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, March 28, 2013

Sharps, Flats and Naturals

Ooh. This is good. You can watch this video and I don't have to write anything about sharps and flats. It's all here, and very clearly explained.
I'll keep a look-out for good examples in our music as we sing.

Here's a simple visual of how the accidentals work, with flats.

The video doesn't explain key signatures, but that's easy. Any sharps or flats in a key signature apply to all of those notes in a song, in every octave, unless marked by an accidental. So, in the example below, every F C and G will be sharp.
Here, there's a key signature with F# and C#. Notice the C in the second bar is natural. The one right next to  it will be natural too. The C an octave down, in bar 3 is also marked natural, the one in the same bar will also be natural. The first C in bar 4 is sharp, because it's a new bar and the key signature comes back into effect. The following C is marked natural to cancel that sharp.

March 25

Lauren gave us a theory lesson on sharps, flats, and naturals, key signatures and accidentals.
I'll be writing up something on it too.
Basically, it's important to know about accidentals (the ones you see in the middle of the song) that changing something to # sharp makes it higher by a semitone, and changing something to a b flat makes it lower by a semitone. The natural sign  cancels a sharp or flat, so you could be going down or up, depending on what you're cancelling.

We warmed up with Hallelujah. Gerry was sick so Michael sang the first solo and Kit sang the second. It was pretty :)
We learned the alto part on page 3 of Wild Mountain Thyme. Mary Ellen was away, so Anne Marie sang the first solo and Jonathan sang the second. Both were lovely. We tried to stay soft for the first 2 verses and get loud at page 3 and really loud at page 4.
We made a good dent in All the Little Rivers. We sang the river part, D, which you get to sing 3 times because it's the same as G.
We sang You'll Never Walk Alone, just to review, and discovered that we need to go over the parts we learned last week. But, well do that another time because now we have to work on Imagine for April 27th instead. Another choir is singing You'll Never Walk Alone :(

So, we sang Imagine and next week we'll work on Imagine, especially the ending.

We will also sing Wonderful World to keep it beautiful.
We will sing I'll Be There For You to see how much we remember.
We'll continue learning All the Little Rivers.
We'll look at the Handel Chorus, so we're not totally lost next Saturday ;)
( if you can, sing along with Richard's recordings)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Classical Music: It's really good for you!

I wrote a blog post on an article I read about 15 of the positive effects of classical music for my Musical Empathy Blog. I believe that music has many more benefits than anyone can prove scientifically. Nevertheless, it's good to have some serious support for loving music!

This visual from the article is really nice!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tequila can help you sing!

Yup! Tequila, "Removes shyness and enhances voice." I got it off of a Facebook post. It must be true ;)

They always say alcohol is bad for singers, like cigarettes.

It's certainly not a good idea to get drunk and then try to perform. We've seen a few rock stars try that and it's not pretty. But, one regular drink can be just the thing to reduce your inhibitions, and help you to sing out with feeling.

I used to tell my adult ESL students that a shot of something strong before class would probably help them to  loosen up and speak English better. When I was studying Linguistics at York University, I read about a study   that measured the relationship between alcohol consumption and learning a language. They gave people different amounts of alcohol and then measured their performance in a second language, and the optimal amount was 1 1/2 ounces, an average shot.

I bet that would work for singing too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 18- snowy day

 We started with a special warm-up: massages and then a blessing circle. We wished ourselves, our friends and our choir love, peace and safety.

1 We learned the ending of Flying Free, the last page.
2. We also learned the ending of You'll Never Walk Alone. 71-end
3.We sang Wild Mountain Thyme, with guitar accompaniment added and with Mary-Ellen and Jonathan doing the solos. Wow. I love their voices ♥

Next Monday:
Rivers (preview the first section up to D-before the naming of the rivers- and say all the words in time pronouncing clearly)
Wild Mt. Thyme ( look at the second ending which leads to a key change. Tenors and Basses, review your parts)
From a Distance (we'll just review what we know)
You'll Never Walk (ditto)
Hallelujah (review with new soloists: Gerry and Kit)  

We had coffee and cookies at break and decided to leave early because the weather was messy and the roads were slippery. I hope our blessings of safety helped.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's go to New Zealand!

Air New Zealand has the best videos! Watch this.
You can go to this website for background information on the video.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Monday, March 11 (March Break)

It was good to see so many of you on Monday during the March Break. We got lots of good work done.
Here's what we did.
1. Get Happy- entrance and Soprano entrances, and the timing at 89, especially "river"
2. Handel Chorus- first page
3.You'll Never Walk Alone 49-65 never, never, never ♥
4. Flying Free- review

We talked about the Aurora 150th Anniversary Celebration on April 27th.
We'll be singing:
One Voice
Get Happy
You'll Never Walk Alone(another choir is singing it)
Wonderful World

With the mass choir (7 choirs), we'll sing All the Little Rivers and the Handel Chorus: Ye Boundless Realms of Glory. There will be rehearsals on the 3 Saturdays before the concert in the afternoon at the Seniors' Centre in Aurora. Go to the Calendar for a map and times.

