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!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 24th

 Life is so much better with choir! 

I was a bit frazzled from my day at work but soon forgot all of that and had a wonderful evening.

We had a quick warmup only so that we could get singing asap.

1. Why We Sing- so satisfying. Not sure how I want to do the beginning this year. Maybe we'll do it differently. Not the back and forth? We discovered that could use another one or two additional first sopranos. If you'd like to try, sit in front with Anna next week. We don't have a lot of first soprano parts, but a few important ones, like this song and We Rise Again, and a few special bits, kind of like bass parts. The special bits usually go above C so you have to be comfortable singing D E F and up to G, and the odd A.

2. Top of the World- we've got it. We just sang it through and we'll keep on getting better. Sweet.

3. On Eagle's Wings- We looked at all the "make you to shine like the sun" and they are pretty cool. We'll keep on tweaking and improving, but it's really quite good already. Well done! Sopranos and Altos marked their music at 43 with a note to say "altos only and soft". Baritones have the melody there, and then altos have a really good "sun" there. Altos should be loud on "sun". Sopranos have a pretty "make you to shine" which should be strong but not louder than the altos. Pretty like angels floating above the melody. At 61, the baritone part has the special bit that the altos had at 43, a harmony above the melody. Don't slip into melody there. Soprano and Alto both sing softly on the melody: stronger than just the altos, but not loud. The baritone line has the melody and should be strong right through make you to shine like the sun and "sun" is good and strong, please. Altos have a special sun again too. We looked at the whole ending, with special attention to altos and baritones again. Watch out for the short movements onto beat one at: 88, 90, 94. Don't hold them longer-observe those rests on beat two! I might lengthen beat one at 94: watch! That's the beginning of the end and you need to be watching anyway. There's a rit.(ritardando, slowing down) there which means the tempo will depend on the conductor, so watch. We added a bass note to the very end "hand", a low A (or was it an F?).

4. Viva!- It's so cool singing Mozart and so close to his birthday, January 27th! We did really well and sang all the way through the first section. We sang in Italian! Some of us are a little worried about how to say the r sounds. It's not a big deal but maybe we'll work on it a bit. Pay attention to the rests. Don't hold notes longer than written. There are short half-beat rests, one-beat rests, and two-beat rests. This Mozart piece is delightful and good for learning how to read note values, because it's pretty clear and even 4/4 time. 

5. I Can See Clearly Now- We reviewed the changes to the lyrics here and there, and looked at the parts at 16. We did great despite a few new folks getting lost. It's a bit confusing, but we'll keep working at it. Be sure to have a look at the repeats and the notes about them. Make note of the segno at 25 and the Coda at 43 where you come in at 45. We'll need to go over those sections again too. No worries. 

We talked about: small groups and solos

If you have an idea for a small group song or would like to sing a solo that fits in our theme, please let me know as soon as possible. I'll need 4 or 5 at the most. We've started Together Wherever We Go and in 2 weeks, we'll start the next one. We'll need to plan for rehearsal time with Donna at 6:30. I've got 3 solo suggestions and 4 small group possibilities, and when I've heard from everyone, I'll see which ones fit best. 

Next week:

  • Blue Skies
  • I Can See Clearly Now
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Viva

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 17

 Our warm-up included breathing, stretching and yawning, sirens/rollercoasters, na-nas and do-dohs. 

1. Wonderful World was also a warm-up, as it's sweet and not too challenging. 

2. We Rise Again was not on my list for tonight, but the composer of this song, Leon Dubinsky passed away earlier in the day, and it felt good to sing him home this way. I also had Dorothy Street in my mind as we sang this beautiful song about how life doesn't end when we die. We learned today that Dorothy passed away on Sunday. Dorothy sang Tenor, and was vibrant and youthful, always busy and singing, despite some health issues. We were surprised to hear that she was 93. Inspiring. 

