). More harmony is good. Something that made me very happy is that it was our first song of the night, and everyone watched me at the end and held the note about three extra bars! I love when I can play with an ending. Thank you for playing with me so nicely!

2. Viva!:  I have a note on my copy of Top of the World that says "not so stiff; loosen up". Viva should have the same energy as Top of the World, uptempo, cut time, very positive but with the opposite note: "tighten up." We worked on tightening up the timing. It's very important to observe the rests, always, and to keep the notes for their written length, always. Mozart's music gets a lot of energy from precise timing, from contrasts between short notes and quick parts and longer notes and grander sections. Our pronuciation needs a little tightening up too. Some folks were saying pwee instead of pyoo for più, "più caro" So, I was yelling out pyoo, pew, Pepe le Pew, church pews, pyoo-pyoo like a cartoon gun. It rhymes with you, cue, and the fancy way that we sometimes say new (or Tuesday) to sound like there's a y in there: not noo shoes, but nyoo shoes. If you catch yourself or someone near you pronouncing a word differently from those around you, let me know. Precision is a Mozart key word. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: We learned the last section. Tenor and bass divide her to wonderful effect, especially that last note. We did it! And, it sounded great and felt great. Next time, we'll do the second verse. I want us to end on the words: "in the love of joys unknown" (plus a hmm). Can hardly wait. I love this. 

4. Happy Together: Our theme song! Our concert will be called Happy (singing)Together! I am so happy- for real, so happy- that we're singing together again. Not singing together during the pandemic was super hard on me, even with the Zoom choir nights that we had. They were so much better than not singing at all, but real live choir is the very best thing in the world to me. We all know this song pretty well and the arrangement isn't too "special". We had sopranos on Part 1 and everyone else on Part 2. We might put a couple of Tenors on Part 1. In the last section, the ba-ba section, there's also a Descant part for the first Sopranos. We didn't get there yet. We sang from page 7, stopping at bar 55. The eighth notes in the ba-ba section go "ba-da-bop ba" This helps you to observe that little rest and it tightens up that rhythm. When you sing bop, it's short. You close your mouth for a fraction of a second. Very cool. 

5. Walking on Sunshine: We did it pretty slow, and very few people got lost this time. Maybe you've been practising? When it's up to speed, it's going to actually be easier. You'll loosen up and watch me, and we'll be great. I love the energy of this one. Donna's accompaniment is some good rock-n-roll! It makes me want to dance. During that section with the overlapping repeats where each section has their own part, watch me. It's my job to do the counting, to show you when to come in and when to stop, so just come in when I tell you and stop when I tell you. If I add an extra repeat or get your section in  early, at least we'll be together. Donna is awesome at fixing things that I mess up, so have faith and have fun. I'll try my best not to mess up, though. We reviewed the tenor part on the chorus because we need to hear that harmony. It's tempting to sing melody, I know. We also reviewed coming in at the coda. 1-2-1-2 and don't it feel good. 

6. Hallelujah: We had a few extra minutes so we sang this as a bonus. So good!

Next week: Tuesday, March 7th

6:30 Mad about Mozart Small Group! Sign up on the website. There's an Event set up. There's a link to the sheet music there and on the website in the recordings list. 

  • Happy Together
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • Walking on Sunshine
  • We Rise Again

Saturday, February 18, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review Valentine's Day February 14th

It was so good to have a long break with treats, and most importantly, time to chat with our choir friends, old and new! Many thanks to all who set up and contributed to the treats. 

We always start with a warm-up. We begin with stretches to release tension in our bodies, our necks, our shoulders, and anywhere tension is lurking, even our hands. We loosen up and also bring blood flow to the areas we're going to use. We open our chests and breathe with our whole bodies. I want your whole body to support your singing. 

1. You Raise Me Up: Inspiring and touching, this sone is one of our favourites and our fans love it too. Do you know that we started singing this after Bill sang it in a concert of ours as a solo? We loved it so much that we all wanted to sing it. I think our audiences now do too, so we're going to ask them to sing the chorus with us. 

