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, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23rd's YRCC Rehearsal

Mon. Nov. 23

Bowie and Bing met at 6:45 and were super! Those male voices are so special! Thanks for sharing your talents, guys!

Warm-ups included marching and clapping to get you in a following mood. Volume was another focus.

We had a bunch of guests, people in search of a choir to join. They will probably be signing up online and hoping that they'll get a call in January. Be sure to let us know if you can't make it back after the holidays so that we have a good idea of how many new folks can start.

1. We sang You'll Never Walk Alone to show off. It was amazing, as usual. Love that beautiful arrangement, and you do it very well!

2. Shine Hanukkah is better! We added some dynamics: during the Shine Hanukkah part, where we repeat that chorus 4x, we build up to the third one, and then get quiet for the 4th, fading to a decrescendo before the next section which is soft. Also, the descant part at the end is better now that we have all the first sopranos and helpers on the top part. We don't need that extra harmony. Problem solved. They came in on beat one!

3. 3 Folk Carols is fantastic! Maybe take some time to review your doo-doos. Remember to give the ending a lot of energy and volume!

4. Another show off piece: O Holy Night. I was disappointed to hear a bunch of sopranos mess up the O night divine on page 8. Remember that O is on beat one. You need to lean on it.

5. After break, we tried out the sing-along pieces, O Christmas Tree and The Twelve Days of Christmas. We're going to sing up to 6th and then skip to 12. I think our audience will have fun singing these less common carols. You'll get the words in the program. Feel free to add harmonies if the spirit moves you.

6. 12 Days After Christmas is very good. If we slow it down a bit, it's easier to catch the words, but continue to make every effort to enunciate clearly, especially on the ends of words, final consonants.
If you have time, sing with your part on line.

At break, Trix sang a very groovy Santa Baby using a feather boa as inspiration. Coventry Carol did a great job once they got the hang of blending. Dynamics are much better! Teija and Heather sang Home for us, one of my favourites.

Monday, November 30 at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora

All small groups should try to come early next week. We have the church starting at 6:00, so 6:00, 6:15, 6:30 gather your group, and get your instruments in place.

All choristers must be there by 7:15. We want to start the run-through at 7:30. Be prepared to stay late. We often go until close to 10:00.

The order is on line, in the Members section, under Concert Order. Have your binders ready. Use place holders where there are songs that you're not singing.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nov.16 YRCC Rehearsal Review

Monday, Nov. 16

Bowie and Bing met at 6:45 The recordings are up on the website now, but you'll have to suffer with my voice singing the parts, and up an octave. It's better than nothing. Sing with me :-)

Breath of Heaven sang at break; also Anna and Trix had a go at their solos at break.

Warm-ups included very soft sounds. mmm and looo and variations in volume and tempo

1. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is excellent

2. 12 Days After Christmas: we reviewed page 10 to the end and and sections E and F. It's getting really good. We've slowed it down to make it easier to understand the words.

3. 3 Folk Carols: We did really well without Sapphire's help on the a cappella parts! The soloists are awesome, and with a little review, we got our doos. Tenors and Basses: please, please come in hard and strong on the first beat of your long doos on page 11, with a strong d sound, like pulling a string and then letting it go and it resonates. When you did it, it was so good! When you don't do it, it's hard to hear you and it's not nearly as interesting.  It's the same as the Deck the Halls part in the 12 Songs of Christmas. Brrrm with a big strong B.

4.  Shine, Hanukkah: The dynamics could be better. They were pretty good in the parts we worked on, but I think we need more. I'll have a plan for next week.  The first sopranos, even with help, didn't come in on beat 1 at the end. I'll have to think of something. I'm thinking (Robyn would like this) of having them all come in on a C and forget the harmony in that descant part. We'll try again next week.

