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, February 21, 2018

YRCC Rehearsal 20-FEB-2018

Family Day Rehearsal, Monday, February 20th, 2018

1. Warm up was Wonderful World without music and swaying to the music. It was really cool. It's amazing how much of it we have memorized somehow!

2. Why We Sing was also wonderful! We only reviewed the first soprano descant part. Everything was excellent.

3. Unity: We reviewed page 2, with some changes. It's getting there. The balance was not great before, but I'm working on it. It's really much better. We've got first sopranos on the top alone and making sure not to be too loud when they don't have the melody. Second sopranos are in the alto line. Altos are in the tenor line. The tenor notes are okay for the altos, except in the melody. When you have the melody, sing it up in the same octave as the sopranos. That way the melody continues clearly. Tenors and basses are both on the bass line, singing either up the octave or down. "Love thy neighbour as thy self" is awkward, and we're working on fixing it. It might be fine to just sing below everyone else without being different. I might rewrite that line for tenors and basses. The other thing we worked on is the words "together we're free". There are 3 different ways to sing this: at the bottom of page 2, we sing together. (full stop) we're free. At the top of page 2 and at the bottom of page 3 the timing is different. There's no break between together and we're free. There's a time change but no pause there. You can't stop. The top of page 2 and the bottom of page 3 are different, though. The notes are not the same. Make sure you don't sing them all the same.

4. Crazy Little Thing Called Love: We got pretty far in this, up to page 6. There are a couple places where the sopranos and altos don't have the melody but have a sassy-country-twangy harmony. We'll have to work on being sassy. Tenors and Basses have a lot of melody in this song. Gotta be cool!

We had only a very small break and left early to be home to watch the Olympics, and because it was Family Day.

Next week, Monday, February 26th.

Small group: 6:30 Man in the Mirror starts

  • From a Distance
  • Imagine
  • Let There be Peace
  • Nella Fantasia

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

YRCC Rehearsal 12-FEB-2018

We had a Valentine's Day sweet feast! A number of people brought sweet things for (decaf) coffee break. We had cakes and squares and cookies and Donna's famous butter tarts and fruit and... OH MY! Thank you to all the bakers and purveyors of wonderful treats!

What the World Needs Now is Love: this small group is so good! Joy has made recordings of your parts so you can brush up from time to time, but we're done rehearsing this for a while. Thank you, Anne-Marie and Joy for doing a great job leading this group!

Warm-ups were more physical than vocal even though we should know Crazy Little Thing Called Love enough to sing along to most of it! I guess I got you doing too much with your hips and arms and hands. We're supposed to be moving and singing, but we had fun! And, for me, it's important to feel the song with my whole body. It helps with the rhythm and dynamics and it makes it more fun. We used the Dwight Yoakam version to move and clap and sing to.

1. Crazy Little Thing Called Love: We learned pages 10-11(my favourite part).We did that thing where we decide to sing on the beat instead of just before. It's not as cool and jazzy, or country-cool, but cool enough. It's easier for sure.
Watch me for the timing of this section, and always at the end. We will have Joy play all the way to the end of her part before we say "Yeah!" so that it has its own special moment.

2. Seasons of Love: We learned from bar 28 to 48! There is a solo which Nicole sang really well! While she's singing her solo, sopranos are with the altos, and it is a similar thing to what you sing during other parts of the song. We spoke the words "Celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends" to learn the rhythm of that phrase. It's not as hard as it looks. We sang thorough the whole song, and it is getting easier to sight-read now that we know so much already. There is an optional solo section starting at 62, but we'll have all the sopranos on that line, but soft so that the other parts come through-all the parts are important and we have to figure out how to blend together. We also have to figure out an ending. I really don't like the (non-) ending of this arrangement. So, be prepared to play with that a bit.

3. Let There Be Peace on Earth: We learned the ending from the top of page 6 after the fermata (which we will observe) to the end, the first (loud) ending, not the optional (quiet) ending, part of section F. I had planned to do all of section F, but we had too much fun at break time. Remember to move into your own line at the beginning of the second system. Except maybe the tenors- I suggest that you write your part over the bass part in the bass clef. You'll stay there, at the top of the bass clef, for the ending. Tenors, for the word "begin", sing the quarter notes. Everyone, there is a rallentando that we're observing. (language lovers: 'lent'or 'lento' is in there) We will slow down the words "let it begin with", leaning into those quarter notes in the alto and tenor lines especially. Watch for the rest, because we go back to the regular tempo (a tempo) and Joy has some awesome chords to play, and a tremolo at the end (Why do I like tremolos so much? Thank you, Joy for indulging me!). We sang from section E to the end.

