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!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Post Pandemic Reset: Are we ready, YRCC?

We are now in Stage 3 of Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen, the last stage of the gradual lifting of the restrictions imposed by Public Health. This stage is expected to last 21 days. After that, I expect everything will be open, but I'm sure there will continue to be some restrictions. Won't there? Can we really go back to the way we were? Do we want to?

The reopening webpage says that we can now gather socially indoors and outdoors, 25 indoors and 100 outdoors, and events can be up to 50% capacity indoors and 75% outdoors! That's amazing. 

This past Saturday night, I went to hear a band playing live at a restaurant, outdoors under a tent. It was fantastic! People mostly kept their distance, and when walking about we all wore masks. We danced! There was a space in front of the band for dancing and not many people danced, but I just had to! It felt special and wonderful. I also forgot to put my mask on to speak to our server and didn't notice until after. People were not wearing masks at tables but the wait staff did. It was somehow not strange. I thought I'd be more nervous about it. I wasn't. I plan to go out more frequently now that I'm not working and I really badly want to hear more live music. Please make some suggestions.  

I really, really want to get together for a summer rehearsal with as many choir folk as we can. I want to sing with you and I'm trying to figure out how to make it happen. 

There's nothing specific about singing in a choir in the guidelines. There was a lot of fuss about droplets and singing or talking loudly at the beginning of the pandemic. I guess we'll see. I think we might want to wear masks and/or face shields so that we can sit/stand closer together, but maybe we just need to space ourselves further apart. In any case, we won't be doing Zoom! Yay! 

We'll have a plan for how best to get together for rehearsals in the fall. We'll have to follow whatever rules our rehearsal space and concert venue have. Something I'm planning for our concert is to have a shorter concert with no intermission, at least for December. That way we don't have to worry about the bake sale or about people gathering with no social distancing possible. I'm looking into getting a projector and screen to take to seniors' homes so we don't have to hand out the sing-along duotangs. There will be some changes at choir at first, and maybe some of the changes will stick. We can and should be open to doing things differently.

Change is difficult, but it's something we are always dealing with in life. I know there will be some positive new things happening for us in the future, the near future and the distant future. We are lucky to be such in such a good, supportive group of people in the YRCC.

I'm currently going through the big change of being retired. It's not really retirement, but I'm not working at my job anymore and I don't want to go back to that lifestyle. You can read about it here, in my blog post on my other blog, Old Pollyanna. And, this change in my life has me thinking about getting older and entering retirement age, becoming a senior myself. If you're interested, you can read my recent post on Slow Ageing. Many people in the choir are retired or living with a retired partner. I'd love to  hear about the how you managed the transition. You all seem so positive and youthful. I think maybe part of that is because I always see you at choir, which is a special thing, but I know that you are people who can teach me about being positive and strong and happy. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

YRCC Choir Work Continues

 Today is my first Monday without a plan for a choir night. Sigh. It’s always hard the first Monday. 

I am using my time to work on plans for a winter concert and seniors’ tour and the rehearsals for those. I’m choosing the music that I think we can relearn/dust off easily and enjoyably, and possibly without an accompanist. I’m looking into our sing-along things so that we have plenty of things we can sing with our audiences. I believe that they will want to sing again almost as much as we do. 

I’m looking into getting a portable projector and screen so that we don’t have to worry about handing out sing-along lyrics to our seniors, and we might try that out in the summer when we meet to sing outdoors so that we don’t have to have binders until the COVID situation is safer and more comfortable.

And, I’ve been working on some updates to the website. I’m organizing the lists of recordings and scans into alphabetical order to remove duplicates and to see what we’re missing. That’s taking more time than I expected. Whenever I move an entry, the link breaks. So, if you’ve gone looking for music on the website and received an error notice, that’s why. I’ll have that fixed up soon. 

The other thing I’m working on is the new Time Capsule page on the website. There was one entry there, an old recording from 1999. Now, I’m adding some things from my own records, posters and programs from past years. I’ve been wanting to have a page of memories forever, and now I finally have some time to work on it. I’m not really happy with the way it looks now, so I’ve got lots of work to do. 

