Sunday, October 23, 2016

Musical Monday - Celebration at Knox United Embro

The fall colours are simply gorgeous here this year.  This was but one of the glorious trees we saw as we drove to Knox United Church in Embro this morning to sing at their celebration of the newly renovated basement.
We have often told you about how wonderful the folks at Knox United have been to us in allowing us to use their beautiful space for rehearsals.  They are so generous as we know that many choirs constantly struggle to find a practice space with good acoustics, appropriate area and instruments for singing.  We have found all of that in this lovely old church.

 The old basement is where we started out back in 2010.  It was dark, damp and acoustically poor.  Well this morning we got to warm up in the new basement that is now bright, warm and much more open.  Then, up to the church we went.

It was a delight to be leading the music today.  We sang For the Beauty of the Earth. 
 Angels Among Us

 The Storm is Passing Over & Any Dream Will Do

Basses & Sopranos
Tenors & Altos
Kristy is back in great form at the piano keeping us all together.  We are so pleased that her injured foot is healing so well.

We are saying our thanks to our hosts at Knox United by giving them the money to tune and repair the piano downstairs in their lovely new basement.  Embro Thistle Singers are all about Song, Service & Fun.  We experience all of those using this wonderful facility.  Many thanks to our friends at Knox United.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Musical Monday - Timpanogos High Choir Sings William Tell Overture (Funny)

You have to understand.  The William Tell Overture was the theme song for the old television show, The Lone Ranger.  When my brother was about 3, every time that theme played he galloped around the dining table until it was finished.  So imagine my surprise when surfing YouTube to find this choir using that very piece and doing some horsey impersonations.  

Not only is this fun but they sing beautifully.  Speed is a bit of an issue in my mind at times but then they are really having to move a lot.  Notice that they use only a few sounds throughout the entire piece.  Oh how fun this is.  Talk about audience engagement.  I think this kind of treatment would be a grand addition to a concert that has more serious or solemn sounds as well.  What do you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Musical Monday - Pitch Slapped & Unique Presentation Ideas

The young people in this video are tremendously talented. List the things they are doing to make this a Capella piece unique.

1. The Introduction - pushing the "button" for the introduction gets your attention right away.  Why couldn't any of us do something similar?  
2. Black & white none-matching outfits.  They keep their individuality while remaining a group. 
3. Movement.  I am not a proponent of general movement when you sing but sometimes it helps focus on the meaning of the song. In this case, it helps to tell the story.  Used judiciously, it can be an integral part of the presentation.  Notice they limited the movement when the music had a serious turn.  It really focuses the attention where it belongs. 
4.  Enthusiasm.  Always bring that excitement with you as you sing.  When you enjoy your work, so will your audience.  Whether a serious or playful message, make sure you show your love of the music you are making.  Done & dusted. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Musical Monday - Sharing Your Musical Joy & This Ole House / When the Saints Go Marching In

It is SO important that when you sing you show that you are actually enjoying it.  If you are singing a Requiem, you probably won't be grinning but sing it with your eyes.  Beauty of the music should show in your face.  
When singing something livelier and less serious, smiling is a must as long as it doesn't impede the sound or create broad vowels that can flatten your tone.
I think there are a few ideas that can help you to be certain that the finished product connects with your audience which of course is the bottom line.
  1. You as the director must have an understanding of the music & the text and how they work together to get the MEANING across.  The big job is to be sure that all of your singers are on the same page. 
  2. Once you have decided what the song means, then make certain as you are learning the parts that the PHRASING maintains the story you are trying to tell.  Breathing in the wrong place is like putting a comma in the phrase where it doesn't belong. For example, there is huge difference between Let's eat grandpa and Let's eat, Grandpa.  
  3. If you and the singers are enjoying yourselves no matter how serious or fun the song is, your audience will enjoy your presentation.  
Here is a quartet that is loving what they sing and when they pan across the audience, look at the faces.  This is fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Musical Monday - For Kristy - Happy

Many years ago in a land just down the street, a teacher arrived at a new school & an enthusiastic colleague got things rolling for us to mount a number of musicals & musical events. 

Well, that was great but we needed an accompanist who could be with us before school for 8 a.m. rehearsals & after school and weekends.  One of the mums suggested her friend's daughter who was in grade 9 at the high school.  Enter Kristy Van Kooten.  Now this was a talented young lady.  Kristy played for us for the 3 years I taught at the school next to her high school. 

We won't talk about the time the rehearsal went over time and Kristy was late for her classes.  When they called her mum at home, she thought Kristy was missing and called the police.  Oh the excitement.  All was forgiven and on we went.  

There are many children including our own daughter who have many happy memories of the music we created in those years. 
We did the Psalty Musicals with our grade 5 teacher dressed as a hymn book (a.k.a. Psalter hence - Psalty).  Our principal was the voice of God.  Really.  And all the while it was Kristy who held us together with her fabulous accompaniment and patience.  

Then, she agreed to play again when I was to direct Kiss Me Kate with the community theatre.  Heaven!!

Now, our Kristy is the accompanist for the Embro Thistle Singers. She knows what I want before I do.  Many times we will stop together with the same idea for improvement.  What an amazingly talented and generous person she is.  

Well a few weeks ago, she injured her foot at work.  That didn't stop her from coming to our concert for the Embro Cemetery service.  She also scooted down the aisle at the church for our rehearsal 2 weeks later.  

Well, Friday Kristy had to have a toe amputated.  She is healing well but it will take time.  Does that mean she will miss any of our concerts?  Nope.  Just before she went into surgery, she called to make certain of dates.  

Kristy, you are one fantastic woman and we are so very blessed to have you as part of our musical partnership.  We have so many laughs together as we learn and work.  You make our time so much fun.  

Here is a young choir on a mum's cell phone video as they rehearse.  The second is of their performance.  Can't you see the choirs we had doing just this?  With great memories and so much happiness, I thank you from the bottom of a truly grateful heart!! Heal well and we can hardly wait to again be making music together. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Musical Monday - Make Words Meaningful with Different Presentations

Sometimes, when we sing songs we like but have sung over & over, using a different accompaniment, arrangement or tune can really make us & the audience sit up and take notice. 
1.  The Anthem Lights have taken a number of beautiful hymns and put them together as partners in a beautiful a Capella arrangement that really makes you listen in a new way.

2.  This next one uses a completely different tune for a well known hymn.  Does this get in the way of the beauty of the words or help you to hear them differently?  
We have to weigh the benefits of using something that is so unexpected to its ability to make the song(s) even more meaningful.  My only caveat is that we don't make changes just for change sake and that we consider our audiences and our purpose carefully.  For me, these two example work well and enhance the hymns.  Do you agree?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Musical Monday - Dallas Street Choir - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Sometimes certain genres of music can seem to be unrelated.  The love of music is very evident in this video in every single face.  They sing because they can & happily share their talents among them.  Music more than anything can bring people together and bind their souls.  Listen.