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!

Friday, September 23, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 20-Sept-2022


It's so good!

We had a fun warm-up that including singing Bohemian Rhapsody!

Our theme was  Solos

1. Somewhere Out There: 

solo at the beginning: Cathy has done it before, but maybe you'd like to try it. Let me know.

Tenor and Bass solo/duet at the segno: maybe the whole section, or maybe a solo and duet? We're working on how the parts go, and what's written, which is not necessarily the same.

2. Hallelujah:

solo at the beginning: Blair has done it, and it's a tenor solo, but let me know if this speaks to you.

second solo: lots of people have done this one. Kit did it tonight, but anyone else?

3. Blue Skies:

two scat solos: The first is open for a change, the second is for Debbie.

4. Why We Sing:

 there are 4 sweet solos at the beginning: lots of people have done this one. Nadine tried the first one and it was very nice. We can try lots of combinations and see what works best. Think about it.

5. This Little Light of Mine:

2 solos in the "on a Monday" section. I like Lauren and Melinda, but please do speak up if you'd like to try this. It's fun!

6. You'll Never Walk Alone: no solos. you'll never sing alone (hee hee)

We talked about:

 Sunday's dinner at Milestones with Anne-Marie and Stephen. The choir is taking them out for dinner. Join us! 5:00 at the Milestones at Yonge and Green Lane on Sunday, September 25th. 

An Event at RHCPA that you can sign up for, Choir! Choir! Choir! Epic 80's Singalong on November 18th.  There will be an "event" on the website for you to sign up and you can pay  $45.20 to YRCC. We have 10 tickets but can get more.

Small groups and solos. Daphne will do the Grinch. Donna recommended a song: There's Still My Joy, by Indigo Girls. 

See you next week!

I've had a crazy week and have not planned next week's rehearsal. We should be able to look at the new pieces: Thank you for the music and New Year's Blessing.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 13-Sep-2022


Here's a happy headline:

We're back, baby: Community choirs singing again after pause of more than 2 years.

You can click on that and read the CBC article about a choir meeting again in a town on Prince Edward Island. It's good to know we're not alone. The pandemic has been so hard on us singers! Many of us still feel uncertain about getting back together, but so many of us are ready now, done with isolating and distancing and all of that. 

We're back, and those of us who were there on our first Tuesday this season felt wonderful singing and laughing and chatting together again. 

And, we sounded great too!

We started with a brief warm-up. After stretching our bodies and voices a bit, part of our warm-up was to hum the tune of God Save the Queen/God Save the King. For me, it's still Queen Elizabeth's song, so experiencing it without words was a way to honour her. Humming is a very healthy activity, good for your body and soul, so there's that too.

Here's what we sang:
  1. Wonderful World 
  2. This Little Light of Mine (Lauren, Melinda solos)
  3. Blue Skies (Lauren, Debbie solos)
  4. I can see clearly now 
  5. Somewhere out there (no solo)
  6. You’ll never walk alone
  7. Why we sing (no solos)
  8. Hallelujah (no solos)
Here's the plan for Tuesday, September 20th. Think about what solos you might want to try!

Blue Skies (solos)
Hallelujah (solos)
Somewhere out there (solo)
This Little Light of Mine (solos)
Why we sing (solos)
Wonderful World 
You’ll never walk alone

Let's talk about the Choir, Choir, Choir! Sing-along concert in November, and maybe some movie nights? (An American Tale, Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia,...?)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

YRCC Rehearsals Return: Tues, Sept 13th

We are going to have a Winter/Holiday/Christmas Season in 2022!

Our start date is Tuesday, September 13th. We've rented the basement of Trinity Anglican in Aurora again. It's a good space, large and comfortable. The church is careful with pandemic protocols so we can feel safe. It's a familiar place, since we've been singing in their sanctuary upstairs for years and years at our concerts. A number of us met there earlier this year. I would like that number to increase. Please come back to sing with us. 

We're going to plan to sing familiar things and I want to include the audience more than ever before. So, we'll ask them to sing along with Hallelujah, Wonderful World, and seasonal favourites too, maybe from our sing-along list. 

We have a concert date: Sunday, December 4th at 3:00 at Trinity Anglican. 

I'm crossing my fingers that we will have a safe and healthy fall and winter and can perform for an audience again. We had a good experience singing at seniors' homes this spring, so if possible, we want to go back and sing with seniors again. 

We will be flexible, agile and we'll do as much as we can. 

The most important thing is that we will be able to sing together every Tuesday night this fall and winter with our wonderful new accompanist, Donna! 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

YRCC Concert July 24th Rained Out- Binder Collection

 The show must go on, except when it can't.

We can't have an open air concert with thunderstorms threatening, wind, heat, wet grass, wet everything. 

I'm so sad, but we knew that this was a possibility. 

The walk from the parking lot to the amphitheatre and pavilion is not paved, it's grassy and it's a slope. So, I can't ask you to slide down to sing together. The walk in from the first parking lot is far and there's still a slope and grass to cross.

 So, let's meet in the parking lot just to collect binders. 

If you have a binder and can't meet today, then please reach out to Peggy Keall about getting it to her house before September so that she can manage the music inventory and prepare our binders for the winter season. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

YRCC Concert in the Park- Forecast Change (or we meet briefly)

 YRCC Concert in the Park July 24th.