There are a few more things I need to work on this summer to prepare for Spring 2022. Spring 2022, I’m hoping, will be our big return, our “We Rise Again” “Here Comes the Sun” moment. I can’t imagine that we’ll be there this year. We’ve been talking about it in our Zoom meetings and I really want our Spring 2022 season to be fun and bright and meaningful. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Last YRCC Zoom Choir June 28th, 2021

Monday, June 28th, 2021 should be our last Zoom Choir! 

The YRCC has only met using Zoom throughout the COVID pandemic. The last time most of us saw each other was in March of 2020. It's been a long time. 

Hopefully, we will be able to meet in person in September 2021. 

With 18 months between rehearsals, we'll have lots of catching up to do. But, don't worry, we'll start slow and I'm committed to having fun and stress-free choir seasons for the near future at leas, if not forever after :-)

I'm not sure how or where we are going to meet in September, but the choir executive is working to have us somewhere in person singing together in September, rehearsing for a concert. We hope to be able to have a winter concert and a Christmas tour of seniors' homes in November and December of 2021!

The restrictions of the pandemic will lift depending on how many people are fully vaccinated, among other things. 

If you're not already fully vaccinated, please look into getting your shots if you are able. 

The Ontario site (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario) provides lots of information, as does the York Region site, including whether or not you are eligible and where you can go to get your shots. Many people are "accelerating" their second shots. The situation changes constantly, so check in often. 

We should continue to wear masks, socially distance, wash our hands frequently, and stay at home as much as possible. Also, we should keep up with what is open and what kinds of gatherings are allowed by checking in on the various government websites. The Ontario page was most helpful in my opinion.

Ontario: https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario

York Region: https://www.york.ca/wps/portal/yorkhome/health/yr/covid-19

Newmarket: https://www.newmarket.ca/covid19

Aurora: https://www.aurora.ca/en/covid-19.aspx

Below is a brief summary of what the 3 stages should look like for performers like us, taken from the Ontario reopening site. We will be in Stage 2, or Step 2 on June 30th. If Stage 3 starts after 21 days, then we should be in Stage 3 by the end of July! After that, there is no information. So, we'll just have to keep checking. Does that mean we can meet again in the fall in our room in the Administrative Centre? We don't know yet. 

The executive is considering having some outdoor rehearsals in the summer. We don't know what the "other restrictions" are but are looking into it. In any case, it would be good for us to be able to see one another face-to-face and to really sing together again as soon as possible. So, that's what we are aiming for. It might just be a small number of get-togethers, but we're going to do our best. 

We have purchased face shields for everyone in case we need them. Carol also picked up some stickers to decorate them with! We really want to get back together but we really need to do so safely and want everyone to feel as comfortable as possible. 

Keep your eyes open for emails from the choir. 

Performing arts

Step 1

Outdoor open for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted event

– 10 people maximum, spectators not permitted

Step 2

Indoor closed, permitted only for the purpose of rehearsing or performing

a recorded or broadcasted event – spectators not permitted

Outdoor open, including live music, with spectator capacity at 25% and other restrictions

Step 3

Indoor open, including live music, with spectator capacity and other restrictions

Outdoor open, including live music, with spectator capacity and other restrictions

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Making Music Together is Much More than Fun- YRCC is vital

 As fun as our YRCC Zoom Choir has been, it's been much more than just a fun pastime. It's been important for keeping our choir going and maintaining our connections to each other. For each of us, there are numerous personal benefits.

In fact, some recent research has shown that music is a "core feature of human existence". See below and read about it here. 

I would certainly say that music is a core feature of my existence, and making music with the choir has been a huge part of my life and my identity for the past 2 decades. 

The article makes me think of our song, "Why We Sing". The social implications of the findings of the study were no less than bridging cultures and building peace. 

During the pandemic, it has been very important to me to keep the choir meeting. This article supports my feelings about our Zoom Choir Mondays. 

