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, September 30, 2020

YRCC Zoomed 28SEP2020 Review and 05OCT2020


The day the York Region Community Choir went Zoom!

Zoom kind of worked. About 22 people came and talked and sang and we’re going to do it every week. We’ll see how things go as we get better at Zooming. I don’t have great plans, great expectations, as we don’t have a concert or any performance at all to rehearse for. But, I want us to continue to be together and singing our songs. With Zoom, we can be together and we can sing our songs together, sort of. 

We all hear the same recording and we all sing our choir parts in our own homes. We’re all on mute because the quality of our wifi and hardware and software are a bit of an issue. Timing is off for one thing. No problem when we’re muted. 

We sang You Raise Me Up and Somewhere Out There. We had the sheet music on our own devices or printed out from the website. That way, we could use the screen entirely for seeing each other! A lot of us spent a lot of time looking at the music and not each other, but it felt good to be surrounded by our friends any time we looked up. I loved seeing you all singing together. It made me happy.

One big problem we had was that we got kicked out. Suddenly it ended. Free Zoom has a 40 minute limit. It happened a couple times. I forgot to let you know that you could come back. It was enough though for our first time. I think one hour is what most people can manage comfortably in a Zoom meeting, but if we do a variety of things, maybe we can last longer. 

Next week, we’re going to see how it works when someone else hosts. Tab will be the first guest host. She has the total Zoom deluxe package with no time limit, and all the bells and whistles. (Break-out groups sound like an interesting feature-a group for each part?) We will send an email through the website so that we can be sure everyone gets invited (at least I hope so. I missed people with my thing and kept having to add individuals and probably still missed someone-sorry it it was you!). 

Next week, let’s sing Why We Sing and You’ll Never Walk Alone. I’ll attach them to the YRCC Calendar again. If we have extra time and energy, we’ll sing Hallelujah. 

I’ll see if I can put the Zoom info there again too. Should be possible. 

Thank you for being patient with me and each other as we adapt to this new and hopefully very temporary situation. I am longing for the day when we can all see each other again in person, IRL, in real life. We’ll wear the shields Carol arranged to get us and we’ll keep our distance until the day we can hug again. 

For now, we’ll be Zoomers.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

YRCC Zoom Meet&Sing 28-Sep-2020 Preparations

 Well, it doesn’t look like we will be able to meet in person for a while yet, and we can’t have a concert so we have nothing to rehearse for. 

Nevertheless, we will meet. And, we will sing. And, we’ll learn a new way to be a choir during this pandemic.

I had a test run last week wth a smallish group of us. It was chaotic and not choir, but it was fun, it was good, and we want more.

So, we’re all going to meet in Zoom. 

It seems to be an okay place and we’ll give it a go. I do wonder about people who might not have the technology to meet with us. I fear that we might leave people behind. But, hopefully this is temporary. And, the longer it lasts, the more people will become experts in this new virtual world of remote meeting for groups. 

I have to confess, I don’t like the virtual choirs that I see on the internet. I didn’t like the Eric Whitacre stuff, except this one: Fly to Paradise. It’s clever and cool art but it’s not choir. Nearly 6 thousand people sang, but they didn’t sing together. I love choir because of the feeling we get when we sing together, and we blend our voices, adjusting ourselves to our neighbours and we’re all doing the same thing at the same time. And, the best thing is to see the audience and see that they’re getting the feelings we’re trying to send them. I’m so sad about all that being impossible now.

So, I’m not planning to learn to produce a virtual choir song. But, I’m not totally dismissing the possibility of the YRCC maybe preparing and producing one. Something to think about.

For now, we’ll see if we can keep up the songs we know, so we don’t forget. And, we’ll keep in touch with each other, so we don’t forget. 

It might be a good idea to check out your equipment to see if you can use a camera and microphone while on Zoom. Most devices have those built in. You can play with Zoom to test the settings if you just sign in and start a meeting. You don’t need to have anyone else join, but it might be fun to test it with someone.

That won’t mean you’ll be perfect when we meet together but you won’t be totally lost. I practised but still didn’t have it all together last week, and I don’t expect to be an expert this week either. But, I will try hard.

Find the place where you can mute and unmute yourself. Find the Gallery setting, so you can see everyone. If you have earbuds or headphones, have those handy. Find a good spot in your home to prop your iPad, phone, desktop, laptop, whatever device you’re going to use, up so that we’ll be able to see you. Try it out in the evening so that you know that the lighting will be good. 

Maybe have a couple devices ready so that you can have the  sheet music up on one and have Zoom to hear the music and see everyone on another? I’m going to have a few devices ready and we’ll see how we manage. We’ll get better every week. 

I’ll have Somewhere Out There and You Raise Me Up ready. You can too. Maybe next week we can try to sing more songs. 

Please continue to send me suggestions and advice. I am new to this. Some of you have been meeting remotely with Zoom meetings for other groups, even other choirs, and are far more comfortable than I am. Please be patient with me.