The forecast says rain, thunderstorms. 

But, the forecast can change. I'm hopeful that the concert will go on as planned.

If the forecast doesn't change, we will meet briefly in the parking lot (the last one, parking lot #3) to collect binders. Maybe we can make plans to go for a coffee (stiff drink). 

And, if you planned to bring all of your friends and family to the concert, you can meet with us for a moment and then take them all out to a fun restaurant on Main Street. 

If the forecast changes and the rain will be light and/or intermittent, then maybe we can meet in the pavilion to sing a cappella. We can do a bunch of our stuff without accompaniment. Or, maybe Donna can sing the piano accompaniment ;-) LOL I've sung bits of accompaniment before.

The show must go on, except when it can't.  

Friday, July 15, 2022

YRCC at Fairy Lake next Sunday! July 24 2:00 Concert

SO EXCITING! SUNDAY, JULY 24th 2:00-3:30 

Come around 1:30 to get set up, stay after to chat. (Visit Main Street?)

We're going to sing together and we can have an audience too. We'll be outdoors.

We sang at Fairy Lake last year too, but it was a rehearsal only because we couldn't have an audience and we had to do contact tracing. This year is more relaxed and we can invite our friends and families to come and hear us. We have an accompanist, Donna, whom we love. A bunch of us have been singing together since February 28th and it's been great but we miss everyone. 

Please come and sing with us outdoors. We're going to sing all of our old stuff that we know and love. Small groups will do new things, just a few. 

Enter the park from Water Street, and park in Lot #3 if you want to be closest. You will need to walk down a bit of a hill on the grass. Dress comfortably- any black and white outfit. Bring your red scarf in case it's cool enough to wear them. There is a washroom near the pavilion. 

You will probably want to wear a mask when you use the washroom or when you can't be 2 metres away from others, but we'll be outside and in a spacious place, so we should be comfortable to take our masks off to sing. We hope that everyone will feel comfortable for this first concert since 2019!

Here is a picture of the amphitheatre:

It's located just past the pavilion, to the left in this picture:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

YRCC Concert in the Park July 24th Order of Songs

Please take a look at the order of the Concert in the Park on Sunday, July 24th.

I do hope you're coming! 

Peggy made binders for everyone at the beginning of the season, and Carol has them all. Come a bit early to pick up your binder, but don't worry- you can sing only the ones you feel comfortable with, or sing melody when you don't remember. It will be great to sing together. Fun is the goal, not perfection.

It will be fun, and relaxed, and all your family and friends can come to the park to hear us. Afterwards, take them out for ice cream or dinner on Main Street!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Escape Life to Embrace Life

Missing Choir Nights already!
This is a version of a series post I did for Instagram.

Monday, July 4, 2022

YRCC Performance Review 28-JUN-2020: Last of the series

Last Tuesday, June 28th was our last seniors' performance for this season, Spring 2022. We went out with a bang!

It was a wonderful end to a fantastic season, fantastic despite the pandemic dragging on, despite having no big concert to prepare for, despite having to find a temporary home, despite starting without an accompanist! 

We have a superb new accompanist- Donna- whom we love, Jane and Lauren made sure we had a place to sing every week, and we had a small but mighty, brave, and talented group of choristers come out every week. It was so much fun!

We had an extraordinarily successful seniors tour.  The choir was excellent, with a surprisingly harmonious, delicious blending of voices and parts. There were only 12-15 of us. The rapid tests all went well, and the mask/no-mask thing was not an issue. I am extremely grateful to all the staff members at the residences who made these visits possible. The audiences were all beautifully entertained, and we all felt warmly welcomed and appreciated every time. We witnessed as the residents transformed into dancing, singing, clapping, laughing, giggling, engaged, happy participants. It was exhilarating. Twice, after performances, a group of us went out for drinks (and snacks), and, after our last performance, we were invited to have drinks and snacks on Melinda's huge backyard patio. So special!

I encourage everyone to come and sing with us on Sunday, July 24th at Fairy Lake in Newmarket.

Please come back and sing! We'll be outside, and you can be socially distanced if you want to, and you can wear a mask if you want to. You can bring a chair if you want, or a stool. Whatever you need to make you comfortable, just do it, or let me know and I'll help you. 

It was best when we sang without masks and stood shoulder-to-shoulder. We kept some distance between rows, but there were two rows at most. We all had done all the vaccinations we were able to, so we eventually felt safe and comfortable together. It felt heavenly to sing together again, and even more so when we had the audiences in the seniors' residences. Happy faces in the audience singing with us, clapping, wiggling in their seats, wow! It was truly heavenly.

Your binder is waiting for you. Peggy and Anne prepared all the binders and Carol has been carrying them around all season, hoping to be able to hand them out. 

We're trying to arrange another outdoor concert for August in Aurora. If you can't make it to the July concert, please try to come in August. 

Finally, cross your fingers and say your prayers that the fall and winter will be safe and open so that we can all start again in September. I'm planning a Winter Concert again. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

14-JUN-2022 Roxborough Performance Cancelled due to COVID outbreak

 I’m so sorry to share that we’ve been asked not to go to Roxborough tomorrow, Tuesday, June 14th.