Check out the graphic " The Social Brain and Music" below and the summary of the article that came with it. Do follow the link to read the whole article. It's not long, quite succinct. If you want more, there's a link in the article to the published abstract. The conclusion of the abstract ends with this suggestion:

Given the vast literature showing the effectiveness of music intervention, we suggest that making music together should be encouraged during periods of isolation to potentially enhance mental health, increase solidarity, and meet social needs.11

Inspired by creative efforts of people around the world to reproduce music-making together while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the University of Chicago fused the latest advances in social neuroscience and the field of music, including evolutionary theory, and highlighted five key functions and mechanisms of the brain that contribute to social connection through music. The findings illustrate that music isn’t just mere entertainment, but instead a core feature of human existence with important social implications. The five functions and mechanisms involving at least 12 important brain regions and two pathways are mapped in this image. Background artwork: Bryan Christie Design Overlay design: Dr. David M. Greenberg


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sharing and Singing at YRCC Zoom Choir

 We sing on Monday nights because that’s what we do. We’re the York Region Community Choir and we sing. 

But, the choir has always been a place to socialize, to chat and share stories too. Now, we do more of that because we don’t have people shushing us, because we’re not learning new music, so we can do a lot more chatting and sharing. I still try to have most of our time spent on our music, but now more than ever, we need to have this opportunity to connect with people. 

One thing we do is share songs that we like and videos and even movies.

 Last week, it was Melinda’s birthday, so I suggested that she could choose which song we would sing next. Her choice was You Raise Me Up. Good choice! We all love that one and it’s one of our audience favourites so we have a number of good recordings to sing with. We sang it together. And, then, Pat, I think it was Pat, said she had heard Celtic Woman sing it that morning. Maybe it was Joanne? I had YouTube open still, after having sung Love is an Open Door with both the clip from the Disney movie and with the sheet music sample on YouTube. So, I searched Celtic Woman and You Raise Me Up was right there. I clicked on it and we watched the video together. It was so cool to watch this video together! It was a beautiful live performance, with lots of people and with a small orchestra and a small choir, and it was fun to comment and hear the comments of the other choir folk on the call. We have so much in common, and this was something we all appreciated and loved, a perfect thing to share. 

I think we’ll have to do more of that, sharing videos for fun.

Often, people send me links to videos they think I’ll like and often they are right and I love it and I love them for thinking of me. 

Michele doesn’t Zoom, but she sent me a link to an Il Volvo performance recently. They’re so adorable, and so talented, those young men! And this video was of a live open-air performance, with a huge audience, so many people! Sometimes these things make my heart race with anxiety. We’ve been in this pandemic for a year and it’s strange to see so many people so close together. On the other hand, I yearn to do that again, jealous of those people so clueless that they’re breathing each other’s potentially dangerous air. Sigh.

We watched a very emotional video, well, most of it. I skipped through it to avoid the total breakdown of tears. It was Angels Calling by the Tenors. OMG!When you need your eye sockets cleaned out, watch that.

If you have Netflix, watch The Octopus Teacher. That was highly recommended by Pat and Joanne. 

Come and join us for lots of warm and fun conversations, great music, and singing. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

YRCC Monday Night Zoom Choir Soul Medicine

Choir nights are so good for my soul!

Zoom choir is real choir for now. 

We get together and sing our music. 

We’re reading a lot of music. We’re singing everything. A lot of the music is new to some of us because we’re singing things that we haven’t done in years. But, I have also bought a couple of new pieces which we’re playing with. So, there’s new music, sight reading, for everyone. 

We continue to learn new things about music, always.

We keep our voices in shape, trying to keep our range by singing our parts (mostly, but sometimes we just sing the melody, because nobody hears us).

We talk about the meaning, the messages we’re conveying in our songs. And, this is a biggie. We have a place to talk about love and the beauty of nature and peace and all the big themes. Apparently, lots of people use community choirs as a replacement for church. It’s a thing, and I understand how that happens because we do a lot of the same things. 

