Friday, March 30, 2012

World Harmony Folk - We Are Listed

I found this wonderful web site about community choirs all over the world.  This site truly supports choirs whose membership is open to all members.  I sent in our information and there we are listed under South Western Ontario.

Check us out World Harmony Folk .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Check Yourself First

A few weeks ago,  we had the Cyber Conductor YouTube video for you to watch.  It really was the ultimate dream for control freaks.  Sometimes, I know I can be very opinionated (I bet you hadn't noticed.  Tee, hee!!)  And I think the excerpt below from the National Arts Council blog really puts things in perspective.  

"This morning I was sitting in a huge backstage rehearsal hall for the Canadian Conductors Workshop, in which five young conductors from across Canada come here to work with American conducting teacher Kenneth Kiesler.
They also get to practice their craft on none other than the National Arts Centre Orchestra. For three days in rehearsal, this is the orchestra these young conductors have, quite literally, at their fingertips.
At the workshop’s first session, one of the conductors, who had been leading the orchestra through the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, said he wasn’t getting out of the orchestra quite what he had in mind.
 “If there’s a problem on the outside, check yourself first,” Kenneth said."

I do believe that is right on for anything we do.  When we are critical of others, we need to check ourselves first.  The only person over whom we have control is our self.   So the question should be, "What can I fix about what I am doing or how I perceive things, to make the situation better?"  

Okay singers, you now have the ammunition.  Shoot!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Peace, Love & Dylan

Did you know that March 19th, 2012 is the 50 year anniversary of Bob Dylan's first album?  Are you impressed that I knew that?  Yeah, well I listen to CBC, Q's, Jian Ghomeshi.  But hearing that made me think about that whole era of music that defined our lives, politics and even fashion.

The only part of the "hippie" movement that touched my life besides the music was the mini-skirts of the late 60's and 70's.   We couldn't buy anything that was at the Queen's length (below the knee) and thus my first music festival competition took place with me on the stage directing in the cutest red and plaid dress with the skirt above my knee.  I am certain that the view from the front row was, shall we say, interesting if not educational.  My dress didn't survive but the music and ideas born of that music have.  I mean how many specials have there been about Woodstock (the concert in the muddy field not the cities or towns)?

The Embro Thistle Singers are currently working on an SATB version of Dylan's, Blowin' in the Wind.  The editor has suggested that we sing it Maestoso.  Now, we all agreed that words are powerful and really make us think about our responsibility to the planet and all the people on it.  But we also agreed that Bob Dylan's version with his guitar and harmonica were far from Maestoso.  I wonder what the person really meant by that direction.

Here is a fairly early version of that song.  Check out his happening hair.  Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind

A great deal of our history has been faithfully recorded in music.  Unfortunately, so much was part of the oral tradition before it could be carefully documented and is lost.  What we do have is to be treasured and enjoyed.  Go ahead, hit that link again, close your eyes and go back - way back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - The Ultimate Remote Control

For all of you who have been in a choral or musical group of some kind this is your answer to how you would do it differently if in charge.  Watch it all even though it is in German with subtitles and a bit long, it is brilliant.

As one of the comments says, "German is the best language for raging."  Even when you don't read the English translation is sounds so cool.

It is also suggested that this would be a fun thing to do with a choir performance.  Well what do you think singers?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Wrong Venue - The Right Sounds

Oh you never know what is going to happen when you book a concert.  We were asked to sing for a senior's group at a church I thought was just down the road.  Well I assumed I knew where I was going and you know what it means to ASSUME.  We showed up where I thought we should be and the caretaker was very confused.  A quick call to my hubby and a call to my contact and we found out we were in exactly the wrong place.  Right place found and my wonderful choir took everything in stride.  They just don't blink.

We sang after a quick warm up and the audience was very receptive and the choir totally amazing.  We did a sing along (for which I forgot the sheets with the words for the audience).  However, it didn't stop the singing and we had lots of fun.

Our newest offering, Because We Believe, was just great.  Oh yes, we have a couple of spots that will be smoothed out but it was a crowd pleaser.

I fully intended to have pictures but our sojourn at the beginning kind of put me off my plan.  That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Potential vs Talent

I have a friend who has often said that saying someone has potential is not a compliment.  Potential is not a skill nor a harbinger of success.  Potential is simply unrealized ability.  It is like unmined diamonds or gold.

There are many people out there who could be great at singing.  They have the physical qualities such as a pleasing speaking voice, a pleasant countenance and good posture yet they refuse to sing.

I had a young gal in my music class who had spina bifida and she loved to sing.  She was confined to a wheel chair but there was never a question in her mind that she would belong to the choir.  She had to make special arrangements to be at practices and concerts but her love of singing made those efforts negligible in her mind.  She WANTED to sing and was then willing to make extraordinary efforts to accommodate that.

Our venues had to be vetted to be certain that the wheel chair would fit and that we could reach the performance area with the wheel chair.  If it was a stage without ramp or elevator, then we sang from the floor.  We went the extra mile because she had gone to so much work to make being in the choir possible we weren't going to let some structural obstacles get in the way.

Our young student had loads of potential and put action and passion into honing her talents to sing.  That is the secret isn't it.  Take what you have, work with someone who is better than you at what you want to do and practise, practise, practise.

Now, I know that no matter how much I practised (heaven help the practice-ee) I would never make a surgeon.  My heart isn't in it.

Our family loves hockey.  We have a favourite saying when a team that seems to have many players with good skills does not play well.  We will say that the team doesn't seem to have the "want".  You have watched sports where the underdog comes out on top.  It isn't the breaks, or lack of ability on the other team but the fact that the winning team WANTS to win more than the seemingly more talented team.

Does that mean that you just need to have a positive attitude to be great in a chosen field.  Absolutely not. But that positiveness will give you that extra boost to learn and work on what you need to know to be great.

Sing along with your favourite artist.  Sing in the shower and enjoy the acoustics.  Sign up for a community choir like the Embro Thistle Singers and learn all you can about how you sing and how you can help make great music.  If it is your passion you will learn what you need to know to be the best you can be.  Step away from potential and into talent.  It takes consistent effort but when you love what you do, it is more fun than work.  Go ahead and do it.  How will you know if you don't give it a try.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

National Public Radio

Sometimes, we fail to appreciate what is right in front of us.  A recent blog post by Choral Net a wonderful resource for all things choral, shared this wonderful performance in the offices of the N.P.R.  This is a performance of 3 pieces, largely a Capella, by the revitalized Creole Choir of Cuba all sung in creole but a mixture of Haitian and Cuban culture.

Remember, we had a post To a Capella or not to a Capella.  Here is a great argument for no accompaniment to be sure.  The little bit of percussion in the second number is a lovely treat.

Check this out and let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did.