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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir-8MAR2021-We Sing Because

 This past Monday, we talked about how much we enjoy and need our choir nights. I really need to keep up the Monday night ritual for myself and everyone who knows me. It’s a well known fact that I don’t work late on Mondays, that dinner cannot be late on Mondays, that Mondays are special for me, reserved for Choir. A sacred time. 

It’s much more than singing.

Teija sent a link to a video to Lauren and me and I’m sharing the video here. 

This beautiful video shows a young choir singing a piece called “Sing You Home”. The Holy Heart Chamber Choir stands outdoors, physically distanced, and sings “I’ll sing for you because I need to. Right now this is all I know.” It’s a touching piece about grief and so appropriate right now!  The whole time there is a sign language interpreter signing and the whole choir signs a verse. Powerful.

Then, there are times throughout when choristers hold up signs all starting with the words “I sing because”. There is one that says “I sing because I love being part of something beautiful.” Yes! Me too! When we sing together creating a beautiful work of art and when we meet together to laugh and commiserate and drink wine, it’s also beautiful and I love it. Choir is a home I need to return to.

 I highly recommend this. I have cried each time I’ve watched it (maybe 5 times now) and it’s mostly tears of wonder and love. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

YRCC- Zooming on Monday, March 1st: Possible post-COVID theme

 We had so much fun this past Monday!

First of all, it was a rotten day outside, windy and snowy, and the 400 was closed for a long stretch north of us because of a big pileup. Terrible and rotten. A few of us remarked with glee that we would have had to cancel the night's rehearsal if we weren't meeting on Zoom. We met and had a wonderful time, some of us with wine or other beverages which we wouldn't normally have at choir aiding our merriment. 

A few people were there who hadn't been there in a while. Notably, Teija, who is a public health nurse, came to sing with us. So, so good to see her there and singing and laughing! We're all hoping that it's Teija who gives us the jab when it's time for our vaccinations, I bet. 

Some of the current and past teachers shared some stories with us, commiserated, laughed, and shared some good advice. It was wonderful to see how our little community was working its magic, connecting us and raising us up to shine together. We sang You Raise Me Up as our last song of the night, and it really meant so much more.

Melinda shared a fun YouTube video with us about "the jab", a Hallelujah which we could sing along with and laugh at too. I'll share it here:

One of the songs we sang again this past Monday was Seasons of Love. We talked about how it would be appropriate when things open up to look back on this year and measure it in love, and measure it in all the little things and big things, good and bad, which we experienced.

In daylights,
In sunsets,
In midnights,
In cups of coffee,
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in a life?

 Melinda must spend a fair bit of time watching YouTube videos because she had another perfect one for us. We didn't watch any of it together, but talked about how we might want to do something with Seasons of Love, taking the arrangement and fixing it up a bit. I promised to share the video here. 

I just watched it and it makes me want to sing along and dance!!! You must see this!

I want to do that with an audience, that "Let the Sunshine" vamp, I want to sing it again and again with 200 people. And, I think we can. I've also found this sheet music for Age of Aquarius/ Let the Sunshine!

We named a bunch of other songs we love on the theme of sunshine. Our old favourite Blue Skies fits into this theme perfectly. Can you name some sunshine music? Of course you can! 
I can see clearly now, this is going to be our theme.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

YRCC Choristers support their church communities, cantoring

 Some of us have shared on Monday nights that we miss singing in church on Sundays too. Those of us who attend churches all miss singing with the congregation, and some of us are also members of church choirs that they miss. Others have taken on a new role as a church cantor! This is a fancy way of saying that they are singing solos that are meant to be sung along with. The congregation is not on site, in the church building, but is encouraged to sing along wherever they are.

Lauren shared a recording of her church’s service on Dec. 6th, where Lauren and her father each sang a solo. Her church is Port Carling United. She’s is often asked to offer a song there.

Cathy has shared this link https://rec.boltwave.com/scr/dir/jhnchrnmkt/v1.mp4  which is only available until Saturday, February 13th. Cathy sings at church regularly, twice a month, I believe. Here’s a link to her church’s website in case you’d like to join her at St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church in Newmarket.

Blair also shared this link to St. Paul’s Anglican in Newmarket where he regularly sings. You can hear him on Sunday the 14th, I think, and on Ash Wednesday next week.

Some of us gather at choir for some of the same reasons people gather at church on Sundays and I’ve read somewhere that community choirs have taken the place of church in many people’s lives. We do talk about all the important things as we sing timeless words and melodies which express timeless themes. For some of us, though, there just can’t be enough singing and gathering with good people, so we do both (and some of us are members of several choirs, sacred and secular).

Consider singing along with your church musicians.

Keep singing, even if it’s in the car or shower only. 

But, please do also consider coming to our Monday night Zoom Choir. I love it. I love my choir!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir in February-08-FEB-2021 Send Requests

First of all, a great big warm Thank You to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and another big warm Thank You to those of you who have supported my fundraising for the Inn From The Cold through the Coldest Night Of The Year walk on February 20th!!! 


There is still time to make a donation on my page on the CNOY site: Renate Naghavi

I had a very nice birthday despite the pandemic. Luckily 57 is not a big deal, so I wouldn't have had a big party anyway. I was happy to spend an evening in my family room with my family in front of a nice fire in the fireplace.

Early last month, I suggested that choristers could request the songs they wanted to sing. Just send me an email or a text or post on Facebook, find a way. So far, it seems you're happy to sing what I want to sing. I guess that's okay, but, with no concert to prepare for, I don't have a goal or any kind of limit. It's like picking what to have for dinner every night. What should we have?  It would be nice to have some suggestions once in a while. 