We share our stories, little things and big things that happen to us, like getting a COVID shot, or a new grandchild! We celebrate and commiserate, often punctuating with a drink, a COVID benefit.

We laugh. Sometimes we roll our eyes at Blair’s puns, but sometimes his jokes or someone’s story make us all howl with laughter. Oh boy, is that good! A belly laugh is such good medicine! This week, I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at Blair’s joke. We were talking about singing the solo instead of the oohs and ashs in We Rise Again. It’s one benefit of Zoom choir that you can sing any part you want because all the parts are there and you don’t have to carry your part. So, the sopranos, who don’t care for those parts with oohs and ashs could sing the solo. Lauren said she’d sing her part because the alto part was good and pretty easy. Blair said “tenors love the aahs. We’re the wizards of aaahs!” OMG! I laughed so hard. 

Thank God for choir! Every Monday evening I have a mini vacation, an escape from everything and a special time to connect with my travel companions.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

19-Apr-2021 YRCC Zoom choir dreams of togetherness

 We spent a little time dreaming about the time when we can meet again. 

I want us to have a choir retreat, a weekend away together to sing and drink and laugh with abandon. We do that on Mondays now but it’s just not entirely satisfying. I want to hug you too, and not have to consider Zoom fatigue or families in other rooms wondering if we’re a little nutty. Blair promised to make brownies. 


I want big sing-alongs. I want singing to inspire clapping and dancing. I want this for our friends and families and our fans. They will be so happy to have survived this thing that singing will feel so good! We agreed that some of us would dance in the aisle singing Let The Sunshine and we’d clap and move and I’d invite the audience to join us. We should have more audience participation planned into every concert from now on.

I want to sing with seniors! They will be so happy to have survived that they will need to sing. I want us to get a portable screen to project the words on so that they don’t have to worry about holding those duotangs. And, maybe invite them to sing even during some of our big songs, like we did with O Holy Night. Hallelujah. You Raise Me Up. Wonderful World! Right?

I also got a good suggestion for a new opera piece. We only have the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and we had that small group sing the Evening Prayer. It’s time for some Mozart. We’re going to need something to work at to make us feel accomplished and brave. It will be easy after surviving this! (not like Tup-Tuppa-promise)

We laughed about wanting to have pyjama bottoms for our new concert uniform, especially after break. Because, we’re going to want to eat all the baking at the bake sale. 

Dreaming is fun. We’ll see how things really go. But, whatever being together again looks like, we will sing and we will be happy together, for sure, because even now we have found a way to sing and be happy together!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir-8MAR2021-We Sing Because

 This past Monday, we talked about how much we enjoy and need our choir nights. I really need to keep up the Monday night ritual for myself and everyone who knows me. It’s a well known fact that I don’t work late on Mondays, that dinner cannot be late on Mondays, that Mondays are special for me, reserved for Choir. A sacred time. 

It’s much more than singing.

Teija sent a link to a video to Lauren and me and I’m sharing the video here. 

This beautiful video shows a young choir singing a piece called “Sing You Home”. The Holy Heart Chamber Choir stands outdoors, physically distanced, and sings “I’ll sing for you because I need to. Right now this is all I know.” It’s a touching piece about grief and so appropriate right now!  The whole time there is a sign language interpreter signing and the whole choir signs a verse. Powerful.

Then, there are times throughout when choristers hold up signs all starting with the words “I sing because”. There is one that says “I sing because I love being part of something beautiful.” Yes! Me too! When we sing together creating a beautiful work of art and when we meet together to laugh and commiserate and drink wine, it’s also beautiful and I love it. Choir is a home I need to return to.

 I highly recommend this. I have cried each time I’ve watched it (maybe 5 times now) and it’s mostly tears of wonder and love. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

YRCC- Zooming on Monday, March 1st: Possible post-COVID theme

 We had so much fun this past Monday!