I was wondering when we’d have a cancellation like this. Although I’m not surprised, I’m still very sad and disappointed. 

I wonder if we should plan that drink anyway?

Let me know what you think!

UPDATE: We're meeting at the Crow's Nest at 7:00 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

YRCC Performance and Social Time 7-JUN-22

 Tuesday evening was so much fun again, even though it was so different!

We sang at Hollandview in Aurora to a large crowd of youthful and energetic seniors, and we were a larger group too. The choir sounded great! It felt wonderful to be in a room with so many people again! We wore masks to sing but most people in the audience did not. Seeing so many beautiful faces and the way that they lit up to laugh and sing with us was delightful and heartwarming. 

Afterwards, a few of us went for a beverage and snack to Symposium, a cafe/bar on Hollandview Trail, just minutes away. It’s such a pretty and elegant place! We had a great time talking about stuff that we do when we’re not singing together. We learned quite a bit about our lovely accompanist, Donna. I look forward to spending more time with her and with all of you like that. I’m never surprised, but always amazed, at what interesting, talented, and gracious people you are. 

Next week, this coming Tuesday, the 14th, we sing at Roxborough in Newmarket. They don’t require testing, but we will prove that we’re vaccinated and fill out a screening tool/form. We have to sing with masks on. Arrive early to complete that screening. 

After our performance, we are planning to go out for some social time again. The Crow’s Nest Pub is just around the corner. These early nights are a perfect opportunity to spend more time with our choir friends.

 Crow's Nest

115 Prospect St. Newmarket 

(905) 953-8776


Thursday, June 2, 2022

YRCC Performance Review- 31-May-2022

 Mackenzie Place is alway a good performance! We were great, and everyone had a good time. Staff and residents alike sang and even danced along. 

I was a bit worried about needing to reduce our numbers to 6 (8 with Donna and me) but it was fine. The sound was good and the blending of voices was outstanding. 

Staff set up plexiglass screens for us to stand behind so that we could take off our masks. They were surprisingly good. Our projector and screen worked well again. I skipped over our whaling/sailor songs, so we got through lots of sing-alongs.

The staff that did the rapid tests were kind and gentle. And, waiting gave us time to hang out together. Afterwards, we were saying it would be nice to go out for a drink after next week’s performance. If you have a place to recommend in Aurora, let me know, but I’ll also take a look and we’ll have a plan.

We have a plan for a fun group activity in November! Melinda suggested that we go to Choir!Choir!Choir! Epic 80’s Singalong! We bought 10 tickets and can get more if we need to, but these things sell out, so think about it now. It’s at the RHCPA on November 18th, 2022.

I love my choir!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

YRCC Performance Review: 24-May-2022 (yes! performance!)

Wow! On May 24th, 2022, we performed, live, together, with a live audience!!!

The last time the YRCC performed was in December of 2019! It was a long, dark winter. 

The performance for the residents at Amica was wonderful. 

I felt euphoria, bliss and blessedness. I was giddy with joy.

The choir sounded excellent, small but mighty; the audience was excellent, big and lively. 

Donna, our pianist, was fantastic! We had silly and fun moments, and Donna fit right in, adding her own humour and embellishments with skill and charm. An experienced and kind accompanist, she was patient and nimble when we 'improvised' (intentionally and unintentionally- and no, I'm not using the royal 'we' but often it was me).

Our first time using a projector and screen to provide lyrics for sing-alongs went well. It wasn't perfect, but it was good, better than handing out the plastic things we used before. It'll get better too. 

I am so grateful to everyone who came out! We were a super team, setting up and taking down, carrying equipment around and plugging things in, managing the screening exercise, singing solos, carrying parts and leading parts, and following along flawlessly when things weren't always exactly as rehearsed. You each deserve an extra round of applause. Bravo! 

The roomful of residents at Amica were a fun bunch, and their spirited participation and exuberant applause warmed my heart. I hope you all felt how much you were appreciated. 

I'm so looking forward to next week!

Next week, we're scheduled to visit Mackenzie Place in Newmarket. I'm very hopeful that all will go as planned, but stay tuned just in case. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 17-May-2022

 Tuesday, May 17th at ST ANDREWS in the sanctuary

Small Group: Tomorrow Duet and Good Morning, Starshine  (Awesome!)

Choir Warm-upShort physical warm-up, short breathing (huh and tuh) and vocal stretch exercise with arpeggios

1.     Blue Skies is Excellent!

2.     Walking on Sunshine: Excellent! But, to gain more confidence, I encourage you to sing along with the parts' recordings.

3.     I Can See Clearly NowExcellent, but I encourage you to sing along with the parts' recordings. 

4.     Sing-alongs: Screen and Projector didn't work. I need to work on that! We managed somehow, though. Wellerman and Nova Scotia were good. For balance, we won't have only one person on a verse.  Be prepared to sing your parts' verse, to pitch in when necessary.

5.    Why We Sing was wonderful

6.    This Little Light of Mine was so much fun!

We Talked About:

Video of 2004 concert- same place as concert recordings- It's a big file and it has to download to your computer to play. Soraya is working on finding more choir videos to digitize. 