Maybe think about it for next time. But, maybe we can take Family Day off? We don't usually take holidays off because we're usually working hard to learn music for a concert. We don't usually have time to take a Monday off, especially during the winter when we might have had to cancel for a snowstorm. No snow days this year! (Ha! We drink, we don't drive, we don't have to worry about the weather: there have to be some perks to this second pandemic season.)

So, we'll talk about taking next Monday off. And, we'll talk about your requests.

I talked about that Choirs Ontario workshop last week and there were a couple of questions. I was going to look into that software for sharing music for choirs. MCC. My Choral Coach was the software that the professor was using with his choral music students/ choir. I haven't had a chance to do any research, but there's the link in case you want to look into it. There was also an app for your phone where you can check your pitch to see if you're singing in tune. I can't remember which one he recommended. I'm finding Singscope and Vocal Pitch Monitor. Let me know if you have tried either of these and if they're any good. 

Keep singing, friends!

Join us on Monday nights. It's keeping me (somewhat) sane to have a choir night during the pandemic, even if it's not perfect (what ever is?). 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

YRCC Zooms into February: Monday, February 1st, 2021 Choir for us- no stress

Today, I participated in a workshop offered by Choirs Ontario about Online Rehearsals. The presenter was Antonio Llaca from Carleton University in Ottawa. There were participants from all over Canada and all over the world, about 150 of us. 

It was cool. I think we should consider joining Choirs Ontario.

The presenter is a university professor who has had to learn to teach choral singing online. He reviewed with us some techniques for rehearsals, the role of conductor (I'm not obsolete!) and some of the new technologies.

For now, choirs can only meet online, but we talked about a hybrid approach being the most probable next step, as we gradually get back to real choir. 

We might always have some kind of blended choir experience, alternating between online and in person meeting, and the virtual component could have synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

We could use technology to meet at the same time (synchronous) and we could use technology independently to learn and rehearse on our own (asynchronous). We at the YRCC have been doing that already, so don't be nervous about that. With our recordings on the website, we have always had the capability for asynchronous rehearsing. So, we've already been using technology for years! We now can rehearse online on our own and we can meet together using Zoom. Hopefully soon, we will be able to get together in person. Especially if all 60 of us can't meet at the same time, we could complement our in-person meetings with online activities.

It is quite likely that new technologies developed during this time of virtual meetings and virtual performances will always be useful. So, it's best not to stand on the sidelines today, waiting for things to go back to where we were a year ago. Please join us as we continue to be a choir online!

There was a lot of talk about latency- the delay between broadcast and receipt of data electronically. 
There's that and there's also the different hardware that people use, what kind of equipment people have. 

The professor was not comfortable with questions about what headphones or microphones might be best. His approach was that online choir should be accessible to everyone, and that there shouldn't be requirements for the 'best' equipment. I loved that! 

We can use earbuds with built in microphones, or the very best external mic. We can use built-in cameras or external devices, as long as we have something so that we can see each other and feel connected. He did say that the conductor or instructor should have a good, reliable wifi connection and recommended using an ethernet cable for a steady feed.  

He also said that he asks his students to always have 2 devices, and the second one could be their phone (they always have that on during class anyway-hee hee). 

We use 2 devices so that we can always see all the other people on one and we can look at music on the other. Some of us have a laptop and a phone, others have a desktop and an ipad, any two things are good.

While the presenter's perspective and focus is on students and learning, with choral technique and theory being important elements as well as evaluation and feedback from the professor, there was a lot of good advice for me in the presentation. 

Some of the other participants were also community choir leaders, and they mentioned the difficulty with adult choristers not wanting to participate online. "It makes them cry" is what I saw. It's "very stressful and provokes unexpected emotions." Our presenter said that it was normal, even among his students. 

There is vulnerability in not being in a group. You're on camera, so you feel singled out. 

Some of us love choir because we can hide in the group. We can perform and take part in this musical experience without having a spotlight on us and without evaluation, judgment. 

Online, it might feel like people are watching you, but with us, it's not like that! There are over a dozen of us all at the same time so we're not watching one person. I'm doing my usual gesturing and people are looking at their music, as always. Occasionally, we look up and are comforted that we're all there together. And, we chat together in between songs. As usual, some people chat a lot and others listen more. 

When we sing, nobody is singled out. As usual. So far, we've been singing along with concert recordings. And, we're all on mute! Nobody is listening to you, except the people in your home, maybe. 

We are not planning to make one of those performance recordings where individuals record themselves and the videos and sound recordings are painstakingly synchronized and put together to create a work of art. That's not what we do. 

Please consider joining us if you've been staying away, waiting for things to get back to normal. This is normal now and it will be for a while yet. We're having fun every Monday, singing our choir songs and seeing our choir friends. Join us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Support Renate: Coldest Night of the Year- Fundraising Walk 20FEB2021

I'm doing the CNOY walk again!

It won't be the fun community event with hundreds of people starting together with speeches and prizes and inspiring music and ending with a community chili dinner. 

COVID. No gathering, no speeches or warm-up-dancing with hundreds of people. Walkers will walk with their families or alone. 

I will take advantage of this year's walking "alone" to invite my dog Dexter (not allowed in the group walk) and Harry and Soraya, who would normally have to register or raise funds in order to join.

I will make my own chili to eat at the end. I will have yummy buns, and I'll have sweets for after, just like we usually have at the community centre. 

Please donate and it's easy to do if you click on that link to go to my fundraising page. There's an easy form and you can use a credit card. 


it's cold out there.

The Coldest Night of the Year is a covid-safe, family-friendly walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger. Walk virtually or in-person on Feb. 20, 2021 – there’s a place for everyone!