3. Top of the World is done! Well, we got to the end. We'll sing it a lot in the next few months, don't worry. Something we talked about is how you are encouraged to make notes on your music- in pencil- because I often change things. We added a bass part to this because I felt that the baritone line was too high for our basses. They will sing melody 2 octaves down, mostly with sopranos, except in the section from bar 66-bar 74. Donna made up a great part for them to sing there, a low harmony to the baritone part. Remember to sing the same rhythm as, move with, the baritones, and not the sopranos in this section. We reviewed the alto part at 52 which is a bit tricky. It comes again at 74. 

3. Viva! This is one of two classical pieces in our binders this season. It's short and exciting and we're singing in Italian! Yay! The Italian is so much better. And, you can easily learn this at home by following along with your part on videos on YouTube. You can get there through my channel, but I'll put the direct links on the website. The video is just the sound, nothing to watch, so you'll want to look at your music while you listen. Look on the pdf side for my Viva Notes on Pronunciation (and meaning).  It's not difficult and there are so very few words to learn- don't worry. You're going to wish it were longer. 

4. On Eagle's Wings is so good, but I want to make it even better. We need to look at all the "make you to shine like the sun" parts. That's our theme, sunshine. It goes with This Little Light of Mine, I'm gonna let it shine". Same thing. (also We Rise Again like the sun, see?) I had planned to go through all of them this week, but we ran out of time. I wish choir nights were longer! You can look at them on your own, but we will do it together. Sopranos have it easy but still have to pay attention. Altos have a couple special ones. Tenors have special ones too. Here's where to look: bar 11, bar 29, 47 and 48, 65 and 66, 85. I especially love 48 an 66, altos and tenors. 

Next week:

6:30 Small Group Together Wherever We Go Starts! I've got three early Tuesdays booked on the YRCC Calendar for you. This is going to be a fun and cute song with back-and-forth interaction with body language and dynamics to make it "delightful" Here's a video for you to watch. 

Some of you have started coming forward with ideas for solos and small groups. If you have an idea for a small group or a solo you'd like to sing that you think will fit in with our theme, please do let me know. It's great to have lots of ideas to choose from! If you have a solo piece, be sure to get the music for Donna to play the accompaniment and so that I can have a look. Once I've taken a look, I'll choose a few and we'll book time with Lauren and Donna for you in that early slot 6:30-7:30. 

Next week's plan:

  • Blue Skies
  • I Can See Clearly
  • On  Eagle's Wings
  • Viva
  • Why We Sing

Monday, January 16, 2023

CNOY Walk 2023- Support Inn From the Cold with Renate

It's not a walk to test how far you can walk or how fast. It's not a run, not a race. There are no timers and there's no list to show who was fastest, but the team and individuals who raised the most funds are listed and celebrated. When we finish our walk, we gather to have a simple, warm meal. In the past, a restaurant has donated chili and buns and hot chocolate. I've participated in this walk for many years and even walked during the pandemic when we had to walk separately. 

The walk is not a huge challenge, 2km or 5km. The walk might be icy, or slushy, snowy, or dry and clear, but it's always cold and getting dark. We don't run. This year, we walk on February 25th. 

The CNOY walk is more like a demonstration, a statement. We walk together, a huge crowd of people with matching toques. We walk through the town in community. We join thousands of walkers all over Canada, walking on the same evening. We walk in solidarity with those who suffer because they might or must spend cold nights outdoors because they have no shelter of their own, no bed, no home. 

From the CNOY website: The Coldest Night of the Year is a moment when tens of thousands of Canadians step outside the warmth and comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and inclusion. Together, we're collecting donations that fund critical services at a local charity partner who serves and supports vulnerable families and individuals in our CNOY community.

In Newmarket, we are supporting Inn From the Cold. 

Take a look at the Inn From the Cold website. (innfromthecold.ca) They're amazing; they do so much! Their goals and vision are admirable, and the work they're doing is awesome. 

From the IFTC website: 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. 

We are all winners when homelessness ends. When everyone has shelter, dignity, and safety, we all win. Wouldn't it feel good to be able to prevent and eliminate homelessness together?

