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!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Conducting the Audience

Today, I started a new sing-along technique.

It actually began this past Monday, at the Barton. We were singing with the seniors, and I had handed out the shakers and drums as usual, but this time there was a little group of seniors who were really into it and I started to conduct them!

They really got a kick out of it, so I tried it again today with our mixed audience at Hillary House (National Historic Site/Museum in Aurora). It was excellent! It sounded great and added a new level of interactivity to our performance.

The added bonus is that I can easily ask them/tell them to keep the instruments quiet while we're performing our pieces, and when we're doing a quiet song. I even added them to our Calypso Christmas and Mele Kalikimaka.

I wish I had thought of it before, but better late than never!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Still in our performance season!

Tonight: The Barton 7:00 pm (and our holiday party 8:00 in our room)
Saturday afternoon: Hillary House 1:00 pm (we still need altos)
Next Monday: Aurora Resthaven 7:00 pm (limit reached but tenors and basses welcome)

Remember choristers:

  • We always wear black and white. Informal means you can have short sleeves and short skirts.
  • Have your music ready and in order. Bring all your music and the sing-along book. 
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early to warm up and to confirm the order of the music, and soloists.
  • Keep the sing-along book if you're performing again.
  • Hand in your binder and all music and the sing-along book after your last performance.
  • Our last performance is Dec.23. After this, Trix will have all the binders and all the music (except the 3 pieces of Choral Extravaganza music, if you think you'll work on it over the holidays)!
The Spring Season starts Monday, January 6th, 2014. 
You will get your binder back with all the spring season music in it. Sapphire and I will be recording accompaniments and parts over the holidays, so that they'll be going up on the website in January.

Check the calendar for details and maps.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Show Tomorrow, Saturday, December 14th!


(not really like this but, it's how it will feel, right?)

So Incredibly Excited!

12:45 choir arrives 
1:00 set-up done, everyone in the sanctuary
review of 2/3 songs (just bits)
reminders (smile, don't let mistakes show, no faces, watch and listen)
pep talk
doors open at 1:30. 
We wait in the chapel for our big entrance
2:00 we sing!

The snow will be manageable
the audience will be brave and kind and huge
nobody will notice anybody's mistakes. 

That's the plan!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Choral Extravaganza Preparation

Those YRCC members who have signed up for the Choral Extravaganza on January 26th should already have their mass choir music-3 pieces that we're going to sing (with all the other 8 choirs!). When you're handing in your binder at the end of this season, you can keep those 3 pieces to look at them over the holiday.

We will start rehearsing them as soon as we're back in January and there are 2 additional Sunday rehearsals.

You can begin looking at your music, and becoming familiar with the words, where you sing, etc. I'll give you links to recordings of the songs here.

Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy) by Ennio Morricone and Chiara Ferrau arr Audrey Snyder
The publisher's page (click on "closer look" and then click on the sample audio.) There is a short sample of the arrangement. 

Spacious Firmament by Tobin Stokes
The publisher's page (you can listen and read along on the music right there)
(a Children’s choir will sing the beginning and end)

Haydn: Come Gentle Spring

If you haven't signed up do so asap and you too can get your music in advance.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Concert Sunday night in Richmond Hill

I'm sharing this invitation I received from Richard, the director of the Choral Extravaganza (and of the Auoroa 150th Choral Concert we participated in). 

I think Sapphire and Jonathan might also be involved in this.

Hello everyone,

I would like to let you know about our performance of the Messiah (the Christmas parts) by Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church.  I have been the music director for 8 years now, and this is one of our biggest projects so far.  We have some very good soloists from within the choir, as well as a guest soprano: Susan Ryman (She performs regularly as soprano soloist with the Men of Note Choir and the Harfentoene German  Male Choir).

The choir has been rehearsing since June.  They tell me Handel's melodies have been going through their heads for months now.  We would like to share this glorious music with you, so we can all get into the Christmas spirit.  Please come on Sunday night at 7 pm to Richmond Hill's Presbyterian Church at 10066 Yonge St. (just North of Major Mackenzie on the West side). We hope you can join us for refreshments after the performance.  Tickets are only $15 (free, if you are 18 years or younger).

Hope to see you on Sunday,
Richard Heinzle

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

YRCC members representing us well

This is an excerpt from the Aurora Horticultural Society newsletter:

"Our annual Potluck dinner will be held on November 22. Please arrive between 5:30 and 6:30 pm with your potluck dish. Dinner will start at 6:30 pm sharp.

There will be entertainment by York Region Community Choir Trio (Heather Vickers, Michael Wasylenky and William Reid), as well as prizes to be won in a 50/50 draw and a bucket ruffle!
See you all there!"

They also had our beautiful concert poster in the newsletter!

This picture was taken by Bill when they rehearsed at his house before the show. The feedback after the show was very positive! We're so lucky to have such amazing talent in our midst!

Thank you for representing us so well, Heather, Michael and Bill!