Funds Support

Services offered by Inn From the Cold

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

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Singing and YRCC Zoom choir help beat the blues

 These dark days of winter, after all of Christmas has all been packed away, can be depressing. And, with COVID restrictions dragging on for Heaven knows how long (can we hope to meet for Christmas?), it’s getting pretty hard to stay positive. 

I’m so grateful for Zoom and my happy Mondays! 

Meeting and singing on Mondays, YRCC Zoom Choir makes me happy. We know that singing is good for you and friends are good for you, and laughter is more important these days than ever, always the best medicine.

Well, my big thing, the biggest soapbox topic for me, is how important it is for everyone to sing together and to have the opportunity to sing in community (one reason that COVID is hitting me hard, despite all my blessings). All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir, all of us.

And now, there’s a very, very, cool trend in music that I absolutely love and which underscores all of my thoughts on this. 

The Sea Shanty has made a comeback! Songs designed for singing in community, with something for everyone, drumming and clapping for those who prefer movement and rhythm, la-las and repetition, and stories and themes that are timeless and human are made for times like these! We can join in, learn the chorus quickly and commiserate or celebrate together. 

There’s a recent story of a young man, 26, who started posting sea shanties on social media, TikTok, last year. One he posted last month, the Wellerman, went viral and people interacted with it in wonderful ways, including Andrew Lloydd Webber! He got a record deal, and is quitting his job as a letter carrier to make music his career. Here, listen to Nathan Evens from Scotland, in his now published version of this ancient song:

Another thought on the popularity of sea shanties: maybe it’s that we’re doing that kids’ dream of pirate life where we don’t have to shower and look good, don’t have to brush our hair or our teeth every day. We’re not at sea, but we’re living the pirate life. Hahaha. Arrrgggh!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Next YRCC Zoom Choir 18-Jan-2021

 Our first Zoom choir of the year was wonderful! We had some sad moments and a few tears but also lots of laughs and lots of fun singing!

We ended the evening singing with our 2012 video of the Mamma Mia Medley! It was not the best but it was fun and we discovered that we need to replace that sheet music. (We’re making lots of cool discoveries like that.)

One extra-fun thing about that particular piece was that it featured Heather Vickers and she was with us from way over there at home in British Columbia! Another cool thing was that Enid was singing in the front row so we got to see a lot of our dear friend who will live forever in our hearts and on YouTube. 

We now have an obituary link So click there and you can read Enid’s obituary and you’ll see that the funeral has been put on hold until we can be together. So, maybe we’ll have a chance to sing for her after all. She had a list prepared of the songs she wanted. I don’t have it so if you do, or if you remember what she said, please let me know. I remember On Eagle’s Wings and You’ll Never Walk Alone, but I know there was more. We sang On Eagle’s Wings. 

I have missed Enid in the choir and in our audience. She was impressive in her knowledge and experience and even intimidating sometimes but always kind and always fun too. I treasure my copy of her book Wind-Free with her special inscription.

We’re going to sing On Eagle’s Wings again on the 18th, with some review of parts because it was pretty hard. If you have a chance, take a look at that. The parts are recorded, and you’ll find them on the page with all the recordings when you click on Previous Seasons. 

While you’re there, take a look and let me know what you’d like to sing. This season is Just For Us, so we can sing what we want and not what we need to work on to prepare for a concert. Yay! 

If you haven’t tried it yet, please do try to join us. It’s never too late. Sometimes people come just for a short time at the beginning to say hello to everyone. Or, come a few minutes early to see who’s there and chat.Some of us bring a drink so we can say “cheers!”

Saturday, January 9, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR YRCC! 11-JAN-21 FIRST ZOOM-Another Season Just for Us


Happy New Year!

The York Region Community Choir survived a year without a concert. 

We had to cancel our Spring 2020 Concert, and there was no question of having a Winter 2020 Concert in the middle of a pandemic either. Although we stopped rehearsing in March 2020, we decided to restart in September. The plan had been to use masks and plastic face shields and to stand at a safe distance from one another, but even that plan went out the window. Zoom was the answer. We could not give up, would not give in to the loneliness of the pandemic. 

I was not excited about the Zoom plan. The problems with unreliable wifi, "network latency" and everyone having different systems meant that we couldn't sing together without a horrible cacophony. We did try, and it's crazy, and we end up laughing, but it did feel good. We did it a couple times. 

We're not professionals, so we don't have recording equipment and I didn't want us to create a recording. That's not what we do; we only perform live. We decided to have a season just for ourselves- A Season Just for Us. We decided that our meetings would not be rehearsals but an opportunity to see one another and to sing together as best we could. Turned out we could do okay! It's been fun! And, more importantly, we're reading music together, we're working on pieces in our repertoire that we want to sing again, and we're working as a team, having team fun and team jokes, and even team drinks!

So, I'm looking forward to our Zoom Choir in 2021! 

We sing together, we do! It's not nearly the same as meeting in person, but it's so much better than not meeting at all! Please do try to join us this year. Maybe we'll be able to meet in person in the fall, and we won't be strangers to one another and we will have a good number of people who are ready to sing our songs.

Please go to the YRCC Google Calendar. There are links here on my blog and on the YRCC Website.

The Zoom link will be there every week, and there will be attachments (you might have to look for Attachments with an extra click or two). I attach PDF scans of our sheet music there. No need for a binder. Some people like to print out the music and put it in their own binder, but I like to have the sheet music on one device and the Zoom meeting on another, so I can see the choir and the music at the same time. We don't have a concert to rehearse for, so we can sing anything that we have a concert recording of. We sing with our best selves, our concert recordings. 

