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, June 3, 2014

Truly Our Very Best Performances: Seniors' Homes

We had another fantastic evening singing with seniors last night! What a great show! We all had fun and did a great job.

It's so much more relaxing singing for seniors in their homes! The casual feel of having the audience right there, only an arm's length away, in armchairs in the activity room or main lounge of the seniors' residence takes away a lot of our performance panic. The other thing is that we know our music pretty well by now, having had "the big test" at our formal concert. So, we sound really good!

I like to have fun with the audience and start talking to them right away. I introduce every song and I try to get the audience to laugh. At our formal concerts, I speak very little and don't comment on every song, but group songs into themes, letting the songs speak for themselves.

We do our songs, and we do them really well, since we're relaxed and the audience is smiling and friendly. Then, we pass around duotangs with a selection of sing-along songs from "Sentimental Journey Down Memory Lane," a publication by the Ontario Society of Senior Citizens' Organizations. Here's where we get really silly. I always make the same jokes and we always groan at them, while the seniors always laugh. We sing out loud, making up harmonies and fancy endings as we go, and the seniors sing along. I often walk through the crowd and encourage people. How wonderful to see tired old faces open up and shine and old bodies move to the music! Yesterday, there was a man conducting along with me in his own style, sometimes getting out of his seat.

The very best thing about singing with seniors is when they stop us as we're leaving to thank us. Sometimes they have cool stories to tell. Often, something we've sung has awakened a memory for them. Yesterday, a woman shuffled up to me with her walker, her eyes "legally blind," she said, to tell me that our songs from Nova Scotia (Farewell to Nova Scotia and Song for the Mira) reminded her her youth spent in Nova Scotia and of the time during WWII when she was a code breaker there. Cool! What a great feeling to bring someone back to a time when they were young and vibrant! How precious to see them vibrant again!

These are our best concerts, and they're the shortest and simplest. When they thank us at the end, we always say, "It was truly our pleasure. Thank you, for inviting us into your home to sing with you."