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, December 27, 2021

Time to Feel the Hidden Holiday Feelings

 Christmas 2021 was jolly and merry in my home because we all worked together to see everyone, even if it was just FaceTime or Zoom and driveway visits. I cooked the turkey and all the trimmings for 4 instead of 12. I took the leaf out of the dining table, and it’s hidden away in the basement again. We spiked our eggnog and our hot chocolate, and laughed and sang by the fire. The tree twinkled and so did we.

Today, however, I am going to sit, breathe in and out, relax, and make room for the feelings that I’ve been tucking away over the last few days. I’m feeling sad and disappointed, and I feel cheated, so I’m pouting and slumping and cuddling my old puppy. Life is not fair. I hate COVID.

I’m going to read to escape, and maybe I’ll watch a movie later if I feel better. I’m sure I will. I don’t usually stay slumpy for long. Thank God for the pretty new snow! How can I be gloomy for long when the world is sparkly and fluffy?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Wishes and New Year Dreams for YRCC

 Merry Christmas, friends!

It’s not turning out the way we planned in our house, but Christmas will be merry and bright and we will count our blessings. I wish you all merry and bright celebrations over the holidays.

I’m always dreaming of a white Christmas and I think I’ll get my wish this year! My new year wish is not going to happen though. I wished for no more Zoom Choir.

The new year is not looking as good as it seemed a month ago, or even a couple weeks ago. Suddenly,  we are back in pandemic restrictions. We will not be able to meet in person on January 10th, or even the 17th. We hope to be able to meet on the 24th, and that’s the current plan, but I’m not counting on it. We’ll see. Again, we have to move cautiously and have plans for Zoom meetings for a while. As soon we can meet in person again, we’ll be ready.

I dream of our big return concert “We Rise Again” in May. And, I’m planning it. Let’s do our best to stay safe and healthy and support others and encourage others to work together to squash COVID.

Lauren and I will be keeping the choir informed. Watch out for emails and my usual posts. The calendar will have Zoom links, etc again.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

YRCC December 13, 2021

I'm so happy just thinking about the fact that we can meet next Monday! 

You know, they say that planning a vacation is as good a mood lift as the actual vacation. Having happy plans is definitely a good thing. I've felt uplifted since we heard we had the rehearsal space in the church. And, I'm feeling super-positive about choir resuming in 2022.

In response to my more upbeat mood, I've added Mele Kalikimaka to the YRCC calendar on Monday, Dec. 13, and a pdf of sing-along lyrics!

Let's have fun! (safe and comfortable fun!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Holiday Concert Recommendation for YRCC

YRCC member Pat Richards is recommending a holiday concert for a good cause. It also looks like it's going to be a fantastic show. Go take a look at the website for descriptions of the performers. I've snipped a sample, see below.

LOFT 31st Annual Home for the Holidays Benefit Concert 

Click on that link to get all the details and to buy tickets either online, by phone, or by email. $40 includes access to the show and a charitable donation.

It's a virtual concert, so you don't have to worry about crowds. 

LOFT is a provider of community services in Toronto. Here's what the website says:

LOFT Community Services provides support and hope to people facing complex mental and physical health challenges, addictions, dementia, homelessness or risk of homelessness. LOFT stands for Leap of Faith Together and we’re there where there are few others, reaching out in response to unmet needs. Our goal is to help them live independently at home or with us.

Tune in on your choice of three dates to see esteemed Canadian jazz singer and host Heather Bambrick, and a glittering array of other exceptional artists as we celebrate the year that was and look forward to better days ahead.

Thursday December 9th, 2021 at 8:00 pm
Sunday December 12th, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Wednesday December 15th, 2021 at 8:00 pm 

On the date of the show, click on the unique link provided to you in your email. The concert will only be available during the scheduled times, with login starting up to 30 minutes before the start time.

 Here's a sample of the performers. Wow!

Monday, December 6, 2021

Winter Weather- We're on for tonight

Winter weather can be messy, and sometimes you want to stay indoors. Last night was surely one of those nights. I was happy to sit inside by the fire. 

Tonight, I'm going out! It's choir night, and the forecast for this evening is not too bad (IMO).

I will be there, but if you feel unsafe driving and would rather stay at home. That is fine. There is no pressure for us to rehearse and even if there was, I wouldn't want you to choose choir over safety. 