2. Walking on Sunshine: I thought it sounded pretty good last time we sang it, but this time I noticed that a lot of you have not sung this before and were pretty lost. So, we started at the beginning and learned parts. Please take some time to sing along with your part in the recordings on the YRCC website, yorkregioncommunitychoir.org. You'll need to log in with your name and email address and your password. You can reset the password if you forgot it. Open the pdf of the music or use your binder, then sing with the recording of your part. Here's a link to the baritone part. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: We talked about how this is often played at weddings because it is so romantic. The original German lyrics are a much more personal and passionate song about Jesus. So, it's not just the contemporary Christian songs that are weirdly romantic songs about a personal relationship with Jesus. "He is my life's strength, my eye's desire and sun, my soul's love and joy". We went ahead and learned parts almost to the end! It's so cool, and beautiful, and satisfying to sing! We don't have parts recordings, but we have the accompaniment that you can practise with. 

4.You'll Never Walk Alone: When you make friends with the people at choir, you might find yourself going for walks together, or going to a bar, or chatting on the phone, and you will never have to be alone. We have walked through storms together holding our heads up high. Singing this is so rewarding that we can always hold our heads up proudly after this. It's a super strong version of this very famous song. See if you can catch a Liverpool soccer match to hear the whole stadium singing it. 

Here's us in 2014 singing it:

Next week: Tuesday, February 21st 


(Churches need their spaces for Pancake Tuesday dinners. Lent starts on Wednesday, so Tuesday is Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, and the tradition of having pancakes for dinner at church is pretty great.)

See you all on Tuesday, February 28th

6:30 Bill: Because We Believe

  • Happy Together
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Top of the World
  • Viva!
  • Walking on Sunshine

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

2023 YRCC Next Small Group: Mozart

 Mad About Mozart is our next small group.

It's a fun piece using Mozart melodies to tell the story of Mozarts life and works. 

You get to sing more Mozart and it's English and it's interesting!

I'm going to set up an Event on our Website.

Here's a link to that video.

Here's a link to the sheet music and a sound sample too. 

I'll add the sheetmusic to the website so you can have a look there too.

This small group will start in March. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review February 7th

Before I review the rehearsal, here's the poster for the dance I'm inviting you to. All of our friends and family are invited to this dance at church. It's a disco dance and there will be wine and pizza and snacks for sale, but you don't have to buy anything or pay anything. The idea is just to dance and have fun, share the love of disco :-)

You can RSVP to me, or just show up. You'll find me dancing.  

my choir family is invited

Together Wherever We Go met again and they're so good!

Warm-ups were not nearly as cool as the videos I sent. 

1. Top of the World: was supposed to be a warm-up, but we discovered that there were a few of us who missed a bunch of the learning on that one. We rreviewed the baritone parts, mostly. We're still not 100% sure, but it looks like basses are singing the baritone part an octave down instead of soprano two octaves down. Having basses is so good!

2. Viva!: We got all the way to the end! We've now learned the whole thing, but we'll be working on it for some time. Don't worry. Remember you can go to the website and there's a link to your part being played so you can sing along with it. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring! It's a joy to sing this. We just got started, with the first two pages. We'll take it slow and we'll review and repeat a lot. Remember your homework: look at the phrasing and pencil in the words that don't quite sit where they should for your part. The notes in a slur, or phrase mark, all go with one word. 

4. Walking on Sunshine: This is a fun and fast song and it's easy to get lost. Keep an eye on the Segno at 44, the chorus. Mark the coda, the beginning of the end. Always be careful with repeats. Watch me for when to come in and when to stop in that funny section which builds in parts like the thing in I Can See Clearly. See the snip below. You can rehearse with a recording of your part. It's on the website. 

For inspiration, watch the music video! 

5. Hallelujah: Always wonderful! Singing this makes me happy. I love our version best of all the gazillions of versions out there. 

I'm going to announce the small groups and solos in another post. 

We're not having a small group or solo meet for the next two weeks. Next week is Valentine's Day and the following week we don't have our room. We are hoping to get space to rehearse in St. Andrew's Presbyterian just up the street at Victoria and Mosley. I've put the location in the YRCC Calendar and updated the small group/solo time slots too. 

Next week: Tuesday, February 14th. Have a nice dinner with your home loves and then come and sing with your choir loves!

