Friday, November 29, 2013

Fun Friday - Boys Lip Sync Christmas Song

Elaine sent this along to me.  She is right they are so professional and have obviously really practised hard. Check out the bass.  Oh so cute.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cambrocourt Beats the Weather Again

These guys can't beat the cute hat our Elaine had on. 
We sang, It's Snowing, Let It Snow and Marshmallow World and yet it didn't snow. One of our tenors, Gary was still on the highway in the Strathroy area dealing with the snow on our behalf.

We had a great time singing with our friends at Cambrocourt in Embro.  A couple of years ago, we sang When a Child Is Born for the first time and tonight we sang the much more polished rendition. However, we didn't disappoint our friends as we sang Any Dream Will Do for the first time publicly. They told us they would ask us back again so that we could show off a polished version.

Our Cambrocourt evening always includes songs we sing together.  What a great sound we all make.  We haven't yet talked any of them into joining us on a regular basis but we will keep trying.

Thanks again Lynne for your support and we sure appreciate being with all of you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Who Is That Singing in the Choir? Only Boys Aloud

This is a marvellous presentation of a young men's choir Only Boys Aloud, from Wales.  They talk at the beginning about why they sing.  You get an idea of the different boys that comprise this wonderful choir. Here is a good example of the many personalities you may find in any choir of any age.  Watch this and then see if the points below make any sense to you!!

1. The Music Lover - You may have singers that love the music and are there because they are drawn to it.  They might not necessarily be the best singers but they love it.  Make certain they get lots of opportunity to do just that, sing and experience lots of success.  

2. The Uncertain Singer - They come to choir but seem to be very self critical.  They have a good voice but aren't certain they "fit in".  Watch for these and be certain to point out how well they are doing.  Sometimes you do it by pointing out the good work of their part but when you can seek out that singer and mention how much you appreciate their singing.  It is always a good idea to keep giving the posture, placement and production hints so that they have definite skills to learn and be successful with.

3. The Overly Confident Singer - This person may be great at reading music and reproducing great sound or just thinks he is.  I think we have all sung with someone like that.  No matter which one of these you have they must learn to LISTEN.  I tell my singers that singing is 90% listening.  singing is like putting on makeup, blend, blend and then blend some more!  That is the only way to get the very best sound.   

4. The Hold Back Singer - You know they can sing.  Every once in a while they let out a marvellous sound.  They just can't seem to do it on a regular basis.  This to me these are the very hardest to help use their abilities consistently.  It takes patience and constant encouragement.  Sometimes, I even ask people who sing with them by telling them when they sing really well.  Perhaps, it is sometimes a lack of confidence but others it may be that they simply don't realize their abilities.  

Did you find examples of these in the Only Boys Aloud?  Any others you would add?  Click on comments and do share your ideas.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

When a Child is Born 2013

Different venue same lovely music.

Go Tell It On the Mountain - Embro Thistle Singers

You did a great job of singing under difficult conditions.  I hope Kristy's hands have warmed up from playing our accompaniment in the cold and rain.  It never stops the Embro Thistle Singers!

Peace Peace Embro Thistle Singers

More music on this rainy night.

It's Snowing - Embro Thistle Singers

Here we are at the gazebo in Ingersoll, Ontario in a soft rain singing about the snow.  Today as I post this, it is a wild snow day so maybe our singing brought it on.  You are welcome or sorry, depending on whether or not snow is what you want!! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Friday - Happy Piano Stairs

Here is a great experiment.  When will they do this in our town?  See what music can do?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesday - Concerts, What Concerts?

In my years as a school teacher, the concerts we did were pretty much set.  Remembrance Day, Christmas, music festival and year end or graduation.  In the midst of that was usually a musical. There was never a time we weren't practising for the next presentation.

As a teacher, I did have the responsibility to make enough money with the musical to pay for the purchase of music and anything over and above what was provided which was always less than we wished.  However, it was a fairly simple process.

There are many choirs who have professional staff and a need to raise a large amount of money. They have boards of directors and apply for grants and have sponsors etc.

Our choir, like many is totally volunteer.   We use borrowed practice space, started with borrowed music and have no set concert schedule.  When we started we decided that we wanted to be of service to the community.  We often get donations after a concert which have set us on the way to building a repertoire of music we have purchased.

Whether your intent is to do stand alone concerts to support a large budget or to sing for your supper at a smaller venue to brighten someone's day with no expectation of remuneration, just how do you find or create places to sing?

1. Historical Concerts - Some choirs have set times for their concerts much as I had in a teaching year.  If your choir has these expectations, then you aren't looking for concerts but rather ways to keep them coming.

2. Please Can I Come? - Ask if you can be a part of an activity.  One of our first public appearances was a fund raiser to help those affected by the tsunami.  There we were asked to sing at a recognition dinner for a large charity.  A couple of people in the choir are on the boards of seniors' housing or local fairs and we have picked up a number of performance opportunities from those. There we have been seen by others who -- well you get the picture.

3. Community Events - We have offered our services to the Relay for Life in town.  We are singing at the Lighting of the Lights again this year.  I am certain there are many opportunities for you to volunteer and get your sound out there.  If you have set concerts, then you will build your audience from all those who have always wondered what you sounded like.  Now they may wish to pay to hear you.

4. Volunteer - We have provided coffee and snacks for the local theatre on preview night, provided goodies and drinks for donations for the Highland Games (to which we were invited this year to sing).  Any time you can get your name out there, you can garner new members, or new gigs.  Have your signs up and your music playing.  You never know.

Get your faces and your music out there.  Even if you have been a choir for some long time, you need fresh audience members.  The more times you get to be seen and heard the more people will want to hear you again.

