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!

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!