You see, we do have recordings of ourselves, just for us. We can't share them for legal reasons, but we sure do use them for our own learning and enjoyment! 

I hope and pray that we can meet in person later in 2021 and wish for a Winter 2021 Concert. We'll see. For now, we have another season Just For Us. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my YRCC friends!

 I wish you a peaceful and also joyful holiday.

I am so blessed to have my daughters at home and I saw family and friends thanks to video calls and Zoom! We had a beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- a magnificent white Christmas!

Today, I’m resting. It was exhausting even though I didn’t have to do nearly as much work as I would have for a regular Christmas. I think it’s because of the new technology stress and new emotions and just the weight of the pandemic so heavy on us now. 

I’m resting today on Boxing Day and I’ve taken some vacation days too, so I’m off all next week! I do plan to do a little choir work, looking ahead to our spring Zoom season. But, I mostly want to recharge after a very stressful, challenging, and emotionally draining year. 

I wanted to share the link to Lauren’s solo at church (and her dad’s too). So here it is. I really enjoyed all of the music for this service. What a great music director and team they have there! I miss the music at church so much, the organ, the piano, and the choir, but especially the singing, singing with a whole big congregation. 

I miss my choir family so much! I do see some of you at Zoom choir, but I wish I could see all of you, and I really miss conducting the rehearsals every Monday. I miss your hugs and laughter and seeing you standing shoulder to shoulder in joyful companionship.

I hope we can be together next Christmas. I hope we can all be with our families next Christmas. Let’s do all we can to stop the spread of the virus, to stay safe, to stay healthy so that we can all gather together again as soon as possible. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Opportunities to sing for YRCC outside of our Mondays

 I’m going to share some opportunities for singing for you here. 

Pat let me know of an event organized by the Aurora Seniors Centre happening on Zoom on December 18th. Here’s a link. Carols, stories and more. 

I shared an event on Facebook. We talked about it on Monday, the sing-along Messiah that Carol and Mary-Ellen are planning to participate in. Here’s a link to that. December 19th- a free virtual event.

There’s a bunch of virtual concerts that you can watch. The Leahy/McMaster family has a virtual concert planned. Here’s a link to that. December 11th. You can Google it too. 

Google search for more concerts and sing-along opportunities.

But, you can always sing along with your music streaming service. I have Apple Music and most of the time, I can choose to see the lyrics of music I’m listening to. I am in awe of this service. What did we have when we were young? If we were lucky, we had the lyrics in the album notes, when we bought the album or the cassette (remember those?), or CD. Tiny script in folded up paper notes, if we were lucky and they were included, which was not always. Wow. 

And, you can go on YouTube and search for karaoke tracks or lyric videos for your favourite songs. 

Here’s a sample. I searched O Holy Night ad and found these:


Thursday, December 3, 2020

YRCC Zooming into December: 30NOV2020 Snow can’t stop us!

 We had crazy weather with lots of rain and wind and snow but we don’t worry about missing choir because of bad weather these days. 

With Zoom, we sit in our homes with a glass of wine or something else cosy or fun to drink and chat and sing without the stress of driving and without the stress of learning new songs or worrying about preparing for a concert. It’s just for us. 

This Monday night break is only about us. We’re singing our favourite songs and we don’t have to worry about missing the repeat or holding a note too long. We can sing the melody all the way through, or work on our parts, and it’s up to each of us what we do. 

I’ve abandoned my schedule in favour of choosing the songs that speak to us at the moment. I have a lot of stuff to choose from. We have years of concerts recorded. I’m so very grateful for that! 

And this week, I wanted to start to focus on Christmas and holiday music. The Magic of Winter, Little Tree, Do You Hear What I Hear, and a warm up of Hallelujah again. I’ve started attaching music to the upcoming Mondays, anticipating that we’ll want to do more Christmas stuff. Take a look. You know how to get to the Calendar, don’t you? If not, be sure to ask. And it you get there and get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask. We helped a few people find the music on Monday. 

In the Magic of Winter, we end on the words “celebrate with the ones you love”. We needed to talk about that. How are we going to celebrate? Are you going to be able to see your family? How can we be with the ones we love? Many of us have Zoom plans and some have outdoor plans. We wondered about people who might not have the technology or might have a fear of technology, because we know some people like that. We hope that the young people in their lives can step in and get them set up for video chats. 

We talked about going for a drive to see Christmas lights on houses. I think there are more than usual this year. Someone mentioned the house on Billings Crescent. Of course there were quite a few of us who knew about it- birds of a feather. Google it, or better yet, go and drive by! I hope you’re enjoying the light in this dark season. We are making the most of our Monday nights, celebrating every Monday that we have together with a nice beverage, good music, and glowing faces, lovely company.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

YRCC Conductor conducts fiendishly long ending notes

We know that I like big endings and I always insist on everyone watching at the end, so that it can be very dramatic sometimes. I can sometimes add extra caesuras and different dynamics and I like to extend the length of the last notes, as if every one had a fermata over it.

We’re listening to our concert recordings and singing along with them now during our COVID Zoom choir nights. We often laugh at how much longer those last notes are than written.

Some of  us were reminded of Bugs Bunny.

Melinda sent me the link, and here it is:

Bugs Bunny the conductor is my conductor goal ;-)

I miss the power of the baton, my magic wand. I don’t have white gloves. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

YRCC Zooms 23NOV2020 Topic of the day was: Pets

 We sing, really we do. 

But, we also chat. And, on Monday this week, we chatted about our pets and how some of us can’t imagine how we’d survive the pandemic without them. We always have someone to talk to and sing with and a source of love and entertainment.

