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 25, 2014

Time Signatures With 6 Beats

Robin asked a good question at rehearsal last night. She wanted to know about the time signature for Banks of Newfoundland. How does it work?

The Banks of Newfoundland is in 6/8 time. That means that there are 6 counts in each bar and 8th notes count as one beat. When you count, you count 123,456. I conduct it in 2.

I showed you how 6 counts are supposed to be conducted, and it's just too messy. (Even when a song is slower, I don't use it. I'll do two sets of 3.) Also, the rocking boat feel of the song is the result of the emphasis on beats 1 and 4. Starting your ahs on beat 4 pushes the boat into the water. The soaring of the birds works the same way. I give you beats 1 and 4, and most of the time that's all you need.

In this sample diagram, you'll see what you mostly have in Banks of Newfoundland in the third bar, 2 dotted quarter notes. ( 1 quarter = 2 eighths, a dot adds half of the note value, so 2+1=3 beats, and 3+3=6: math!)

We have an example of  a 6-beat bar in Spacious Firmament too. Spacious Firmament switches between 4/4 and 6/4 time.

Look at section C on page 3. At the top of page 3, the time signature changed to 6/4. The second bar of C is in 4/4 and then it goes back and forth between 4/4 and 6/4 in that section.  

In 6/4 time, there are 6 counts, and quarter notes count as 1 beat. That works well with the 4/4 time where the bar has 4 quarter notes. So, a quarter note always gets one count. An eighth is half of a quarter (count: 1and 2and 3and 4and). A half note is equal to 2 quarters so it gets 2 beats. A whole note gets 4.  It's just the length of the bars that are different. Some have 4 beats and some have 6. Here, the song is slow and I conduct the 6/4 bars as 2 sets of 3. So, beat 4 is a down beat, and you get each beat counted out. 

Here's a simple review of 4/4 time showing the values of the quarter, half and whole notes. 

With 6/8 time, you just keep counting to 6. If you want one note to last a whole bar, it'll be a dotted whole note. 1 whole = 4 quarters, plus the dot adds half the value of the note, so 4+2=6. You'll see one in the last bar of Spacious Firmament. 

Feb.24 Review, and Preview to March 3rd.

After a weekend of Olympic excitement and Canadian national pride, we started our rehearsal off with our beautiful O Canada, a cappella. It's always great. Tenor and Bass could be stronger. But, we were missing some people.

We continued with They All Call it Canada, But I Call it Home, which Sapphire had just finished recording for the website. I still have that chorus ear-worming in my head. We learned pages 8&9, so we can now sing most of the song, since that part repeats. Take note of the Sign at the top of page 8, when we get to the D.S. al Coda, that's the spot we go back to.

We continued with In My Life at page 8. This next section is the dramatic version of the melody. The timing is really different and the accompaniment doesn't help us. We're ready to learn the ending! Can't wait!

The Banks of Newfoundland is now whole. We got the timing of the transition on page 3 (Birds Go) and at the bottom of page 5 (the ahs before the melody). We reviewed the ahs on page 5 too, and discussed the time signature. I'll write a post on it.

Nella Fantasia needs more review than I expected (ATB ahs), but it's pretty good. I love how it sounds with Mary Ellen singing the first verse as a solo! Sopranos don't come in until the top of page 7, but then you get lots of melody after that. Tenors and Basses please review this song. You can use both Sapphire's and Richard's recordings. Richard's are great because he sings your part, and with Sapphire's you get the key change information you need from the accompaniment.

Song for the Mira: we didn't get a chance to sing it, but it's going on line soon. We walked through who's singing what (see last week's post for solo assignments). One change that I'm considering is having solo 2 going all the way to solo 3. The choir doesn't come in until page 8. Which is where we were hoping to start today.

Edelweiss: this small group met after for a short run-through. Take note of who starts where and dynamics in general. The ending is big and loud. Some copies say soft.

Next Week, March 3rd

Edelweiss will meet at 6:30 
(This Land is Your Land will meet the following week, March 10)
Northwest Passage will meet at break. We could use a few more voices on this one. This group will meet at 6:30 on March 17.
Small Groups: check the calendar for your rehearsal times. You might need to plan extra rehearsals outside of Monday nights. 

  1. Song for the Mira, pg 8-10
  2. In My Life, ending
  3. They All Call it Canada, beginning
  4. Shenandoah, review
  5. Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, review

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Blah Music: Stoke the Sadness

I'm falling deep into the February Blahs today.

The restless sleep from the storm last night is probably a big factor, the weather for sure is contributing, all the moaning and complaining is getting to me, I'm uninspired, and I'm just really dragging myself around.

