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!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my YRCC friends!

 I wish you a peaceful and also joyful holiday.

I am so blessed to have my daughters at home and I saw family and friends thanks to video calls and Zoom! We had a beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- a magnificent white Christmas!

Today, I’m resting. It was exhausting even though I didn’t have to do nearly as much work as I would have for a regular Christmas. I think it’s because of the new technology stress and new emotions and just the weight of the pandemic so heavy on us now. 

I’m resting today on Boxing Day and I’ve taken some vacation days too, so I’m off all next week! I do plan to do a little choir work, looking ahead to our spring Zoom season. But, I mostly want to recharge after a very stressful, challenging, and emotionally draining year. 

I wanted to share the link to Lauren’s solo at church (and her dad’s too). So here it is. I really enjoyed all of the music for this service. What a great music director and team they have there! I miss the music at church so much, the organ, the piano, and the choir, but especially the singing, singing with a whole big congregation. 

I miss my choir family so much! I do see some of you at Zoom choir, but I wish I could see all of you, and I really miss conducting the rehearsals every Monday. I miss your hugs and laughter and seeing you standing shoulder to shoulder in joyful companionship.

I hope we can be together next Christmas. I hope we can all be with our families next Christmas. Let’s do all we can to stop the spread of the virus, to stay safe, to stay healthy so that we can all gather together again as soon as possible. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Opportunities to sing for YRCC outside of our Mondays

 I’m going to share some opportunities for singing for you here. 

Pat let me know of an event organized by the Aurora Seniors Centre happening on Zoom on December 18th. Here’s a link. Carols, stories and more. 

I shared an event on Facebook. We talked about it on Monday, the sing-along Messiah that Carol and Mary-Ellen are planning to participate in. Here’s a link to that. December 19th- a free virtual event.

There’s a bunch of virtual concerts that you can watch. The Leahy/McMaster family has a virtual concert planned. Here’s a link to that. December 11th. You can Google it too. 

Google search for more concerts and sing-along opportunities.

But, you can always sing along with your music streaming service. I have Apple Music and most of the time, I can choose to see the lyrics of music I’m listening to. I am in awe of this service. What did we have when we were young? If we were lucky, we had the lyrics in the album notes, when we bought the album or the cassette (remember those?), or CD. Tiny script in folded up paper notes, if we were lucky and they were included, which was not always. Wow. 

And, you can go on YouTube and search for karaoke tracks or lyric videos for your favourite songs. 

Here’s a sample. I searched O Holy Night ad and found these:


Thursday, December 3, 2020

YRCC Zooming into December: 30NOV2020 Snow can’t stop us!

 We had crazy weather with lots of rain and wind and snow but we don’t worry about missing choir because of bad weather these days. 

With Zoom, we sit in our homes with a glass of wine or something else cosy or fun to drink and chat and sing without the stress of driving and without the stress of learning new songs or worrying about preparing for a concert. It’s just for us. 

This Monday night break is only about us. We’re singing our favourite songs and we don’t have to worry about missing the repeat or holding a note too long. We can sing the melody all the way through, or work on our parts, and it’s up to each of us what we do. 

I’ve abandoned my schedule in favour of choosing the songs that speak to us at the moment. I have a lot of stuff to choose from. We have years of concerts recorded. I’m so very grateful for that! 

And this week, I wanted to start to focus on Christmas and holiday music. The Magic of Winter, Little Tree, Do You Hear What I Hear, and a warm up of Hallelujah again. I’ve started attaching music to the upcoming Mondays, anticipating that we’ll want to do more Christmas stuff. Take a look. You know how to get to the Calendar, don’t you? If not, be sure to ask. And it you get there and get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask. We helped a few people find the music on Monday. 

In the Magic of Winter, we end on the words “celebrate with the ones you love”. We needed to talk about that. How are we going to celebrate? Are you going to be able to see your family? How can we be with the ones we love? Many of us have Zoom plans and some have outdoor plans. We wondered about people who might not have the technology or might have a fear of technology, because we know some people like that. We hope that the young people in their lives can step in and get them set up for video chats. 

We talked about going for a drive to see Christmas lights on houses. I think there are more than usual this year. Someone mentioned the house on Billings Crescent. Of course there were quite a few of us who knew about it- birds of a feather. Google it, or better yet, go and drive by! I hope you’re enjoying the light in this dark season. We are making the most of our Monday nights, celebrating every Monday that we have together with a nice beverage, good music, and glowing faces, lovely company.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

YRCC Conductor conducts fiendishly long ending notes

We know that I like big endings and I always insist on everyone watching at the end, so that it can be very dramatic sometimes. I can sometimes add extra caesuras and different dynamics and I like to extend the length of the last notes, as if every one had a fermata over it.

We’re listening to our concert recordings and singing along with them now during our COVID Zoom choir nights. We often laugh at how much longer those last notes are than written.

Some of  us were reminded of Bugs Bunny.

Melinda sent me the link, and here it is:

Bugs Bunny the conductor is my conductor goal ;-)

I miss the power of the baton, my magic wand. I don’t have white gloves.