First of all, it was a rotten day outside, windy and snowy, and the 400 was closed for a long stretch north of us because of a big pileup. Terrible and rotten. A few of us remarked with glee that we would have had to cancel the night's rehearsal if we weren't meeting on Zoom. We met and had a wonderful time, some of us with wine or other beverages which we wouldn't normally have at choir aiding our merriment. 

A few people were there who hadn't been there in a while. Notably, Teija, who is a public health nurse, came to sing with us. So, so good to see her there and singing and laughing! We're all hoping that it's Teija who gives us the jab when it's time for our vaccinations, I bet. 

Some of the current and past teachers shared some stories with us, commiserated, laughed, and shared some good advice. It was wonderful to see how our little community was working its magic, connecting us and raising us up to shine together. We sang You Raise Me Up as our last song of the night, and it really meant so much more.

Melinda shared a fun YouTube video with us about "the jab", a Hallelujah which we could sing along with and laugh at too. I'll share it here:

One of the songs we sang again this past Monday was Seasons of Love. We talked about how it would be appropriate when things open up to look back on this year and measure it in love, and measure it in all the little things and big things, good and bad, which we experienced.

In daylights,
In sunsets,
In midnights,
In cups of coffee,
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in a life?

 Melinda must spend a fair bit of time watching YouTube videos because she had another perfect one for us. We didn't watch any of it together, but talked about how we might want to do something with Seasons of Love, taking the arrangement and fixing it up a bit. I promised to share the video here. 

I just watched it and it makes me want to sing along and dance!!! You must see this!

I want to do that with an audience, that "Let the Sunshine" vamp, I want to sing it again and again with 200 people. And, I think we can. I've also found this sheet music for Age of Aquarius/ Let the Sunshine!

We named a bunch of other songs we love on the theme of sunshine. Our old favourite Blue Skies fits into this theme perfectly. Can you name some sunshine music? Of course you can! 
I can see clearly now, this is going to be our theme.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

YRCC Choristers support their church communities, cantoring

 Some of us have shared on Monday nights that we miss singing in church on Sundays too. Those of us who attend churches all miss singing with the congregation, and some of us are also members of church choirs that they miss. Others have taken on a new role as a church cantor! This is a fancy way of saying that they are singing solos that are meant to be sung along with. The congregation is not on site, in the church building, but is encouraged to sing along wherever they are.

Lauren shared a recording of her church’s service on Dec. 6th, where Lauren and her father each sang a solo. Her church is Port Carling United. She’s is often asked to offer a song there.

Cathy has shared this link https://rec.boltwave.com/scr/dir/jhnchrnmkt/v1.mp4  which is only available until Saturday, February 13th. Cathy sings at church regularly, twice a month, I believe. Here’s a link to her church’s website in case you’d like to join her at St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church in Newmarket.

Blair also shared this link to St. Paul’s Anglican in Newmarket where he regularly sings. You can hear him on Sunday the 14th, I think, and on Ash Wednesday next week.

Some of us gather at choir for some of the same reasons people gather at church on Sundays and I’ve read somewhere that community choirs have taken the place of church in many people’s lives. We do talk about all the important things as we sing timeless words and melodies which express timeless themes. For some of us, though, there just can’t be enough singing and gathering with good people, so we do both (and some of us are members of several choirs, sacred and secular).

Consider singing along with your church musicians.

Keep singing, even if it’s in the car or shower only. 

But, please do also consider coming to our Monday night Zoom Choir. I love it. I love my choir!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir in February-08-FEB-2021 Send Requests

First of all, a great big warm Thank You to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and another big warm Thank You to those of you who have supported my fundraising for the Inn From The Cold through the Coldest Night Of The Year walk on February 20th!!! 


There is still time to make a donation on my page on the CNOY site: Renate Naghavi

I had a very nice birthday despite the pandemic. Luckily 57 is not a big deal, so I wouldn't have had a big party anyway. I was happy to spend an evening in my family room with my family in front of a nice fire in the fireplace.