We're going to sing:

  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Viva!
  • Walking on Sunshine
  • You Raise Me Up
  • You'll Never Walk Alone

Friday, February 3, 2023

Choir Warm-ups and Strained Voices

 If you find yourself hoarse at the end of the night on Tuesdays after choir rehearsals, you could have used a better warm-up. Or, maybe you just drank too much coffee. Or, you couldn't shake off your work day. Maybe the music wasn't your style, not your groove. It's not always from singing too high or too loud. 

Just like muscle strain in your shoulders or legs, your vocal muscles can get hurt because of tension and doing something new, or unusual. So, you need to sing all week long and you need to do a warm-up, just like you do with sports or other exercise, to avoid vocal strain on choir nights. 

General relaxation and good health and practice are key to avoidinig strain. 

Try not drinking coffee on choir day, and stay hydrated. Many of you remember diligently to bring a water bottle, but maybe you should consider a soothing herbal tea instead. 

Whenever you sing, at choir or at home, get the kinks out of your neck and shoulders before you start, and take some good mindful breaths at the very least. A yawn is a good gentle warm-up exercise. A general physical stretch-and-relax practice is recommended, so we always do that on choir nights. And, some people massage the outside of the neck and face, or the inside of the mouth with the tongue. 

Humming is excellent. Look it up. Studies have shown lots of benefits. Hum whenever you think of it, and hum some warm-up drills before you sing. 

Sirens (or rollercoasters) are good and can be done on lip trills (raspberries) or tongue trills (rrrr) or on the sound "ng"(like at the end of the word sing-we need to try this one). If you can't do the trills, you need to relax more. Tension is a big part of the problem. There are videos which might help you to learn to do lip trills. 

There are all kinds of videos and articles online on the topic of vocal warm-ups, vocal strain, choral warm-ups, and singing in general. They don't all apply to what we're doing. You're not a professional singer and you're not a professional speaker. You just want to use your voice to sing for fun, and you don't want it to hurt. 

Here are some different kinds of videos on YouTube. Find one you like and do some working out regularly so you're not getting that "weekend warrior" pain. 

I love that last one! Sparkle every day, people! 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

YRCC Rehearsal Review January 31st

The small group singing Together Wherever We Go met early. They have learned the song and the next step is to make it visually adorable. 

We warmed up our instruments and made sure we were allowing lots of air to come out of our mouths with exercises to open our throats and stretch the upper and lower limits of our range of sounds (not necessarily 'singing' sounds). We did a few vocal exercises too, with short syllables and long vowels resonating in our sinuses. 

1. Blue Skies: "nothing but blue skies from now own" fits our theme perfectly. We have snaps and jazz hands and two short 'scat' solos. The sopranos start with snaps (two bars before Donna comes in) and alto tenor and bass start with melody. The bar before the sopranos start, they stop snapping, 13 (its not easy to snap and sing; too much pressure). The bar before the solos start, everyone snaps, top of page 5, and turns the page so you don't look at the music until page 6. Everyone stops snapping when we start singing again, 53. Easy-peasy. At the end, everyone does jazz hands with their right hands, on the last word "on". Watch how we snap so that you do it the same as everyone else. 

2. I Can See Clearly Now: Nothing but blue, blue skies! We looked at the ending, from the coda 43, coming in at 45, to the end. A good ending is so important! Be sure to observe rests. Look at the top of page 10 and maybe mark those two beats at the end of bar 48 so that you're not holding "way" too long. 

3. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: We are singing the English words and we say "Jay-zoo". We sight-read through the first verse. It's pretty, but difficult. Your homework is to look at your part and see where your notes don't match the words as they are written. Altos and Baritones especially have some really cool parts. Look at the slur lines connecting notes to see where the words move and where they start and stop. For example, look at the words Love and Most, here below from page 3. Sopranos have 3 syllables on love and two on most. Altos have one syllable on love and 4 on most! Baritones have 2 syllables on love and one on most, and the location of the word most is deceiving. If I were singing baritone, I would cross out most and write it over the note on beat 3, where I need to sing it. Also, for the second verse, 'sic' from music falls on beat 3 so I would write that in too, maybe like this: zik. Be sure to make any markings in pencil. If you ever leave the choir, someone else will get your music, and they might sing a different part. Or, the director might ask you to do things differently from year-to-year. 