Next week is Family Day. We will meet, but there will be no early group. Everyone starts at 7:30.

  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • Let There Be Peace on Earth
  • Unity
  • Why We Sing
  • Wonderful World
Sign up for Man in the Mirror! It starts the week after next at 6:30.  I need all parts, please.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

YRCC solos spring 2018

Here's my worksheet for solos for spring 2018:
Help me fill in the blanks and decide who sings what. Which solos would you be interested in?
I've made a few suggestions and some are already decided on (bold).

From a Distance: 
1. 6-13 and 26-33
back-up: Jane
2. 10-13 and 29-33
Soprano for duet: Lauren? Joanne? Sophie?

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing: 
1. 9-16 and 25-39
Soprano/Alto: Jane? Debbie? Melodie? Trix?
2. 17-39
Tenor/bass male: Blair? Philip?

1. 5-12 and 17-24
solo: Janet 
back-up: Teija? Joanne?

Nella Fantasia: bars 6-21
1. solo: Mary-Ellen 
back-up: Todd 

One Small Step: 
1. 5-9 and 75
Soprano or Alto: Melodie? Teija? Debbie?
2. 9-14
Tenor or Bass: Stanley? Blair? Todd? Bill?

Seasons of Love: 33-40
1. Soprano: Nicole? Teija? Trix?

Why We Sing: 9-25
1. Soprano: Kit/ Trix
2. Tenor or Bass male: Stanley/
3. Alto or Tenor female: Peggy/ Debbie?
4. Tenor or Bass male: Blair?

YRCC Rehearsal 5-FEB-2018

Monday, February 5th, 2018 was my birthday and it was a wonderful way to spend my special day.
Thank you for all your kind and loving birthday wishes! I love my choir.

When I arrived, the small group What the World Needs Now is Love was singing and it was heavenly.

We warmed up with the Hallelujah vamp from Your Love is Amazing. We swayed and swiveled and we clapped and we moved our feet while singing 3-part harmony. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah: Your love makes me sing! We're not ready to join a gospel choir, but we can have fun moving and singing. Do this in the kitchen, but not in the bathtub.

1. One Small Step is so good! We reviewed the section that starts at 58, at the bottom of page 9.
Melodie sang the solo at the beginning which comes back at the end. Blair did the the second solo from the pick-up to bar 10 to bar 14. I think I need to assess the solos and see who is willing and able to sing what. That will be another blog post. If you liked these solos, and think you'd be interested in singing them, let me know. I think Melodie's voice is perfectly suited to this one, but I'm open to suggestions. At the top of page 6, we will have only the altos sing from bar 32 to 36. All tenors and basses from pick-up to 37 to 41.

2. From a Distance is coming along really well. I got goosebumps a couple of times. The harmonies are beautiful!  (apparently, the goosebump thing means I'm special) We learned from bar 13 to 25, so we can now sing all the way to the bottom of page 6. Don't worry if you missed this; it's all on the website to listen to. You can catch up at home. (except some tenors. We divided the tenor part differently from what's on the recordings. For second tenors, the middle row, "From a distance there is harmony" is FFGEb GABb BbAG I think will be easier. It sounded really good.)

3. Nella Fantasia never fails to move me. It's so good, even without the words. In fact, my favourite versions of this song are when it's called Gabriel's Oboe and it's performed by an orchestra with an oboe solo (or sometimes a clarinet, my instrument). Sometimes when it comes on the radio, I weep, and if I'm driving I have to change the station. We learned the hard part from 28-37 and we sang from page 6 to the end. Everybody has something special in the section and there's so much going on. Learn your part well. There are two sets of recordings for this, so no excuses :-) It was such a nice birthday present to hear this!

4. Crazy Little Thing Called Love was a good way to end the night, with everyone laughing. For most people it was their first time so it was understandably messy. It's a cool Queen song, and our version is based on the Dwight Yoakam version. So, ours is all kinds of groovy. Shall we dance? Can we have a line dancing night?

Next Week: Monday, February 12th: 
Coffee social at Break Time

Same small group at 6:30 What the World Needs Now

  • Seasons of Love 28-40
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love (start at end-pg 10-11)
  • Let there be Peace on Earth
  • Why We Sing

The next small group will be Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. It's in 3 parts, SAB.
Sign up now on the website under Events.
You can also start signing up for the seniors home performances as they get booked for the spring.