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!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not wearing makeup

Hi Everyone,

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and thought that I should put some lipstick on. It was just for a moment, but it made me think.

I was getting ready to go to work, and I liked my hair today. And, my skirt and my jacket were nice and matched my shoes perfectly. Lipstick would have looked good.

I don't usually wear any makeup. If I have a big zit, then I try to cover it up, but I only wear makeup when I'm performing or when I'm going out for a special occasion. Even then, it's usually just lipstick and eyeliner with maybe a bit of eyeshadow. I do wear lipstick sometimes, just because.

The thought that came into my head quickly right after the lipstick idea was that Jeff and Jack at work would never think about putting makeup on in the morning.

Then I thought about my mother. When my mother came to Canada in the 1950's, she was told to wear makeup at work. She was working at an insurance company at the time. She wore lipstick and mascara at work because she had to. At that time, it was ok to insist that flight attendants (stewardesses), be pretty and a certain height and weight, and wear makeup and high heels, etc. I'm glad times have changed.

I could have put the lipstick on. It would have looked nice. But, I'm glad I could choose not to. For my mother and other women who didn't have a choice, and for those who don't feel they have a choice even now, I chose not to.

Thinking about choices,

Yours in harmony,


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beat the heat

Hi Everyone!
We’ve been having the hottest July ever! It’s amazing, hot and sunny every day.
I’m so glad my house has central air. At our old house, we had a couple of window air conditioners and we also used fans, but it’s not the same. It didn’t quite work and it was very noisy.  I’m so much happier now. Still, I try not to be wasteful, and I keep the temperature set at 25. That means that the basement is cool, the main level is very comfortable and upstairs it’s a bit too hot. I try to continue to use my hot weather strategies from the old house so the house stays cool and the air conditioning doesn’t run all the time.  I’m going to share them with you.
Here are some of my tips for beating the heat:
·         Close the curtains that get morning sun.
·         Open the north and west-facing windows in the morning while it’s still cool.
·         Keep lights off as much as possible.
·         Turn off the computers that aren’t in use, at least the monitors.
·         Cook potatoes, pasta or rice in the morning for salads at supper. Use the fan.
·         After cooking, rinse food with cold water, and put in the fridge immediately. Put the pot with cold water on the stove to cool off the element.
·         Don’t use the stove or oven in the afternoon or evening.
·         Use the BBQ to keep cooking heat outside. Mine has a burner too.
·         Sleep on the lower levels, or use a fan to blow cool air up from downstairs.
·         Wear your hair up off your face and neck.
·         Take a quick, cool shower before bed.
·         Wear a skimpy nightie. Your husband will love it. But, don’t flash the kids.
·         Only use a sheet to cover yourself at night, if that.
·         Avoid going out during the day. Sounds obvious, but we’re used to jumping in the car whenever we think of something we need or want. Wait. Stay home. Later or tomorrow will be better.
·         Take the kids out in the morning or later in the evening. Or go for a walk, or whatever you do outside then- don’t go out in the heat, and keep the house closed.
·         Keep calm, think positively, and move elegantly.
·         Remember that it will pass soon. Before you know it, you’ll be complaining that it’s too cold.
Keep cool, but whenever it’s not way too hot, go out and enjoy the hot sun, safely with sunscreen and lots of water to drink.
Sweat, and swim at a pool or at the beach, have a cool drink with some friends with some fun summery music and think about how much it costs to go away in the winter to someplace that’s hot and sunny like home in July!
Yours in harmony,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You can sing. Yes you can!

Listen Edith, I know you're singing and you know you're singing, but the neighbours may think I'm torturing you. - Archie Bunker
Archie Bunker said all kinds of stupid things. Luckily, Edith was good-natured enough, and smart enough, not to listen to him most of the time.
I’ve met too many people who have told me that they were told that they can’t sing. Not just, “I can’t sing.” But, “My mom or my teacher, someone said so. So, I won’t sing, don’t sing.”
This really bothers me.
Everyone can sing, should sing. People sing differently. Some will like your voice, your style, and others won’t. We’re not all expected to be Celine Dion or Sarah Brightman, Pavarotti or Elvis. But, when everybody’s singing American Pie or 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, you should join in. It feels good.
Sing in the car. Sing with your baby. Sing to your plants, your garden. Sing when you’re cooking. Sing when you’re vacuuming. Sing when they don’t expect it.
Sometimes during a quiet moment at the dinner table, or while everyone’s reading, I’ll sing a little something. Lately, my little something is: Grab somebody sexy: tell him, Hey!
I feel the same way about dancing.
It bothers me when people don’t dance and say they can’t dance. Bah. Just do it. It feels good. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not a good dancer. If they do, don’t let it stop you. Moving to music is heavenly. I take every opportunity I can to dance.
I’m not going on TV to dance with the stars. I dance in my kitchen. I dance in the basement. I dance at concerts. I dance at weddings, all night long.
I got a really great greeting card once that said: Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth. Mark Twain said that first. Smart guy.
Try to sing and dance and love more. It feels good.
Yours in harmony,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Still working on choir stuff