4. Viva!: Encourage everyone to live life well, especially those dearest to your heart (piu caro in vostro cor). We did the whole next section, from 19 to 32, starting with all the altos and sopranos on that optional solo section. It's so pretty with all of you singing! The most difficult part there is the baritone line in the first system of page 8. If you have a chance to listen to that part, please do. 

5. On Eagle's Wings: We sang the whole thing and noticed that some sopranos forgot to mark that they're not singing at 43, but only come in at "make you to shine" and make it soft and angelic, please. This section is all about the altos: look at their sun. The ending needs work so that we get it tighter. Make sure you are observing those rests on beats 2. 

We talked about small group and solo suggestions. I already have more than enough suggestions so that I won't be able to include all of them; however, if you have a great idea, I'm still all ears, open to suggestions, until next week. I have to decide at least who is going to rehearse next. Do we want an early group on Valentine's Day evening? Maybe that's not a good idea? We need to make some decisions next Tuesday. 

Here's the One Voice trio we were talking about. This version is not the original, but I like it a lot. It fits our theme beautifully: singing together, helping each other to make it through, surrendering to the mystery, singing with love and a will to trust. All of us=one voice. I just saw a video with a choir singing it, and I think we might want to do this next year. Oh, my goodness, it's everything, this song. Tab has agreed to join Melinda and Lauren on this. Thank you! 

Next week, Tuesday, February 7th

6:45 Together Wherever We Go 

  • Hallelujah
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Top of the World
  • Viva
  • Walking on Sunshine

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 24th

 Life is so much better with choir! 

I was a bit frazzled from my day at work but soon forgot all of that and had a wonderful evening.

We had a quick warmup only so that we could get singing asap.

1. Why We Sing- so satisfying. Not sure how I want to do the beginning this year. Maybe we'll do it differently. Not the back and forth? We discovered that could use another one or two additional first sopranos. If you'd like to try, sit in front with Anna next week. We don't have a lot of first soprano parts, but a few important ones, like this song and We Rise Again, and a few special bits, kind of like bass parts. The special bits usually go above C so you have to be comfortable singing D E F and up to G, and the odd A.

2. Top of the World- we've got it. We just sang it through and we'll keep on getting better. Sweet.

3. On Eagle's Wings- We looked at all the "make you to shine like the sun" and they are pretty cool. We'll keep on tweaking and improving, but it's really quite good already. Well done! Sopranos and Altos marked their music at 43 with a note to say "altos only and soft". Baritones have the melody there, and then altos have a really good "sun" there. Altos should be loud on "sun". Sopranos have a pretty "make you to shine" which should be strong but not louder than the altos. Pretty like angels floating above the melody. At 61, the baritone part has the special bit that the altos had at 43, a harmony above the melody. Don't slip into melody there. Soprano and Alto both sing softly on the melody: stronger than just the altos, but not loud. The baritone line has the melody and should be strong right through make you to shine like the sun and "sun" is good and strong, please. Altos have a special sun again too. We looked at the whole ending, with special attention to altos and baritones again. Watch out for the short movements onto beat one at: 88, 90, 94. Don't hold them longer-observe those rests on beat two! I might lengthen beat one at 94: watch! That's the beginning of the end and you need to be watching anyway. There's a rit.(ritardando, slowing down) there which means the tempo will depend on the conductor, so watch. We added a bass note to the very end "hand", a low A (or was it an F?).

4. Viva!- It's so cool singing Mozart and so close to his birthday, January 27th! We did really well and sang all the way through the first section. We sang in Italian! Some of us are a little worried about how to say the r sounds. It's not a big deal but maybe we'll work on it a bit. Pay attention to the rests. Don't hold notes longer than written. There are short half-beat rests, one-beat rests, and two-beat rests. This Mozart piece is delightful and good for learning how to read note values, because it's pretty clear and even 4/4 time. 

5. I Can See Clearly Now- We reviewed the changes to the lyrics here and there, and looked at the parts at 16. We did great despite a few new folks getting lost. It's a bit confusing, but we'll keep working at it. Be sure to have a look at the repeats and the notes about them. Make note of the segno at 25 and the Coda at 43 where you come in at 45. We'll need to go over those sections again too. No worries. 

