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, May 31, 2011

Sharing with Seniors

Hi Everyone!

Great show!

What a great time we had with the seniors at Park Place Manor in Aurora yesterday evening!

Lively audience
They were a great audience. They were keen to sing along, and not just during the sing-along section! It makes it more fun when the audience feels comfortable and gets so drawn in to the music that they start to sing. Of course, it can be awkward for a soloist. But, we're very cool with it. In fact, I love it.

Appreciative audience
I had so many people take me aside to thank me and to let me know who much they enjoyed our show! It felt great! Two women were especially thankful and expressed how important music is to them, how good it makes them feel.

My magic wand
I think that it's not just music, but music that people can participate in that is important. When we move people to sit up in their seats, laugh and sing out, our show and our music work magic! My baton becomes a magic wand!

Making connections
Besides the musical connections we make singing with and for our audiences, we connect after the show when we talk to individual audience members. I always speak to several audience members after a show and I always learn things.  I got to speak German to someone yesterday, something I do very rarely, an added bonus.

Added bonus
I really appreciate it when the retirement home arranges cold drinks and snacks for us. The cold drinks are especially good- Park Place Manor had very nice, very cold drinks: ahhhhhh.... We get hot performing. The cookies were really good too- totally unnecessary, but so nice!  

Well done, YRCC!

I'm looking forward to next Monday!

Yours in harmony,


Monday, May 30, 2011

YRCC on Facebook

The Choir on Facebook

The York Region Community Choir Facebook Group is updated and now we have a Facebook Page too! So, we can chat about stuff in the Group and we can post information on the Page.

Wow! Our online presence certainly is growing!

I love Facebook

I am in contact with friends and family all over the world: Canada, the US, Germany, Iran, and Australia, and places they travel to. I get to see pictures and follow what everyone is doing and I can let everyone know what my family is up to.

I’ve connected with old friends from school days. It’s fascinating to see what those kids look like as adults (the same!) and what they do and what interests them. Fascinating!

I bet they’re also interested to see that I’m married with kids, still singing, still connected to Victor Travel, still look the same (?).

I’ve connected with cousins that I only know about from stories my mother told, letters she read to us. Far-flung cousins in Australia and Germany whose names I heard but never saw are now real people. I look at their pictures, read their profiles and find lots of family resemblances. So cool.

I love seeing pictures of my Facebook Friends’ holidays. You see them on vacation with their spouses and children at the beach, hiking, camping, touring cities. You see beautiful places all over the world from the perspective of a friend and their families, with sunburns and sore feet. Love it.

Choir friends on Facebook

I’ve already connected with lots of choir friends on Facebook, so I know much more about them now. Heather’s not just an Alto, she’s an amazing baker and a Glee fan. We have lots in common besides the choir. Tracey’s not just a Soprano. She’s an operating room nurse and her sons play hockey and soccer. Like so many of us in the choir, she bakes beautiful cakes! The bake sales at our concerts are always a big hit. We have social time at choir, with coffee (decaf) and treats and time to chat. It’s nice but too short. So, it’s good to have another way to get together.

Facebook Settings

It takes a while to sort out what settings you like on your account. When my husband gets mad when he gets too many emails from Facebook, I tell him to adjust his account settings. I set my account so I don’t get any. If I want to see what’s happening on Facebook, I go to Facebook. I don’t want email notices. I recommend to everyone to review your account settings regularly so things are set the best way for you.

Make sure you like the choir pages, so you can find them on the left panel of your home page.

I’ll keep you posted!

Yours in harmony,


Friday, May 27, 2011

Future chorister

Hey there, everybody!

I'm happy to have some good news to share.

Karen in the tenor section became a grandmother for the first time a few days ago! 

Welcome to the world Little Isabella!

Congratulations, Karen! Enjoy your new role.

Hey! That makes your dad, Bill, a great-grandfather?!

Well, Isabella is sure to be a great singer.

Best wishes to the whole family!

Yours in harmony,


My job

Hi Everyone!

It’s funny. I have a job, but I’m still a stay-at-home mom. Most of the time, I’m still at home, and I was at home full-time for close to 14 years.

My Job
I work part-time, Mondays and Fridays, at Carlson Wagonlit Victor Travel. So, today, I’m at work. I sit at reception and answer the phone, directing calls. I do a little secretarial stuff, but mostly I write. I love the writing I do for Victor Travel, the travel agency, and Victours, the wholesale side of the company.

Writing for the travel agency
The thing I love to do most is rewriting the English translations of products from Italy and France. They’re so much fun. Greece, Spain and Turkey are great too. The products we deal with the most are hotels and tours. Tours are the best.

Every time I write a tour description, I get to travel vicariously to the most interesting places! All the highlights of a city or country are there. I research them to see if the spelling is correct, and check out the facts too. When things are translated, sometimes the facts get messed up. This is when it’s the most interesting.