Hi Everyone!
Are you having a good summer?
We're really having great summer weather, aren't we? It would be really hot singing in seniors' homes now!
The choir season is over, but some of us are still dedicating Monday nights and countless hours to the choir.
Filing and inventory
Trix, Sandra, Michele and I worked hard last night emptying the binders and filing the music. It was good getting together and getting it done. Trix and I will be working on the inventory. We’ve got quite a bit done already, but there are the new pieces to add and we want to count all the copies we own. That work will continue during the week. And, next Monday night some of the executive are getting together at Trix’s again to work on that as a team.
New Music
Some of us are busy looking at music to decide what to sing next season, and even further ahead to next spring. We’re hoping to buy a few new pieces for our winter season.  We need some music from other cultures to make our Christmas season more inclusive.  I’m looking for wintery music too.
My family thought I was strange listening to Christmas music and songs about winter a couple of nights ago. But, we’ve got to plan what we’re going to sing, get a binder made up for Sapphire and then set her up to do the recordings of the accompaniments and parts. I’ve got to get my hands on all the new pieces to learn them before I stand in front of the choir in September.
Preparing to teach
Sapphire and I work hard to learn the music before teaching it to everyone else. Supporting us, we have Trix who makes sure we have the music and there’s a copy for everyone in the choir. There is the music committee who seek out and buy new music and top up our sets of old music. There’s Steve with the recording equipment.
Booking and advertising
Other jobs are Sandra’s work to contact venues to book our shows and later our seniors’ home visits. We’ve been in contact with Trinity Anglican already and have our booking for May 5th, 2012! We’re having a problem with our winter date, so Sandra has her hands full with that. She’s also planning to have a table at the registration fair at the mall in August. She’ll be advertising the start of our season in papers and online all over the place. Carol and Steve are working on a brochure to advertise the choir, with a new logo.
Sing-along project
Trix and I have taken on the job of cleaning up the sing-along music. We’ll tackle the Christmas stuff first. Steve will be helping us out with that. He’s going to source new accompaniments and we’ll make up a new booklet to hand out.
Steve has also offered to work on creating a new spring sing-along booklet for all of us and our audiences.
Labour of love
There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure our choir is the fun and successful organization we are. We love our choir. We have a good time together whatever we’re doing. We’d rather be singing, but we’re happy to do what needs to be done.
It’s a labour of love.
I'll give you a taste of Christmas in the heat of July. Check out this fun piece, called Minka. Check out the whole website for Alfred Music. You can hear samples. Very cool ;)
Keep singing!
Yours in harmony,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, Everyone!
Main Street and Fairy Lake
I took my girls to Main Street and Fairy Lake for the Canada Day festivities. What a beautiful day, a perfect start to summer: hot and sunny. There were tons of things to see and crowds of people there to see them, lots of people in red and white and lots of flags. The Town of Newmarket had a booth and some nice ladies were handing out little flags, flag pins, and flag stickers.
Music everywhere
I paid more attention to the music this year. At our executive meeting this past Monday, one of the things we talked about was participating in more community events. Canada Day is one of the events we’d like to suggest to the choir. I think it will be great!
Today, we heard all kinds of music all over the place along Main Street and in Fairy Lake. Music makes any event more exciting. Live music is best of all!
YRCC on stage next year
There is a stage on Main Street that would be perfect for us. I took a good look at it. There was a small band playing excellent jazz. Chairs were set up for people to sit and listen down on the street in front of the stage, but people were standing all over the place and walked by too. There should be enough room for the choir to stand up there on stage with Sapphire and the keyboard. I think I’ll have to be on the ground though. We might have to buy a riser.
I hope the weather is nice next year for Canada Day. I think that the YRCC will be singing!
See you there!

Yours in harmony,