We talked about: small groups and solos

If you have an idea for a small group song or would like to sing a solo that fits in our theme, please let me know as soon as possible. I'll need 4 or 5 at the most. We've started Together Wherever We Go and in 2 weeks, we'll start the next one. We'll need to plan for rehearsal time with Donna at 6:30. I've got 3 solo suggestions and 4 small group possibilities, and when I've heard from everyone, I'll see which ones fit best. 

Next week:

  • Blue Skies
  • I Can See Clearly Now
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Viva

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 17

 Our warm-up included breathing, stretching and yawning, sirens/rollercoasters, na-nas and do-dohs. 

1. Wonderful World was also a warm-up, as it's sweet and not too challenging. 

2. We Rise Again was not on my list for tonight, but the composer of this song, Leon Dubinsky passed away earlier in the day, and it felt good to sing him home this way. I also had Dorothy Street in my mind as we sang this beautiful song about how life doesn't end when we die. We learned today that Dorothy passed away on Sunday. Dorothy sang Tenor, and was vibrant and youthful, always busy and singing, despite some health issues. We were surprised to hear that she was 93. Inspiring. 

3. Top of the World is done! Well, we got to the end. We'll sing it a lot in the next few months, don't worry. Something we talked about is how you are encouraged to make notes on your music- in pencil- because I often change things. We added a bass part to this because I felt that the baritone line was too high for our basses. They will sing melody 2 octaves down, mostly with sopranos, except in the section from bar 66-bar 74. Donna made up a great part for them to sing there, a low harmony to the baritone part. Remember to sing the same rhythm as, move with, the baritones, and not the sopranos in this section. We reviewed the alto part at 52 which is a bit tricky. It comes again at 74. 

3. Viva! This is one of two classical pieces in our binders this season. It's short and exciting and we're singing in Italian! Yay! The Italian is so much better. And, you can easily learn this at home by following along with your part on videos on YouTube. You can get there through my channel, but I'll put the direct links on the website. The video is just the sound, nothing to watch, so you'll want to look at your music while you listen. Look on the pdf side for my Viva Notes on Pronunciation (and meaning).  It's not difficult and there are so very few words to learn- don't worry. You're going to wish it were longer. 

4. On Eagle's Wings is so good, but I want to make it even better. We need to look at all the "make you to shine like the sun" parts. That's our theme, sunshine. It goes with This Little Light of Mine, I'm gonna let it shine". Same thing. (also We Rise Again like the sun, see?) I had planned to go through all of them this week, but we ran out of time. I wish choir nights were longer! You can look at them on your own, but we will do it together. Sopranos have it easy but still have to pay attention. Altos have a couple special ones. Tenors have special ones too. Here's where to look: bar 11, bar 29, 47 and 48, 65 and 66, 85. I especially love 48 an 66, altos and tenors. 

Next week:

6:30 Small Group Together Wherever We Go Starts! I've got three early Tuesdays booked on the YRCC Calendar for you. This is going to be a fun and cute song with back-and-forth interaction with body language and dynamics to make it "delightful" Here's a video for you to watch. 

Some of you have started coming forward with ideas for solos and small groups. If you have an idea for a small group or a solo you'd like to sing that you think will fit in with our theme, please do let me know. It's great to have lots of ideas to choose from! If you have a solo piece, be sure to get the music for Donna to play the accompaniment and so that I can have a look. Once I've taken a look, I'll choose a few and we'll book time with Lauren and Donna for you in that early slot 6:30-7:30. 

Next week's plan:

  • Blue Skies
  • I Can See Clearly
  • On  Eagle's Wings
  • Viva
  • Why We Sing

Monday, January 16, 2023

CNOY Walk 2023- Support Inn From the Cold with Renate

It's not a walk to test how far you can walk or how fast. It's not a run, not a race. There are no timers and there's no list to show who was fastest, but the team and individuals who raised the most funds are listed and celebrated. When we finish our walk, we gather to have a simple, warm meal. In the past, a restaurant has donated chili and buns and hot chocolate. I've participated in this walk for many years and even walked during the pandemic when we had to walk separately. 

The walk is not a huge challenge, 2km or 5km. The walk might be icy, or slushy, snowy, or dry and clear, but it's always cold and getting dark. We don't run. This year, we walk on February 25th. 

