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!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where do I sit?

Hi Everyone!

Today, I'm talking about our seating plan.

This is for people who are thinking of coming to choir, but are worried about what they do once they get here. The big question is- Where do I sit?


The way we're set up, the Sopranos sit on the left side, facing Sapphire and me.  (So they're on the right when the audience looks at us.)

The first Sopranos are the farthest to the left, right up against the far wall, and take up about 3 rows of 2 or 3. The first sopranos technically sing the highest, but are also the ones who most often have melody. So, some of you might want to sit there even if you can't hit all the highest notes. On the music, you'll always read the very top line of notes in the treble clef (the one that looks like a fancy S). We've moved them into a bunch so that there are no fist sopranos behind the second sopranos.

The second Sopranos come next. They sometimes have a few lines of harmony, in some songs where the Soprano line gets divided. The music will say "div" and the seconds sing the bottom half. Sometimes it's squished between the first soprano part and the alto part and it's hard to read. When there are first sopranos sitting behind you, it's hard to concentrate on your part (see above). There are 3 or 4 rows of 2 or 3 second Sopranos.

Now, we'll move to the left side of the room before we do the middle.

Right - Altos

The Altos sit closest to the door. They never sneak out, though. When we're performing, they're on the audience's left.

The Altos technically sing lower than the Sopranos. They almost never sing melody. We cheer when they get some melody, like "Yay! The Altos have three bars of melody!". They get cool harmonies and special bits that signal key changes. They sing the second line of music, but it's often written just below the Soprano line, also in the treble clef. When we sing 2-part music, the Altos always get the bottom line. When the Altos divide (div), it's front row and back rows, and the back row usually takes the harder part. We planted some really strong singers in the back row, so that the others can follow them.

Middle and Back- Tenors and Basses

Most of the time, the Tenors and Basses sing the same part, and it's the bottom line, in the bass clef (looks like a backwards C). When we sing 2-part music, they sometimes sing the top line and sometimes the bottom line. Either way, they sing 2-part music an octave down.

The Tenors sit in the front of the middle, usually 2 rows of 2. Tenors are men and women who sing pretty low for women and pretty high for men. They occasionally have some melody, like the Altos. LIke Altos, Tenors have cool parts and they can be quite difficult.

The Basses sit behind the Tenors, in a row or in two rows. Basses sing the lowest. Their music is at the very bottom. They have some really cool parts, especially endings. They almost never have melody. They sound really good singing "bum-bum-bum" or "oh". Even when we sing in 3 parts and there is no Bass part, they sometimes have to sing special notes, an octave down, because they can't hit the high notes and they don't like to lip-synch. And, it sounds good to have some really low notes. ( I don't mind a bit of lip-synching when you can't hit the notes you used to be able to hit when you were in high school. Someone will cover for you. Teamwork.)

Changing your mind (redecorating)

If you start off sitting somewhere where you don't feel comfortable, feel free to move. Try out another part. It's harder to do the longer you wait, so do it as soon as you feel it.

Changing my mind (moving)

I've been known to change the seating plan from time to time, to make a group stand out better or in response to disharmony. When this happens, please be patient. We might end up changing back. Or, you might end up liking it better the new way.

If you're new and worried about where to sit the first time, don't worry. We'll help you. We're a friendly bunch and once you're singing, you'll forget about being worried.

I hope this helps.

Yours in harmony,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our first-ever field trip!

Hi Everyone!

We were talking about our Stratford Trip last night.

Last spring a number of us were playing with the idea of going to a musical and getting a group discount. We decided to start big and go on a trip too. We're going on a road trip!

Sandra did some research, made some phone calls, and got us a great deal on a block of 25 excellent seats in the front balcony to see Jesus Christ Superstar on Sunday, November 6th at 2:00 in Stratford! And, she got us a bus with a washroom to take us there and bring us back!

The whole thing will cost us $140 each.

Try to bring your cheques to choir next Monday to give to Michele.

