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, November 26, 2020

YRCC Zooms 23NOV2020 Topic of the day was: Pets

 We sing, really we do. 

But, we also chat. And, on Monday this week, we chatted about our pets and how some of us can’t imagine how we’d survive the pandemic without them. We always have someone to talk to and sing with and a source of love and entertainment.

Here I am after work relaxing with my phone and my dog, Dexter. 

I’m so happy that we’re meeting! Monday nights are good again. The hour goes by swiftly and some of us always stay a little extra. I wonder if it’s the same bunch who would stand around in the parking lot after rehearsals. We linger. It’s nice.

We talked about drinking again, and agreed that that PJ’s drink that you can get from the wine shop in Metro is pretty good. Also, it turns out that a number of us know a Meagan who sells good coffee on Leslie on the other side of Elgin at My Indie Coffee Roasters. Funny how we are birds of a feather.

Are you missing choir because you don’t know how to find the Zoom meeting link or you’re worried about how it works? Shoot me a message, an email or a Facebook message, whatever. Send a message to Lauren or anyone on the executive and we’ll help you to join us. 

We have started singing Holiday/Christmas/Winter songs! You don’t want to have a Christmas without singing, do you?! 

We are also singing  our  regular repertoire- Hallelujah, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Why we Sing, etc. This Monday, we hummed Hallelujah for a warm-up, and we sang with a YouTube video of our choir singing You’ll Never Walk Alone! We sing with ourselves every week and it’s always close to perfect because it’s a performance recording. Such a joy to sing with the York Region Community Choir every Monday!

Singing and chatting together is a wonderful change from singing and chatting with our dogs and cats. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

YRCC 16NOV20- Choir during Covid “This is Why we Drink”

 We had some fun talking about our favourite drinks. 

Some of us enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea while we meet, which the choir executive always did during meetings in the past. A sip of wine can also lower inhibitions so it helps to get us through the Zoom settings thing with laughter and patience.

Last week, I had raspberry vodka and water in my wine glass (I like to try all kinds of things). It was really good. I also recommended a sweet whiskey I’ve been drinking in the evening lately, Sortilege, a maple syrup whiskey.

Blair was extolling the virtues of a certain scotch whiskey-excellent quality for a very reasonable price. So, I asked him to send a picture or link. It’s called Aberlour. Here’s the link. Thank you, Blair! I hope to hear stories of choir members trying it.

Joanne and Andre prefer cognac. I do like Remy Martin, but like Blair’s scotch, it’s just not affordable for me. I’ll also drink a cheap brandy and will enjoy it warming in my hand in a nice brandy snifter.

In between talking, we did some good singing and got through our 4 pieces in an hour, and then a few of us stayed afterward and sang Little Tree. Something we enjoyed was Mele Kalikimaka, which many of us hadn’t sung before. It wasn’t too hard to sing along with even the first  time. It’s one from the archives but we have a good concert recording of it. So good to sing with a bunch of people who know the music well and are in top form! 

That’s what we’re doing every week, singing with concert recordings, so that we are singing with ourselves, and at our best. It’s good! We have fun and keep up our voices and our music reading skills. 

It helps that we don’t have to drive anywhere, so we can sit together with our wine glasses and forget our worries for an hour or so. Sometimes we even forget we’re in a pandemic having choir over Zoom.

Do join us! Let me know if you need help finding the Zoom link or the music. Send me an email or a Facebook message or something. I’m not hard to reach. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

YRCC Zoom chat- What was the name of that choir?

 ONE VOICE (which happens to be the name of one of our songs too)

This is the video that some of us saw on Facebook and cried. Happy tears and sad tears. These children are so beautiful and this song is wonderful. Take a look/listen:

When you’re there on YouTube, you’ll see other One Voice videos recommended. Go ahead and spend some time with them- so worth it.

Musicality is another choir that’s a really big deal and makes very professional videos. They were on a TV contest and I think they were finalists. These are also beautiful young people.

Here’s one of their songs which is one of our songs, just to start you off. Go ahead and spend an afternoon watching them. 

Something else that was suggested was karaoke versions of pops songs. You can be the star. Sing with a band or an orchestra accompanying you. Lauren will be the star of many karaoke bars when they open up again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

YRCC Zoom Choir meeting again on Monday, November 16


Little Tree, were you sorry to leave the forest? I’ll comfort you.

Yes, we sang Little Tree! I love that song, and someone, I think it was Tab, was saying that they had this little air freshener that said Little Tree and she couldn’t help but sing our song every time she saw it. So cute! 

I have never had one of these things, and said so, and now I’m worried that I’ll receive a dozen of these little trees for Christmas. Please, it’s okay. I found it! If you must get me something, chocolate and alcohol are always welcome ;-)

I have a little tree story too. It was years ago and I was gardening and was transplanting a little tree. I started to sing to it and sang the whole song, every word. I’d memorized it without even trying. I guess I really just love that song.

So, I guess we’ve started on some Christmas music. 

We’ve sung Hockey Song, which is really just a winter song, which could be sung all year round, right?

And, we’ve sung My Grownup Christmas List, and now Little Tree, which are not traditional Christmas things. Also, we’ve sung Let There Be Peace on Earth which is usually on our Winter programme. 

