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!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Benefits of singing in a choir studied in San Francisco

Community choirs reduce loneliness and increase interest in life for older adults

Click on that to read the article from the University of California, San Francisco on Medical Press.

    Here's what the study says:
"Overall, the researchers found that older adults who sang in a choir for six months experienced significant improvements in loneliness and interest in life. However, no substantial group differences occurred in the cognitive or physical outcomes or for health care costs."

I think 6 months is too short, and I'm sure that cognitive and physical changes would occur over time as well. What do you think?

YRCC Rehearsal 11-FEB-2019

Lean on Me met at 6:30 and it's pretty much ready!
I'll be joining them on Feb. 25th to catch up.
We had a wonderful social breaktime with decaf coffee and delicious sweets. Thank you to the bakers!

Warm-ups were quick. We stomped away our Mondays and clapped and marched very successfully.

1. Why We Sing served as a vocal warm-up and a lovely transition to being choristers. We are all singing the beginning. And, this time we tried doing it the way we had the solos in the past. The sopranos and altos sing the first parts (Kit and Peggy's) and the tenors and basses sing the second parts (Stanley and Blair's).

2. Beauty & the Beast: Belle. We started the second song at the end (183 to the end) and then did the beginning. We'll learn the middle next time, but we sight-read through it nicely. We sang from the very beginning of the medley through to the end of the second song! At 89, everyone does the bonjours. At 93, only the altos sing, then they divide at 101. The tenors and basses join them as written. Tenors and basses continue at 115. Everyone sings (SATB) "What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle." We all sing at 131 (we just sight-read from here to 183). If you missed today's rehearsal, you will want to look at "it's a pity and a sin..." It's very cool and quite a challenge.

3. Bring Him Home: We made a good start. We learned our parts for the first two pages. We also looked ahead to the next couple of pages. They're challenging! There are lots of cool echo parts. Take a look if you have some time over the next week or so. If you missed today's rehearsal, spend a little time with the second ending. It's very cool. Sopranos won the lottery on this one. They have the melody. So, sopranos, the only thing here is to sing sweetly, hold those notes clearly without vibrato please and softly. That's not easy. Altos, tenors and basses have work to do getting your notes and the timing, but it's so worth it! Such a beautiful piece of music! The recordings on the website are a bit mixed up. Hopefully, we'll get that straightened out soon.

4. Rewrite the Stars: We spent time on bars 73-84 where the mood changes and the possibility of rewriting the stars for the star-crossed lovers becomes real. "All I want is to fly with you. All I want is to fall with you. So just give me all of you." Sounds like Valentine's Day. For now, we'll just skip those grace notes, the little jumps before some of the notes. We will make sure where we're aiming first before we slide in. If you're rehearsing at home, just play the main note and learn that for now. That's what we did to start. BTW, the grace note has no assigned value. It's not a quarter or an eighth or a sixteenth. It's very quick. Another thing to take note of, and it's something that happens often with us, is that we are landing on beat one of the next bar instead of the and of 4 for fly, fall, and all. (2+3+4+1+2+3+4+) We're singing (2+3+4+1+2+3+4+1) This timing happens all through the song, so we need to see if we can try to get it, or if we just give in and decide that our version will be somewhat different from what's written. We need to make sure our beat 4 is short. Let's try.

Next week is Family Day. No early group. And, if you have the opportunity to spend the evening with family on family day, do it. You can catch up. No worries.
Those of us who can meet will keep learning and it will be helpful for everyone. Just having even one person who knows her part well helps the whole section. It's nice when it's a small group, too.

Monday, February 18th:

  • B&B
  • Bring Him Home
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart
  • Rewrite the Stars
The following week, on February 23rd, Soraya and I are participating in the Coldest Night of the Year walk again.
Victoria will be missed. She's in Ottawa studying.
If you'd like to support us, here are the links to our fundraising pages. It's very easy to pay online. Over $20, you provide your address so they can send you a tax receipt. 

