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, February 26, 2013

Remembering Sylvia

February 26th, 2013 is a sad day for the York Region Community Choir. We lost a good friend, a beautiful and inspiring woman, talented singer, a long-time YRCC chorister with a distinctive voice, impish laugh, sparkling eyes, and great shoes! Sylvia Neal passed away this morning. 
We'll always remember her spectacular solos, when she was able to unleash her powerful voice. What a great gift and what talent! We'll also remember her great sense of humour and fun. We'd joke about her being a diva, but she was really very humble and a great team player. A proud Newfie, she was charming and funny, and often had a twinkle of mischief in her smile. We loved Sylvia's collection of fancy high-heeled shoes and remember her whenever Trix or Heather wear a special pair of heels. 
We were as proud as parents when Sylvia won the Regional Senior Star Competition in 2009 and went to the national finals! Our Sylvia! Every time our Sylvia sang, she made us proud. 
We will miss our Sylvia. 
We send out warm and loving thoughts and prayers to her family and other friends as we mourn with them.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Solo Songs for Spring

The 4 solos and duets for our Spring Concert will be:

For Good: Kristen and Todd

Home: Heather and Gerry

Angel: Bill

Wouldn't it be Loverly: Carol

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mon, Feb 18 Family Day rehearsal (and preview to the 25th)

On Monday, February 18th, Family Day Monday, we had a guest. Christian, a York University student came to learn about choirs like ours. His Choral Music professor is Karen Burke, of Toronto Mass Choir fame. Last year I went to her Power Up Conference. It was an excellent experience.

We continued with warm-ups to help us with volume.
1. We sang Wonderful World, first working on getting the Tenor and Bass voices to blend better in the middle section.
2. Blue Skies went well, even though I had to do one of the solos because key people were missing.
3. You'll Never Walk Alone is coming along nicely. We reviewed the section we learned starting at 27 and continued to 47.
4. Flying Free is beautiful! We learned parts up to J and sight-read the rest very nicely.
5. We reviewed page 4 and did both endings at 38 in From a Distance. The harmonies give me chills!
6. To show off, we sang Monday, Monday and You Raise Me Up.

Next Monday:
From a Distance (potential soloists come at 7:00)
I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing
Song for Unsung Heroes
You'll Never Walk Alone
Greatest Love

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Start thinking Spring?

I had to start thinking about Spring right after Christmas. I had to choose the songs to sing in June so that we could start learning them in January. I'm beginning to plan the concert now that I've heard from all the people who want to do solos. It's hard to plan in advance, and I find it difficult to do, but we always have to be looking a few steps ahead.

My elder daughter has to choose her courses for Grade 12 this weekend. It's not easy. She's got to think ahead to where she might go to University and what she might want to study so that she will be sure to have the right prerequisites. So, we're looking at University websites and thinking it would be a good idea to visit some over March Break. Next March Break will be too late. It's hard to think about choosing a University next year when she's only 16 and half-way through with Grade 11. She should also be thinking about a summer job now.

It's hard to think about spring and summer when it's snowing outside!

Gardeners are starting to think about spring. Count back from our frost-free date (in mid-May here) and you might need to order your seeds so you can start them indoors in March or April. If you want to plant a tree, you have to imagine what it will look like in 10 or 20 years to choose the right spot for it. It's hard to imagine a little tree in a pot growing to be as tall as your house and taking up half of your lawn.

If you think you might like to move in the spring, now is the time to put your house up for sale. You'll have noticed that For Sale signs are starting to pop up on your neighbours' lawns now. They're thinking ahead. Move in spring and you'll have the summer to get settled. You can have a great yard sale before you move. If you thought last summer was hot and it might be nice to have a pool, you can have a new house with a pool this summer. Think about it.

If you're thinking that this spring or summer would be a good time to move, contact my husband Harry now. He can help you plan things out.
Click here to see Harry's website.
Send him an email: harrynaghavi@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 11 at YRCC

Here's what you missed.
(BTW, there seem to be a number of you missing these days, and coming in late. I have heard from a few people that they've been sick or have had issues. Please keep in mind that if you have a scheduling issue, and can't come, let us know because there are people on the waiting list who would like to join and it's still early in the season.)

Warm-ups continue to focus on getting good support for better volume and sound quality.

1. We learned the oohs in Imagine, and looked at the different rhythm of "Imagine all" after the key change. Pay close attention to the rests in this song!
2. We started learning You'll Never Walk Alone at 27 where everyone sings in 4 parts.
3. We sang One Small Step with Trix and Jonathan doing the solos. Sounded good!
4. We started learning From a Distance at 18 where everyone comes in together in 4 parts. It's amazing. The sound we make and the blend of voices is just beautiful.
5. We sang Wild Mountain Thyme with Anne-Marie and Stanley doing the solos and it was very pretty. We paid special attention to the different rhythms of "...go. And we'll all..." on page 2 and page 4.

Next week:
Blue Skies
Flying Free
Greatest Love
You'll Never Walk Alone

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Monday, Feb. 4 (Birthday Eve)

Thank you for the nice surprise of coffee and cake and the wonderful card! The eve of my birthday was never better spent, I'm sure.

We had fun warm-ups with lots of groovy belly-dancing or hula-dancing moves and synchronized hip swinging while singing, and bouncing while singing. Did it help us to sing louder and stronger? Not sure. I'll continue to look for new ways to help us to sing using our whole bodies. In the meantime, don't do that exercise while your teenagers are watching. You can do it in private for your spouses ;)

We started lots of new songs:

1. Flying Free. It's so pretty! We went to F and learned that section, and then found that we could sight read the rest better.

2. Wild Mountain Thyme. Also pretty! It's a bit confusing to read and know how to manage the repeat, but the soloists will have to worry about it and the rest of us will follow them :) Mona and Stanley did the solos and sounded great. There are others who are interested in these solos, so we'll try someone else out next week (Daphne and Michael?)* I'm thinking that the addition of some guitar plucking and strumming would be nice here.

3. You'll Never Walk Alone. The piano part is awesome! There are all kinds of surprises and for starters we just looked at the timing of the triplets compared to the straight eighths (for example, at 19 and 20).

4. Imagine is excellent and we did well sight reading. There are some tricky rhythms and the timing of rests is important so that we come in together and stop together. It's a bit confusing at the beginning. The solo will continue at 17 this time, with Sopranos doing the oohs with the Altos. Tenors and Basses also have oohs.

5. The Greatest Love is pretty and easy! The beginning is going to be a solo. The whole first page. Louisa sang it for us, and it was good.

* I'm finding it challenging to assign the solos this time. I won't forget to assign back-ups this time, so maybe that's got me doing more thinking about it than last time. Thank you to all the people who've come forward willing to do solos! And, thanks for your patience.

Looking ahead to next week: 
From a Distance
One Small Step
Wild Mountain Thyme
You'll Never Walk Alone