I’m hearing that people are hoping to do more holiday themed singing. And, I do too. 

At my church, we’re not singing, not even remotely. I was so sad at Easter, I can’t even imagine Christmas at church without the singing. 

We are singing! Join us and you’ll see it’s not bad. 

We’re using Zoom so we’re in our own homes, or cottages, or wherever, and we all sing together, with recordings of the choir. So we’re even singing with ourselves. We can sing as loud as we want and we can sing other pars too because everyone is on mute. It works. We’re singing together and we’d like everyone to sing with us.

I made a schedule of songs to sing for the season, as I usually do when we’re rehearsing for a concert. I attached it to the calendar a couple weeks ago. I will follow that, but I’ll add some extra Christmas from now on.

You can follow the link to the calendar that’s here on the blog, or you can get there from the website. The Zoom link and sheet music PDFs are there.

Please join us!

Let’s keep up our repertoire and keep up our spirits during this dark time!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

YRCC songs 09-NOV-2020

 It’s already Sunday?!

Tomorrow is Monday, choir day! Please join us in our Zoom choir hour. It’s not what we really want, it’s not us in a room together singing, but it’s what we have and it’s good. 

It’s good to see our choir friends and to hear that they are fine and coping well during this pandemic. 

It’s good to read sheet music again and remember our art. 

It’s good to sing in the choir. Yes, we sing together with the whole choir, with recordings of the whole choir singing. It’s the closest thing to singing with the choir live. 

Please join us so that we continue to be a choir. When we can meet again in person, it will be almost as if we had never stopped. 

Go to the choir’s Google Calendar every week and find the Zoom link there. Double click and you’ll be with us. Take a moment to make sure your video is on, and choose gallery view (not speaker view). Some people are really good at this and some of us take some time to figure this out. We’ll help. 

Also on the calendar will be attachments, the PDFs of our sheet music for the evening. 

You can download and print it if you prefer, but using it electronically is great once you get used to it. It’s easy and environmentally friendly. No binders needed. I like having my sheet music on my iPad and the choir (Zoom) on my laptop.

We usually chat a bit and mostly remember to have a warm-up. When we’re ready to sing. I’ll choose a song and we all take a moment to call up the sheet music. I’ll get the recording ready and just before I start it, I’ll mute everyone. You will sing and nobody will hear you, but we’ll see you. This way, we avoid the issue of everyone’s individual wifi and device combination having different timing. There’s no way to get everyone in synch. No problem. You hear yourself and the choir, everyone else hears the choir and themselves. With gallery view, you get the feeling of being together. It’s really quite nice. You don’t usually see each other when you sing. You all look at me and I see all of you. This way, it’s kind of fun and new, You’ll notice though that most of the time people are looking at their music, which is what normally happens. So, don’t feel like everyone’s watching you all the time. 

This week, we’re singing Hallelujah, We Rise Again, You’ll Never Walk Alone, and Grownup Christmas List. I’ve added Little Tree in case we have time and energy for more :-)

I hope to see you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

YRCC Meet-up 02-NOV-2020 Looking for you!

 Where are you? 

We were missing  some people and some people were telling us that they hadn’t received the Zoom invitation for choir this  week.

What happened?

We discovered that the website has determined on its own that some people’s memberships had expired and many of you were removed from the membership list!

Nobody paid fees this year so I’m not sure what happened. 

Carol is looking into it and trying to get everyone back on the membership list.

If you’ve been getting the emails and have wondered if it’s really necessary to join these Monday night choir things, please do join us and you will be glad you did. They’re not rehearsals for a concert but I do think they’re important.

I’ll write more on this later this week.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the link on a Monday night, go to the calendar and you’ll find the link there. Double click and you’ll be there with us. The PDFs for the music will be there too.

More instructions to follow.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

YRCC 26-Oct-2020 Zoom Sing and Chat

 We met again with increasing comfort and confidence in Zoom. 

I encourage every member of the York Region Community Choir to join these Monday evening meetings to continue our weekly habit of gathering to sing, to maintain and grow our musical abilities, to see and connect with the community of choir members, and to support each other. 

We don’t have a concert to rehearse, but we do have to prepare for future concerts. We will perform again.

We can’t hug each other but we can share our joys and sorrows, our worries and our solutions to common challenges. It’s such a joy to me to see the beautiful faces, the beloved smiles, and to hear the voices and laughter of my choir friends again!

If you or someone you know has been reluctant because of the technology, please let us know and we’ll try to help. 

We meet for a little over an hour, and might go longer as everyone gets more comfortable. 

We are using electronic copies of our music but some of us print it out. It helps to have 2 devices at hand so you can have one screen for the sheet music and another for seeing everyone.

We sing along to concert recordings so that you hear your part, you hear the whole choir singing with you. You’re not alone.

Please join us!

We sang Let There Be Peace on Earth, Monday, Monday, Why We Sing, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Tomorrow, November 2nd, we’ll sing Somewhere Out There, You Raise Me Up, the Hockey Song, and My Grownup Christmas List. 

This is where we are at the moment. Let’s enjoy this season and anticipate with hope our time together in the next one, like this or in some other way.