Donate now on my fundraising page. It's easy, and fast.  

Thursday, January 12, 2023

YRCC 2023 Rehearsal Review January 10th


What an excellent rehearsal we had! This new season has started off on a high note ;-)

We welcomed a few new people from the waiting list, and they're great. I'm especially happy to see the new men. 

While we do have to maintain a waiting list, men are always welcome. We have a limit of 60 because of our space in the Administrative Centre, where we hope to return in September. If you're wondering why we don't have 60 people now, it's because we're holding spaces for some of our past members who have let us know that they're coming back as soon as they feel more comfortable. 

Our theme this season is a continuation of Merrily Singing Together, which was our Winter Holiday theme. For spring, our theme is Sunshine, "We Rise Again", and Happy Singing Together. We have a lot of wonderful music in our binders! We won't be able to sing all of our songs at our concert, so some of them will be just for us. 

We started with warm-ups, physical and vocal. For fun we did a popular choir warm-up from TikTok! It's a 4-part na-na from Hey Jude. Apparently, a high-school music teacher posted it on TikTok and the vocal group Pentatonix used it at one of their concerts. Pretty cool.

1. You Raise Me Up- super song to start the year. Remember: not too strong on the the "I am strong" sections on the first three pages. Loud begins at the end of page 3. Watch during the ending, as always.

2. This Little Light of Mine- Lauren and Melinda were outstanding as usual on the solos. Finding the repeat is easy "on a Monday". Get loud at the key change (starting in the second ending).

3. On Eagle's Wings- beautiful. And, it will be even more beautiful when we study it and look at how the dynamics will create beauty and drama. We will need to focus on "make you to shine like the sun". It's different every time, and that part highlights our theme. 

4. I Can See Clearly Now-Despite it being a new song and having all kinds of tricky parts, this was pretty good! Some of us have clearly studied this one. Things to review: We changed to "I think we can make it" in a few places, bar 21 and it's pickup have the same words for SAB "I've been praying for", the section at the Segno, 25 all of it, bar 33 and the pick-up, the section at 38, coming in at 45 after the segno section. I love the blue, blue skies section, which is our point: nothing but blue skies from now on. 

5. Top of the World- We started this just before the lockdown in 2020, so it's still pretty new. It's farily easy though. We started "learning" this one, going through parts on pages 4,5,6. Lucky sopranos have the melody, but altos and tenors have some learning to do. Sopranos just have to pay attention to how the melody and timing are a little different from the Carpenters' version. 

6. Hallelujah- This is always a treat. We sing the chorus softly the first few times to make it more satisfying and dramatic when we stay loud on page 9. There are some tricky bits in the alto section to review.

Next week:

  • I Can See Clearly
  • On Eagle's Wings
  • Top of the World
  • Viva 
  • Wonderful World
  • Why We Sing
This little light of mine is gonna shine

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

YRCC New Year Blessing 2023

" May every day of this new year bring joy to you and yours."

Our New Year Blessing song in its entirety is what I wish for all of us, love and laughter, friends, plenty, health, but this big ending phrase rings in my ear. I do hope that we find some joy in every day. We certainly will have hard days, but we have come through so many that we know that there is always some joy, something wonderful to be found.

I have sad news. We lost another member of our choir family. Mary-Ellen Scriver (alto Mary-Ellen) passed away on new year's eve. We were blessed to have her kind, generous, and gentle presence in our alto section for many seasons and will remember her fondly. 

I'm looking forward to this new season of choir. Our theme is still happily singing together again with a We Rise Again, spring and sunshine feel to it. 

I've updated this blog and our website with the new list of music, and Peggy and Anne will have our binders ready for Tuesday, January 10th. I look forward to seeing you then. I hope that some of you who've been reluctant to return will find new courage to meet with us every week again. Remember that there is plenty of space in the Trinity basement for us to spread out if we want to and if you prefer to keep your mask on, and if rules tell us all to put our masks back on, then we'll be flexible and patient.