Seniors’ Visits:  I expect you all to be there unless you let me know otherwise, or if the seniors cancel on us. We’ll find out maybe close to the performance date, so please keep your eyes on your emails, and the usual places you get choir info.

Next Week: Tuesday, May 24th at Amica Newmarket

Go to the Calendar for the address and information.

We don't have to have rapid tests! They will give us a screening to complete when we get there. Be sure to arrive by 6:30 so we can set up and get the screenings done before we start at 7:00. 

For the order, go to the Seniors' Performance Orders page on the Members section website. There is a link to the PowerPoint of sing-alongs there too in case you want to print it for yourself  (Just a warning: it's going to be sideways. Maybe copy and paste?). Hopefully, I'll get the projector working properly. 

Here's a snip. Maybe you can read this? 

Friday, May 13, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 10-May-2022

 Sorry, I'm a bit late this week. 

Tuesday, May 10th at ST ANDREWS in the sanctuary

Small Group: Good Morning, Starshine and Carol and Debbie duet Tomorrow 

Choir Warm-up:

Short physical warm-up (we talked about having loose knees and good control of your body so that you can keep your balance), short breathing (huh and tuh) and vocal stretch exercise (up and down) with arpeggios. At the high and low edges of your range, be sure to keep your throat open, give yourself lots of air and avoid getting small, lowering your chin, to reach low notes. 

1. This Little Light of Mine is Excellent

2. Walking on Sunshine is Excellent: continue to work on page turns. Go to the website, sign in, and listen to your part. Tabatha has uploaded parts! You’re going to love this!

3. I Can See Clearly Now is Excellent: continue to work on page turns and go to the website, sign in, and listen to your part in the recordings!

4. Sing-alongs: Screen and Projector work well. Look at the verses of Wellerman and Nova Scotia. Be prepared to sing your parts' verse, to pitch in when necessary. Maybe try to memorize the words to make it easier to fit them all into the melody.


Verse 1 is soprano, and Liz and Kit can solo or duet when they’re there, and other sopranos can support if required.  

Verse 2 is alto, and all 3 altos can do it as a group

Verse 3 is tenor/bass, and all can do it, or whoever is there

Verse 4 is soprano, and Nadine and Marlene can solo or duet, and other sopranos can support if required. 

Nova Scotia: Verse 1, soprano, Verse 2 alto, Verse 3 tenor/bass

We Talked About:

Seniors’ Visits: You don’t have to sign up; you must come or let me know you can’t. We’ll find out details or cancellations maybe close to the performance date, so please keep your eyes on your emails, and the usual places you get choir info.

Summer Concerts: We hope to book a Sunday in June and a Sunday in July at parks for outdoor concerts. We hope that some folks who have been missing this season will come out and sing with us! Spread the word with any members you know. 

Next week: Tuesday, May 17th at St. Andrews

7:00 Small Group: Good Morning, Starshine and Tomorrow 

  1. I Can See Clearly Now
  2. Blue Skies
  3. Walking on Sunshine
  4. Sing-Alongs
  5. requests

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tentative YRCC Summer Concert Order

 All members would be welcome to come and join us singing a summer concert at Fairy Lake and/or Aurora Town Park. Your binders are ready, but you could also use electronic copies which can be downloaded from the choir website. You don't have to sing all of the songs. It will be a casual thing. We might just wear anything black and/or white as a uniform. We're looking at Sundays in June and July.

If we manage to book a concert in the park, it would look like this:

highlighted songs are ones that everyone probably knows


Somewhere Out There


We Rise Again


Why We Sing


Blue Skies


I Can See Clearly Now (whoever can-recordings are up if you want to learn it on your own)


Good Morning, Starshine (Small group)


Tomorrow (Duet)


When you Wish Upon a Star (Blair)


Walkin’on Sunshine (whoever can)


This Little Light of Mine


Sing along (chorus) Wellerman Sea Shanty


Sing along (chorus) Farewell to Nova Scotia


Wonderful World (sing along)


You Raise Me Up with sing along


On Eagles Wings


You’ll Never Walk Alone



Friday, May 6, 2022

My Name Renate Means We Rise Again

Renate comes from the Latin renatus/renata which means reborn.

Rebirth, resurrection, reincarnation, revival, reawakening, regeneration, renewal, even recovery and recuperation, are all my words. Spring is my season. 

We Rise Again: 

We rise again in the faces
Of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

I'm so happy that the sun has been shining and it really feels like spring is finally here. It's not really spring for me until the choir sings though. Our big spring concert marks spring like our winter concert opens the Christmas season. We rise again in the voices of our song. I hope we manage to have an outdoor concert in June, and maybe another in July! Wouldn't that be awesome? It's being planned. 

I wrote a post about our spring season and my name on another blog (renatesmusicalempathy.blogspot.com). Check it out.

Here comes the sun!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 03-May-2022

 Tuesday, May 3rd at ST ANDREWS in the sanctuary

Small Group: Carol and Debbie duet Tomorrow is so sweet!

Choir Warm-up:

Short physical warm-up, short breathing (huh and tuh) and vocal stretch exercise with arpeggios

1. Somewhere Out There (this will be our opening song, it’s so good)

2. Walking on Sunshine

We are saying walkin’ throughout. We started at page 11, and went to the end. We did it! The page turning is something to work on.  At the bottom of page 10, we have to go back to page 5 to the Segno, and then on page 7 we have to jump to page 11 for the Coda.  Maybe add a tab or sticky note on page 5 and 11? Memorize the parts right after the page turn?

