Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Thursday, 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.