Early last month, I suggested that choristers could request the songs they wanted to sing. Just send me an email or a text or post on Facebook, find a way. So far, it seems you're happy to sing what I want to sing. I guess that's okay, but, with no concert to prepare for, I don't have a goal or any kind of limit. It's like picking what to have for dinner every night. What should we have?  It would be nice to have some suggestions once in a while. 

Maybe think about it for next time. But, maybe we can take Family Day off? We don't usually take holidays off because we're usually working hard to learn music for a concert. We don't usually have time to take a Monday off, especially during the winter when we might have had to cancel for a snowstorm. No snow days this year! (Ha! We drink, we don't drive, we don't have to worry about the weather: there have to be some perks to this second pandemic season.)

So, we'll talk about taking next Monday off. And, we'll talk about your requests.

I talked about that Choirs Ontario workshop last week and there were a couple of questions. I was going to look into that software for sharing music for choirs. MCC. My Choral Coach was the software that the professor was using with his choral music students/ choir. I haven't had a chance to do any research, but there's the link in case you want to look into it. There was also an app for your phone where you can check your pitch to see if you're singing in tune. I can't remember which one he recommended. I'm finding Singscope and Vocal Pitch Monitor. Let me know if you have tried either of these and if they're any good. 

Keep singing, friends!

Join us on Monday nights. It's keeping me (somewhat) sane to have a choir night during the pandemic, even if it's not perfect (what ever is?). 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

YRCC Zooms into February: Monday, February 1st, 2021 Choir for us- no stress

Today, I participated in a workshop offered by Choirs Ontario about Online Rehearsals. The presenter was Antonio Llaca from Carleton University in Ottawa. There were participants from all over Canada and all over the world, about 150 of us. 

It was cool. I think we should consider joining Choirs Ontario.

The presenter is a university professor who has had to learn to teach choral singing online. He reviewed with us some techniques for rehearsals, the role of conductor (I'm not obsolete!) and some of the new technologies.

For now, choirs can only meet online, but we talked about a hybrid approach being the most probable next step, as we gradually get back to real choir. 

We might always have some kind of blended choir experience, alternating between online and in person meeting, and the virtual component could have synchronous and asynchronous elements. 

We could use technology to meet at the same time (synchronous) and we could use technology independently to learn and rehearse on our own (asynchronous). We at the YRCC have been doing that already, so don't be nervous about that. With our recordings on the website, we have always had the capability for asynchronous rehearsing. So, we've already been using technology for years! We now can rehearse online on our own and we can meet together using Zoom. Hopefully soon, we will be able to get together in person. Especially if all 60 of us can't meet at the same time, we could complement our in-person meetings with online activities.

It is quite likely that new technologies developed during this time of virtual meetings and virtual performances will always be useful. So, it's best not to stand on the sidelines today, waiting for things to go back to where we were a year ago. Please join us as we continue to be a choir online!

There was a lot of talk about latency- the delay between broadcast and receipt of data electronically. 
There's that and there's also the different hardware that people use, what kind of equipment people have. 

The professor was not comfortable with questions about what headphones or microphones might be best. His approach was that online choir should be accessible to everyone, and that there shouldn't be requirements for the 'best' equipment. I loved that! 

We can use earbuds with built in microphones, or the very best external mic. We can use built-in cameras or external devices, as long as we have something so that we can see each other and feel connected. He did say that the conductor or instructor should have a good, reliable wifi connection and recommended using an ethernet cable for a steady feed.  

He also said that he asks his students to always have 2 devices, and the second one could be their phone (they always have that on during class anyway-hee hee). 

We use 2 devices so that we can always see all the other people on one and we can look at music on the other. Some of us have a laptop and a phone, others have a desktop and an ipad, any two things are good.

While the presenter's perspective and focus is on students and learning, with choral technique and theory being important elements as well as evaluation and feedback from the professor, there was a lot of good advice for me in the presentation. 

Some of the other participants were also community choir leaders, and they mentioned the difficulty with adult choristers not wanting to participate online. "It makes them cry" is what I saw. It's "very stressful and provokes unexpected emotions." Our presenter said that it was normal, even among his students. 