3. Why We Sing 

I sang along with Blair on tenor and then with Marlene and Anna on first soprano, and it felt wonderful to sing with you all. After break, we all stood together up at the front, as if we were performing. It was awesome!!! At first, I stood in front conducting and the sound was fantastic, so much better than when we’re spread out. I feel good about performing! We will be fine even now, but I’m happy we have a couple of weeks to work on our new songs to get them polished. 

4. You’ll Never Walk Alone (OMG, so good!)

5. You Raise Me Up (Big and lush, love!)

6. On Eagles Wings (Amazing arrangement- powerful)

7. I Can See Clearly Now

We reviewed the section at 16 again. It’s tricky, but we got it. The tricky section @38 was excellent! We had to review the notes @45. Coming in on the right note was a challenge especially for alto and tenor. We’ll look at that again next week. Page turning was still a problem. See if you can do something to help- add a tab, memorize the bit right after? 

We talked about:

Seniors’ Visits: I will not be setting up Events. You don’t have to sign up, just come or let me know you can’t. I expect you all to be there unless you let me know otherwise.

Using the washrooms at St. Andrews: we need to go outside and enter at the side door on Victoria to use the washroom. We must not go through the building. There is a group using the hall that needs privacy, and there are alarms set once they’re out. 

Planning a Sunday in June and a Sunday in July to sing outdoors, free concerts for friends and family. I'm hoping that some more members will come to these performances, some people we haven't seen much or at all yet. We'll just do the stuff we know well.

Next week: Tuesday, May 10th at St. Andrews (pssst: Carol's Birthday!)

7:00 Small Group: Good Morning, Starshine and Tomorrow 

  1. Blue Skies
  2. I Can See Clearly Now
  3. This Little Light of Mine
  4. Walking on Sunshine
  5. We Rise Again
  6. Sing-along songs

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

YRCC temporary home: St. Andrew's Presbyterian Mosley St. Aurora

YRCC is meeting at St. Andrew's, Enid's church, for our May rehearsals.

We've used this space many times over the years as a back-up rehearsal room.

Please use the Mosley St. entrance. 

We're in the Sanctuary, not in the hall.

See you there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 26-Apr-2022

 Tuesday, April 26th

Small Group: no small group 

Choir Warm-up:

Short physical warm-up included some synchronized movement/rhythm and some stretches while sitting with good posture, and the same three new vocal exercises. We talked about how your sinus cavities and all the stuff in your head help to create the sound of your voice, and your voice is beautiful, like your face, unique and wonderful. Also, I reminded you that the way you sound in your head is different from the way you sound to everyone else, outside of your head, so it’s surprising to hear yourself on a recording. 

1. This Little Light of Mine

Soloists: Lauren/ Melinda (Kit might want to try too.) During the solos, don’t be too loud on your weekday parts, but not too soft either. We’ll crescendo to loud on the word “power”, so a bit earlier than what’s written. We’re going to sing the chorus after the solo softly the first time, a little louder the second time, and then at the key change, we’ll put it in high gear with a very loud F# from the sopranos and we’ll stay loud up to the end. Be aware of rests: there aren’t many. Most of the notes are held until the next one, so don’t cut things short.

2. I Can See Clearly Now 

Reviewed @20 Sopranos and Altos “I’ve been praying fo-o-or”. Also, changing I to we in a couple places. It’s great! Second time through was excellent. We’ve got this. 

3. Wellerman/ Farewell to Nova Scotia/ Sing-alongs

We set up the new projector and screen and tried out some sing-alongs! I’ll work with the projector and screen and the PowerPoint to see if I can get it better, but it’s very good!

4. Walking on Sunshine 

We learned page 11, the fancy part. It was tricky at first, but we got it! The page turning will be something we need to practise! At the bottom of page 10, we have to go back to page 5 to the Segno, and then on page 7 we have to jump to page 11 for the Coda.  I think we can make it 😊

We talked about:

Seniors’ Visits: Everyone needs to be at all the seniors’ home performances, as much as possible. If you know you’re going to be away, please let me know, especially if you’re in a small section (altos, first sopranos, bass) or you’re the only one (tenor). I will not be setting up Events. You don’t have to sign up, just come or let me know you can’t.

HOWEVER, we are not sure they still want us, so we have to confirm every week for the following week’s visit. And, we’ll confirm what they need from us. I’ll keep the YRCC Calendar up-to-date and we’ll communicate in all the usual ways as well. 

Remaining Rehearsals: We have 3 more rehearsals before we perform. Let me know if there’s something you want to review. We have started learning our last song, and the rest of our time is going to be for polishing up what we already know, and looking at the sing-alongs. I’ve dropped: Viva, Sunshine Medley, and Seasons of Love. 

Rehearsal Location TBD: Lauren and Jane are working on finding a space for us for May rehearsals, and possibly for June when performances are cancelled. Our room at Trinity is going to be used by the church for the month of May. 

Next week: Tuesday, May 3rd

Watch for an announcement about where we’re meeting. 