Whenever the weather forecast is bad, look here on my blog to find out whether choir has been cancelled or not. 

Cancellations will be announced on our Facebook page, on the Website and here. 

Funny! Choir Section Stereotypes



I have seen this joke in several places with some small variations, but here it is on a T-shirt! I found this on Pinterest and there was a link to the website that sells this shirt (Musician Tee) and they also have sweatshirts and mugs with musical things on them. You can click on that link under the picture.

If you're looking for musical gifts, YRCC members, you can support our friend Steven Loweth (Daphne's nephew and a former choir president). His family business is Mayfair Music and they have gift items, including pretty scarves and tote bags. Here's a link. They're music publishers, so mostly serve music schools, but I bet you could pick up some things from their website. 

Here's that joke, in case it's too small to read on the shirt image.

The Choir Director says "There was a wrong note."

Sopranos: It was the altos.

Altos: It was us.

Tenors: There was a wrong note?

Basses: What page are we on?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

YRCC Meeting Safely: COVID rules for Choir December 2021

We are so happy and lucky to be able to meet in person, but we're still in a pandemic and have some rules to follow. 

We are all concerned about our safety and hope that we are all doing our best to see that this pandemic comes to an end soon.

Here are some things to note about choir this month, December 6 and 13, 2021:

  1. Wear your mask. Wear your mask any time you are away from your seat. You can sing with your mask on, but you don't have to. We also have plastic face shields for everyone. Give a face shield a try. 
  2. When you arrive each time, you have to check in. We are required to do contact tracing.
  3. Make sure we have your correct phone number.
  4. Bring proof of vaccination. (you just have to show it once)
  5. Chairs will be placed for physical distancing. Do not move them.
  6. Stay healthy and do not come if you are feeling ill, stay home. 
  7. You can screen yourself online before you leave home here. (The Ontario screening tool. It's so easy! Click on "Start Screening" and keep clicking.) 
  8. Or, you can screen yourself using this form, attached, a PDF version. 
  9. Generally, wash your hands often with soap and water and dry them well.
  10. Use hand sanitizer when you can't access soap and water.
  11. Avoid touching your face. 
  12. Only go out when necessary (choir is necessary).
This list and the rules can change and will be updated. 

Stay safe, everyone! I miss you and need to see you again. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

REAL CHOIR in DECEMBER- YRCC meeting Dec. 6 and Dec. 13

I'm doing a happy dance! 

I can hardly believe it. I'm going to see you soon!

Cross our fingers, say your prayers, do what you can to make this happen!

We have booked our room in the basement of Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora (79 Victoria Street) for 2 Mondays in December and starting in January!!!

There will be COVID things, masks while we're out of our seats, social distancing and vaccination records. But, we will be together in one place singing our songs! I'm so excited!

December 6 and 13 will be just for fun, since there's no concert to rehearse for. We're not making binders. You can simply download the sheet music to your phone or a tablet or iPad and sing with an electronic copy. If you prefer, you can print them out. Go to the website to the Recordings page to fetch the music. I'll put them on the calendar too. Here's the list of music. We might do a little Christmas sing-along if we're in the mood. 

  • Grown-up Christmas List
  • Hallelujah
  • Little Tree
  • Magic of Winter
  • Seasons of Love
  • Twelve Days After Christmas
  • Twelve Songs of Christmas
  • We Need a Little Christmas
  • What a Wonderful World
  • Why We Sing
  • You Raise Me Up

Stay safe and healthy and hope for the pandemic situation to remain the same or get better, not worse again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Real Choir: Can YRCC Hope for an Indoor Rehearsal this Year?

 Even though we have given up on having a concert in 2021, I think there is still hope for us to meet together to sing together, in real life, face-to-face! 

How wonderful will it be to see you again?!!!

We're trying! Lauren and Jane and I have been trying to get the choir together. It seems like everything is opening up but some places are still being very careful, just like some people are being extra careful still. Things look good for a Spring Concert, and rehearsals starting in the new year. And, now there are a few things that look promising for us in the next few weeks!

Stay tuned, YRCC choristers, watch out for details in an email or maybe an event on the website*! 

Read about my yearning for Real Choir and preference for Real things on my other blog, Old Pollyanna. 

*or maybe a very sad Renate if nothing works out. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Song Requests for Zoom Choir, Please

 YRCC Zoom Choir continues through the Winter Holiday Season. So, if we're not preparing to perform, we can sing anything we want again. 