Monday, December 9 at Trinity Anglican in Aurora

6:30-7:15 will be set-up and first sound checks with microphones

Starting at 6:30 (if you're later on the list you can arrive later):

  1. Sapphire
  2. Somewhere My Love
  3. Jane, Lauren and Trix
  4. 12 Groovy Days
  5. Janet and Todd and the Kevins
  6. The Kevins
  7. Kristen
  8. Silent Night
  9. Farewell to Nova Scotia

Starting at 7:30 Concert Order Run-through (we'll see if this order works)

1.       In Our Town in December
2.       Song for Canada
3.       Farewell to Nova Scotia (sm. group)
4.       Red-haired Boy (instrumental)
5.       Hava Nagila
6.       Calypso Christmas
7.       Mele Kalikimaka
8.       Silent Night (sm. group)
9.       12 Groovy Days (sm. group)
10.   Flight of the Bumblebee (Sapphire's solo)
11.   Somewhere My Love (sm. group)
12.   Magic of Winter

1.       Welcome, Welcome Winter
2.       Come Emmanuel
3.       Somewhere a Child is Sleeping
4.       Mr Santa (sm. group)
5.       I Believe (Janet, Todd, Kevin)
6.       Ordinary Miracle (Kristen's solo)
7.       On Eagle’s Wings
8.       You Raise Me Up
9.       12 Songs of Christmas
10.   You’ll Never Walk Alone

11.   So Long, Farewell (encore)

Tonight: CARP Social 6:30- 9:00

Here is the information about the CARP Social from their website:

CARP Newmarket Aurora Chapter 44 Presents:
Christmas Season Drop In Social
Featuring Live Entertainment by
Voices of Joy Choir
John Lemme
York Region Community Choir
Wednesday December 4, 2013
Lions Hall, 200 Doug Duncan Dr, Newmarket
Drop in anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 pm.

Festive Food and Refreshments will be served
Free to CARP members and guest

- See more and learn about CARP on their website by clicking here

This looks like it will be a fun and entertaining evening. Plan to be there early to see the other singers.

Location: The event will be in the Lions Hall 1-  Newmarket Community Center, 200 Doug Duncan Dr.
Right by the skating rink at Riverwalk Commons behind Main St. There's lots of parking.

The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 9:pm.  

We are schedules as the final act so we should be ready to perform around 8 pm. Be there by 7:45 at the latest. Some of us will be there the whole night. We are welcome to come and enjoy all the festivities of the evening.   

We will be there as early as 5:30 pm to start our setup.
There is space available to hang coats and we will have space available to store purses in the kitchen area.

Wear your formal performance uniform: black to the floor, white to the wrists.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 25th and December 2nd!

Wow. It's almost December!

We have 2 performances this week! Tomorrow at Doane House, and Friday at the United Way Craft and Gift Sale! 
I'd love to see a couple of extra people at both events, especially tenors and basses.

Somewhere my Love is coming along well. We met at 6:20, and will meet again at 6:20 next week.
12 Groovy Days is excellent. The end is Groovy! We'll meet again at 6:50 next week.
Farewell to Nova Scotia is excellent. They're meeting again next week at 9:30.

Silent Night: some individuals were rehearsing with Sapphire at break-Thank you. We will all meet at break next week. Now, I really have to work on memorizing my words!

We had a quick physical warm-up and warmed up our voices singing 12 Songs.
12 Songs of Christmas is finished! Hooray. You might want to review the section at 180, page 18.
In Our Town in December was pretty and we figured out back-up soloists.
Calypso Christmas is great! What a fun song! Remember to watch me at the end for when the altos and tenor/basses change notes.
Mele Kalikimaka is excellent too. Fun and cute.
Somewhere a Child is Sleeping is wonderful. Remember to come in soft at 28 on pg 6. When neither soloist is there, I think we'll have just the sopranos start at the beginning. We tried with everyone and it becomes a bit too repetitive. Also, keep in mind that the climax, the loudest part is right after the second ending at the bottom of page 9 and over to page 10 : "So we might love each other in peace and harmony."

Next week, we'll have to review everything else for the concert. The following week will be the run-through and sound check at Trinity Anglican in Aurora.

December 2nd
Banks of Newfoundland
Hava Nagila
Come Emmanuel
So Long, Farewell
Song for Canada
You'll Never Walk Alone

December 9th
***All small groups and soloists arrive early, starting at 6:30, to work with microphones and where to stand, sit, etc. If you're later on the list, you don't need to be there at 6:30.

Tentative order of soloist/small group sound checks:
Somewhere My Love
Jane, Lauren and Trix
12 Groovy Days
Janet and Todd and the Kevins
The Kevins
Silent Night
Farewell to Nova Scotia

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sandra in our thoughts

Today and tomorrow, we will have Sandra on our minds, in our thoughts and prayers, as she gets together with family and friends in Calgary to say goodbye to her father, who passed away on Friday.

Here is a link to the web page where you can read about the wonderful man who clearly had a great influence on our Sandra. I was not surprised to learn that he was musical, kind, active and generous like Sandra.

The executive, on behalf of the choir, has made arrangements for flowers to be there tomorrow as a symbol of our love and support for Sandra, and our sincere condolences to her, her son Joseph, and her whole family at this difficult time.

Choir members who wish to offer individual condolences can send a message through that website as well, and you have access to Sandra's contact information on the choir website in the members only section.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 18 and November 25

6:20 Somewhere My Love
6:50 12 Groovy Days
9:30 Farewell to NovaScotia
Small Groups, same schedule next week

Lauren was sick and asked me to make a couple of announcements, which I forgot! Sorry!
1. The next group of equipment volunteers is:

2. We are hoping to decorate our concert space this year. Jane is willing to order poinsettias for us. Individuals will buy poinsettias and take them home after the concert. So, we get to have them decorate our concert space, and then they decorate your home for Christmas! Isn't that a great idea?! Once we know that enough people are on board, we'll be able to set prices and give details.