6:45 Small Group: Duet! Carol and Debbie are meeting with Donna to rehearse Tomorrow

  1. Somewhere Out There
  2. Why We Sing
  3. Walking on Sunshine
  4. You Raise Me Up
  5. You’ll Never Walk Alone

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 19-Apr-2022

 Tuesday, April 19th

Small Group: no small group 

Choir Warm-up:

Short physical warm-up and some breathing while sitting with good posture, the same three new vocal exercises.

1. Blue Skies

Lauren and Melinda, Snaps- all good

2. I Can See Clearly Now 

We did it! I fixed the section @16 by looking at the parts we sing together and changing the words in bars 20/21 so that we’re all together there. There’s enough jazziness without having us sing different words. Sopranos and Altos, please change your lyrics from It’s what I’ve been praying for to: “I’ve been praying fo-o-or”.  Maybe you can just circle the Tenor/Bass words and cross out yours? We reviewed the ending for altos and tenor/bass. We sang through the whole piece and it was good! 

3. Walking on Sunshine 

We will definitely be able to learn this, but it’s the last new piece this season. We will leave Viva! for next season. We started at the beginning (last time we learned the chorus at the Segno @44) and sang through to page 11. The page turning will be something we need to practise! At the bottom of page 10, we have to go back to page 5 to the Segno, and then on page 7 we have to jump to page 11 for the Coda. Yikes. 

4. Wellerman/ Farewell to Nova Scotia

We started with Nova Scotia, because we’ve sung it before with a big small-group led by the Kevins and Janet. We’ll just do the sing-along section (starting on page 2) this season. We’ll start with the chorus. We’ll all sing the melody. Soloists or small sectional groups will do each verse and the rest of us will sing the chorus with the audience. We’ll do the same with the Wellerman Sea Shanty. We’ll start with the chorus. We’ll all sing the melody. Look at the verses to see which one you like and let me know if there’s one you want to do as a solo. We’ll likely just figure it out at each seniors’ home, depending on who’s there. If you feel like harmonizing, just go ahead for the seniors sing-alongs, the same as any of the sing-alongs we do, especially for last notes. 

5. Wonderful World

This is beautiful, and the audiences will love it. I’m going to project the words for them to sing along! I think it’s important for all of us to remember the message of the song, that it really is a wonderful world. This Friday is Earth Day, so it’s a good time to think about how our music spreads messages of goodness and love. We need to love our world harder than ever because it’s hurting. #LoveEarth We need to sing for ourselves, to give ourselves strength and hope, and we need to sing for others too. 

6. Hallelujah

We had some extra time for a bonus song, and Hallelujah hit the spot. Always a feel-good song. Especially good to sing the word “Hallelujah” since Easter was just this past weekend. 

We talked about:

Seniors’ Visits (keep your Tuesdays free for us all through June): Everyone needs to be at all the seniors’ home performances, as much as possible. If you know you’re going to be away, please let me know, especially if you’re in a small section (altos, first sopranos, bass) or you’re the only one (tenor).

Remaining Rehearsals: We have 4 more rehearsals before we perform. Let me know if there’s something you want to review. We have started learning our last song, and the rest of our time is going to be for polishing up what we already know, and maybe looking at the sing-alongs. I’ve dropped: Viva, Sunshine Medley, and Seasons of Love. 

Missing music: There were a few copies of Tomorrow handed out with Good Morning, Starshine. And, I don’t have any now. So, if you have one in your binder, can you please give it to me? We may or may not have a soloist or a duet perform that.

Next week: Tuesday, April 26th

No Small Group Rehearsal

  1. You Raise Me Up
  2. This Little Light of Mine
  3. Walking on Sunshine
  4. I Can See Clearly Now
  5. Sing-alongs (Wellerman, Nova Scotia, yellow book)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Contributing to Earth's Harmony: Earth Days and Choir Days

In an old post of mine, on June 12, 2013, I was inspired by this quote:

"When we pay attention to nature's music, we find that everything on Earth contributes to its harmony."

When I started reading this old post of mine, I thought that my focus would have been on the diversity of the choristers, their various contributions, and it was, mostly. But, an important thing that caught my eye today was this:

I hear the choir singing the song together and the result is more than pleasing: it is electrifying and satisfying because I contributed well.

Because I contributed well, I am electrified and satisfied. My attitude and my role are important. I often joke with my choir, that it's all about me. And, I guess if I'm writing about my experience and my point of view, it is. 

I do feel a huge responsibility, and I work hard for the choir, but my voice isn't heard in the songs. My contribution is not obvious, and it's not the thing that I think about in the moment, listening to the choir. It takes some reflection to consider it. And, when I really pay attention, I find that the biggest thing I contribute is not my teaching or conducting, but my love. My huge love for the choir inspires so much of my activity, my thoughts, my contributions.

There are so many lessons to be learned in a choir! This year, Earth Day is Friday, April 22, 2022. This week, we focus on the Earth, on the environment and climate and nature. I want to think again about our contribution to Earth's harmony, to nature's music. 

Each of us contributes to the beauty and harmony of the Earth, whether it's obvious or not, and whether we think about it or not. Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on what we do and what we can do and what we need to do to keep the Earth beautiful. But, it's important to see the beauty and harmony in the first place. Keep thinking, keep believing, and keep singing: What a Wonderful World! We do this as individuals and collectively as the choir. 