Please let me know which of our songs you would like to sing (and maybe which ones you'd prefer not to as well). Sign in to the website and go to Library of Music and Recordings. If it's in red, we have the sheet music online (black means we don't). I'll check my spreadsheet to see if we have a concert recording. If not, we could sing with the accompaniment recording or Soprano one, also in red if we have it. I can attach the sheet music to the calendar entry where the Zoom link also can be found. 

There's also the 1970's Song Book which we've been singing to, using the sheet music and accompaniment tracks as sight learning fun. The list of songs is a PDF in the calendar. Let me know which of those you'd like to sing. 

Send me an email with your requests. 


Friday, October 29, 2021

We Need to Sing Together Again!

I so much want to get the choir together again in person! We need to stand shoulder to shoulder singing our songs. 

We need to sit together chatting in person, arms around our shoulders, hands on our knees, hands patting our backs. Touch. Hugs. I need hugs. 

I think we have to wait some more. 

I'm excited by all the things opening up and concerts and shows and sporting events happening. But, I'm also nervous about the COVID numbers. There is also that story of the Newmarket recreational hockey players with a COVID outbreak with lots of families affected and one league member died. It's scary.

The YRCC executive/board is meeting next week to talk about when rehearsals should/could start, among other things. I'm afraid we're going to have to wait until January at the earliest. 

We talked about it briefly at our last Zoom Choir on Monday, the 25th. We also talked about the possibility of singing at an outdoor tree lighting in Newmarket, if they have one. Nadine also said she was pretty sure that the seniors' home she works in would be interested in having us. She's going to find out some details about that. I think we can perform a few of our songs without much rehearsal time. We still don't have a rehearsal space, but we'll need to figure something out. We'll talk about it more this coming Monday at Zoom Choir and then at the executive meeting. 

I'm hopeful that I'll see some of you again this year and that we'll be able to perform some of our music. 

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Here's a link to a news article about the man who died after the COVID outbreak in Newmarket.

Maybe outdoor carols with masks? 
outdoors with 2m distancing is hard

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! YRCC Zoom Rehearsals Continue on October 18th

I hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful, joyful, satisfying Thanksgiving. 

Happy Turkey Day!

I've called our Zoom Choir "rehearsals" but they're really just fun get-togethers with singing. We're continuing to sing our songs but there is no pressure to perform them. We cannot be sure there will be a concert this season, and with so many choir members attending irregularly or not at all, the goal is to make our time together mostly enjoyable and even the "work" is for fun. 

Thanksgiving was good. I enjoyed my time off to spend with my family. We couldn't do all the things we like to do, and not in the ways we always did them, but it was still wonderful. This year was far better than last year, and next year will be even better. 

Of course, I got to thinking about Christmas Dinner and how that will look this year. I'm hopeful that my family will all be able to come to my house and sit around our dining room table. I'm enjoying dinner parties again. Some of us, however, are still wary of gatherings.

I worry about Christmas in my house, and I worry about Christmas for the choir. Will we be able to have a concert? It's not clear yet. Will we be able to rehearse for our concert, live, in-person, together? That's not clear yet either. Will people feel comfortable gathering to sing?

I want so much to have a concert, but please don't worry about rehearsing for a performance this season! If we can have a concert, we can have one without much rehearsal time. We will only perform things that we have done well in the past, our old favourites. And at Christmas, we can do a fair bit of sing-along with our audience. Also, I think that an audience will be happy to have an "all hits" show. I'm planning a fun and easy concert, and a short concert. One hour (or maximum one and a half hours) would be similar to a seniors' performance. We would not have an intermission, no extra mingling. Easy-peasy. 

We're going to start learning a new song this coming Monday, but it might be just for those of us who are meeting on Zoom this season and it will see its debut in 2022. I really want to sing We Need a Little Christmas because I really do need a little Christmas. The moment the Halloween decorations come down, I'm putting up some Christmas decorations. 

