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, August 30, 2012

Sleeping In: messing with circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm is not a fancy jazz term.

It refers to something in our biological clock that is a daily cycle, like sleeping and eating patterns. We're influenced by daylight, dark/light cycles, but, the 24-hour cycle is built in to us. Like lots of other things in nature, we have daily patterns of behaviour. Our daily sleep pattern is a big deal.

Jet lag and shift work mess with your sleep patterns. So do weekends, and summer holidays. 

You can read about studies that show that keeping a regular sleep pattern is good for your health, performance at school and work, everything. And, the reverse is also true. Not being in rhythm is bad for your health, performance, etc. Still, many of us sleep in when we can, especially on weekends, and end up suffering on Mondays and whenever we need to get back to our routines. 

School starts next week and I'll be happy to have the regular rhythm of the school week back. Harry and I both have irregular hours, so the girls' school days set the rhythm. Without the structure of a regular day, things get messy. This has been the case for the whole summer. Our sleep patterns haven't had a regular pattern. 

I don't think it's a horrible thing that our circadian rhythms are irregular in the summer. Music doesn't keep the same rhythm throughout a song. That would be boring. A change in pattern is interesting and necessary. Even in Mozart's music (think Mozart Effect)  there are necessary changes in rhythm and tempo. Our summers are more jazzy, with lots of improv. 

So, I'll let my family sleep in. But, maybe just a bit less, so that it's closer to the rhythm of the school year which is just around the corner. After all this free jazz, classical could be a shock to the system.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Exciting Project- New Recreation and Event Centre in Aurora

Our good friend and fellow chorister Bill Reid is involved in an exciting project in Aurora. The plan is to build a new Recreation and Event Centre in Fleury Park that can be used by a variety of sports clubs (in particular the Aurora Tennis Club) and community groups, and will include an amphitheatre where people can come and hear us sing! We loved our experience singing in Newmarket's Fairy Lake Park Amphitheatre and look forward to performing at this proposed new park!
Check out this newspaper article: click here
And keep up-to-date with the progress of the project on the Facebook page: click here
Here's the picture from the newspaper article that shows Bill with the model of the building. Check out all the playing surfaces inside.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Support for Singing in a Choir

Through Facebook, I read another good article about the benefits of singing in a choir. 

Here's a link to the article called "The Choral Cure": click here

Like I said on FB, we just do it because it feels great. You don't have to convince us. 

 Indeed, in the article it says "Singing is the best free drug going."

Here's the best part: 
"Like walking, singing has always been taken for granted – it's just something people have always done," says lead author Professor Stephen Clift. "But just as walking is now prescribed, the benefits of singing for health are slowly being rediscovered by health practitioners."

Like walking, singing is something that everyone should be doing. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Olympic Success!

Another group of YRCC Olympians made us proud. The York Region Community Choir participated in the Olympic Finale Event at the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket yesterday, Saturday, August 11th, 2012. 

This time, our choir was asked to sing more, because they loved us so much the first time. What an honour! 

We were told that our O Canada "gave the community a feeling of patriotism", which we all felt when the crowd cheered at the end of our beautiful a cappella version of our national anthem. What a thrill! 

I'm so proud to be part of this wonderful group of people, the York Region Community Choir. 

Here's the picture of the group that performed at the Olympic Opening Event

Thursday, August 9, 2012

YRCC Olympians return to the Mall Saturday

Come to the Upper Canada Mall on Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 11:00am!

Hear the choir sing to celebrate the excellent work of our Olympic athletes in London.

We're part of another Olympic Event at the Mall.

There will be commemorative medals and photos and a gymnastics display in addition to our performance- all happening in Centre Court.

Go, Canada, Go!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sing to Your Sweetheart

I was thinking about campfire songs, and Googled it. Most of the campfire stuff was for girl guides and boy scouts and children in general.

So, I got to thinking about what you sing when you're not a kid anymore. 

My teenage daughters sing with their friends- pop songs from the radio, mostly with the radio. They sang well past midnight at a sleepover in our basement recently. I loved it. 

My husband and I break out in song frequently, singing bits of things from all over the place- old and new radio, musicals, movies, TV commercials, anything. That's one thing I love about Harry. He's a great singer and knows tons of songs and is playful and confident enough to sing anytime, anywhere. He doesn't have to sing anything romantic or even sing it to me for his singing to make my heart flutter. Hmmm...

I Googled a bit more and I came across this article:

Songs To Sing To Your Girlfriend

By: Matt Ralfe

The writer suggested that when guys think they should "do something sweet for their girlfriends to enhance their relationship," they should sing something romantic. 

He says that it's great if you can play a guitar or piano-"Luckily most girls like simple songs with simple chords." (what?!)- And, if you don't, he suggests you get a karaoke version of the song. 

"Don't worry if you think your voice sounds like a frog. It will not matter to your girlfriend if you can't sing, just the thought of doing this for her is enough. Just be confident. Make sure to practice first, though."(my italics) 

He goes on to suggest a number of suitable "romantic" songs.

Aside from his weird notions about girls liking simple songs and the idea that you have to practise first before singing for a girl and need accompaniment, Matt's got the right idea.  

Sing to your girlfriend. Sing anything to your girlfriend. Try it. I bet she'll like it. 

Sing to your boyfriend. 

Sing together. 

We sing to and with our babies all the time, and it's a great expression of love. We know babies love to hear your voice singing, the voice they love. So, sing to your sweetheart.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Singing

We just had a long weekend and I'm sure that lots of people had campfires. I see and hear about more and more people having outdoor fireplaces in their backyards too. So, I'm wondering whether there was a lot of singing going on. And, what were people singing?

When I think about campfire singing, it's mostly the girl guide stuff I think of first:
  • Fire's Burning 
  • My Eyes are Dim 
  • Make New Friends 
  • Land of the Silver Birch 
  • Kumbaya, etc. 

Then, there's pop stuff like:
  • American Pie 
  • Stairway to Heaven 
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Hey Jude (wasn't that cool at the Olympic Opening Ceremony?)

And what about:
  • the Gilligan's Island and Brady Bunch theme songs
  • I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner ; )

And my kids might sing:
  • Pumped Up Kicks
  • Somebody That I Used to Know
Do you sing around the campfire? What do you sing?