The CNOY walk is more like a demonstration, a statement. We walk together, a huge crowd of people with matching toques. We walk through the town in community. We join thousands of walkers all over Canada, walking on the same evening. We walk in solidarity with those who suffer because they might or must spend cold nights outdoors because they have no shelter of their own, no bed, no home. 

From the CNOY website: The Coldest Night of the Year is a moment when tens of thousands of Canadians step outside the warmth and comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and inclusion. Together, we're collecting donations that fund critical services at a local charity partner who serves and supports vulnerable families and individuals in our CNOY community.

In Newmarket, we are supporting Inn From the Cold. 

Take a look at the Inn From the Cold website. (innfromthecold.ca) They're amazing; they do so much! Their goals and vision are admirable, and the work they're doing is awesome. 

From the IFTC website: Services offered by Inn From the Cold: Inn From the Cold provides emergency shelter and support services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. IFTC offers a range of helpful services year round that are designed to assist with finding housing, employment, volunteer opportunities, mental health and addiction support and other necessities such as hot meals, clothing, laundry, internet, voicemail, showers and personal care items. A continuum of services from basic needs to securing housing assists our clients on their journey to wellness and self-sufficiency. 

We are all winners when homelessness ends. When everyone has shelter, dignity, and safety, we all win. Wouldn't it feel good to be able to prevent and eliminate homelessness together?

Donate now on my fundraising page. It's easy, and fast.  

Thursday, January 12, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 10th


What an excellent rehearsal we had! This new season has started off on a high note ;-)

We welcomed a few new people from the waiting list, and they're great. I'm especially happy to see the new men. 

While we do have to maintain a waiting list, men are always welcome. We have a limit of 60 because of our space in the Administrative Centre, where we hope to return in September. If you're wondering why we don't have 60 people now, it's because we're holding spaces for some of our past members who have let us know that they're coming back as soon as they feel more comfortable. 

Our theme this season is a continuation of Merrily Singing Together, which was our Winter Holiday theme. For spring, our theme is Sunshine, "We Rise Again", and Happy Singing Together. We have a lot of wonderful music in our binders! We won't be able to sing all of our songs at our concert, so some of them will be just for us. 

We started with warm-ups, physical and vocal. For fun we did a popular choir warm-up from TikTok! It's a 4-part na-na from Hey Jude. Apparently, a high-school music teacher posted it on TikTok and the vocal group Pentatonix used it at one of their concerts. Pretty cool.

1. You Raise Me Up- super song to start the year. Remember: not too strong on the the "I am strong" sections on the first three pages. Loud begins at the end of page 3. Watch during the ending, as always.

2. This Little Light of Mine- Lauren and Melinda were outstanding as usual on the solos. Finding the repeat is easy "on a Monday". Get loud at the key change (starting in the second ending).

3. On Eagle's Wings- beautiful. And, it will be even more beautiful when we study it and look at how the dynamics will create beauty and drama. We will need to focus on "make you to shine like the sun". It's different every time, and that part highlights our theme. 

4. I Can See Clearly Now-Despite it being a new song and having all kinds of tricky parts, this was pretty good! Some of us have clearly studied this one. Things to review: We changed to "I think we can make it" in a few places, bar 21 and it's pickup have the same words for SAB "I've been praying for", the section at the Segno, 25 all of it, bar 33 and the pick-up, the section at 38, coming in at 45 after the segno section. I love the blue, blue skies section, which is our point: nothing but blue skies from now on. 

5. Top of the World- We started this just before the lockdown in 2020, so it's still pretty new. It's farily easy though. We started "learning" this one, going through parts on pages 4,5,6. Lucky sopranos have the melody, but altos and tenors have some learning to do. Sopranos just have to pay attention to how the melody and timing are a little different from the Carpenters' version. 

6. Hallelujah- This is always a treat. We sing the chorus softly the first few times to make it more satisfying and dramatic when we stay loud on page 9. There are some tricky bits in the alto section to review.

Next week:

  • I Can See Clearly
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Top of the World
  • Viva 
  • Wonderful World
  • Why We Sing
This little light of mine is gonna shine

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

YRCC New Year Blessing 2023

" May every day of this new year bring joy to you and yours."

Our New Year Blessing song in its entirety is what I wish for all of us, love and laughter, friends, plenty, health, but this big ending phrase rings in my ear. I do hope that we find some joy in every day. We certainly will have hard days, but we have come through so many that we know that there is always some joy, something wonderful to be found.