Food and wine and Ferraris
I like to read about the enogastronomic tours (food and wine) and the special motoring tours best. We sell these really cool Ferrari Tours where you tour around Italy for a few days driving Ferraris from place to place. So much cooler than a tour bus! And, there are motorcycle tours too.

Use a Travel Agent
I’m learning quite a bit at Victor Travel, but if I have any travel-related questions, I go to one of the agents. They’re amazing- such nice people, so knowledgeable and very patient! I highly recommend using an agent when you travel. It’s really worth the few extra dollars, and often the savings they find make it much cheaper in the long-run! You should hear some of the stories of the messes they’ve been able to get people out of.  I’ll have to share some another time.

In case you’re interested, I’m adding the websites to my links. I recommend you have a look at the brochures on the Victours site. They’re beautiful.

Maybe I’ll be able to go on a trip myself again some day and blog about it. Until then, I have memories of travel in my youth and my vicarious travel here at work.

Yours in harmony,


Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hi Everyone!

Change is stressful.

Today, I got some good news. We have a schedule change. We were scheduled to sing early at our next seniors’ residence visit. That meant that our accompanist, Sapphire, couldn’t be there right at the beginning. So, we had to use our Plan B: a revised program, starting with recorded accompaniments and sing-along songs.

Recorded Accompaniments

We had a full year without an accompanist, 2009/2010. We survived with recorded accompaniments. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

We learned an important lesson from that challenging year. Record everything.  When your accompanist is late, or sick, you don’t have to panic if you have recordings.

We have a new keyboard and recording device, so we’re not only recording accompaniments, but also parts. It’s taking some time to learn how to do it, but we’re hoping to have everything recorded for our Christmas season before September.

Program changes
I set the programs for our seniors’ tour in advance so that everyone can arrive each week prepared to sing. But, I let the choir know that they should always be prepared for changes. We need all of our music in our binders, just in case. And, when I know in advance that there will be a change, I send out an email.

Nota Bene
Now we have this too, my blog. I’ve made a box called Nota Bene for a quick way for the choir to see if there’s a change or something important to remember.

Today’s change was a good one. We can all be together at 7:30 on Monday, and give the seniors at Park Place Manor our best performance!

Yours in harmony,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Tree- memorized

Hello All!
I just had a special choir moment while gardening.

I used to have huge perennial beds, and now I have a lot of lawn. But, I'm working on my landscaping. I did some Victoria Day shopping at the garden centre, and today I got to dig and plant to my heart's content. I love gardening. I love gardening in the spring. I'm full of enthusiasm in the spring. I'll be full of pain tomorrow.

My special Gardening/Choir moment.
I have a little tree that was part of a Christmas arrangement from my fellow gardening nut, Kelli. I've been taking good care of it all winter, preparing for today. I planted it in my garden today. I found myself singing while walking around, looking for the perfect spot. If you're in the choir, you're probably singing Little Tree right now. I nearly cried. Ok, now I'm choking up. Little Tree is a very pretty song.

Little Tree, the song
I sang the whole song to my little tree, several times. I didn't know I had it memorized.
Little Tree,
Little silent Christmas tree,
You are so little,
More like a flower.
Who found you,
Little Tree?
There's the part when we sing, "Don't be afraid. Lift up your arms. I'll dress you up, ..." It's the climax of the song, and I just LOVE it. It makes my knees weak. I got a little loud singing that part and wondered if my neighbours were outside.

Memorizing songs
We learn so many songs for our concerts that we don't manage to memorize them. We probably should. We tried to memorize a couple this season, in case we managed to do a flash mob at the mall. We didn't. But, it's good to know we could.
I think we'd be surprised to know how much we actually have memorized. I think I'll suggest memorizing more songs in the fall.
I know some people will resist. We're adults, so our memories aren't what they used to be. We forget our purses, water bottles, and music binders at choir. We're supposed to remember the words and the harmonies and how long to hold the notes? I think we can.

I'm going to see if I can post the choir singing Little Tree. I have to share it.

Some other time, I'm going to blog about singing Christmas songs in May.

Yours in harmony,

My First Post

Hi Everyone!

This blog will be a way to communicate with and about the York Region Community Choir, my choir family.

My baton is a symbol of who I am. It says, "I'm musical and I'm in charge." It also says, "I stand out."

I feel great when I'm conducting the choir. I experienced a similar feeling when I was teaching ESL, which I did before motherhood. (Back then, my baton was a piece of chalk.) I'll try to share that feeling.

I'll share experiences and stories about all aspects of my life, not just choir. Everything is connected.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you as I embark on this new journey. Come back regularly to look for choir news and information.

Yours in harmony,