Warm-ups were quick, so that we could get to work.
1. Magic of Winter was our vocal warm-up. We paid special attention to dynamics. We reviewed the alto and tenor parts of the whole song.
2. Welcome, Welcome Winter: we did quite a bit of review here too.
3. Banks of Newfoundland: we learned the last bit of ahs and put it all together! Remember that most of the time, you're singing background and it's soft. There's that really long note. Nobody can do it alone. We're a team, so we do what's called staggered breathing. You take a breath, then somebody else does, then someone else. Listen to your neighbours so that you're taking your breath when they're not.
4. So Long, Farewell is easy-peasy. The last note: Sopranos divide: S1 is on the G, S2 is on the D. Tenors can divide the same way an octave down. Altos and Basses will sing the E. And, it says it should be soft, but we're going to be loud. I like a big ending and it's a nice chord :)

Next week: 

We need to go over our Christmas stuff for our upcoming performances. I'm hoping we can sing through each just once or twice.

In Our Town in December
Mele Kalikimaka
Calypso Christmas
Somewhere a Child is Sleeping
12 Songs of Christmas (we still have to learn pg 13- the end)

It would be good if we could review Banks of Newfoundland.

Please note that the orders for our performances are up on the website. 
Go to Members Only and then to "Seniors' Performance Orders", even though they're not all seniors events. Remember, Doane House is November 28, the United Way Craft Sale is November 29 and the CARP social is December 4th. I'm getting excited!!!

Please, as much as possible, review parts on your own, with the recordings online, or however you can. We don't have much time left. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 11th review and preview for November 18

Small Groups
6:20: Somewhere My Love
6:50: 12 Groovy Days
9:30: Farewell to Nova Scotia
**same schedule next week

scales going up and down, using your hands to help you to open up as the notes get higher, tongue twisters

  1. 12 Songs of Christmas: we sang through and learned up to pg.13
  2. Magic of Winter: we sang through and it was really pretty! 
  3. Banks of Newfoundland: we started learning from the beginning and went to the bottom of page 4!
  4. So Long, Farewell: we sang through to see how it goes and it will be fun and charming
Next week
  1. Welcome, Welcome Winter: review
  2. Magic of Winter: dynamics and enunciation
  3. Banks of Newfoundland: next ahs and then put it together
  4. So Long, Farewell: clarify parts and learn harmonies
  5. 12 Songs of Christmas: pg 13 to the end
Looking ahead:
Monday, November 25: We will review Calypso Christmas, Mele Kalikimaka, Somewhere a Child is Sleeping, and generally prepare for our performances at the end of that week on November 28 at Doane House and on November 29 at the United Way Craft Sale. 

Monday, December 1: Our last learning rehearsal. The next one will be a run-through for the show at Trinity Anglican in Aurora. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 5th review and November 11th preview

Somewhere My Love met at 6:20
12 Groovy Days met at 6:50
Silent Night met at break
Farewell to Nova Scotia met at 9:30

Same schedule next week for small groups, except for Silent Night (You can rehearse on your own for a while, and I suggest you memorize the words. All we have to do to perform it is decide the order to sing in and we're good to go!)

Warm-ups were brief

1. Come Emmanuel- we had to review the ahs and remind people to sing "wai 'in" and "commmmm". Also, Sopranos have to be careful to sing softly so that we can hear the other parts.

2. Song for Canada - we reviewed the ahs and I suggested you listen to the recordings for timing. In particular, the recording of me singing it so you can hear where the words go. The timing can be tricky.

3. Banks of Newfoundland- we started with the last page and it was awesome! The sound you make in 6 part harmony is just beautiful! Please take some time to listen to the recording of this piece and your part before next Monday.

4. Magic of Winter- we learned from 5-20. So pretty (and not hard)!!!

5. 12 Songs of Christmas - we just sang through the whole thing again.

6. So Long, Farewell - we just looked at it, noting that we'll be jumping around in the parts.

Next Monday:

Banks of Newfoundland from the beginning, and reviewing the end. Please take some time to listen to the recordings

Magic of Winter we'll try to finish it. You can listen to this recording too, but it's pretty easy.

12 Songs of Christmas let me know which parts you'd like to review

So Long, Farewell We'll sing it through, sight-reading. Please mark you parts in pencil on your music so you know when to sing. See below.

Welcome, Welcome Winter Let's see how much we remember and learn the ending

Here's how So Long Farewell is going to be divided: 
Please mark your parts in pencil, ready for next Monday!

2-6  Altos only
6-17   Part l: SA              Part ll: TB
23-57  Part l: Ladies         Part ll: Gentlemen
57-62 Part 1: Sopranos      Part ll: Altos
63 Ladies
65 Gentlemen
68/69 Ladies
69/70 Gentlemen
70-90 Part l: Sopranos         Part ll: ATB
95-103 Partl: Ladies             Part ll: Gentlemen
103-109 Part l: Sopranos     Part ll: ATB
Last note: G: S1   C: T and S2   E: A B

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Singing with Spirit

This morning, the YRCC sang at church for the first time ever. We have sung in churches many times. We always have our public performances in churches, preferably Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora, because the acoustics are great. So, we're used to sounding amazing in a church. But, what we're not used to is being at church together, in the context of a church service- the minister, prayer, readings from the Bible...

We sang for our friends at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Aurora because they asked us to help make their Anniversary Sunday special. We've sung for a couple of other events for them in the past. They always give us free use of their space when we're bumped out of our free space at the regional administrative centre, and a few of our members attend St.Andrew's.