So what does a girl do when she's feeling down? She cranks up the sad tunes.

My first 2 choices for today's soundtrack were Lord I Need You, and Say Something. I wrote about Say Something on my Musical Empathy blog because it's just that good. It gets me crying like nothing. Here's a link to that blog post. 

Lord I Need You is good for some eye cleansing too. "Without You, I fall apart" are perfect lyrics for falling apart. I think the song is supposed to inspire you to pull it together, but it just has the opposite effect on me. I guess I just stop listening to the words after that :-)

Here it is, if you want to try it yourself.

I'll switch over to some happy music before the kids come home from school. I've already got a Mozart playlist ready for a transition. I can get myself out of the blues, these February blahs, with music. But, for now, I'm letting music stoke the sadness. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Family Day rehearsal, and looking ahead to Feb. 24

Family Day was wonderful! We had delicious treats, but we're going to have to get a new coffee maker. Our old one decided to retire last night. Debbie will also buy us a can opener ;-)

We sang Jamaica Farewell to give ourselves a moment of escape. Lots of people remembered it and it sounded pretty good!

We finished the Hockey Song. It's going to be great! What a fun song!

We started They All Call it Canada at page 6. We learned the whole chorus and it was beautiful. Some of us remembered it from Brownies, Guides, or Scouts.

We started Song for the Mira, but just did a read-through and tried out some of the soloists and back-ups. It's another river song. The Mira is a river in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, to be precise. The song is very well-known and had been done by lots of famous Canadians. Look it up on YouTube.

We continued with In My Life, singing all the way through to the bottom of page 7!

The small group doing Edelweiss stayed behind to sing it once through. Again, lots of people remembered it and it's a great arrangement that people are going to love.

Next week:

6:30 Sapphire Recording

They All Call it Canada we'll start building on that chorus
Song for the Mira start learning at page 8
In My Life next section
Banks of Newfoundland see last week (we switched Jamaica in for it this week)
Nella Fantasia  make it our own

We'll have Edelweiss stay late again, but not too late. Maybe just to point out a few things and sing it once. I don't think it'll take too long to learn that one.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Monday, February 10th review and preview to Monday, February 17th, Family Day Rehearsal

Monday Feb.10

Aurora Resthaven went well- after we all got in and down to the activity room! Wow, was that room decorated! It was a fun event, and we were so happy to sing for and with that big crowd!

While some of us were performing, the rest of us were singing the Hockey Song and Shenandoah. After break, when we were all together, we finished Shenandoah, reviewed the beginning of The Banks of Newfoundland, sang it all the way through (it was pretty good!), and started In My Life (we just learned up to 13, but sang all the way through).

Feb. 17 Family Day (nobody has to come early)

Banks of Newfoundland: we'll focus on the transitions between sections, now that we know how each section goes.
The Hockey Song: we'll put it all together
In My Life: we will continue with 13-22 and hopefully sing up to the end of page 7
They Call it Canada: we will do a read-through
Song for the Mira: we will do a read-through and think about who can do the solos
Song for the Mira Solos:
1 and 6 intro and conclusion (Janet, Trix)?
2 boys teasing girls (Tracey, Louisa, Kit)?
3 bonfires (Anne Marie, Daphne)?
4. witches and werewolves (Lauren, Debbie)?

***Don't forget to share some love with your choir friends past and present for Valentine's Day. You can send each other emails via our website. Test it out.

We'll have treats and coffee for Family Day with our choir family :-)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review for Monday Feb 3 and looking ahead to Feb 10

Monday, February 3

1. All the Little Rivers: section E
2. Banks of Newfoundland: p3-4 by, p5 ahs, end
3. Hockey Song: section A, B
4. Shenandoah: beginning, p5/6
5. In My Life: first time sight-read

Monday, February 10

Small Group going to Aurora Resthaven for Valentine Concert (arr.6:45, sing 7-8, go to choir)
We're singing: Magic of Winter, Welcome Winter, You'll Never Walk Alone, Hallelujah, You Raise Me Up and sing-along songs from our songbooks.

All others rehearse with Sapphire and Anne-Marie starting at 7:30 as usual.

1. All the Little Rivers: review
2. Hockey Song: section C, E, G
3. Shenandoah: p6/7
4. In My Life: 5-13 (22 if there's time)
5. Banks of Newfoundland: beginning oohs, linking parts

Turned 50 today!

Tiara says 50 fabulous!
Snow Day
so I have my girls all day
Long-stemmed roses from my husband.