Here's another gem from my blog post: 

They feel their own mistakes as huge distractions from the beauty of the song.

Don't focus on your shortcomings, the plastic things you still use, the recycling that you put in the garbage because you were tired, the light you left on. The gas your car guzzles and all those little things do contribute to the climate crisis, but you love the Earth. The strong voices carry the weak ones, and sometimes you are the strong voice. Love the Earth more and see its beauty. Love the Earth more and you will Invest in Our Planet (this year's Earth Day theme). Invest in Our Planet to protect and preserve it. Start with love and your actions will be powerful. Join with others and we become louder and even more powerful. 

Here's a snippet from earthday.org:

As individuals, we have the simple yet effective power to make our voices heard through our choices, our civic actions, and our personal interactions. What each of us does, and how we do it, has a huge ripple effect on our ecosystems, and on the pace of corporate and government action.


Back to me in 2013: 

In the choir, every kind of chorister adds her voice-the sweet, the crabby, the loud, the quiet, perfect pitch and perfect timing and the opposite too- but the whole is not the sum of the parts. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. And, the song is different depending on the perspective of the one who's listening.

What I hear when we perform a song that we've learned is harmony and love. I have put my love into it and it comes back to me multiplied. I don't hear the disappointment of the perfectionist who didn't get every single part right. I don't hear the missing voice when someone chooses not to sing. I don't hear the discord of a sour relationship between 2 sopranos. I hear that I have taught them well, and the strong are carrying the weak. I hear the choir singing the song together and the result is more than pleasing: it is electrifying and satisfying because I contributed well.

I love all the songs. I love the sweet ones and the grand ones, the jazzy ones and the funny ones. The easy ones are great and the difficult ones are great. I love the choristers too.

My choristers don't always understand that a performance went well. They don't have my perspective. They are in the middle of the choir, hearing the wrong notes and wondering about the singers who don't make a sound. They feel their own mistakes as huge distractions from the beauty of the song. I tell them not to worry, to try to relax and have fun. If they're doing their best, then it will turn out fine. Where they are weak, others will be strong. When they listen to a recording of the choir, they are surprised at how wonderful it is.

I see a life lesson in this choir experience.

I'm looking at some of my old blog posts. I want to start saving and organizing my writing, my blog posts and bits and pieces that I have here and there. This post from June 2013 is a keeper. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

YRCC Rehearsal Review 12-Apr-2022

 Tuesday, April 12th

Small Group:

Good Morning, Starshine: we added Karen to the sopranos, and while we were rehearsing, Pat and Jack punched holes in the music I brought: The Wellerman Shanty and Farewell to Nova Scotia- a couple sing-alongs in a nautical theme.

Choir Warm-up:

We had a short physical warm-up and some breathing and did a couple of new vocal exercises.

1.     You Raise Me Up

Gorgeous! We’re just going to sing it the way it is- no extra verse- and we’ll invite the audience to sing in the chorus. (I added the chorus to our PowerPoint)

2.     I Can See Clearly Now

We did it! We learned the ending, so now we’ve covered all of this song. We’ll need some review, but it’s not bad. If Tabatha has any time, she’ll get the parts recorded for us so you can review at home too.

3.      Walking on Sunshine

This is fun! We learned the chorus at the Segno @44 and sight-read through the whole thing. There’s a tricky bit on page 11 @102 with sections overlapping their own melodies, like in I Can See Clearly. It shouldn’t be too hard.

4.     Sunshine Medley

We continued back-building the Don’t You Worry section, and finished it! We could manage performing this, but I’m going to hold it until we have a bigger come-back concert.

5.     We Rise Again

So beautiful! We reviewed page 5 and the ending. We could perform this today and it will be wonderful, but we’ll keep refining it.

 Have a Happy Easter, Everyone!

Next week: Tuesday, April 19  

No Small Group is scheduled for April 19

  1. Blue Skies
  2. I Can See Clearly Now
  3. Walking on Sunshine
  4. Wellerman/ Nova Scotia
  5. Wonderful World

  • Muppets, Bugs Bunny, and Fun Music

    The amount of classical music I was exposed to by rabbits and other creatures in Muppet or animated form is amazing. What a fun way to influence children's musical taste! 

    Video games and movie soundtracks continue to provide serious music for all ages, wonderful symphonic orchestral works that play on the "classical" radio stations. Sesame Street is still at it (currently in season 52), introducing classical music to children and their parents along with lots of fun.

    When I was teaching English as a Second Language to adults in North York, I had a workshop that I conducted for other teachers called "Serious Fun". I shared games that I used successfully in class to teach and to practise grammar, idioms and other vocabulary, spelling, all kinds of serious things.  The games added much-needed moments of silliness and respite from all of the pressures of being a newcomer to Canada and an adult returning to a classroom. Some of the serious fun included singing. 

    Serious Fun is still my thing. I love to have fun with my choir, making sure to have at least one song in every performance that makes people laugh, something cute, something silly and fun. I pepper my commentary with dashes of silliness. We often deal with big, serious themes, and sing grand, moving pieces of music, so everyone needs these moments of release. 