We leave Newmarket at 10:00 in the morning, have some free time in Stratford for lunch, see the show together, go home singing on the bus, and arrive back in Newmarket around 6:00 pm.

It's going to be great! I'm really looking forward to it.

Yours in harmony,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We're back!

Hi Everyone!

It was wonderful seeing the choir together again. It was good to see new faces too.

We managed to sing quite a bit, considering all the registration and information stuff going on. And, we sounded great!

It felt really good to be in front of the choir again. I had so much fun that I forgot about my twisted ankle. I didn't feel a thing for a couple of hours. Magic. Of course, I needed a bit more TLC today. But, it was worth it! 

Hearing Little Tree again was blissful. And, it wasn't weird to sing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" in September. It was beautiful.

I forgot to mention yesterday that we have this online tool, my blog, and our Facebook Page and Facebook Group as well for communicating. I hope to regularly update the panel on the right with reminders of dates to remember. We'll get better at using these tools as we use them, I guess.

Thank you for giving me so much positive feedback on this blog, everyone. I'm enjoying writing it. I wish I had more time to write more often. I'm hoping to write more choir-specific posts now that we're in the choir season.

If you have any requests, let me know.

Yours in harmony,


Friday, September 2, 2011

They've caught us in the web.

Hi Everybody!
I've heard that we should google ourselves from time to time to see what's out there about us.
So, I've googled myself and the choir and I found some nice things. I've shared a couple of them here.
One is a youtube video of the York Region Community Choir singing Hallelujah and another of the Snap article about our concert. There are a few pictures there too. Have a look.
It won't be long before we're singing together again. I can hardly wait.
Yours in harmony,


SNAP Aurora - Thank You for the Music

SNAP Aurora - Thank You for the Music

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Our Current Executive

Hello Everyone,

Today, I will introduce you to the Executive of the York Region Community Choir for the 2011/2012 Choir Year. We elect the Executive every year at our Annual General Meeting, AGM, in June. The Executive works together with the Director and Accompanist, and the Reading Committee to choose music, decide when and where we sing, and make sure people are there to sing and to hear us sing, and take care of our equipment and music library.

First of all, our President is Heather Vickers (hvickers@rogers.com). She took over from Steve Loweth, of Mayfair Music, who is hoping to be a very active Past President. Heather is responsible for everything happening.

Our Vice-President is Lauren Solar (laurensolar@gmail.com). She'll be there to help Heather and anyone else on the executive when they need a hand.

Sandra Winters (s_winters@bell.net) has stepped into the gap that Heather left, and is our new Public Relations Committee Chair. She's the one you need to contact if you'd like us to sing for you or if you'd like to give us a free advertising spot. Contact Sandra if you'd like to join us and want more information.

Michele Horton (michelehorton@hotmail.com) is our Secretary/Treasurer, and she does all kinds of wonderful things for us besides taking notes at meetings and keeping track of our money. She is presently the longest-standing member of the Executive.

Trix Verge (trix.verge@gmail.com) is our Music Librarian. She has our music collection in her basement and makes sure we all have music to sing every Monday, and has extra binders made up for guests, or people who are checking us out. If you have a binder of music that belongs to us and want to know how to get it back to us, contact Trix.

Carol Ford and Debbie Hood are the Registrars. They make sure the membership list is up-to-date and coordinate our Coffee/Social hours, among other things. Debbie's had our coffee (and tea) equipment and supplies in her basement for many years. She buys good Decaf.

We have a Reading Committe which is not elected, but appointed. They are Heather Vickers, Teija Cumming and Enid Maize. They help choose music and order it from the publishers. They are chosen for their ability to read music and knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses.

Our roles are not all very well defined because we mostly work together, brainstorming and planning at meetings, and sometimes at the beginning or end of our Monday evenings. Being on the Executive is fun and rewarding. From time to time, we work really hard, and then we sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labours with pride.

We'll be getting together next week to make sure everything is in place for September 12th. It's only a bit more than a week away! Can't wait to see everyone!

Yours in harmony,