    For we need a little music, need a little laughter

    Need a little singing ringing through the rafter

    And we need a little snappy, happy ever after

    We need a little Christmas now

Let's all keep vigilant and do what we can to keep the pandemic under control so that it will come to an end soon. Stay safe!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir Monday, September 27th -Good Start to the Season

Our Fall/Winter 2021 Season got off to a good start on Monday!
We met by Zoom and sang several of our favourite songs and enjoyed good conversation, as usual. 
I've added a new fun sight-reading activity. Each Monday we're going to sing a song from the 1970s. I have a book of sheet music and it comes with accompaniment tracks. This week we sang I Can See Clearly Now. I should have chosen September. Now we'll have to sing September in October. 
There are so many good songs in this book! We'll really need to try a weekend getaway for the choir so we can sing lots of them. I was hoping we could plan something for this Fall, but it's going to have to wait until Spring, I guess. 
Also, we're going to try to learn a new piece! The sheet music and recordings are already on the website thanks to Tabatha! If you have a chance, go ahead and log in and start learning We Need a Little Christmas.
Please book off your Mondays for choir again. We're meeting by Zoom until we can get a space to meet in person. 
Let's help each other get through this pandemic. Zoom choir is a joy. 


Thursday, September 23, 2021

YRCC Zoom Choir Continues: Fall/Winter 2021

I was hoping that the YRCC Winter 2021 season would be in person. I was overly optimistic and now I'm disappointed. But, I always have a Plan B (even before COVID).

I hope to see you on Monday for Zoom Choir, and please book off your Monday nights from now until Christmas because the choir season is starting! 

It will be a stress-free, no-pressure season, a fun one of singing stuff we know and maybe learning one new song (We Need a Little Christmas- because I sure do). We will not be making any fancy videos. You will not have to record yourself. Just hang out with us every Monday and we'll have fun.

We've booked Zoom meetings for our rehearsals for now (Thank you, Tab!). I'm even thinking that when we do get a room, we might need to have a blend of in-person and Zoom rehearsals because people are not all going to be comfortable with singing together in person right away. We'll have protocols to follow, but I think it will be worth it. 

I am still hopeful that we will be able to meet and I hope that we can have a concert. Jane is in communication with Trinity Anglican and we'll let you know when we know something. 

For now, we Zoom ahead. 

Lauren is going to send you an email, but I think the easiest thing to do is use the calendar. You can go to the website on Mondays, click on the Calendar link in the right menu (see Find Calendar below) and then open the Calendar Event (see Find Date below) and you'll get a pop-up where you can click on "more details" to get a Zoom link and the sheet music to download. When I click on "more details", my Google Calendar opens and there's a pop-up for the event with all the attachments to click on and the Zoom link has a button. You can probably save all those events to your calendar. That would make it even easier. 

Give it a try before a Monday night to see what your screen looks like and test the downloading. You can print the music after you download it, but I find it easier to have the music on a second electronic device. I have the Zoom meeting on my desktop and the sheet music on my iPad or iPhone. 

Be sure to have a computer or tablet with a camera for the Zoom meeting so that we can see you. It's so good to see everyone! Use the "Gallery" setting so that you can see us all at the same time. We can all sing together, kind of. We are all patient with each other because we understand that technical difficulties happen. At the beginning of our Zoom Choir, we had a lot of troubleshooting happening, people helping each other to figure things out. Now, many of us are very comfortable with this but things still happen. Don't be shy to ask for help.  

I took a few screenshots to show you what my screen looks like. I hope this helps.

Find Calendar Link on Website

Find Date on Calendar

Zoom Link and Sheet Music in More Details

Monday, September 20, 2021

Harmony and Unity- Why We Sing and Why I'm Missing Choir

 Here's another sample of a concert script for us to remember how important choir is to us in the YRCC and how important music and singing together is for people everywhere. 

When I read this, I understand why I miss choir so much. 

I'm going to start Zoom Choir again next Monday and that will have to do until we get the go-ahead to meet in person again. It's better than nothing. 

Conclusion of YRCC Spring 2018 Concert: Harmony and Unity

When the world seems to be a difficult place

When the news is full of stories of pain and destruction

When the waters are troubled


Like a bridge,

A hand outstretched,

A loving voice-

Music takes us across to love and peace.


Some of us in the choir have been going through

Troubling times.

Our Monday night rehearsals lift us up.

This is why we sing.


Some of us feel alone.

In the choir we find community.

This is why we sing.


Some of us are bursting with passion and creativity.

The choir is an outlet for our souls’ expression.