I have sad news. We lost another member of our choir family. Mary-Ellen Scriver (alto Mary-Ellen) passed away on new year's eve. We were blessed to have her kind, generous, and gentle presence in our alto section for many seasons and will remember her fondly. 

I'm looking forward to this new season of choir. Our theme is still happily singing together again with a We Rise Again, spring and sunshine feel to it. 

I've updated this blog and our website with the new list of music, and Peggy and Anne will have our binders ready for Tuesday, January 10th. I look forward to seeing you then. I hope that some of you who've been reluctant to return will find new courage to meet with us every week again. Remember that there is plenty of space in the Trinity basement for us to spread out if we want to and if you prefer to keep your mask on, and if rules tell us all to put our masks back on, then we'll be flexible and patient. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

YRCC Party instead of Performance on 20-DEC-2022

We'll meet at my (Renate's) house for a casual holiday get-together on Dec.20th at 7:00 in place of our seniors' performance at Roxborough. They've had an outbreak. 

Check the Calendar for the address or look me up on the members only side of the website in the members listing. 

I'll have a few snacks and some beverages, but if you'd like to bring something, that would be fun. 

I will set up the screen and projector and we can sing. If Donna or anyone else feels like playing piano, they can use my keyboard. Or, we can sing karaoke-style. I'll see what I can cook up. 

Bring your binders so we can give them to Peggy to file away Christmas and fill them up with our spring music for January 10th. 

If you can't make it, then you are responsible for getting your binder and all the music you have to Peggy before the end of the year. Look her up in the members listing on the website for her phone number and address. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

YRCC Singing with Seniors 13-DEC-2022

 We had another successful and fun sing-out at Hollandview!

They're always so nice and so many people come to hear us and sing with us! I wish they had a better space for us though. They need a nice room like the Roxborough has. Or even Mackenzie has a better room for a show. Oh, well. It is a lovely place. 

Speaking of Roxborough, keep your eyes on your emails. They seem to be on a lock-down. We might not be able to go next week. If not, I would love to get together with you anyway. Let's see what we can plan. 

The awkward room and difficulty sharing the screen got me thinking that I should have sent everyone a link to the PowerPoint for the lyrics. Sorry!

Another thing I could do is have my laptop there for people to share to see the words. 

If we sing out next Tuesday, I'll try to remember to bring it. 

Here is the link: Holiday Singing with the YRCC

You never know what lovely surprises happen when you're out and about. 

After the performance, when everyone was leaving, one lady stayed behind and wanted to talk to me. It often happens that someone has enjoyed the performance and the singing so much that they want to thank me. I love that. This time, there was more to it. She had heard me singing a little German and asked if I knew a couple of other German carols, and I did but only a few words of each. She was so moved to be able to sing those songs with me! And, we talked a bit and it turns out she's from Berlin, where my parents were from and she arrived in Canada just around the same time that they did, in the early 1950s. We both enjoyed the opportunity to use our mother tongue and it seemed no small coincidence that I had just been saying that we remember where we're from when we sing traditional songs and do traditional things at Christmas time.What a blessing our seniors' visits are! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

YRCC Concert and First Seniors' Performance Review


It was so good to be back in front of an audience with my beautiful chor! The concert on Sunday was thrilling. I was so excited, and everything went perfectly. 

Something new that we did was to hold up and wave little tea lights during the New Year Blessing. Wow! It looked so cool! And, during our encore, Why We Sing, we not only held up our tealights, but we also asked the audience to hold up their phones the way you do at concerts. And, it was stunning, so special!!!

We said all the thank-yous at the concert, so I just want to say that I feel extremely blessed and deeply grateful. 

I was in quite a bit of pain after the concert, as my sciatica has been flaring up, but it was totally worth it. 

