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!

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

    Wednesday, April 6, 2022

    YRCC Spring 2022-This important Seniors' Tour

    I've decided to copy one of my old posts here. It was from May 2012, written during the seniors' tour, after singing at Doane House Hospice. This year, 2022, we have a big seniors' tour planned. Our focus will be these members of our community who have suffered so much isolation and desolation during the pandemic. Since we're a small group this season, I hope we can all commit to going to every Tuesday performance of this year's tour (number restrictions might mean second sopranos will take turns?).

    I'm listening to the Vancouver Chamber Choir now, one of their Music for Healing albums. It's very pretty, and calming if you can listen to a choir without frowning as you imagine singing (or facilitating) some of those complicated chords, interesting modulations, high notes. Majestic, sublime, heavenly music by Bach, Fauré, Gregorian Chants.

    In May 2012, our theme was Showbiz! Music from Stage and Screen. The music was mostly happy and fun: Blue Skies, Get Happy, Regards to Broadway, Rainbow Connection, Do Re Mi. Remember the small group that did Born This Way by Lady Gaga? That was spring 2012. We also sang Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Wind Beneath My Wings, Wonderful World. 

    When I think of the healing nature of our music, I remember the senior audiences' laughter ("the best medicine"), and hear their shaky voices singing along, and I see stiff muscles needing to move to a catchy rhythm. When I think of our music as medicinal, I also think of us singing out loud and feeling the freedom of expressing our pride and joy and love with all our hearts and souls. When we sing one of our pieces observing none of the suggested dynamics, just Forte-loud the whole way through because we love it and need to sing out, that's healing something. 

    The first Music for Healing album is called Finding the Still Point, so it's about stillness. I guess what kind of music you need will depend on what kind of healing you need, and how you relate to music, and surely there's some music for any and every ailment and affliction, for every person at any time. 

    Music for Healing (Renatesbaton Tuesday, May 29th, 2012)

    We know that music is magical. It affects our health and well-being. Singing in the York Region Community Choir is a wonderful, healthy activity that we enjoy every Monday evening.
    Lately, our Mondays are even more rewarding.
    We're on our seniors' tour. We're visiting retirement residences and nursing homes in our community. Last week we visited Doane House Hospice in Newmarket.
    When we visit seniors to sing for and with them, we feel great because we're doing what we love to do, and it's good for us, and we can feel great about contributing to the health and well-being of our audience members.
    I just read about The Vancouver Chamber Choir's Music For Healing recordings:
     a series of three discs designed to accompany people facing serious life challenges. It has been funded entirely through generous donations by individuals and organizations who want to be part of an important and ongoing gift to the therapeutic process in their communities.
    The first two discs look amazing and are available on their website. The choir is presently working on the third CD. It's an impressive project. I can totally relate to their desire to connect with the community in this way, and can imagine that it's a very successful and satisfying mission. They say:
    It is our way of saying through our music, “You do not stand alone”. 
    Choral music can do that best. The sound of a community of singers, people's voices joining together in unison and in harmony, is special.
    Check out the sound clips on the website. They are really extraordinary. There are samples of all kinds of music the choir sings.

    This pretty visual can be found here.
    Music Heals supports Music Therapy

    Monday, April 4, 2022

    Don't Forget: Tuesday is now YRCC Choir Night!


    YRCC Tuesday Choir starts Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

    The York Region Community Choir now meets on Tuesday nights. 
    Monday, Monday will be a wonderful memory.

    Thursday, March 31, 2022

    Good Morning, YRCC Muppet Fans

    Good Morning, Starshine!

    Sesame Street is my inspiration for our small group song, my YRCC Muppet friends. The Sesame Street version of Good Morning, Starshine is the best!

    Those lyrics seem to be made for muppets. I wanted a "cute and fun" and possibly "silly" song which is always good to have. This one fits the bill, and our theme, beautifully. 

    Gliddy glup gloopy, 
    nibby nabby noopy 
    la, la, la, lo, lo
    Sabba sibby sabba, 
    nooby abba nabba, 
    lee, lee, lo, lo
    Tooby ooby walla, 
    nooby abba naba
    Early mornin' singin' song

    (now you have these lyrics to review)

    There's this Sesame Street version and also a radio version by Oliver that I remember more than the Hair version. 
    We made a couple of changes to our sheet music. If you want to join this small group, be sure to get those notes copied on to your music. 
    I have a few copies still. 
    We're meeting early next week, but not starting until 7:00.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2022

    YRCC Rehearsal Review 28-Mar-2022

     A big reminder that next week we move to Tuesdays! 