Monday, Nov. 23

Last chance to buy tickets, order poinsettias

Bowie and Bing at 6:45
Solos at break

  • 12 songs
  • 12 days
  • Shine
  • 3 folk carols
  • anything you need to go over- last chance 
Monday, Nov. 30 Rehearsal at Trinity Anglican Church to run through the concert order and to see what our sound system needs are, and to rehearse getting on and off stage

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mon.Nov.9 YRCC Rehearsal

You are awesome! We're ahead of where I thought we were. I'm feeling very positive about our upcoming concert!!! It's less than a month away. We have 2 more rehearsals to learn things and fix things and then we do our run-through. I'm sending Roxanne the order for the concert this week so that she can create our programs.

At 6:45 the Men's Small Group met and made good progress on the Bing and Bowie song.

Warm-ups included lip trills and tongue trills. Stretching your range with these causes less strain on your throat, because your focus is on the trilling going on in the front of your mouth. So, your throat can worry about itself and do what comes naturally :-)

1. Button Up Your Overcoat was super! The new tenors and basses blending in like a charm! We really nail this one now.

2. A-Men is definitely better at a faster speed and the augmented tenor and bass section worked! Or, maybe it was my threatening you that did it. We still need sopranos to be more careful from bar 61 to the end. Sing what is written, please ;-)

3. Bleak Midwinter is super-impressive! Again, the new folks are amazing! And, I guess it's because everyone does such a good job that it's possible for someone new to follow along. This is a difficult piece and you rock it! Janet and Todd were superb on the solos. Kristen knows both parts so could sub in for either one. I also can call on Heather, I'm sure if necessary.

4. Come Emmanuel was one of the songs that I was a bit worried about, but you surprised me with a nearly flawless performance! Wow! And, it was another example of a stellar night for the tenor and bass sections and their new guys! I'm impressed!

5. 3 Christmas Folk Carols became a medley! Yay! It was much better that I expected. We tried out the back-up soloists and switched them around a bit. Melinda's strong voice suited the last part, Sussex Carol, much better. And, Robyn will make a wonderful back-up for Heather on Lovely Fragrance (Shepherds). We always love to hear Stanley's beautiful voice. He'll be a perfect back-up for Blair on Lovely Fragrance. Next week, we'll try to really do it a cappella without Sapphire's help!

6. 12 Songs is gorgeous and so much fun! Be sure to hold notes until there's a rest, or another note. Sometimes people are cutting off words before they should be, which results in a weird popping or hissing of final consonants. (This is always important, but I think you're forgetting with this piece because the melodies are so well-known. Read your music.)

Next week, November 16th

Men's Group meets early at 6:45

  • 3 Folk Carols: We need to do the a cappella parts without help from Sapphire (except for that intro for Sussex Carol). We did great last Monday. Let's polish it up so that we feel really confident. These songs are so special! 
  • 12 Days After Christmas. Can you look over your parts before Monday? At least get the words, the flow of the story going, so that you will come in confidently when your part has the melody and softly when you don't. We're going to polish this up. If there are parts you need to review, this is the time to ask. We have only 2 more learning rehearsals. 
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Let's remember to come in soft and clear. Mark your music so that you're doing our dynamics, which are not quite as written. We are loud in the middle throughout that section which starts "Word of God". We often use the words as guides as to what should be the high point of a phrase, so that the same dynamics don't work for both verses. 
  • Shine! First Sopranos, anticipate your special ending. Come in before everyone else with great conviction and good volume! There were some Seconds who were going to help? Everyone: Review the music so that you're ready to be louder when you have the melody and softer when you don't. Mark your music to guide you.

Bing and Bowie recordings coming for Men's Small Group

Gentlemen, your recordings are on their way.

Sapphire recorded a new accompaniment for our Bing and Bowie song, and I sang your parts on top of it. Trix will upload the recording from the SD card to some format that she can send to you. The new accompaniment will go on the website.

It ain't pretty, but the notes are there and the timing, so you can sing along. I hope you don't share those recordings because I sound pretty weird.

You're singing an octave down, obviously.

I just did one Tenor and one Bass, and that should be fine. We don't have to do any tenor harmony, except maybe at the end. Or, if we have a brave tenor or two. It's quite a busy piece with the two melodies alone. Let's try to get the duet parts.