Here I am after work relaxing with my phone and my dog, Dexter. 

I’m so happy that we’re meeting! Monday nights are good again. The hour goes by swiftly and some of us always stay a little extra. I wonder if it’s the same bunch who would stand around in the parking lot after rehearsals. We linger. It’s nice.

We talked about drinking again, and agreed that that PJ’s drink that you can get from the wine shop in Metro is pretty good. Also, it turns out that a number of us know a Meagan who sells good coffee on Leslie on the other side of Elgin at My Indie Coffee Roasters. Funny how we are birds of a feather.

Are you missing choir because you don’t know how to find the Zoom meeting link or you’re worried about how it works? Shoot me a message, an email or a Facebook message, whatever. Send a message to Lauren or anyone on the executive and we’ll help you to join us. 

We have started singing Holiday/Christmas/Winter songs! You don’t want to have a Christmas without singing, do you?! 

We are also singing  our  regular repertoire- Hallelujah, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Why we Sing, etc. This Monday, we hummed Hallelujah for a warm-up, and we sang with a YouTube video of our choir singing You’ll Never Walk Alone! We sing with ourselves every week and it’s always close to perfect because it’s a performance recording. Such a joy to sing with the York Region Community Choir every Monday!

Singing and chatting together is a wonderful change from singing and chatting with our dogs and cats. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

YRCC 16NOV20- Choir during Covid “This is Why we Drink”

 We had some fun talking about our favourite drinks. 

Some of us enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea while we meet, which the choir executive always did during meetings in the past. A sip of wine can also lower inhibitions so it helps to get us through the Zoom settings thing with laughter and patience.

Last week, I had raspberry vodka and water in my wine glass (I like to try all kinds of things). It was really good. I also recommended a sweet whiskey I’ve been drinking in the evening lately, Sortilege, a maple syrup whiskey.

Blair was extolling the virtues of a certain scotch whiskey-excellent quality for a very reasonable price. So, I asked him to send a picture or link. It’s called Aberlour. Here’s the link. Thank you, Blair! I hope to hear stories of choir members trying it.

Joanne and Andre prefer cognac. I do like Remy Martin, but like Blair’s scotch, it’s just not affordable for me. I’ll also drink a cheap brandy and will enjoy it warming in my hand in a nice brandy snifter.

In between talking, we did some good singing and got through our 4 pieces in an hour, and then a few of us stayed afterward and sang Little Tree. Something we enjoyed was Mele Kalikimaka, which many of us hadn’t sung before. It wasn’t too hard to sing along with even the first  time. It’s one from the archives but we have a good concert recording of it. So good to sing with a bunch of people who know the music well and are in top form! 

That’s what we’re doing every week, singing with concert recordings, so that we are singing with ourselves, and at our best. It’s good! We have fun and keep up our voices and our music reading skills. 

It helps that we don’t have to drive anywhere, so we can sit together with our wine glasses and forget our worries for an hour or so. Sometimes we even forget we’re in a pandemic having choir over Zoom.

Do join us! Let me know if you need help finding the Zoom link or the music. Send me an email or a Facebook message or something. I’m not hard to reach. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

YRCC Zoom chat- What was the name of that choir?

 ONE VOICE (which happens to be the name of one of our songs too)

This is the video that some of us saw on Facebook and cried. Happy tears and sad tears. These children are so beautiful and this song is wonderful. Take a look/listen:

When you’re there on YouTube, you’ll see other One Voice videos recommended. Go ahead and spend some time with them- so worth it.

Musicality is another choir that’s a really big deal and makes very professional videos. They were on a TV contest and I think they were finalists. These are also beautiful young people.

Here’s one of their songs which is one of our songs, just to start you off. Go ahead and spend an afternoon watching them. 

Something else that was suggested was karaoke versions of pops songs. You can be the star. Sing with a band or an orchestra accompanying you. Lauren will be the star of many karaoke bars when they open up again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

YRCC Zoom Choir meeting again on Monday, November 16


Little Tree, were you sorry to leave the forest? I’ll comfort you.

Yes, we sang Little Tree! I love that song, and someone, I think it was Tab, was saying that they had this little air freshener that said Little Tree and she couldn’t help but sing our song every time she saw it. So cute! 

I have never had one of these things, and said so, and now I’m worried that I’ll receive a dozen of these little trees for Christmas. Please, it’s okay. I found it! If you must get me something, chocolate and alcohol are always welcome ;-)

I have a little tree story too. It was years ago and I was gardening and was transplanting a little tree. I started to sing to it and sang the whole song, every word. I’d memorized it without even trying. I guess I really just love that song.

So, I guess we’ve started on some Christmas music. 

We’ve sung Hockey Song, which is really just a winter song, which could be sung all year round, right?

And, we’ve sung My Grownup Christmas List, and now Little Tree, which are not traditional Christmas things. Also, we’ve sung Let There Be Peace on Earth which is usually on our Winter programme. 

I’m hearing that people are hoping to do more holiday themed singing. And, I do too. 

At my church, we’re not singing, not even remotely. I was so sad at Easter, I can’t even imagine Christmas at church without the singing. 

We are singing! Join us and you’ll see it’s not bad. 

We’re using Zoom so we’re in our own homes, or cottages, or wherever, and we all sing together, with recordings of the choir. So we’re even singing with ourselves. We can sing as loud as we want and we can sing other pars too because everyone is on mute. It works. We’re singing together and we’d like everyone to sing with us.

I made a schedule of songs to sing for the season, as I usually do when we’re rehearsing for a concert. I attached it to the calendar a couple weeks ago. I will follow that, but I’ll add some extra Christmas from now on.