We started working on the Handel Chorus. It's like a canon, where the melody winds itself through all the parts at different times. I suggest you listen to the sound clip that Trix has posted on our website and try to pick out your part. Sapphire and I will get together next Thursday to make our own recordings, so they won't be available for a while.

Next week, we'll have a coffee break with treats and we'll sing:
Flying Free
Handel Chorus  We'll start with All the Little Rivers instead.
You'll Never Walk Alone

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Music Solos Assigned

Spring Music Solos

Blue Skies
Lauren at 37(b/u: Trix)
Tracey at 45(b/u: Janet)

From a Distance
Jane: at 6 and 26 (b/u: Darlene)
Daphne: joins the alto for a duet at pick-up to 10 and 30 (b/u: Dianne)
Greatest Love
Louisa: First page (b/u: Darlene)

Gerry: beginning (b/u: Michael)
Kitat 16(b/u: Heather)

I’d like to Teach the World to Sing
Debbie: at 9 (b/u: Lauren)
Michael: at 17(b/u: Stanley)

Janet: at 5(b/u: Heather)

One Small Step
Trix: at 5 and 75 (b/u: Kristen)
Kevin: at 10 (b/u: Jonathan)

One Voice
Heather (b/u:  Kristen)
Stanley (b/u: Michael)
Wild Mountain Thyme 
Mary Ellenat 5, first verse (b/u: Anne Marie)
Jonathan at 5, second verse (b/u: Stanley)
Song for the Unsung Hero Descant
Mary Ellen

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

1. O Canada: we reviewed the Tenor and Bass Parts at "With glowing hearts we see thee rise", making sure that "glowing" is on beats 1 and 2.
2. From A Distance: 52- the end and the beginning. We did the oohs and they're pretty and not too hard. We're almost done.
3. We had an early break, and after break talked about Sylvia's funeral. Enid read her tribute, which was beautiful and perfect.
4. We started On Eagles Wings, sight-reading through once and learning the main part, on page 4, starting at the pick-up to bar 25.
5. You'll Never Walk Alone: We reviewed the beginning, and it's really cool.
6. We enjoyed singing One Voice before going our separate ways.

The second small group, Lean On Me, started after choir. The group is being lead by Janet and the Kevins, and the sign-up quickly filled up online. Next Monday, we meet at 6:30, but after that we'll meet after choir.

Watch out for further small group sign-ups on our website. The third small group, Together Wherever We Go is set to form, and will start meeting before choir after March Break.

Next Monday, March 11:
We're starting the Handel Chorus (Ye Boundless Realms of Joy), so have a look at it if you can. It's quite short, but intense.
Flying Free
Get Happy
You'll Never Walk Alone

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We're happier because we're in a choir

We know this already, but it's nice to hear it yet again.  Choir makes us happy.
I like how it says that we have a built-in "stress-free zone". It's true. When we're learning a song and singing it well, there's no room for the rest of our lives. All the stress has to turn off for a little while. 
This is from the My Pop Choir website, on their Comments and FAQ page. 
Here’s what Julie Layton on Discovery Channel’s Fit & Health program said about the magic of singing together:
Some of the greatest connections between singing and happiness are more mental than physical. They’re harder to measure, but just as significant.
Choral singers need to concentrate on their music and technique throughout the singing process, and it’s hard to worry about things like work or money or family problems when you’re actively concentrating on something else. So choral singers tend to have a built-in “stress-free zone.” Learning is also part of the process — learning new songs, new harmonies, new methods of keeping tempo. Learning has long been known to keep brains active and fend off depression, especially in older people.
The question remains, though — why choral singing specifically? Concentration and deep breathing can happen in a recording studio, or in the privacy of your own home.
It’s because some of the most important ties between singing and happiness are social ones. The support system of being part of a group, and the commitment to that group that gets people out of the house and into the chorus every week — these are benefits that are specific to group singing. And they seem to be a big component of why choral singers tend to be happier than the rest of us. The feelings of belonging to a group, of being needed by the other members of that group (“We can’t do this one without our alto!”), go a long way toward combating the loneliness that often comes along with being human in modern times.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Musical Terms: Italian and Experience

Musical Terms - Why Are They All in Italian?

This conversation on a CBC Radio Sunday Show, called "Sunday School" is about musical terms like legato and staccato, and why they're in Italian, and what they do. It's fairly simple, but a good and entertaining introduction to what those little Italian words on your music mean. (you can also click on this link to hear the show)

The choir conductor being interviewed is patient with the interviewer and doesn't correct him too much when he's trying to show what legato and staccato mean. He seems to think that staccato should be fast and legato slow, but they're not about tempo. Legato means linked, so the notes have to flow from one to the other without a pause, like they're attached to each other. Staccato is the opposite, the notes are detached. It really helps to go back to the meaning of the words in Italian.

This "Sunday School" lesson does show that it's best to have experience with what the terms mean so that you can use them. You need to hear what they do and actually do what they do a few times before you can read them easily. Musical notation is not necessarily easier if you understand Italian. You still need to experience the translation from notation to music. This is why it's good to have music lessons.