This morning, we sang On Eagle's Wings and You'll Never Walk Alone better than we've ever sung them before. It was awesome, truly awesome. The difference between our warm-up and our performance was huge.

I'm sure that we were all feeling something this morning, something powerful and moving. It came through in our performance.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 28th review and November 4th preview

Small Groups
Somewhere My Love started at 6:20. And, they're already sounding lovely.
12 Groovy Days met at 6:50 and is almost done!
Farewell to Nova Scotia met at 9:30. Very cool, high-energy song, fun group!
 (Same schedule for next week- plus, Silent Night will meet at break.) 

We did a facial massage that opens up our resonating chambers and loosens and energizes our muscles. We hummed down to low notes, and did some of our usual stuff as well.

1. We sang through On Eagles Wings, You'll Never Walk Alone, and Go Now in Peace for Sunday.
2. We learned the A-men for Sunday
3. We learned the ending for Song for Canada- very cool Ah. Also, be aware that page 12 is not what you expect, starting at bar 107. Remember we're reading the second line from the top here because of the descant part above.
we had a coffee and treats break with amazing Halloween cookies and we had our portrait picture taken
4. We sang through Magic of Winter. It's so pretty! It should be easy to learn, but it would help if you could listen to your part on the recordings we put on line.
5. We sang through 12 Songs of Christmas, our Christmas Medley. It's fantastic! What a powerful ending!
It already sounded excellent because we sang it a few years ago and many of us remembered our parts. This one is not recorded, but we should be able to learn it quickly.

**We didn't manage to start Banks of Newfoundland. Please look at your part and listen to the recording. It's not easy, but beautiful. It would help us out if you could learn as much as possible on your own so that others have someone to follow.

November 4th 
We are meeting in Aurora at St. Andrew's because our room is not available. 
Song for Canada- review pg 12-end
Come, Emmanuel- show off to Sapphire
So Long Farewell- just a read-through
Banks of Newfoundland- last page
Magic of Winter- start learning bar 5-20
12 Songs- start learning

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November 4th choir moved for maintenance: stay tuned

We just got word that our room cannot be used next Monday because of maintenance being done at the Admin. Ctr.
We will have a rehearsal, just somewhere else.
We will probably have space at St. Andrew's in Aurora. We're in the process of requesting that space.
Stay tuned. Watch for emails from YRCC and posts on the website, Facebook, our calendar and here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 21st rehearsal review- and notes for next Monday

12 Groovy Days met at 6:30- almost done the whole song

We shared some good news and some bad news. We agreed that we are incredibly blessed to be in such a warm and caring group. We warmed up quickly with mi-me-my-mo-mu arpeggios.

We had some technical difficulties but managed very well with Anne Marie on her keyboard and with 2 kinds of recordings. (Always have a Plan B!)

On Eagle's Wings. We added a few altos to the tenor sections where they were overpowered. Altos and Sopranos have to be careful not to overpower the tenors.

Mele Kalikimaka We learned the beginning and the end, and did the whole thing! It's fun.

Come Emmanuel: We learned the last page. Done!

Paul from St. Andrew's was there and taught us an A-men and accompanied us on Go Now In Peace.
Trix will be posting Paul's hand-written notation for the A-men on the website.

We finished learning Calypso Christmas too! The ending is big! Love it!

We sang Somewhere A Child is Sleeping. Mary Ellen did a beautiful job, despite the speedy recording. That song is ready to go too.

The Executive had a meeting after choir. We did concert planning and spring repertoire planning. We'll be order music for spring soon!

We're going to start a few new things next week the Banks of Newfoundland, Twelve Songs of Christmas, and the Magic of Winter. If you have some time, please listen to the Banks of Newfoundland before next Monday. Magic of Winter is also on the website. Twelve Songs is a medley that we've done before, and I'm hoping it won't be too much work. It's fun and has a super ending!

Monday, October 28

Go Now in Peace- just a quick review
You'll Never Walk Alone- ditto
On Eagle's Wings-ditto
Song for Canada (I made a recording of myself singing it so you can hear how the French sounds- I sing the soprano ending. Trix will have that on the website soon.)- we'll learn the ending
Banks of Newfoundland- we'll start at the end, the last page
Magic of Winter- we'll do a sight reading to get a feel for it
12 Songs of Christmas- ditto, a sight reading through

Somewhere My Love is meeting at 6:20!
12 Groovy Days is meeting at 6:50!
Farewell to Nova Scotia is meeting at 9:30!

Singing Tips

I try to give general advice during rehearsals when things come up, but in the past, I've posted music theory and singing tips here, and we've had some theory lessons at the beginnings of rehearsals in the past. We like to sing most of all, so I like to give as much time to singing as I can on Monday nights. You can search this blog for singing and music theory, and there are tons of resources on line. 

I recently came across this good article on wikiHow called How to Sing. Follow their advice, check out their "tips and pointers, and your golden voice will be ringing out in no time!"

 It breaks down into 3 sections: 

  1. Setting the Foundation
  2. Healthy Singing Habits
  3. The Attitude

I like that joining a local choir is one of the first things they mention!