This is why we sing


A choir perfectly represents

Harmony and unity


And we are an excellent vehicle

For messages of love and peace.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Singing with Friends and Spreading Harmony with the YRCC

 Our 2013 YRCC Spring Concert was called Singing With Friends, Spreading Harmony. I think all of my concerts, no matter what theme I've dreamed up and start with, they always end up having this same themes, peace and love. 

Ultimately, my message is always the same: singing together builds community and community is vital to individuals and to all of us, to peace and unity. Choirs are important. It's much more than having fun singing. We sing about love and beauty and peace, and feel wonderful. Inspired by music, we feel love for one another and work together to create beautiful things, musical artwork in our songs and concerts.

I've been blessed to be a member of the YRCC since 1999, and leading the choir for more than 10 years now. I love my choir and I love having the opportunity to add a little love and peace to the world. 

Here's an excerpt from my concert script from 2013.

It’s about chords,
 the vertical building that occurs in music.
We pile up notes in a pleasing way.


The horizontal building is the melody.

The best music has consonant and dissonant chords
and the relationship between them
is what makes life interesting.  
We think that
between the beautiful harmonious sounds we make
and the wonderful messages of love and peace in our songs,
we must be adding quite a bit of harmony to the world.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Harmony: Music and Love

 One person,

a true friend,

a sister,

a lover


can give us that blue sky feeling,

that skipping through purple fields feeling.


When we have a whole family,

a team, a choir,

a community in harmony,


lifting us up through thick and through thin,

in fair weather or foul,


then we have something to sing about,

a happiness that leads to great things.


Music is powerful

and Love is powerful.


They both lift us up

and transport us

and inspire us to be better individuals.


From one voice to many,

from one choir to one community,

we can make our one world

a better home for all of us.


Together we are strong.


It is the being together

and singing together

that creates harmony.

(From YRCC Concert Spring 2018-Harmony and Unity )

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Renate's other Blogs: Old Pollyanna and Musical Empathy

 Have you seen my other blogs? I'm now writing again and rediscovering the two other blogs I started in 2013, Musical Empathy and Old Pollyanna. I've been writing on Renate's Baton since 2011. It's kind of cool for me to go back and see what I was thinking about and doing all those years, like a public journal. I'm glad I started that and I'm glad that I have time to do it again. 

The one I'm currently spending more time on is Old Pollyanna: Musings on Ageing and Optimism. It's much more relevant to me now and will be a good place for me to collect my thoughts on things. Thoughts about ageing take up a lot of my time these days, and I'm still a Pollyanna, not exactly playing the Glad Game, but able to maintain my optimism in most situations. I put that link to the Wikipedia page on Pollyanna, in case you forgot who she is, but I recommend you read or re-read the book by Eleanor H. Porter as I recently did. Like other children's literature, it's worth reading as an adult. I think I'll look into the other works of Ms. Porter. She was trained as a singer before she started writing. 

Old Pollyanna

The Musical Empathy blog is where I focus on music. I might look at a particular piece of music and how it makes me feel or think about music's powers to influence not just our feelings and moods but also our brains and bodies. 

My most recent post on Musical Empathy was just an alphabetical list of how music helped my to survive the pandemic. The choir was a huge factor. The YRCC has been a tremendous source of meaning and joy in my life since 1999. I'm happy to have more time to spend on our website and thinking about our future rehearsals and concerts. Our recent rehearsals at Fairy Lake made me so happy!

I have often observed that we YRCC folks have a lot in common. I will put links out there on social media and here so you can find things that might interest you too. You can add your thoughts in the comments if you like, and that might help you too. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

YRCC in the Park #2 Monday, August 30th, 2021


I'm so looking forward to seeing you and singing with you tonight!

Right now, the forecast for 7:00PM is 24°C but the humidex will make it feel like 28.  And, it will be sunny. Blue Skies again!!! However, the sun will be setting as we end our evening, so we'll be sure to end on time. 

I will have my water bottle filled with cool water, and I'll have a hat, and chair, light clothing. Hopefully, there will be a breeze. We were quite comfortable last time, even though it was very hot.

Be prepared with whatever you need to keep comfortable for an hour in the sun, singing. We're going to sing! We're going to sing in person, together. It's such a good feeling to be together again. I can hardly wait! 

Don't forget to bring your completed COVID assessment form with you, or email it to Jane. In either case, you'll need to check in when you arrive. We have to make sure we take note of everyone who is there and we have to have a completed COVID form for each person, either in hard copy or electronically. 