You can follow the link to the calendar that’s here on the blog, or you can get there from the website. The Zoom link and sheet music PDFs are there.

Please join us!

Let’s keep up our repertoire and keep up our spirits during this dark time!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

YRCC songs 09-NOV-2020

 It’s already Sunday?!

Tomorrow is Monday, choir day! Please join us in our Zoom choir hour. It’s not what we really want, it’s not us in a room together singing, but it’s what we have and it’s good. 

It’s good to see our choir friends and to hear that they are fine and coping well during this pandemic. 

It’s good to read sheet music again and remember our art. 

It’s good to sing in the choir. Yes, we sing together with the whole choir, with recordings of the whole choir singing. It’s the closest thing to singing with the choir live. 

Please join us so that we continue to be a choir. When we can meet again in person, it will be almost as if we had never stopped. 

Go to the choir’s Google Calendar every week and find the Zoom link there. Double click and you’ll be with us. Take a moment to make sure your video is on, and choose gallery view (not speaker view). Some people are really good at this and some of us take some time to figure this out. We’ll help. 

Also on the calendar will be attachments, the PDFs of our sheet music for the evening. 

You can download and print it if you prefer, but using it electronically is great once you get used to it. It’s easy and environmentally friendly. No binders needed. I like having my sheet music on my iPad and the choir (Zoom) on my laptop.

We usually chat a bit and mostly remember to have a warm-up. When we’re ready to sing. I’ll choose a song and we all take a moment to call up the sheet music. I’ll get the recording ready and just before I start it, I’ll mute everyone. You will sing and nobody will hear you, but we’ll see you. This way, we avoid the issue of everyone’s individual wifi and device combination having different timing. There’s no way to get everyone in synch. No problem. You hear yourself and the choir, everyone else hears the choir and themselves. With gallery view, you get the feeling of being together. It’s really quite nice. You don’t usually see each other when you sing. You all look at me and I see all of you. This way, it’s kind of fun and new, You’ll notice though that most of the time people are looking at their music, which is what normally happens. So, don’t feel like everyone’s watching you all the time. 

This week, we’re singing Hallelujah, We Rise Again, You’ll Never Walk Alone, and Grownup Christmas List. I’ve added Little Tree in case we have time and energy for more :-)

I hope to see you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

YRCC Meet-up 02-NOV-2020 Looking for you!

 Where are you? 

We were missing  some people and some people were telling us that they hadn’t received the Zoom invitation for choir this  week.

What happened?

We discovered that the website has determined on its own that some people’s memberships had expired and many of you were removed from the membership list!

Nobody paid fees this year so I’m not sure what happened. 

Carol is looking into it and trying to get everyone back on the membership list.

If you’ve been getting the emails and have wondered if it’s really necessary to join these Monday night choir things, please do join us and you will be glad you did. They’re not rehearsals for a concert but I do think they’re important.

I’ll write more on this later this week.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the link on a Monday night, go to the calendar and you’ll find the link there. Double click and you’ll be there with us. The PDFs for the music will be there too.

More instructions to follow.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

YRCC 26-Oct-2020 Zoom Sing and Chat

 We met again with increasing comfort and confidence in Zoom. 

I encourage every member of the York Region Community Choir to join these Monday evening meetings to continue our weekly habit of gathering to sing, to maintain and grow our musical abilities, to see and connect with the community of choir members, and to support each other. 

We don’t have a concert to rehearse, but we do have to prepare for future concerts. We will perform again.

We can’t hug each other but we can share our joys and sorrows, our worries and our solutions to common challenges. It’s such a joy to me to see the beautiful faces, the beloved smiles, and to hear the voices and laughter of my choir friends again!

If you or someone you know has been reluctant because of the technology, please let us know and we’ll try to help. 

We meet for a little over an hour, and might go longer as everyone gets more comfortable. 

We are using electronic copies of our music but some of us print it out. It helps to have 2 devices at hand so you can have one screen for the sheet music and another for seeing everyone.

We sing along to concert recordings so that you hear your part, you hear the whole choir singing with you. You’re not alone.

Please join us!

We sang Let There Be Peace on Earth, Monday, Monday, Why We Sing, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Tomorrow, November 2nd, we’ll sing Somewhere Out There, You Raise Me Up, the Hockey Song, and My Grownup Christmas List. 

This is where we are at the moment. Let’s enjoy this season and anticipate with hope our time together in the next one, like this or in some other way.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

YRCC 19-Oct-2020 ZOOMing ahead towards to holiday season

 The YRCC had another successful Zoom meet-up. Successful means all kinds of things, doesn’t it?

We warmed up our voices and then sang a few of our pieces. That was good. 

We reviewed some of the tricky things about the sheet music. That was good. 

We talked about what we’re learning from listening to our concert recordings. Good.

We chatted about all kinds of things including Halloween and Christmas plans during the pandemic. It’s not easy to chat in Zoom because only one person can talk at a time but it’s so important for us to do some chatting so we do what we can. Good, and important.

We took a moment to think about our friend Mary Ellen as she mourns the loss of her husband and loved hearing her sing Let There be Peace on Earth even more than usual. Difficult, but good.

Heather joined us from British Columbia! Remote choir has its advantages.

Hallelujah, We Rise Again, You Raise Me Up, and Let There be Peace on Earth were our songs last week, so now we’re doing 4 songs! And we’re lasting over an hour now too. 

I’ve made a plan, similar to my usual rehearsal plan and I think we’ll probably add some more songs, especially during the holiday season. I attached the plan to our calendar event, along with the sheet music for this week. There’s a link to the calendar here on my blog.