  • If you cannot afford a teacher, or do not want the dedication that comes with hiring a professional voice coach, consider joining a local choir.
I also like the illustrations, especially this one about how to pronounce vowels:

Here is a selection of their tips: 

  • Breathe with your stomach. Deeply. Imagine the air isn't even getting into your lungs, but going straight to your stomach. If you have to hit a note you find uncomfortably high, lift your soft pallet, not your chin. Your tongue should be pressed against the backs of your teeth. Your tongue shouldn't be curled up near your throat.
  • Make a refreshing warm drink by mixing warm water with honey, mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon. This will soothe your throat, but try not to drink really hot water as this will hurt your throat instead.
  • Learn to read sheet music. It comes in handy more often then you'd think.
  • The more you practice the more you can control your voice.
  • While singing, always make sure you breathe regularly - not breathing can make your voice sound forced, horrible and may damage your vocal chords.
  • Get in shape. You'll be able to breathe better if you are in good physical health.
  • Sing with all your heart! Passion will often make the voice believable and more emotional.
  • Drink lots of water. It will do many wonderful things for the voice and is also very essential to your body. If you are sick, pineapple juice may clear the throat of phlegm but don't make a habit of anything besides water.
  • Also, press both your lips together to make that brrrrrrrrr sound. When doing this try to go up the scale with notes while making this noise. This helps you practice on keeping your pitch and it helps you produce a more powerful note
  • Lie on your back and hold your breathe. Count to 10 and stay calm until you are ready to sing. You will notice your voice is stronger.
  • Keep your chin pointed slightly down and your pectoral muscles flexed. Most singers lift their chin up to sing with more power,while it only works temporarily. Keeping chin down not only works better but saves your voice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Monday's rehearsal review

October 14, Thanksgiving Monday

Thank you to all who came and made it a great rehearsal!

We were treated to a special warm-up song:
 You're the One That I Want, from Grease!
Thanks to Kevin and Janet for that wonderful offering!

A special thank you to Heather for playing parts for us today! And, thanks to Anne Marie who did it last Monday. Anne Marie, Heather, and Lauren are all sharing keyboard duties while Sapphire is away on holiday. Trix has provided us with Sapphire's recorded accompaniments, so it's been a real team effort. I'm so grateful for all the willing and talented people in our choir who help out and make sure everything is running smoothly so that we can have fun and productive rehearsals! Lots to be thankful for!

  1. We sang Go Now in Peace with Lauren accompanying. We reviewed the A-men ending.
  2. We learned pages 6&7 and pg 4 of In Our Town in December and sang through with Lauren. Thank you, Lauren!
  3. Come Emmanuel is almost done! We reviewed the doos at 28 and 45 and learned parts at 63. 
  4. Mele Kalikimaka is also coming along very well. We did the section starting at 56, noting all the short notes and rests. The timing and the notes are different in this section. We sang all the way through and we're all looking forward to singing Very, very, merry, merry Christmas next time!

We had a break with sweets: Daphne brought the most wonderful chocolate truffle things and I brought some simple cookies.

We finished a bit early so that the Farewell to Nova Scotia small group could meet and plan their rehearsals. They will continue to meet after our rehearsals from 9:30-10, except next Monday when the executive has a meeting.

Next Monday, October 21

12 Groovy Days will meet at 6:30.

We will sing:

  • On Eagle's Wings (review with recorded accompaniment)
  • Mele Kalikimaka (beginning and ending)
  • Calypso Christmas (last page starting at pick-up on pg5)
  • Somewhere a Child is Sleeping (review with recorded accompaniment)
  • Come Emmanuel (pg 10, ending)
  • Go Now in Peace (review with Lauren)

    The Executive will meet at 9:30.

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Thanksgiving Song for kids

    If you're looking for a nice easy Thank You song for kids at Thanksgiving or any time, you'll have a hard time like I did finding anything.

    So, I made this up for my Sunday School kids. It's the sweet old melody of Jesus Loves Me, which everybody seems to know and love.

    I ask the children if they're only thankful on Thanksgiving Day. "Of course not!" I ask how often they should be thankful and they say: "every day". Easy. It's a great thing they learn at church, that attitude of gratitude.

    Thank You, God, for Everything
    (Jesus Loves Me)

    Thank You, thank You I will say
    Thank You, thank You every day.
    Thank You, thank You I will sing
    Thank You, God, for everything!

    Yes, God, I thank You.
    Yes, God, I thank You.
    Yes, God, I thank You.
    I thank You every day.

    Thank You for the food I eat.
    Thank You for the people I meet.
    Thank You, God, for songs to sing.
    Thank You, God, for everything!

    Yes, God, I thank You.
    Yes, God, I thank You.
    Yes, God, I thank You.
    I thank You every day.

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    October 7th rehearsal and looking ahead to Thanksgiving Monday

    On October 7th:

    The 12 Groovy Days of Christmas small group started meeting today at 6:30.

    We started with massages for a warm-up and team building exercise. Altos with T&B started out better with quick teamwork, but then proceeded to do their own thing while Sopranos followed instructions. We'll have to try something like that again.

    Hava Naglia: We will sing through the whole thing twice, as indicated by DC, speeding up and adding percussion and guitar accompaniment the second time.

    Come Emmanuel: We went straight to 35, my favourite part. Remember to start quiet so we can build up dramatically to the ff on the next page. We went back to learn the beginning to 35 and then sight-read through the rest. It was good.

    Mele Kalikimaka: We learned up to 56

    In Our Town in December: We walked through to see where the solos are and where everybody sings. Same soloists as last year. We sang through, but the recording was fast.

    Calypso Christmas: We learned pg.3

    You'll Never Walk Alone was magnificent!!! We just have to watch our timing in a couple of places. Pay attention to the triplets!

    Next Week:

    Thanksgiving Monday!

    12 Groovy Days is not meeting early.

    We'll have a special warm-up. It's a surprise.