There is vulnerability in not being in a group. You're on camera, so you feel singled out. 

Some of us love choir because we can hide in the group. We can perform and take part in this musical experience without having a spotlight on us and without evaluation, judgment. 

Online, it might feel like people are watching you, but with us, it's not like that! There are over a dozen of us all at the same time so we're not watching one person. I'm doing my usual gesturing and people are looking at their music, as always. Occasionally, we look up and are comforted that we're all there together. And, we chat together in between songs. As usual, some people chat a lot and others listen more. 

When we sing, nobody is singled out. As usual. So far, we've been singing along with concert recordings. And, we're all on mute! Nobody is listening to you, except the people in your home, maybe. 

We are not planning to make one of those performance recordings where individuals record themselves and the videos and sound recordings are painstakingly synchronized and put together to create a work of art. That's not what we do. 

Please consider joining us if you've been staying away, waiting for things to get back to normal. This is normal now and it will be for a while yet. We're having fun every Monday, singing our choir songs and seeing our choir friends. Join us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Support Renate: Coldest Night of the Year- Fundraising Walk 20FEB2021

I'm doing the CNOY walk again!

It won't be the fun community event with hundreds of people starting together with speeches and prizes and inspiring music and ending with a community chili dinner. 

COVID. No gathering, no speeches or warm-up-dancing with hundreds of people. Walkers will walk with their families or alone. 

I will take advantage of this year's walking "alone" to invite my dog Dexter (not allowed in the group walk) and Harry and Soraya, who would normally have to register or raise funds in order to join.

I will make my own chili to eat at the end. I will have yummy buns, and I'll have sweets for after, just like we usually have at the community centre. 

Please donate and it's easy to do if you click on that link to go to my fundraising page. There's an easy form and you can use a credit card. 


it's cold out there.

The Coldest Night of the Year is a covid-safe, family-friendly walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger. Walk virtually or in-person on Feb. 20, 2021 – there’s a place for everyone!

Funds Support

Services offered by Inn From the Cold

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.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Singing and YRCC Zoom choir help beat the blues

 These dark days of winter, after all of Christmas has all been packed away, can be depressing. And, with COVID restrictions dragging on for Heaven knows how long (can we hope to meet for Christmas?), it’s getting pretty hard to stay positive. 

I’m so grateful for Zoom and my happy Mondays! 

Meeting and singing on Mondays, YRCC Zoom Choir makes me happy. We know that singing is good for you and friends are good for you, and laughter is more important these days than ever, always the best medicine.

Well, my big thing, the biggest soapbox topic for me, is how important it is for everyone to sing together and to have the opportunity to sing in community (one reason that COVID is hitting me hard, despite all my blessings). All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir, all of us.

And now, there’s a very, very, cool trend in music that I absolutely love and which underscores all of my thoughts on this. 

The Sea Shanty has made a comeback! Songs designed for singing in community, with something for everyone, drumming and clapping for those who prefer movement and rhythm, la-las and repetition, and stories and themes that are timeless and human are made for times like these! We can join in, learn the chorus quickly and commiserate or celebrate together. 

There’s a recent story of a young man, 26, who started posting sea shanties on social media, TikTok, last year. One he posted last month, the Wellerman, went viral and people interacted with it in wonderful ways, including Andrew Lloydd Webber! He got a record deal, and is quitting his job as a letter carrier to make music his career. Here, listen to Nathan Evens from Scotland, in his now published version of this ancient song:

Another thought on the popularity of sea shanties: maybe it’s that we’re doing that kids’ dream of pirate life where we don’t have to shower and look good, don’t have to brush our hair or our teeth every day. We’re not at sea, but we’re living the pirate life. Hahaha. Arrrgggh!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Next YRCC Zoom Choir 18-Jan-2021

 Our first Zoom choir of the year was wonderful! We had some sad moments and a few tears but also lots of laughs and lots of fun singing!