Remember to tell your friends and family that this is not a performance, but a rehearsal. They are welcome to come, but we are not contact tracing the public in the park. We are not performing, but rehearsing. I will not be talking to the public, but I will make an announcement. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

YRCC Website is down temporarily- update: it's back up!

 The YRCC website is down temporarily. It will be back up as soon as the domain issue is resolved. 

Stay tuned. 

We're on for next Monday-August 30th- at Fairy Lake. (click there) The sheet music is attached to the calendar entry. You can download the music to a tablet or other electronic device, or print it out if you prefer. It's all stuff you know, just for us to sing, for fun and to be a choir again. 

The COVID assessment form is attached to the calendar with the sheet music in case you can't find your email with the form. Please email the completed form to Jane before Monday.

The website was only down for a few days. Thank you, Jane, for fixing that!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Naghavi family vacation on Lake Lorimer

Every January since 2015, Harry has found and booked a wonderful lakefront cottage rental for the five of us (including Dexter) for a week in August. The cottages or their locations are never perfect, so we've been to different places every year. This year, we ended up on Lake Lorimer. We've all had a very stressful year and especially needed a quiet, peaceful spot to help us get away from everything for a while. Winding gravel roads led to a perfect spot, where we swam and floated, paddled a canoe, did a little fishing, hunted for frogs, sat in the sun and in the shade, walked along quiet roads, made campfires, did a puzzle, read, relaxed on a couch, relaxed. This is my favourite kind of vacation. 

Lake Lorimer Cottage dock and canoe, and noodles and flippers for fun swimming and peaceful floating

Dexter watching us swim: Harry out deeper, me in the hat

Dexter waiting for me to catch up. In 6 morning walks, we encountered only one car, no other walkers, and no animals. 

The road trip is always good. Driving together with a Victoria-curated road trip playlist, seeing thick forests and pretty lakes along the way, the beautiful southern Ontario landscapes I love, is an important part of the getaway. 


Friday, August 13, 2021

You Do Not Walk Alone- YRCC Inspiration and Summer Beauty

Blair sent me this video (also embedded below) in an email a while back, suggesting the piece, You Do Not Walk Alone, for the choir, for future consideration. 

I'm sharing it here so that I don't lose it, but also so that you can enjoy it. 

The beautiful message and the stunning scenery are also appropriate as some of us are travelling at least a little in Ontario and will see some of our local beauty. I'm going to be going to a cottage up north soon and look forward to being immersed in our sometimes rugged, sometimes peaceful, always beautiful landscapes. I can hardly wait to swim in a lake. 

The message that we're not alone is not just about God, to me. Unless God is the Love and Companionship of the People present in our lives and in our hearts. I know when I float and glide in that lake, I will be in the company of my mother and her sister as they swim together in my memory, and with all of my friends and family who also love to swim in a lake or in the ocean on a vacation. I know that when I worry about my daughters, I am in good company. When I am driving to Sunnybrook, afraid, I am not alone. 

When I walk my dog every morning for exercise and as a prayer of gratitude for the beauty of my Newmarket neighbourhood in every season, the houses, the gardens, the parks, I do not walk alone. 

Whatever I'm doing, if I find myself humming one of our YRCC songs, then I feel so many feelings, and I always feel the companionship of the choir.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

YRCC in the Park was a Huge Success!

 Singing at the Park was a success!

The space was perfect for a choir physically distancing. Each chorister basically had their own rock, and Lauren had little flags too to show what an appropriate distance would be. We could sit on the rocks or on chairs placed on the grass. It was very comfortable.

Most people wore masks to walk around, and for sign-in, but once we were in position, we could take them off and sing comfortably.

There are challenges singing outdoors. Sound doesn't work like it does indoors but kind of fades away, weakens with distance, and that was even more pronounced because we were standing far apart. Getting the right level of sound on the recordings was challenging (on top of the usual technical difficulties). And, we're used to hearing the people in our section all close by, and the other sections too. It was hard to hear other choir members. For that reason, we sang to concert recordings. That way, we could hear everyone in all the sections. We did sing to accompaniment recordings as well, to be the choir that was present, and it worked out okay. We were a choir again. Success!