Yesterday, we sang at Mackenzie Place. The residents there are always so sweet and it is always very rewarding. Yesterday was no exception. There was a glitch with the night folks not being prepared for us, but it worked out in the end, and they apologized in an email today. We know we don't have COVID, because we were all swabbed. So, that's something ;-)

The new Ho Ho Holiday Sing-along PowerPoint worked out okay, but I had forgotten that it needed to be open in the actual PowerPoint app, not in GoogleDrive. So, I had issues finding songs and that was a bit frustrating. But, I fixed it for next time. And, I added Feliz Navidad, which we sang a cappella in response to a request, and I added Winter Wonderland and O Christmas Tree. Someone asked for O Christmas Tree and none of us knew more than a few words. Donna says she has a good "fake" book of Christmas songs, so she is game for anything! I love that. Maybe I'll add a few more songs.

I'm thoroughly exhausted, but happy. 

Next week, we sing at Hollandview Terrace, which is one of my favourite places. Let's all keep healthy so that we can sing for a couple more weeks and then gather with our families. I'm so looking forward to Christmas with my family! Crossing my fingers. 

There are a few photos and videos of our concert on Facebook and Instagram. 

Check out Doug Jarvie's Instagram post here.

Here's a shot that Carol posted: 

04 DEC 2022

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Thursday, December 1, 2022

YRCC Getting Ready for the Show!

 Our run-through rehearsal was so good! 

I feel very confident knowing how wonderful we sound. Doug did some recording and it's so exciting to hear the big beautiful sound we make. We had a few little bits of stress, but that's how it's supposed to be. If it goes without a hitch, then the hitches will happen at the concert. This way, our concert should go smoothly. And, honestly, we worry about things that won't be noticed, or if they are they'll be forgotten in an instant. The main thing is that we're together and singing merrily. 

Some concert day details to review:

Wear black bottoms and white tops. There's a page on the website devoted to uniforms. This would be a formal performance. Bring both of your scarves so we can share and have more fun! Wear your biggest smiles. 

(btw, does anyone know where Musette and her basket have gone? Are you hiding her in your closet?)

Water bottles will be tolerated on stage just this once because you can tuck them in beside/behind a chair leg. Drinking should be limited to only when absolutely necessary. I frown upon single-use bottles, but I try not to be too judgy (out loud). 

1:00-1:45 set-up and small groups: Small groups and soloists, and anyone who wants to go over something specific can come as early as 1:00. Doug says he'll be there at 1:00. I think we said 1:30 on Tuesday, but we can get there earlier. Yay. 

1:45 Assemble: This is when we all want to be on stage, ready for a warm-up, quick clean-up of Little Tree, and anything else you feel needs last-minte attention, and a review of how we're going to enter. 

2:15 Doors Open, and choir goes to sit in the chapel to wait. 

3:00- 4:30 show. We might go over a bit ;-) 

Don't forget to take your gorgeous pointsettias home! 

After the show, you can take your friends and family out for dinner in Aurora or Newmarket or check out the Aurora Christmas Market from 5:00PM-9:30PM. It takes place in Town Park right behind the church. 

Wanda, don't forget the hockey stick. 

OOOOHHHH, and don't forget Tuesday, December 6th, we're singing at Mackenzie Place in Newmarket, and we should plan to arrive at 6:30 for a 7:00-8:00 show. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 22-NOV-2022

 We're getting close, and we're sounding ready!

Still My Joy and David's City met early and they're great. Next week, we'll be perfect. 

Warm-ups included raspberries, sirens, and Michael Buble. 

1. We Wish You a Merry Madrigal.-with accompaniment

2. Somewhere Out There- no solo- all sopranos. 

3. New Year Blessing- first time simple and in unison and straight up, no fermatas, second time with fancy accompaniment and 3 part harmony- note that we've eliminated the tenor clef line on the second page. Bass clef divides anyway and is not too low. Watch for fancy timing second time through.

4. Thank You For the Music-changing the end of the oohs to "so I say" makes all the difference.

5. We Need a Little Christmas- cleaning up nicely

6. Hallelujah- no solos for the show, it will be a kind of sing-along

7. Why We Sing will be our encore, so plant some standing ovation starters maybe?

Next week (Nov.29) is our run-through rehearsal in the sanctuary, upstairs! We won't need our equipment because Donna can play a real piano-yay! 

Small Groups are meeting at 6:30, and please can a few people come to help set up chairs? 

7:00 we start!

We will run through the concert order (on the website, but here's a link)

Put your binders in order so that we don't spend time searching for music. 

Binders absolutely must be in order for the concert!

Sell tickets to your friends and family, please, and order your pointsettias.