I hope to see everyone tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

YRCC Zoom 12OCT2020 Thanksgiving Monday

The YRCC has always met on Thanksgiving Monday because the season is short and we needed all the time we could get to rehearse for our concert in December. 

This year, we met for different reasons. 

We need all the time we can get to learn this new way of meeting and to continue to be a choir in this crazy pandemic time. 

We're meeting through Zoom because we want to see each other. We miss our choir community.

We're meeting because we love to sing our songs and want to keep up our repertoire.

We want to keep our voices in good shape, and not lose our range. (Some days I hardly talk, let alone sing, and I find I'm often hoarse, croaky even.)

We don't want to forget how to read sheet music. 

I need choir in my life. 

We sang Monday, Monday, Somewhere Out There, and We Rise Again. 

It's interesting to sing with our concert recordings. I hear things that will help me to create better balance next time we all sing together. I'm learning different things this way, and I hope you are too. 

We're going to try to sing 4 songs tomorrow, Monday, October 19th:

  • Hallelujah
  • We Rise Again
  • You Raise Me Up
  • Let There Be Peace on Earth

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

YRCC Zooms forward 05OCT2020 and Thanksgiving Monday, 12OCT2020

 It was better than I’d hoped! We met on Zoom, using Tab’s premium work account and it was very, very nice. I used my work laptop this time and was able to see all 28 participants at once!

We lasted over an hour. (I had heard that an hour is most people’s limit. And, I believe it. Because, today I was in a 4-hour conference on Zoom and I was totally exhausted even though I was just listening.) 

We chatted, we sang Why We Sing, You’ll Never Walk Alone, and Hallelujah, and we laughed, and chatted some more. We sang with concert recordings so that it almost felt like we were all singing together. We were all on mute so the timing issue wasn’t an issue. People’s lips didn’t move together but it was okay. It was just so good to all be together singing. Looking out at everyone singing and smiling and hearing the choir recording was so, so very good!

We’ll do it again! 

We’re meeting next Monday, Thanksgiving Monday, and we’ll sing Somewhere Out There, Monday, Monday, and We Rise Again!

Watch for your meeting invitation and I’ll put the link in the Calendar again, along with the sheet music PDFs. 

I’m going to put choir on my calendar every Monday night again! Hope you can join us. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

YRCC Zoomed 28SEP2020 Review and 05OCT2020


The day the York Region Community Choir went Zoom!

Zoom kind of worked. About 22 people came and talked and sang and we’re going to do it every week. We’ll see how things go as we get better at Zooming. I don’t have great plans, great expectations, as we don’t have a concert or any performance at all to rehearse for. But, I want us to continue to be together and singing our songs. With Zoom, we can be together and we can sing our songs together, sort of. 

We all hear the same recording and we all sing our choir parts in our own homes. We’re all on mute because the quality of our wifi and hardware and software are a bit of an issue. Timing is off for one thing. No problem when we’re muted. 

We sang You Raise Me Up and Somewhere Out There. We had the sheet music on our own devices or printed out from the website. That way, we could use the screen entirely for seeing each other! A lot of us spent a lot of time looking at the music and not each other, but it felt good to be surrounded by our friends any time we looked up. I loved seeing you all singing together. It made me happy.

One big problem we had was that we got kicked out. Suddenly it ended. Free Zoom has a 40 minute limit. It happened a couple times. I forgot to let you know that you could come back. It was enough though for our first time. I think one hour is what most people can manage comfortably in a Zoom meeting, but if we do a variety of things, maybe we can last longer. 

Next week, we’re going to see how it works when someone else hosts. Tab will be the first guest host. She has the total Zoom deluxe package with no time limit, and all the bells and whistles. (Break-out groups sound like an interesting feature-a group for each part?) We will send an email through the website so that we can be sure everyone gets invited (at least I hope so. I missed people with my thing and kept having to add individuals and probably still missed someone-sorry it it was you!). 

Next week, let’s sing Why We Sing and You’ll Never Walk Alone. I’ll attach them to the YRCC Calendar again. If we have extra time and energy, we’ll sing Hallelujah. 

I’ll see if I can put the Zoom info there again too. Should be possible. 

Thank you for being patient with me and each other as we adapt to this new and hopefully very temporary situation. I am longing for the day when we can all see each other again in person, IRL, in real life. We’ll wear the shields Carol arranged to get us and we’ll keep our distance until the day we can hug again. 

For now, we’ll be Zoomers.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

YRCC Zoom Meet&Sing 28-Sep-2020 Preparations

 Well, it doesn’t look like we will be able to meet in person for a while yet, and we can’t have a concert so we have nothing to rehearse for. 

Nevertheless, we will meet. And, we will sing. And, we’ll learn a new way to be a choir during this pandemic.

I had a test run last week wth a smallish group of us. It was chaotic and not choir, but it was fun, it was good, and we want more.

So, we’re all going to meet in Zoom. 

It seems to be an okay place and we’ll give it a go. I do wonder about people who might not have the technology to meet with us. I fear that we might leave people behind. But, hopefully this is temporary. And, the longer it lasts, the more people will become experts in this new virtual world of remote meeting for groups. 

I have to confess, I don’t like the virtual choirs that I see on the internet. I didn’t like the Eric Whitacre stuff, except this one: Fly to Paradise. It’s clever and cool art but it’s not choir. Nearly 6 thousand people sang, but they didn’t sing together. I love choir because of the feeling we get when we sing together, and we blend our voices, adjusting ourselves to our neighbours and we’re all doing the same thing at the same time. And, the best thing is to see the audience and see that they’re getting the feelings we’re trying to send them. I’m so sad about all that being impossible now.