There's your homework. See you on Monday! (If you don't get the recordings in time to practise with them, then listen to the real Bing an Bowie a few times and sing along)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Men's small group: Bing and Bowie

Our arrangement of Bing and Bowie's Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth is for a 4-part choir, not TTBB so we're adapting it. It will mostly be in 2 parts. Sometimes the Tenors will divide but the Bass will not divide (except maybe the last note).

We move around a bit, so I'll try to describe it here (without the music in front of me-I gave mine to somebody):

Basically, there are 4 sections:

1) is a "high" part with T and B in close harmony singing Little Drummer Boy together. Tenors on top and Basses on the bottom, one octave down from what is written.

2) is a duet part with T singing Bowie and B singing Bing way down low. We're all an octave down from what is written, even the Bass line. When tenor divides, just make sure the melody is clear, if someone wants to take the harmony part, that's cool but not necessary.

3) is a "high" part with T and B in close harmony singing Peace on Earth together. Tenor on top, Bass on the bottom of the Treble Clef only. So, Bass has to move up to just below the Tenors, until the last section. The middle system of the last page of that section is written in 2 parts. The Basses move down a bar or two before that to incorporate the A below middle C in the Bass line. You'll know it when you see it. We need that note, and you can move down right there. I think it's beat 4 of the second last bar of the first system.

4) is a duet part with T on Bowie and B on Bing down low again. This continues to the end. The last note, will be a big chord and we might all have our own note, and we can figure that out when we get there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mon.NOV 2 and Mon.NOV 9 YRCC Rehearsals

Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth and Coventry Carol had early rehearsals. Sapphire will record a new accompaniment and parts for Little Drummer Boy at break next week.

Warm-ups included watching and following exercises.

1. A-Men was messy, but we seemed to have solved the unbalance by adding Altos to the Tenor/Bass part. Sopranos have to watch out at the end. We have more energy when we sing it faster, so that helps too. Remember to mark the high notes at 61 so that they're not a surprise when you turn the page. Same notes. Not difficult.

2. 12 Songs of Christmas is fantastic! It's so much fun that we sound like we're having fun, and sound great. You can hardly tell when there's something wrong. We need to find this kind of enthusiasm for all of our pieces. We reviewed lots of the parts, starting at the end, with the Hallelujah chorus. We spend a fair amount of time on the bottom of page 18. If you weren't there, review this part. We don't have parts recorded for this so you have to let me know where you need help on your part. I think we covered all the tricky bits. Sopranos: Silent Night has a dramatic 'holy night'. Sopranos watch out: Joy to The World starts on straight Cs, and harmony, not melody. Tenors: at 14, you BRRRMMMM like bagpipes. Come in hard and strong. BRmmBRmm Fallalala...You need to come in strong also on the pick up to 117 and at 121 again. Your big moment. Review the top of page 11 "Peace". If you lean on the A of Heavenly (He-), you'll get back there for the A (the first note) of Peace, then you just go downstairs from there.

3. 12 Days After Christmas is quite difficult. We learned section E finally. The du-bas are great! One tricky bit is the part right after I say "Well, actually I kept one of the drummers." Sapphire will give us a chord, and then we'll sing, broadly and evenly, "And sent them back col-lect" (4-1-2-3-4-1) then we can take a breath (2-3) before singing, " I wrote my true love" (+4+1-2) This sounds really great when it's done as written. I thought we had all the parts recorded, and I totally remember do the recordings but it looks like we don't. Sorry.

It looks like we didn't do much, just 3 pieces, but we got through the whole medley, which is 12 Songs! I'm really happy with how well you're all learning your songs! Great work, Choristers!

Roxanne sold tickets for our show and for the Amadeus Choir performance at Trinity United in Newmarket on November 15th. I've got my ticket. I hope to see some of you there!

Next week:
Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth meets at 6:45
  • A-men
  • Button Up Your Overcoat
  • 3 Folk Carols
  • 12 Days After
  • Bleak Midwinter