    We're going to sing:

    • Go Now in Peace
    • Come Emmanuel
    • Mele Kalikimaka
    • Calypso Christmas
    • In Our Town in December

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Solos and small groups winter 2013

    Announcing our small group and solo songs:

    Solo/Duet Songs (chosen from 8 excellent suggestions)
    • I Believe (Janet and Todd)
    • Mr. Santa (Trix, Lauren, Jane)
    • Ordinary Miracle (Kristen)

    Small Groups
    • Multi-cultural Silent Night (Anna, Carol, Daphne, Dolores, Galina, Karen, Lauren, Louisa, Mona, Patty, Renate, Sophie, Stanley,  Jytte )
    • 12 Groovy Days of Christmas
    • Farewell to Nova Scotia (guitar group and vocalists)
    • Somewhere My Love (tentative)

    Announcing the soloists and back-up soloists for our choir songs:

    Solos in Songs (soloist/back-up)

    Banks of Newfoundland (Todd/ Michael)
    In Our Town in December (Bill/Kevin, Sophie/Trix, Lauren/Tracey, Jane/Janet)
    Somewhere a Child is Sleeping (Mary Ellen/Kristen)
    Song for Canada (Heather/Melinda, Kristen/Mary Ellen/Robyn)

    Also, we'll have 2 instrumental solos! 

    Flight of the Bumble Bee (Sapphire)
    Red Haired Boy (Kevin and Kevin)

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    September 23rd rehearsal review

    Warm-ups included lip trills and tongue trills and a rollercoaster (oooweeeooo), and stepping and clapping while singing

    1. Somewhere A Child is Sleeping is pretty much done!

    2. Welcome Welcome Winter is cool! We got to up to 23.

    3.We walked through The Banks of Newfoundland. Todd will sing the solo. It's a cappella, so there's no accompaniment. There are lots of ah's.

    4. Song for Canada: We walked through. Heather Vickers will sing the first verse as a solo. We all join in at the French part, and everyone sings the top line. We're ignoring the SATB ah's. We looked at that, and discussed the pronunciation. Everyone sings the top line until bar 89. Then, the top line is a descant part which Kristen, Mary Ellen, and Robyn are learning. Everyone else is in the second line, up to the end at bar 114, where things get special We'll talk about that next time.

    5. Hava Nagila is coming along well! We're ready to start the second page. Some people were wondering if the H in Hava might be pronounced like the H in Hanukkah, but it's not. The only time we make that 'ch' sound is when it's written 'ch'.

    Please sign up for the November 3rd performance at St. Andrew's in Aurora, and for the January 26th Choral Extravaganza, and to join a small group.

    Next week we will work on:

    Welcome, Welcome Winter
    Song for Canada
    Hava Nagila
    Banks of Newfoundland
    The Magic of Winter

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Song for Canada: French help

    This is a sort of an English-phonetic transcription of the French part of the song, for those of us who get confused by spelling. Where there's a letter crossed out (n), you don't pronounce the letter, but it affects the vowel before it.

    ka noo vo shawn
    Dee za pray zawn
    An veu da kor kee dwa romp leer no cur
    Pur ple dee vair
    Too shawn lay deu mayr
    urra vwa zan nif for may kan sel cur
    Poor may lon zhay too vo zak son
    Oh ra fran 
    day kon yay dan son soo lay von
    Kin no vwa zon 
    som blish on ta eh ra shon ta
    bell oh zhoor dwee

    Vwa mon pay yee

    More links to recordings of our songs

    In case you're anxious to get started, and can't wait for our recordings, here's some music for you to listen to:

    The Hockey Song (scroll down to the song, click on listen with the score-quick time player needed)
    In Our Town in December ( it's us! We'll have mic's this year. Remember, the power was out and only came on too late to get stuff hooked up? It was great, except for the solos. Valiant effort from the soloists, though.)
    The Magic of Winter (sample from the publisher)
    Mele Kalikimaka(sample from the publisher)
    Mele Kalikimaka (us!)
    So Long, Farewell (just a sample)
    So Long, Farewell (choir video- very nice adaptation, getting ideas for us)
    Song for Canada (just women, but we'll all sing together)
    The Twelve Songs of Christmas (they're really good, eh?)

    Banks of Newfoundland (won't help much, except for the general idea of the melody)

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    September 15th Review and Preview- links to recordings

    Here's what we did on Mon. Sep. 15, 2013:

    1. Warm-ups included a focus on the core and breathing.

    2. On Eagle's Wings is now perfect :) We went over the ending and any other tricky bits with great success.

    3. We read through Welcome, Welcome Winter to get a feel for it. It was hard because it was fast. But, there are no repeats and no solos, nothing tricky. Here's a link to the song on the publisher site. Click on the mp3 recording as if you were purchasing it and listen.

    4. We read through Come, Emmanuel. It will be a fine complement to Welcome, Welcome Winter. They both have a similar mysteriousness. Here's a link to a YouTube recording of a group doing it a bit too fast and without accompaniment, but it will give you an idea.

    5. We read through Somewhere a Child is Sleeping. It has a repeat that goes back to the very beginning, so it's easy to find and Sapphire has a big introduction before we sing. Because it's repetitive, it will be a good song to have a soloist for the first verse. Mary Ellen has agreed to sing it (yay!) and Kristen will be her back-up. It's a pretty song written by Canadian Frank Mills-he's related to us through Daphne and Steve and Mayfair Music ;)
    One important thing to note about this piece is that there's an error in its presentation. It's written to look like SATB, but it's SAB. The soprano line is repeated, so altos have to read a line down, and tenors and basses are together on the bottom. Just mark clearly with pencil where you sing, circle it, or cross out the other lines, or whatever helps you (as long as it's in pencil).