What do you do?  Please share with us.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fun Friday - Swingle Singers Sing in the Tube

The tube is the subway to many.  This is fun and just shows that seating can be very random and still make a great sound. Look at all the smiles that blossom as they sing.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - I Haven't Got a Thing to Wear

Does your choir wear a uniform or have a dress code?  Our Embro Thistle Singers shirt is black with our logo on the right shoulder and we wear black slacks or skirts (and yes the boys may wear skirts if they wish.  We do have a Scottish heritage!)

Wearing our black shirts.
Sometimes for presentations like California Dreamin' at the Embro Fair, we wear fun costumes.

Here we added some red scarves for holiday cheer.

Here are some of my ideas about choir outfits or uniforms. 

1. Do they have to look the same?  I think we have all sung in a school choir where we wore white shirts and dark slacks or skirts.  That worked all through my elementary career except for a small bump when I thought that perhaps it would be better for the singers to wear what they wanted.  Not a good plan.  Not only did they look haphazard but that was how they sang.  That feeling of cohesiveness was missing.  Maybe it is fine for some but if you peruse You Tube you will find most choirs wear similar outfits.  I feel it really helps with the unity of sound, hence the name "uniform" - just in case you didn't know.

2. Cultural Reasons - There are some gorgeous cultural costumes that add greatly to a choir's presentation.  The colour, style and sometimes shape of the outfits sure can add to the understanding of the music.  When the music represents a culture the costumes can only add to that.

3. Age Appropriate Clothing - when I was a young singer in our church choir we wore cassocks with a white surplice.  The junior choir wore beanies and the senior choir wore these awesome 4 corner hats.  Moving up to the Senior level meant moving from the beanie to the HAT.  Wow!  I was SO proud.  It is worth thinking about a change in the choir robe or outfit that would indicate growth or change when you have younger and older members.

4. Cost - Our shirts are less than $50 and purchased by our choir members.  I think really expensive outfits are unnecessary as that money can be used for so many other great things like music or trips. That is truly something that you will all have to agree on.

5. Ease of use and wear.  I belonged to an awesome choir some years ago.  We travelled to the U.K. to tour.  We had travel outfits that meant we had to purchase a set skirt or trousers, blouse or shirt and were given sweaters.  They were bulky to pack and the shirts looked less than their best after all that time in a suitcase.  They were even more fun to put on in a moving bus (coach) when we were headed to a Mayor's reception and were late from a trip to Mount Snowdon.  Now that was fun.  Everything you are now thinking, happened.
We also had lovely long gowns with red cummerbunds for concerts.  When we had to put them on all crammed into the top floor of a gate keepers guard house, they seemed much less glamorous. The trip across the road to the "loo" in the pub was also fun with these gowns on.  Great memories though.
My point is that what you wear will depend on where you will be and how easy it will be for you to change and move from one spot to another.  Being in a stone church with no toilets and very limited space is not the time to be putting on full length gowns or tuxedos in my mind.
Cleaning and care of the outfits must also be considered.  That can be quite an expense.  All those points have to be considered.  Our shirts are washable and "wick away" material so good for warm and cool venues.  We made those a conscious decision so we didn't have to have more than one for the most part.

All in all, consider where, when and how the outfits will be used.  My own thought is that you K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetie) the costumes you want to use.  As long as it helps your sound be more harmonious and you feel good about how you all look together, then they are the outfits for you.
Let us know what YOU have for your choir clothing!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun Friday - Singing at the Zoo for the Rhinos

I just connected with the Marwell Staff Choir on Twitter .  The staff, volunteers and other supporters have formed a choir.  Here is their awesome video in support of raising funds to save the rhino's. This is truly singing for a purpose.  Well done all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Why Do We Sing?

Talk to me and one of your words is sure to push a button that leads to a song.  Even if I have to get creative and rewrite the words or the tune somewhat, I get my idea across with a song.  Our children learned the "time to tidy up" song at nursery school.  All I ever had to do was start the song and they immediately started to put toys and crayons etc. in their proper places.  That song was absolutely Pavlovian in its effect.  The other part was that singing was so much simpler and so much more fun that nagging.  We even cleaned the kitchen after a meal to that song.

I am sure that you have songs or pieces of music you either sing or listen to that are special to you.  Sometimes, it isn't the song but the process that works for us like singing in the shower at top volume.  It just feels good.

1. Listening to music while creating art helps keep the left brain at bay so over-thinking doesn't happen.  Singing when you are on your own will make the creative juices flow.  Really.

2.  Studies have found that people who are ill are often helped by listening to music. This article talks about how singing to children in hospital helps them.   Look at that wee face!
Guitar and patient

3.  Even people working in technology are found to be more creative with music playing.  Now I wonder if the same would hold true if they sang?

4.  When we sing, endorphins or the "feel good hormones" are released.  However, I have choir members who tell me that just looking out to an audience and seeing their enjoyment makes them feel good.

Singing is one of those activities that works with or without an audience.  So why do you sing?  If not, why not?  Saying you can't is a cop out.  Everyone can sing even my completely tone deaf Uncle Ed.  It never stopped him from enjoying a good belt out of a song.

 "Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Berthold Auerbach 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun Friday - Cups Song Tap Dance

Yup, I take tap dancing lessons.  I used to take dance lessons as a kid and loved it.  When I had the chance to again take tap lessons 4 years ago, I signed up.  Well I am hooked all over again.  So this title caught my attention right away.  Remember a couple of weeks ago we had a great video of the cup song.  Here is another presentation.  I have to admit, I am not up to this level, yet, but isn't it fun?