So, I’m not planning to learn to produce a virtual choir song. But, I’m not totally dismissing the possibility of the YRCC maybe preparing and producing one. Something to think about.

For now, we’ll see if we can keep up the songs we know, so we don’t forget. And, we’ll keep in touch with each other, so we don’t forget. 

It might be a good idea to check out your equipment to see if you can use a camera and microphone while on Zoom. Most devices have those built in. You can play with Zoom to test the settings if you just sign in and start a meeting. You don’t need to have anyone else join, but it might be fun to test it with someone.

That won’t mean you’ll be perfect when we meet together but you won’t be totally lost. I practised but still didn’t have it all together last week, and I don’t expect to be an expert this week either. But, I will try hard.

Find the place where you can mute and unmute yourself. Find the Gallery setting, so you can see everyone. If you have earbuds or headphones, have those handy. Find a good spot in your home to prop your iPad, phone, desktop, laptop, whatever device you’re going to use, up so that we’ll be able to see you. Try it out in the evening so that you know that the lighting will be good. 

Maybe have a couple devices ready so that you can have the  sheet music up on one and have Zoom to hear the music and see everyone on another? I’m going to have a few devices ready and we’ll see how we manage. We’ll get better every week. 

I’ll have Somewhere Out There and You Raise Me Up ready. You can too. Maybe next week we can try to sing more songs. 

Please continue to send me suggestions and advice. I am new to this. Some of you have been meeting remotely with Zoom meetings for other groups, even other choirs, and are far more comfortable than I am. Please be patient with me. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

YRCC Executive Cautiously Preparing Fall 2020 Rehearsal Season

YRCC Members: Please respond to recent email with your feelings, comments, intentions

YRCC members received an email on June 30th with a request to respond to the email to let us know whether or not they are interested in returning to a choir season "for fun, friendship and our choir community" with no Winter concert planned. Some of you responded right away. Thank you! If you haven't yet, or even if you have, send us your thoughts.

At the moment, we are hoping that it will be possible by September for us to meet in the larger space which we used while our room at the regional building was being renovated (it's still not done) so that we can spread out, socially distanced, and we would all wear face shields. Depending on the number of people interested, we might all be able to meet weekly. or we could look into a way to rotate attendance if the numbers are large. It's hard to plan when so much is still uncertain. But, we feel that it is necessary to plan, to be optimistic, and to gather to sing together somehow as soon as we can. 

YRCC Members: Please return your binder

In the meantime, please return your binders to Peggy or Ann so that they can manage the sheet music.
You also have an email about that with details. We will start out singing for ourselves, just to keep up our repertoire, and to soothe our souls, to stir our hearts, and to exercise our instruments (our bodies). We'll sing some of our favourite YRCC music for any season and some favourites for the Winter and Christmas season. I can't imagine not singing at Christmastime! 

Which songs do you miss the most?

You Raise Me Up
You'll Never Walk Alone
Why We Sing
We Rise Again
Monday, Monday
Somewhere Out There
Your Song
Let There Be Peace on Earth
They All Call it Canada
All The Little Rivers 

Monday, April 6, 2020

YRCC members can join the Great British Home Chorus

Cheryl from the Soprano section (you know the one with the sweet accent) shared with me a link to the Great British Home Chorus. This is a fun idea! Gareth Malone is a very famous choir director (choirmaster) who is posting daily rehearsals on YouTube and then I think he’s going to make a recording after!
If you’re missing our choir rehearsals, nothing compares. Sorry, but nothing is like all of us getting together as usual. But, you can do all kinds of fun musical things until we get back together.
This is one idea for you. If you try it, let us know how it goes. Maybe post of Facebook or send an email through the website.
Here’s the first of the videos and it has the information you need to join officially. I think you can probably join unofficially by watching and singing along.
Have fun!
Keep in touch and stay well until we meet again. We will meet again (quoting the Queen).


Monday, March 30, 2020

YRCC Cancellations: Sad, but Confident in our Decision

So, I'm sad about missing choir. It was difficult to make the decision to cancel our rehearsals and our concert, but I'm so glad we did! We can see clearly now that we did the right thing.

Bill sent me a link to this story in an email about a choir that went the other way. They decided to rehearse but are now regretting it.

There's a choir about an hour away from Seattle Washington that took the chance and had a rehearsal on March 10th. 45 out of the 60 members who were there are sick, 3 are in hospital and 2 have died.

Read the story here. It's in the Los Angeles Times and entitled:
A choir decided to go ahead with rehearsal. Now dozens of members have COVID-19 and two are dead

YRCC COVID-19 Pandemic Songs

Here's a list of songs you'll find on our website to sing with that Blair calls
 the YRCC Playlist for Covid19 Times:
Button Up Your Overcoat
From a Distance
Let There Be Peace on Earth
You Raise Me Up
You'll Never Walk Alone
We Rise Again
What the World Needs Now is Love
Why We Sing

They all have more meaning now.

Enjoy the selections of songs we have in our archives here.
Remember, you have to log in with your email address and password.
The list on the left is scans of sheetmusic and the list on the right are recordings.
So you can download the sheet music, and download the recording of the accompaniment or your part on top of the accompaniment to sing along.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

YRCC during the pandemic 29-Mar-2020 3:00PM sing along!

Melinda sent this:

 ChoirChoirChoir is doing their third sing along this Sunday. Here is the info:

Choir on Sunday @ 3


Join us for Choir!ntine: A 'Springtime'

Social Distan-Sing-Along!

We’ll be LIVE at Facebook.com/choirx3 (gotta “like” the page first) or via YouTube You tube 


Lyrics on Google Drive 



Here's a peak at what's on Google Drive: