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 30, 2014

Oct 27 YRCC Rehearsal and Preview to Nov 3

Oct 27
6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts
6:50 Breath of Heaven

Warm-up included being loud. We yelled, carefully and with lots of air to support us, "Hey! That's my car!" It was fun :-)

We had some announcements: We've been asked to sing at a Probus event. Christmas theme and sing-alongs. It's over the lunch hour on a Thursday.
Keep your eyes on the Events page on the website. There will be things to sign up for. Christmas season singing is so much fun. Make sure you participate in some of the upcoming performances!

1. They All Call it Canada has to be strong throughout, so we're adding everyone to the Tenor/Bass solo at page 10. Everyone sings the melody together in unison. Make sure the words are strong and clear. Enunciate really well.

2. Bleak Midwinter is awesome! We did really well transitioning from the solos to the whole choir. Now that we know our parts, we need to work on dynamics. There's quite a bit of movement in the volume.

3. O Holy Night is amazing! You guys are so good! We reviewed the oohs and aahs and they're really very good already. We sang through the whole thing with the soloists.

4. Somewhere A Child is Sleeping is beautiful with Bill singing the solo at the beginning!

5. You'll Never Walk Alone was stunning, as usual.

6. We decided not to sing Button Up Your Overcoat last so that we don't have it in our heads all week. So, we sang Magic of Winter instead. It was perfect! Just writing BUYO has got it playing in my head now! It's such a sticky melody!

Nov 3- no small groups
6:30 Sapphire recording
7:00 Kristen

  1. Button Up Your Overcoat
  2. Hockey Song
  3. Bleak Midwinter
  4. O Holy Night
  5. On Eagle's Wings
  6. We Rise Again
Sorry, this is late. I've been really tired after work. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mon Oct 20 and Mon Oct 27 YRCC Rehearsals

Mon. Oct. 20
Christmas in Our Hearts met at 6:30 and got to the end. It's beautiful!
Warm-ups included massages.

  1. Welcome Winter: we did really well! We remembered to enunciate and sing the slipping and sliding parts clearly and correctly. We remembered to sing softer to hear the tenor/bass section.
  2. Bleak Midwinter: Awesome! We only need to work on timing between the solo and choir parts and dynamics. We got through the whole thing!
  3. O Holy Night: Fantastic! We learned all the ahs (actually written mostly as hm, but all oo). They weren't bad at all, but we need to do them a few times to feel comfortable. We have lots of time! We got through the whole song!!! It was a bit too fast, but we did it!
  4. You Raise Me Up with Stanley singing the first verse is just amazing! We had to hold back our tears instead of holding back our voices. Perfect!
  5. Button Up Your Overcoat: Trix did all the goofy bits in the soprano line. We fixed the subway problem! We're not going to hold the awful grating sound. We jump off the subway, and that way we can hear the tenor/bass part!
At break, we've been hearing Robyn playing flute, rehearsing with Sapphire. They, along with Heather on French horn, will play the Olympic Fanfare and Theme as a processional. We walk in like we're entering the Olympic Opening Ceremonies! And then, we sing "This is my country; this is my land, my own Canadian land. This is my home..." Should be really special!

Mon. Oct. 27 (Election night)
We're having treats and coffee at break
Christmas in our Hearts 6:30
Breath of Heaven 6:50
  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • Bleak Midwinter
  • O Holy Night
  • Somewhere A Child (Bill)
  • You'll Never Walk Alone
  • They All Call it Canada

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Monday Rehearsal and preview to next week

We had a productive rehearsal on Thanksgiving Monday! It was so good, we were able to finish early, at 9:00. It was very nice to have Jonathan singing with us :-)

We started off with a head-massage warm-up and the tongue twister: A knapsack strap, the strap of a knapsack. We warmed up our voices with ng.

Baby it's Cold Outside was excellent. We reviewed the harmony bits and the end. We'll have to go over them with everyone else too. Just need to remember them.

Button Up Your Overcoat was also excellent. We just have the same messy spot as last time: that's on the subway. Grrr. We'll go over that a gazillion times, I'm sure. Something for First Sopranos to keep in mind: the ending is short and light. Those of you who are singing the First Soprano part, stay light and crisp at the end on those high notes: you belong to me! Altos and all Sopranos, remember to hold back and not sing too loud whenever the tenors are singing melody, which is a lot of the time. And, at the end they have a cool part which needs to be heard.

Bleak Midwinter: we went ahead to the last page! It's not bad, very much like the second page which we learned last time. The ending is cool and special! You can hear your part online on our website!

O  Holy Night: we went ahead to the next section where we're in 3-part harmony after Fall on your knees/ the chorus, Truly he taught us... Next week we start the ahs! This is online too so you can continue to learn your part at home.

On Eagle's Wings was awesome as usual. We didn't review those tricky Alto bits. Next time.

Hockey Song: not the same without Gerry, but still fun. Don't forget to be strong and short on Great! Wayne! Gretsky!

Monday, October 20th

6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts

  1. Button Up Your Overcoat
  2. In the Bleak Midwinter
  3. O Holy Night
  4. They All Call it Canada
  5. Welcome, Welcome Winter
  6. You Raise Me Up

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, October 6th Review and Preview of Thanksgiving Monday's Rehearsal

Monday, Oct. 6

The Christmas in Our Hearts small group met at 6:30 and made excellent progress on their first rehearsal!
Nobody meets next week, but this group will meet again the following week, Oct. 20th. The accompaniment recording is now online :-)

Warm-ups included stretches, breathing and "scooby-doos"

Blue Skies warmed us up, on a dark and rainy night; it was just what we needed. I forgot about adding the "jazz hands" ending. At the end, on the word "on", everyone does a jazz hand with their right hands. Don't forget, Sopranos snap at the beginning and everyone snaps during the solos in the middle.

Button Up Your Overcoat is done! Well, we got to the end. It will take some review, but I'm very happy with the work we did! We learned everything from page 9 to the end. Be sure to pay attention to the dynamics (fff, mp hushed, etc)! It's very dramatic. Oh! I forgot to decide what to do about the spoken parts in the soprano line. And, I meant to do that to announce it as a solo. That will have to be Trix, of course, and Carol can back her up.

We started In the Bleak Midwinter and learned the whole second page (4). We did a sight-reading through the whole song, and some of you remember it very well from a few years ago! It's really quite difficult, but very rewarding. It's beautiful. The timing is hard, as every part has its own special timing. I make every beat clear and try to give you in-between bits too (hair). But, you have to know which beat is yours. The recordings are up, so you can review your part. Yay! 

O Holy Night is similarly difficult and also very, very rewarding. We had gone through the whole piece a while ago, so we went straight to bar 60, "Fall on your knees". It's exceptionally powerful. I especially love singing "His power and glory" because I really feel the power and the glory in the music! Our arrangement is spectacular!

Things to note (really; note them on your music in pencil):
Altos at bar 68 have a rest on the +of 4, under the Soprano note for "di". You might want to scratch out that Soprano note, so it doesn't bother you.
SAB at bar 71 sing "vi-ine-O-night" So, on the + of 4, it's kind of like "no-night"
Altos at bar 72 your "night" moves up on beat 1 of bar 73. Cool.
Sopranos, at the top of the page at bars 78 and 79, it says "sing cues 2nd time". Everyone can ignore them and just sing the regular part, except for Mary Ellen who will sing those cues the 2nd time as a descant part.
SAB bar 80 and bar 81: the cues are for the words of the second chorus that starts "Christ is the Lord" at 60. Here, there's an extra syllable that needs a note. For the first chorus, we sing "night" on beat 1 of bar 80 and hold it briefly until "O" on beat 1 of bar 81 (ignoring the cues). For the second chorus, we sing the cues: the word ever divides: "e" on beat 1 of bar 80 and "ver" very quickly just before "mo" on beat 1 of 81. The word "more" also divides into two notes. So it's kind of like, e--vermo--or proclaim. Don't worry; we'll review all of this (probably a few times).

Welcome, Welcome Winter was fabulous, but not perfect. That's okay. It was nearly perfect. Here's what you need to do: Look at the words in bars 46-52 and 83-84. They need to be clear and the timing has to be crisp and together. Don't add any syllables, and don't hesitate on the words and smush them up (technical music term?). If you do nothing else, read the words and get them clear and confident. The recordings for this are online. You can review your part.

Thanksgiving Monday, October 13th

Nobody has to be there early. Set-up will be at 7:15.

  1. Baby it's Cold Outside
  2. Button Up Your Overcoat
  3. Hockey Song
  4. In the Bleak Midwinter
  5. O Holy Night
  6. On Eagle's Wings

Solos Announced

Yesterday, I announced all the solos.
Here they are:

Blue Skies: 1. Heather/ Trix 2. Janet/ Lauren
Button Up Your Overcoat (forgot to announce): Trix/Carol
Hockey Song: Gerry
In the Bleak Midwinter: Todd/Kristen
O Holy Night:1. Mary Ellen/Heather 2. Debbie/Cathy 3. Robyn/Tracey
Somewhere a Child is Sleeping: Bill/Mary Ellen
We Rise Again: Kristen/Heather
You Raise Me Up: Stanley/Bill

Let it Go: Kristen
River: Trix
Winter Song: Heather and Teija
Christmas Medley: Janet, Kevin, and Kevin
Huron Carol: Lauren, Mona, Roxanne, Stanley

Thank you to everyone who bravely offered to sing solos! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review of Monday, Sept. 29th, and preview of Monday, Oct. 6th

Monday, September 29th

I was hoping for a cold night, but we had a beautiful day and it was still warm in the evening. I had planned so much wintry stuff and our surprise was that we sang Let it Go from Frozen! It's perfect for our theme: We Are Winter: Survive, Celebrate, Sing!

Our solo songs will be Let it Go, sung by Kristen, River, sung by Trix, Winter Song, a duet, with Teija and Heather, and the Huron Carol, a quartet.

Our first small group, Breath of Heaven, met at 6:30 for the second time and they are doing really well, which I expected. It's an especially beautiful song that we've sung before and so many in the group remembered it very well!

Our warm-ups included roller coasters: oooooeeeeeeooooo and we let all the stress of the day go with Let it Go!

Baby it's Cold Outside was so good, we could have performed it for an audience! The key was to get the altos and sopranos to sing softer so that we could hear the tenors and basses. Everyone was excellent with when to hold their notes and when to stop. The harmony parts are really pretty!

We sang the Magic of Winter and it was beautiful! The key, again, was to have the sopranos and altos softer, especially at the beginning, to balance with the tenors and basses. There's the same kind of back-and-forth and overlapping.

We Rise Again: we went over the first soprano parts for each section. They're all different. The last one is the simplest, even though it has some of the highest notes, and there are some lower notes where you expect high ones to be.  Be careful! The tenors and basses have a beautiful part at the first chorus. We reviewed their parts and it was awesome. Make sure you can hear them in good balance with the melody in the alto and second soprano parts, and try to keep the first soprano part a bit softer too. I'm very happy with how much this song has improved!

Welcome, Welcome Winter impressed me! There was a fair amount of stress about this one, but it's very strong. The first time through, it was a bit messy and we just tried again and fixed most of the issues! We reviewed bars 15-18 and 52-53 where it's not easy to remember who sings what. Mark your part with pencil, and maybe scratch out the part that you don't sing. When the sopranos and altos are holding a note and the tenors and basses are singing "Welcome, welcome" under them, make sure you can hear the tenor and bass part.

We continued with the next section of Button Up Your Overcoat, the strident "that's on the subway" and the fun "Don't eat fat food" part (bars 55-63). The key with the word subway is to be confident with your part and to stick to it. You might feel the need to adjust your note to sound nicer, but it's supposed to sound harsh. "Stay on your rail."

Monday, October 6th

6:30 Christmas in Our Hearts

  1. Baby it's Cold Outside
  2. Blue Skies
  3. In the Bleak Midwinter (soloist: Todd)
  4. O Holy Night (soloists TBD)
  5. Welcome, Welcome Winter