We ended the evening singing with our 2012 video of the Mamma Mia Medley! It was not the best but it was fun and we discovered that we need to replace that sheet music. (We’re making lots of cool discoveries like that.)

One extra-fun thing about that particular piece was that it featured Heather Vickers and she was with us from way over there at home in British Columbia! Another cool thing was that Enid was singing in the front row so we got to see a lot of our dear friend who will live forever in our hearts and on YouTube. 

We now have an obituary link So click there and you can read Enid’s obituary and you’ll see that the funeral has been put on hold until we can be together. So, maybe we’ll have a chance to sing for her after all. She had a list prepared of the songs she wanted. I don’t have it so if you do, or if you remember what she said, please let me know. I remember On Eagle’s Wings and You’ll Never Walk Alone, but I know there was more. We sang On Eagle’s Wings. 

I have missed Enid in the choir and in our audience. She was impressive in her knowledge and experience and even intimidating sometimes but always kind and always fun too. I treasure my copy of her book Wind-Free with her special inscription.

We’re going to sing On Eagle’s Wings again on the 18th, with some review of parts because it was pretty hard. If you have a chance, take a look at that. The parts are recorded, and you’ll find them on the page with all the recordings when you click on Previous Seasons. 

While you’re there, take a look and let me know what you’d like to sing. This season is Just For Us, so we can sing what we want and not what we need to work on to prepare for a concert. Yay! 

If you haven’t tried it yet, please do try to join us. It’s never too late. Sometimes people come just for a short time at the beginning to say hello to everyone. Or, come a few minutes early to see who’s there and chat.Some of us bring a drink so we can say “cheers!”

Saturday, January 9, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR YRCC! 11-JAN-21 FIRST ZOOM-Another Season Just for Us


Happy New Year!

The York Region Community Choir survived a year without a concert. 

We had to cancel our Spring 2020 Concert, and there was no question of having a Winter 2020 Concert in the middle of a pandemic either. Although we stopped rehearsing in March 2020, we decided to restart in September. The plan had been to use masks and plastic face shields and to stand at a safe distance from one another, but even that plan went out the window. Zoom was the answer. We could not give up, would not give in to the loneliness of the pandemic. 

I was not excited about the Zoom plan. The problems with unreliable wifi, "network latency" and everyone having different systems meant that we couldn't sing together without a horrible cacophony. We did try, and it's crazy, and we end up laughing, but it did feel good. We did it a couple times. 

We're not professionals, so we don't have recording equipment and I didn't want us to create a recording. That's not what we do; we only perform live. We decided to have a season just for ourselves- A Season Just for Us. We decided that our meetings would not be rehearsals but an opportunity to see one another and to sing together as best we could. Turned out we could do okay! It's been fun! And, more importantly, we're reading music together, we're working on pieces in our repertoire that we want to sing again, and we're working as a team, having team fun and team jokes, and even team drinks!

So, I'm looking forward to our Zoom Choir in 2021! 

We sing together, we do! It's not nearly the same as meeting in person, but it's so much better than not meeting at all! Please do try to join us this year. Maybe we'll be able to meet in person in the fall, and we won't be strangers to one another and we will have a good number of people who are ready to sing our songs.

Please go to the YRCC Google Calendar. There are links here on my blog and on the YRCC Website.

The Zoom link will be there every week, and there will be attachments (you might have to look for Attachments with an extra click or two). I attach PDF scans of our sheet music there. No need for a binder. Some people like to print out the music and put it in their own binder, but I like to have the sheet music on one device and the Zoom meeting on another, so I can see the choir and the music at the same time. We don't have a concert to rehearse for, so we can sing anything that we have a concert recording of. We sing with our best selves, our concert recordings. 

You see, we do have recordings of ourselves, just for us. We can't share them for legal reasons, but we sure do use them for our own learning and enjoyment! 

I hope and pray that we can meet in person later in 2021 and wish for a Winter 2021 Concert. We'll see. For now, we have another season Just For Us.