    When we rehearse, we need to have fun every week. We work hard learning music that's often in 4-part harmony and challenging. It's important for us to be able to laugh at ourselves, and to release the stress of the difficult passages in the music we're learning. Even more important for our weekly rehearsals is the need to release the stresses of the day, the stresses of life. My choir is Serious Fun like my grammar games!

    Serious music, classical music, orchestral works, don't have to be heavy and challenging. Yesterday, Lauren (my friend and YRCC's lovely president) gifted me with an afternoon at the Symphony with her. The TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) presented a concert called Totally 1980s. It was so much fun! We laughed and sang along (Don't worry: the audience was invited to sing and even dance along.) and we were also fascinated and impressed by all the wonderful musicians in the orchestra and the vocalists who performed a super mix of pop, rock, disco, and soundtracks from our youth. What joy; totally my thing!

    I recently posted (on Musical Empathy: renatesmusicalempathy.blogspot.com) about my early memories of serious music, entitled "Sesame Street and Cartoons: Iconic Music Memories". I've spoken about the Muppets quite a bit lately, and because they were such a big influence on me, we're doing a Muppet-like version of Good Morning, Starshine rather than a Hair-like version.

    Another thing I love about Donna, our new accompanist, is that she happily recounts being told by her students that she sounded like Kermit the Frog. I love Kermit and had a Kermit stuffy when I was little. Donna shares my playfulness, and she is seriously trained and seriously talented. I love that she laughs at my silly jokes. I think Serious Fun is Donna's thing too. 

    A moment of conducting and singing joy rehearsing the choir.

    Thursday, April 7, 2022

    YRCC Rehearsal Review Tuesday 5-Apr-2022

     Tuesday, April 5th

    Small Group:

    Good Morning, Starshine was good except we forgot to warm up and we had no altos. Kit has offered to sing the first verse as a solo. Thank you! We’ve established that we’re not crazy about this arrangement so we’re tweaking it in several ways. The aim is for our performance to be cool, adorable, and cheery, a sweet hug. Someone suggested imagining driving in a convertible sports car, and I added “with a Muppet or two in the back seat”.

    The Choir Warm-up this week included raspberries, rollercoasters, and librarian shh!s. We also repeated last week’s new warm-up: Sing an itty-bitty witty-pretty song, song, song.

    1.     This Little Light of Mine

    I’m gonna let my little light shine- we’re going to let our big bright lights shine- we carry sunshine inside us, our eyes, our smiles, our actions let the light out

    Remember the repeat @35 page 6, remember the key change: Sop and Bass carry the key change. We had no takers for the solo here. I sang it and I love to, but it’s not an easy thing in a performance for the conductor to sing in the middle of a song, so it would be best if someone came forward to take this on, and a soprano would be best so that the harmonies stay full.

    I need to figure out how to conduct in 2, showing beats 1 and 3, while encouraging the audience to clap on 2 and 4.

    We were all feeling this fun song, enjoying it, and Donna even added a cool run at one point! Loved it!

    2.     I Can See Clearly Now

    Wow! We learned the tricky part at 38 and reviewed the segno @25! We’re doing great. We are hopeful that we’ll get the parts recordings, but if we’re not perfect, this will still be a good one.

    3.     You’ll Never Walk Alone

    Walk on and on and on through the wind, through the rain, with your head up, dreams tossed and blown, but you're okay because you know you are not alone and the storm will end

    We reviewed the special (neglected) second soprano bits (@31 dreams, and @41 and again @64 the extra note on beat 2) and we all reviewed the section at 57. We sang through twice and it was beautiful. I learned that I really don’t know the alto part. Debbie gets a gold star for being on her own and holding her own.

    4.     Somewhere Out There

    and even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star (same wish, to be together, to hug, to share a meal)

    This is so pretty and not difficult! Something a bit tricky is the repeat and the Coda. Remember the repeat to Segno (@25 too. Timing seems to be an issue here. Gentlemen, don’t be afraid to follow Melinda. She knows where she’s going.) and then jump to the Coda on the last page with that special alto bit nice and loud. Remember special ending--- tru-u-ue, come true.

    5.      On Eagle’s Wings

    I skipped the Sunshine Medley, so we had time to choose a bonus end song and we chose On Eagle’s Wings. Some of us took off our masks and stood physically distanced instead so that we could really enjoy singing out on this beauty.

    We talked about:

    Our seniors’ tour. Every week starting the Tuesday after the Victoria Day weekend, we’ll be out at seniors’ residences. We’ll need to look at numbers, ours and the pandemic’s, as we get closer. You can get the details on the YRCC Calendar. Thank you, Jane, for arranging all of this!

    Our equipment. We don’t have a volunteer yet to take over the keeping and hauling of the equipment. Jack took it this week, but we are looking into the possibility of the church having a spot for it.

    Having men from the police choir join us this season. We can use the early rehearsal time to help them to “catch up” to where they can perform with us if necessary.

    Next week, Tuesday, April 12

    Small Group at 6:45/7:00 again: Good Morning, Starshine

    1.       I Can See Clearly Now
    2.       Sunshine Medley
    3.       Walking on Sunshine
    4.       We Rise Again
    5.       You Raise Me Up

    Music to hand out: Wellerman, Farewell to Nova Scotia