The main goal was to feel like a choir again, to enjoy the music and each other's company, and it felt great. I loved seeing everyone wearing their biggest smiles, singing and talking and laughing (there were a few tears as well, so many emotions). I loved seeing you in person!!! I can hardly wait for August 30th to do this again!

The Town of Newmarket requires from us to have a safety plan for participants and the public. So, we let members know that masks should be worn where social distancing was not possible, members signed up for the event for contact tracing and provided a completed COVID screening. Screening was done online, by sending Jane your completed COVID form, or some people printed out their forms, and others had Victoria fill them out on the spot. Victoria signed everyone in as registration. Among ourselves we have good contact tracing and safety ensured. That's all good. Our only responsibility to the public was to remind them to keep socially distanced. We made signs to do that, and to say that it was a closed rehearsal of the YRCC. I also made an announcement. We didn't expect an audience, since it wasn't advertised as a performance, and was booked as a rehearsal. But, we had some fans come out to watch. Another fan was happy that they happened to be walking through the park and were able to stop and hear us sing. We had a flock of geese fly over us, and were happy to learn that we didn't need to fear that they would "bless us" because they don't do that when they're flying. One goose entertained us by walking across the middle row, almost joining as a soprano.

Big thanks to Lauren and Jane, who booked the spot with the Town, made sure we were following all the rules, and got the keys to the electrical box. Bit thanks to Blair who brought the sound equipment and also set it all up and found someone with a Bandaid (thanks to that person also) to fix the wobbly cord. Thanks to my daughter Victoria who helped make and transport signs and get everyone registered and COVID screened and then took pictures and video! Thank you to everyone who made everything work!

Monday, August 30th

Put that on your calendar. We're going to do this again. Victoria will be back in Ottawa, but we'll have someone else there to sign in everyone and maybe take some more pictures. We'll send the COVID forms again, and this time we'll have all the right cords to plug everything in. We'll pray for good weather again. The blue skies were certainly shining on us.

Here's a clip of us singing Blue Skies:

Monday, August 9, 2021

YRCC in the Park Tonight! 9-AUG-2021-- prepare for heat


I'm so looking forward to seeing you and singing with you tonight!

Right now, the forecast for 7:00PM is 29°C but the humidex will make it feel like 35! And, it will be sunny. 

I will have my water bottle filled with cool water, and I'll have a hat, a chair, and an umbrella maybe, light clothing. Hopefully, there will be a breeze. 

Be prepared with whatever you need to keep comfortable for an hour in the sun, singing. We're going to sing! We're really going to get together and sing. I'm so wired. 

Jane and Lauren have made arrangements with the Town of Newmarket, preparing the COVID requirements, and Blair has the sound equipment, and I've been listening to the recordings and sending emails and posting. 

I hope we'll all have fun and feel reconnected after a year and a half of pandemic separation. We plan to do this again, since we're sure a number of people will be away doing summer things tonight. Hopefully, we can see most people before September and even more of us can get together in September. Keep safe and healthy and keep watching the COVID restrictions and follow the advice of the Health Department. 

We're all doing our best so that we can get back to meeting, and singing together, rehearsing for a concert, and performing. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

YRCC Singing together live! Fairy Lake Park August 9, 2021

 We want to see you! YRCC choristers, please come and sing together at the Fairy Lake Park Amphitheatre on Monday, August 9th, 2021.

We will sing for fun- not a rehearsal, just singing through some of our well-known and beloved pieces, like Hallelujah and You Raise Me Up with recorded accompaniments. I will send the sheet music PDFs, and you can have them on a tablet or iPad or print them out, whatever you prefer. They will also be on the Calendar, as we did for our Zoom seasons. 

The plan is to sing for about an hour, from 7:00 to 8:00. We have booked the space with the Town of Newmarket. 

Here is a picture of the amphitheatre:

It's located just past the pavilion:

Enter the park from Water Street, and park in Lot #3 if you want to be closest. You will need to walk down a bit of a hill on the grass. Dress comfortably. There is a washroom near the pavilion. 

You will probably want to wear a mask when you use the washroom or when you can't be 2 metres away from others, but we'll be outside and in a spacious place, so we should be comfortable to take our masks off to sing. We also have face shields, which we can bring along if that appeals to you. We hope that everyone will find a way to feel comfortable for this first in-person choir gathering.

Update: The town asked for a COVID plan. So, there will be some instructions coming for you. We will need to do screening and wear face coverings.

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