We walk on a cold evening, thinking about what it might be like to live on the streets in the winter. Any winter night a person has to spend outdoors alone would be the coldest night of the year.
Here's what the funds raised do:
Newmarket's Inn From the Cold. Here's what their website says: Inn From the Cold provides emergency shelter and support services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. IFTC offers a range of helpful services year round that are designed to assist with finding housing, employment, volunteer opportunities, mental health and addiction support and other necessities such as hot meals, clothing, laundry, internet, voicemail, showers and personal care items. A continuum of services from basic needs to securing housing assists our clients on their journey to wellness and self-sufficiency.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 04-FEB-2019

The eve of my birthday and Chinese New Year was destined to be a success!
6:30 Lean On Me had an excellent start
7:10 Who Put the Bomp showed me how they knew their stuff

Warm-ups with stretches and straws were sweet.
1. Blue Skies with snaps: snazzy! Take note: the snaps are sopranos only for the first page, with no snaps in the last bar. Everybody snaps from bar 37 to 51 inclusive (during the scat solos). Jazz hands on the last word, on. We reviewed the ATB harmonies.
2. True Colors with snaps: cool! Snaps where it says claps, until the end on the word beautiful. We reviewed timing at the tops of pages 3 and 5.
3. Beauty and the Beast: We are caught up. We finished the first song!
4. Rewrite the Stars: We learned bars 19-35 and sight-read the rest. It's going to be fantastic! Many people don't know this song. So, your homework is to see if you can watch The Greatest Showman, or at least watch this scene in a YouTube video.
5. Bring Him Home: We just looked at this and sight-read through. It's going to be really beautiful, but if you have time, look at pages 3 and 4.
6. Verdi: So satisfying to sing this! We will work on dynamics on this. It's from an opera, so it really needs to be dramatic.

Next week: 

6:30 Lean on Me

  • Beauty & the Beast
  • Bring Him Home
  • Rewrite the Stars
  • Why We Sing

Monday, January 28, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal Cancelled 28-Jan-2019

So much snow!
And, I have a cold too.
Sorry, we've decided to cancel.
Be safe!
Stay at home and sing with recordings on the website ;-)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 21-JAN-2019

This week, we had more wintry weather to deal with, but most of us were able to travel without too much drama.

The small group Who put the Bomp is doing really well. One more rehearsal for now, and then keep it up on your own.
The next small group is Lean on Me. Sign up on the website.

We have room for another small group and I haven't heard from many solos and duets. It's a big easy theme but you can focus on star-crossed lovers, or on love/peace, or for contrast, on the pain of love, heartbreak, the blues?

Warm-ups: we skipped straws today, but did some raspberries/lip trills instead. That turns out to me more difficult, so we'll go back to straws :-) Get one that is not too thick and not too thin. Thicker is easier, and we should be trying to work our ways to thinner straws.

1. Seasons of Love: I think we got it! It was really good. We reviewed page 6, especially the "let's celebrate..." part.

2. Put a Little Love in Your Heart: Fun! We spent time on bar 62 to the end. We are not quite getting the rhythm, but are ending up on beats instead of just off. It might be best to move to the beat. We'll see. As we said, we're still cool, even when we're not groovy. 

3. Beauty and the Beast: Wow! We started the first song, Be Our Guest, and sight-read through the whole thing to see what's ahead. There's lots. But, it will be so worth it! The music is amazing and the songs are sweet and funny and scary and beautiful.

4. Higher and Higher: Tenors and Basses are the ones with the most work. You finally have the melody of a song, but the timing is really hard and the whole rest of the choir is against you. Sopranos and Altos have a fairly easy back-up vocal part.

5. I Will Always Be With You: Beautiful! Such a treat to sing this song!

Next week:
6:30 Who Put the Bomp

  • Verdi G&H
  • Beauty and the Beast- Be Our Guest
  • Blue Skies with snaps
  • Rewrite the Stars intro
  • True Colors with snaps

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 14-JAN-2019

Everyone, or nearly everyone was back!
It was great to see and hear you all, even when you were all chatting, or maybe especially then. So happy to see you so happy!

