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, 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)