    6. We learned the first verse of Hava Nagila and it's beautiful! The harmonies are really strong and not hard! We're going to have to work on your pronunciation of Hebrew.
    Each section repeats and has 2 endings. But, it's obvious and the song is so well known that you won't have any difficulty in figuring out where to go. We're thinking of adding guitar, drums, and tambourines to this fun celebratory song. Here's a link to a fun YouTube video. Not at all the style we have, but pretty. This link will give you a better idea of the words. Harry Belafonte's clear strong voice is easier to follow. If he can do it, you can too!

    Sapphire and I are working on making recordings of our music to post on the website. Stay tuned.

     Next week:

    We're going to look at The Banks of Newfoundland. Todd has agreed to sing the solo part (yay!)
    We'll also look at Song For Canada. We're going to sing in French!
    We'll start learning Welcome, Welcome Winter.
    We'll start learning Somewhere a Child is Sleeping
    We'll continue learning Hava Nagila.

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    September 9th, 2013 -first day back

    If you missed the first day, here's what we did:

    Warm-ups included stretching into the upper and lower ranges.
    We sang:
    1. You Raise Me Up first. (Love it.)
    2. Go Now in Peace (which we're going to sing with the St. Andrew's choir in Nov.)
    3. You'll Never Walk Alone (it was excellent)
    4. Mele Kalikimaka- just sight-read through and then did parts up to 38
    5. Calypso Christmas-just a sight-read through
    6. On Eagles Wings (also very good)

    Registration went quickly and smoothly. Thank you for pre-registering! It really helped.
    We talked about singing at church on November 3rd for St. Andrew's in Aurora. We will sing On Eagle's Wings and You'll Never Walk Alone and then Go Now in Peace with their choir. A sign up event will be posted on the website soon.
    We talked about the commitment sheet in your binder. Sign it and leave it there.
    The equipment roster will be set up soon.
    Please wear your name tags, since we have several new people.

    If you want to look ahead to next week, here's what we'll do: 

    We're going to look at new pieces mostly, and we'll have a coffee and treats break. 
    • On Eagle's Wings
    • Welcome, Welcome Winter
    • Somewhere a Child is Sleeping
    • Hava Nagila
    • Come Emmanuel

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Winter Theme, Solos and Small Groups

    It was great to be back at choir tonight! So wonderful to see you all and sing with you!

    Start thinking about solo and small group songs. As I mentioned, our theme is

    Canada in December: Celebrate with us!

    So, think of Christmas and other holiday songs, celebration songs, winter songs, even escaping winter songs. I think Stompin' Tom Connor's The Hockey Song is perfect. We have 2 general winter songs. More celebratory songs would be nice. Something French, something First Nations, any other culture would be cool, a Christmas song or any holiday song in another language, or written by a Canadian, performed by Canadians,...

    We can have 2-3 solo songs or duets and 2-3 small group songs. We've got one piece ordered for a bigger small group of maybe 12-15 people: Twelve Groovy Days of Christmas, with a 70's theme. I've got an SSA arrangement of the Doctor Zhivago Theme, Somewhere My Love in case anyone's interested in that (snow and cold).

    Send me your ideas!

    Saturday, September 7, 2013

    Sing out with confidence: open wide and yell "Ricola!"

    In this article, "3 Easy Tips to Better Singing", the author suggests a number of things you can do to improve your singing under 3 headings: 
    1. Sing With Confidence 
    2. Open Your Mouth Wide
    3. Breathe With Your Belly

    She suggests that to sing with more confidence, you can try to imagine you're on a mountain like the Ricola guy and sing out a hearty "Hello". Of course, you'll need to open your mouth wide and take a good deep breath too. 

    I'm going to use this exercise for a choir warm-up. But, I'll start with #3. First, you need to breathe properly, and to do that you need to have good posture. So, we'll stand properly and breathe properly. Then, we'll make sure that we remember to open our mouths wide, relaxing and lowering our jaws and relaxing and opening our throats. Finally, we'll all sing out a confident "Ricola!" and also "Hello!".

    Can't wait to try it!

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Painting the Nursery Mural

    This is the story of my daughter, Soraya's mural.

    Our minister had seen Soraya drawing during church, so Rev. Heather asked Soraya if she'd be interested in painting a mural in the Nursery.

    It took a while to build up the courage and find the right time, but Soraya finally planned and created the mural this summer.

    She drew a sketch, researched how to paint a mural, and together we collected the supplies and spent a week at church. It was an excellent experience.

    First, we got the girl in the paint department in Lowe's to help us pick colours for the background and decide how much we needed, and then we went to Michael's and to our basement for the rest of our supplies. We used latex paint, and acrylics mixed with matte medium, large and small rollers, and a variety of brushes and sponges and black marker.

    The background was so pretty on its own!

    At church, Dianne got us a ladder and the overhead projector as well as some overhead transparencies, and opened the door for us a couple times a day for a week.

    We measured and taped and painted and waited. Waiting for layers to dry was time-consuming.

    Using the overhead projector was magical. Soraya simply traced her drawing lightly with a pencil as it was being projected on the wall. Well, drawing while standing on a ladder wasn't easy, but the method was simple.
    Using the overhead projector was magical.