The first small group, Who Put the Bomp met at 6:30.
They got through the whole song!!! But, a few people were missing so be sure to be there next week!

We warmed up with stretches and breathing and straws.
1. True Colors: we learned the ending with snaps where it says claps, starting at 49. It was awesome!
2. Blue Skies: also has snapping, but we had had enough snapping for one night, so we just sang through. Trix sang the first solo and Janet sang the second. Fun!
3. Seasons of Love: we went straight to the tricky bits, pg 3, bar starting at the pickup to bar 21 and pg 7, starting at the pickup to bar 49. Then, we sang the whole thing. It went really well! Joanne sang the solo and it was great! Remember to harmonize on the last note (the added Seasons of Love)
4. Put a Little Love in Your Heart: Our theme song. It was good! We started learning at bar 13 and stopped at 36, but were able to sight-read through to the end.
5. Higher and Higher: This one is also not difficult, except that the Tenors and Basses have some tricky timing and it's very different from what the altos and sopranos are singing. Tenors and Basses please review this piece and try listening to recordings, ours and any others you can find. I love the build up to the ending!
6. Verdi: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves is awesome. Harder for Joy than for any of us, and many of us have learned this very thoroughly, so you'll have someone to follow.
7. All I Have to Do is Dream: This was just a bonus, as we had 5 minutes to spare. Such a sweet treat! This song is pretty and pretty easy.

Joy has been busy making recordings, and Trix will get them up on the website as soon as she can so that you can start rehearsing at home if you have the time, and if you're missing things at rehearsal.

Next week:
Small group at 6:30 Who Put the Bomp

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Verdi
  • Higher and Higher
  • Put a Little Love
  • Seasons of Love

Thursday, January 10, 2019

YRCC 07JAN2019

We rehearsed despite the threat of freezing rain, and it did come shortly before 9:00. So, we went home. It was fine, if a bit scary.

If you missed it, don't worry. Have a look at the songs we sang on the website. The music is scanned and posted for use online and when we have recordings, they're there too.
You need to log in, go to Members Only Content and then Recordings and Music Scans. Or, after logging in, you can go to the quick link "Music Recordings".
We warmed up with straws, doing sirens, hills and Lean On Me.
We sang:
Why We Sing (everybody on solos)
I Will Always Be With You
All I Have to do is Dream
Blue Skies (without snaps)
Seasons of Love
True Colors

Next week:
Who Put the Bomp small group starts at 6:30

We will sing:

  • Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (can we call this the Verdi for short?)
  • Higher and Higher
  • Seasons of Love
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart
  • Blue Skies

Monday, January 7, 2019

Weather update Monday, January 7th

We are meeting; we will sing!

The weather forecast looks bad, but the weather hasn't been too bad all day. So, we're going to hope that the freezing rain doesn't happen.

Don't feel bad if you can't face the possibility of horrible driving conditions.
Stay home and be safe if you're too worried.

You will have opportunities to catch up. I'll post what we sing, and you can look on the website for some of the music, and the rest you'll get next week.

I look forward to seeing some of you later.

Have a wonderful week if I don't see you.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

YRCC 2019 spring season starts Monday, January 7th!

We've got a big season planned. Lots of great music to learn. I've posted the list here in the right menu. The website should be updated soon. Joy is working on recordings.
The small groups are starting up right away on January 14th and I've got the Events entered on the website, but you can't sign up yet to make it fair. I'll open them up after rehearsal on Monday. Have a look!
Can't wait to start singing on Monday!

The Meaning of Fa-la-la: SING for well-being

I'm not the only one who thinks that Fa-la-la is an invitation to everyone, everywhere to sing more, and in essence is a call to peace and love. Everyone is included. The world would be a better place if everyone sang together more often. It's not just for Christmas and not just for children.

Well, maybe I go a bit farther than most, but most will agree that singing together is very good for our well-being and everyone should join in.

Here's another article that says that people who sing together are happier and healthier, according to studies. I like that this article says that singing regularly in a group is better than doing sports!

Read it here.