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 27, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 25-FEB-2019

Lean on Me met early. Such a great song! Watch out for the 16th notes on the + of 4. Observe your rests, and stay together. Soft and easy-groovy at the beginning.

Warm-ups included some stomping and some wiggling and some singing through straws.

1. True Colors is excellent. The snaps look great, and sound great too! Remember that it's going to be just choreography for some of us who can't really snap. The audience's attention has to be on the song and the sound of the snaps and not distracted by sloppy or rebellious snappers. We reviewed some of the tricky bits. Watch out for the 16th notes on the + of 4.
2. Verdi: We went over parts at G and H, and really got extra loud and extra quiet. On the next section, let's not sing pianissimo, but mp at least. I like that part stronger. We paid extra attention to the rests after the word renew in the last section. Make sure you observe those rests!
3. Beauty and the Beast: Gaston We sang from the beginning through to the end of Gaston! We had to go back and learn the section I forgot in Belle: bars 151-181. Then we learned all of Gaston. I should have left some time to do more of Bring Him Home :-(
4. Bring Him Home:We are building page 3 up from the end. We started with "and I am old and will be gone", then looked at "fly on and on". We didn't even get to the tenor and alto "fly on and on"! Yikes. If you have time, this is the song to look at. Listen to the recording of your part. Get the words and the notes, and we'll have to get the timing together when we're together.

Next week, Monday, March 4th:
Stanley and Mona 6:30
Melinda 6:45
Lean on Me 7:00

  • Bring Him Home: pg 3
  • Seasons of Love
  • Rewrite the Stars 
  • Blue Skies
  • B&B Gaston

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 18-FEB-2019

Family Day Monday!
We had a lovely rehearsal with not too many people missing. The tenors and basses had nearly perfect attendance (applause).

1. We warmed up with All I Have to Do is Dream. We discovered a few spots that needed review: For the tenors/basses the oohs on page 5, ending with the oohs under "way" and the timing of the Oh at the pick-up to E. 1+2+3+4+1  . Count 123 "oh-Oh I" For the sopranos and altos, we reviewed the oohs at C.
2. Put a Little Love in Your Heart: We reviewed the whole song for each part. Tenors and altos both found that they have to pay attention to the bottom of page 5 and 8 where you move in a different way from the rest. It's pretty repetitive, so you have to be careful when it's not the same, that's all. The big note at the top of page 3 and 5 is only a bit more than 2 beats. Watch for the cut-off and count 3,4 in silence.
3. Rewrite the Stars: we reviewed bars 57-73 and sang through to 100. Everyone should look at page 14 "changin' the world to be ours", especially alto and tenor/bass. Also, pay attention to the words, they change from verse to verse. For example, "it's up to you" becomes "it's not up to you".
4. Bring Him Home: I have OMG written at the top of page 3. We learned that my suspicion was correct. It's really hard. Sopranos are lucky that they have the melody, but even that is hard with all the other stuff going on. Basses have some melody until the middle of the page where they move with the sopranos but then have a whole bunch of stuff of their own at the bottom of the page "on and on and I am old". Tenors and altos have a completely different part with echos and a crazy "how soo-oon they fla-ay". This deserves some work with the recordings. (page 4 is also challenging)
5. Beauty & the Beast: We just looked at the next section which is 2 solos. Think about whether you might like to sing one of them :-). We sang all the way from the beginning to the end of this section and took a little look at Gaston, which is next.

Next week:
6:50 Lean on Me with me :-) Anne-Marie assures me that you don't need to come at 6:30.

  • B&B Gaston
  • Bring Him Home page 3 again
  • Verdi
  • Seasons of Love
  • True Colors

Thank you to my choir friends who supported Soraya and me with our fundraising walk, the Coldest Night of the Year! You warmed my heart and I will walk with love with my head held high.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Benefits of singing in a choir studied in San Francisco

Community choirs reduce loneliness and increase interest in life for older adults

Click on that to read the article from the University of California, San Francisco on Medical Press.

    Here's what the study says:
"Overall, the researchers found that older adults who sang in a choir for six months experienced significant improvements in loneliness and interest in life. However, no substantial group differences occurred in the cognitive or physical outcomes or for health care costs."

I think 6 months is too short, and I'm sure that cognitive and physical changes would occur over time as well. What do you think?

YRCC Rehearsal 11-FEB-2019

Lean on Me met at 6:30 and it's pretty much ready!
I'll be joining them on Feb. 25th to catch up.
We had a wonderful social breaktime with decaf coffee and delicious sweets. Thank you to the bakers!

Warm-ups were quick. We stomped away our Mondays and clapped and marched very successfully.

1. Why We Sing served as a vocal warm-up and a lovely transition to being choristers. We are all singing the beginning. And, this time we tried doing it the way we had the solos in the past. The sopranos and altos sing the first parts (Kit and Peggy's) and the tenors and basses sing the second parts (Stanley and Blair's).