    Monday was choir night for so long, it's going to be strange. But, the days of the week are all strange still for me, and I think there's so much transition happening for most people that it will not be a big deal. Put it on your calendars, set your alarms, do what you have to do to remember and to let your people know that Tuesday is now choir night. 

    Small Group: Good Morning Starshine

    We had our first small group rehearsal this week. Good Morning Starshine is adorable, but not super-easy. We made a few changes to get the melody more like we remember it. We discovered that the door opens at 6:30 sharp, so we'll meet at 6:45 and aim to start at 7:00 next week. It was way too cold to have to wait outside for the door to unlock! Brrrr!

    I forgot to mention that we discovered last week that the doors were unlocking at 6:30 and locking at 7:30. So, we need to arrive punctually. Lauren is looking into having the doors open a little longer, but it's good that they lock after we get in. For security, it is best if we are downstairs with the doors upstairs locked. Let someone know if you need to be late so we can look out for you and open a door if necessary. 

    1.     On Eagle’s Wings

    And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
    Bear you on the breath of dawn
    Make you to shine like the sun
    And hold you in the palm of His hand

    So we will shine our lights while being held in care, or maybe because we are held and carried and raised up by each other and given the time and space to shine. You raise me up to more than I can be.

    We reviewed all the  "Make you to shine like the sun" they are all a bit different from one another, especially in the Alto parts. This is a well-known and well-loved song, but our arrangement is special and impressive. Even if we don't get it perfect, it will sound great and feel wonderful. We missed the other Tenors and Basses tonight because they get so much melody and their part is really strong in this. Blair is a trooper, and I would give him a hundred gold stars if that was my thing ;-)

    Blair found our arrangement on the Alfred.com site. They've got an orchestra, and they sing it too schmaltzy for me, but have a listen:


    2.     I Can See Clearly Now

    We learned the section at the Segno @25, which is where the blue skies are. Love this section! We sang all the way through, trying to remember last week's stuff and sight reading the rest. Not bad, but we'll be working on this for a while. No worries, but I'd love to be able to share this with seniors, and maybe at an outdoor public performance this year. 

    Here's a recording on the Alfred.com website. It's in SATB and with a band, so a little different but it's our arrangement. 


    3.     Sunshine Medley

    We started the Don’t You Worry section building backwards with melody at 65=69. It went well. This line is pretty cool and not too hard. We sang through the whole thing, remembering and sight reading. I think it's going to be great! I'd like to save this one for December, but we'll keep singing it. 

    4.     You’ll Never Walk Alone

    Walk on and on and on through the wind, through the rain, dreams tossed and blown

    This is one of our favourites and also a fan favourite. We've got this, but we can clean it up a bit too. We've been letting a couple things go. For example, the second sopranos have a few special bits that we've been ignoring. @31 dreams for second sopranos (yes, you get those 8th notes), also second sopranos @41/42 and again @63/64 have the G and the special A onbeat 2 (easier here because it comes out of a divided S1-S2 part). The audience would never miss these bits. Our arrangement is so special and impressive! We have recorded parts of this song if you want to hear this, however, I remember the recordings having some issues. I'll take a listen. (when I figure out how to get access to them- they seem to be gone)

     5.     We Rise Again 

    As sure as the sunrise, as sure as the tides and the seasons, we rise again and again- In the voices of our songs.

    Marlene is back from the visit with her beautiful new grandson- with pictures (thank you!)

    Like You'll Never Walk Alone, this song is forgiving. We sang it without reviewing the parts to see how it felt and sounded, and sure enough it was good. We need a good soloist, which we have, and the first sopranos have to be together, and the rest is oohs that are background and not really listened to carefully, and the melody that everyone wants to hear. Great arrangement, super sound from our little choir! We'll keep working on this, getting it better every time, but it's not a worry.

    We have/should have recordings for each part for this song on the website, but there is something wrong. I'm looking into that.

    Other News:

    Jane has been busy contacting seniors' residences and she's getting us bookings for June! We'll be performing for seniors this spring on Tuesday evenings. Since we're a smallish group, we should all be able to go to each performance, but we'll confirm this as the dates get closer. We do have to be prepared for things to change, as things have been doing for the last 2 years. 

    For a concert, we'll look into getting a park in Newmarket and/or Aurora for an afternoon, maybe a Saturday afternoon or even a Saturday morning during market time? Still need to work on that. 

    Carol also shared a baby picture- her new great niece who is named after Carol's mom and born on English Mother's Day. Edie/Edith is beautiful and Great-Aunt Carol is beautifully beaming. 

    Next week, Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

    6:45 / 7:00 Small Group: Good Morning Starshine

    1. This Little Light of Mine
    2. I Can See Clearly Now
    3. Sunshine Medley
    4. You'll Never Walk Alone
    5. Somewhere Out There