    I was allowed to help with the background (you can see me here touching up the green a bit) and the second coats of animals. It was fun.

    Sometimes things looked strange at first.

    It was interesting to see how the parts came together as a whole. It took some patience, but was worth it. 
    When I first saw the finished lamb, how it was transformed by the final details, I was brought to tears by the miracle of it. 

    When the lamb got its features, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

    When the whole project was done, I nearly burst with pride. I literally jumped up and down. It was more beautiful than I had imagined. Each of the animals had its own personality and the colours were bright and perfect. 

    We cleaned up and put all the toys back in place, and the mural looked like it belonged there, like it was meant to be. I guess Rev. Heather knew what she was doing!

    The nursery mural.

    It's wonderful!

    I'm so proud of my Soraya's signature on her art on a wall at Trinity United Church in Newmarket!

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Love your singing neighbour. Love every dancing child.

    I read this blog post about singing that was recommended on a Facebook post. It's about the author's father's belief that he couldn't sing because he was kicked out of his church choir when he was young. The author said: "I think his church choir director confused worship with a concert. In her quest for perfection, she left in her wake a little boy who grew up to be a man afraid to open his mouth and sing."

    I've grumbled about this before: People being told by someone that they can't sing, and that stops them forever. So many people when asked to sing along at a campfire or around a piano at Christmas say "I can't sing." It's so sad! Very few people (there's a statistic: 4% or less I think) are actually tone deaf. The rest of us -96%- just need to be supported to go ahead and sing (and I would even encourage people with tone deafness to join in on a sing-along. It's that much fun.). If someone doesn't like the sound of your voice, that's their problem. Same with dancing. We're not talking careers, but enjoying the ways we can express ourselves. Don't steal the pleasure of singing or dancing from anyone. Watch what you say. Be kind. Love your singing neighbour. Love every dancing child.

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Current Executive 2013/2014

    the Executive of the York Region Community Choir 
    for the 2013/2014 Choir Year:

    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, finances, website and music library.The Executive is elected and the Reading Committee, Conductor and Accompanist are appointed. 

    Our President is Lauren Solar (laurensolar@gmail.com). She was VP last year, and is adopting the more responsible role this year. Simply put, Lauren is responsible for everything happening. 

    Our Vice-President is Heather Vickers (hvickers@rogers.com), who was President last year. She's taking on a more supportive role and will be there to help Lauren and anyone else on the executive when they need a hand.

    ** Please note:Sandra Winters (s_winters@bell.net) is not able to continue in her role as Public Relations Chair. If you need to contact us regarding advertising, or to book us for a concert, or just need some information, please speak to our VP, Heather Vickers, above, until we elect a new PR person. The PR role is to keep us connected to the community. Choristers, if you are interested in the PR position, let Lauren know. 

    Daphne Young (youngdc@rogers.com) is our Secretary/Treasurer, having taken over from Michele Horton. If you want to write us a cheque, make it out to York Region Community Choir, and Daphne will put it in our account. We accept cash too. Daphne will keep our paperwork in order, creating and maintaining records like the minutes of our meetings and accounting stuff. Michele will support Daphne and will continue to represent us when we share condolences and congratulations. 

    Trix Verge (trix.verge@gmail.comis our Music Librarian and Webmaster. 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. Trix is the one to go to for help using the website, and she makes sure that it's functioning properly. 

    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. They will be handling the waiting list. Debbie's had our coffee (and tea) equipment and supplies in her basement for many years. She buys good Decaf. 

    Heather Vickers, Teija Cumming and Enid Maize are the Reading Committee. They help choose music and order it from the publishers, shopping in person and on line. They are chosen for their ability to read music and knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses. 

    Renate Naghavi (That's me.) is the Conductor/Musical Director of the YRCC. The Conductor chooses a theme and selects music for each season, with the help of the Executive and the Reading Committee, and with input from the Accompanist. The Conductor teaches the music with the help of the Accompanist, and leads the choir in performances. 

    Anne Marie Vandekemp has been the Assistant Director, officially and unofficially for at least a decade. Since she is one of the original members of the choir, Anne Marie is consulted on everything from music to venues and managing member politics. Together with Heather Vickers, Anne Marie leads the small group rehearsals. 

    Sapphire Navaratnarajah is our Accompanist. She is a talented pianist who helps Renate teach the music and accompanies the choir in rehearsal and in performances. 

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Summer Concerts

    Last night Soraya, Victoria, and I went to a free outdoor concert at the East Gwillimbury Civic Centre (Leslie and Mt. Albert Rd). The band was Fleetwood Mix, a Fleetwood Mac cover band. I had forgotten what good music Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks made! Fleetwood Mix was a group of 5 excellent performers. They put on a very professional, passionate, fun show. We loved it! And, it was outdoors and free. Summer at its best.

    This past Sunday, we enjoyed the free concert at Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket. We hope to manage some more of the Newmarket Music in the Park concerts.

    Every Saturday there's music at Riverwalk Commons during the Farmer's Market and we've listened to some fantastic musicians there.

    You can go to YorkScene.com to find all kinds of things to do and they've got a page for all musical events. Here are a few links that you might want to go straight to:

     Newmarket's Music in the Park: free concerts every Wednesday and Sunday
    E.G.'s Music at Civic Square: concerts every other Tuesday.
    Unionville hosts the Markham Concert Band on Sunday nights

    We will just keep our lawn chairs, blankets, and bug spray in the car like our old soccer days.