2. Beauty & the Beast: Belle. We started the second song at the end (183 to the end) and then did the beginning. We'll learn the middle next time, but we sight-read through it nicely. We sang from the very beginning of the medley through to the end of the second song! At 89, everyone does the bonjours. At 93, only the altos sing, then they divide at 101. The tenors and basses join them as written. Tenors and basses continue at 115. Everyone sings (SATB) "What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle." We all sing at 131 (we just sight-read from here to 183). If you missed today's rehearsal, you will want to look at "it's a pity and a sin..." It's very cool and quite a challenge.

3. Bring Him Home: We made a good start. We learned our parts for the first two pages. We also looked ahead to the next couple of pages. They're challenging! There are lots of cool echo parts. Take a look if you have some time over the next week or so. If you missed today's rehearsal, spend a little time with the second ending. It's very cool. Sopranos won the lottery on this one. They have the melody. So, sopranos, the only thing here is to sing sweetly, hold those notes clearly without vibrato please and softly. That's not easy. Altos, tenors and basses have work to do getting your notes and the timing, but it's so worth it! Such a beautiful piece of music! The recordings on the website are a bit mixed up. Hopefully, we'll get that straightened out soon.

4. Rewrite the Stars: We spent time on bars 73-84 where the mood changes and the possibility of rewriting the stars for the star-crossed lovers becomes real. "All I want is to fly with you. All I want is to fall with you. So just give me all of you." Sounds like Valentine's Day. For now, we'll just skip those grace notes, the little jumps before some of the notes. We will make sure where we're aiming first before we slide in. If you're rehearsing at home, just play the main note and learn that for now. That's what we did to start. BTW, the grace note has no assigned value. It's not a quarter or an eighth or a sixteenth. It's very quick. Another thing to take note of, and it's something that happens often with us, is that we are landing on beat one of the next bar instead of the and of 4 for fly, fall, and all. (2+3+4+1+2+3+4+) We're singing (2+3+4+1+2+3+4+1) This timing happens all through the song, so we need to see if we can try to get it, or if we just give in and decide that our version will be somewhat different from what's written. We need to make sure our beat 4 is short. Let's try.

Next week is Family Day. No early group. And, if you have the opportunity to spend the evening with family on family day, do it. You can catch up. No worries.
Those of us who can meet will keep learning and it will be helpful for everyone. Just having even one person who knows her part well helps the whole section. It's nice when it's a small group, too.

Monday, February 18th:

  • B&B
  • Bring Him Home
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart
  • Rewrite the Stars
The following week, on February 23rd, Soraya and I are participating in the Coldest Night of the Year walk again.
Victoria will be missed. She's in Ottawa studying.
If you'd like to support us, here are the links to our fundraising pages. It's very easy to pay online. Over $20, you provide your address so they can send you a tax receipt. 

Please donate on Soraya's Page, as she needs more help reaching her fundraising goal.

We walk on a cold evening, thinking about what it might be like to live on the streets in the winter. Any winter night a person has to spend outdoors alone would be the coldest night of the year.
Here's what the funds raised do:
Newmarket's Inn From the Cold. Here's what their website says: Inn From the Cold provides emergency shelter and support services for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. IFTC offers a range of helpful services year round that are designed to assist with finding housing, employment, volunteer opportunities, mental health and addiction support and other necessities such as hot meals, clothing, laundry, internet, voicemail, showers and personal care items. A continuum of services from basic needs to securing housing assists our clients on their journey to wellness and self-sufficiency.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

YRCC Rehearsal 04-FEB-2019

The eve of my birthday and Chinese New Year was destined to be a success!
6:30 Lean On Me had an excellent start
7:10 Who Put the Bomp showed me how they knew their stuff

Warm-ups with stretches and straws were sweet.
1. Blue Skies with snaps: snazzy! Take note: the snaps are sopranos only for the first page, with no snaps in the last bar. Everybody snaps from bar 37 to 51 inclusive (during the scat solos). Jazz hands on the last word, on. We reviewed the ATB harmonies.
2. True Colors with snaps: cool! Snaps where it says claps, until the end on the word beautiful. We reviewed timing at the tops of pages 3 and 5.
3. Beauty and the Beast: We are caught up. We finished the first song!
4. Rewrite the Stars: We learned bars 19-35 and sight-read the rest. It's going to be fantastic! Many people don't know this song. So, your homework is to see if you can watch The Greatest Showman, or at least watch this scene in a YouTube video.
5. Bring Him Home: We just looked at this and sight-read through. It's going to be really beautiful, but if you have time, look at pages 3 and 4.
6. Verdi: So satisfying to sing this! We will work on dynamics on this. It's from an opera, so it really needs to be dramatic.

Next week: 

6:30 Lean on Me

  • Beauty & the Beast
  • Bring Him Home
  • Rewrite the Stars
  • Why We Sing