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, 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