Friday, January 31, 2014

Fun Friday - Surfin' USA

The only surfing we are doing here in southwestern Ontario is on skis or toboggans.  Even the southern USA has had some nasty snow and ice.
Here is a great video with wonderful memories of warm beaches and warm hearts.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Snow on my Mind

Sad little Canadian Beaver -ME!
If you follow us on Twitter, you will see that we have not had a practice since before Christmas. On top of that I switched internet carriers.  Long story short, I messed up with my contact e-mail list and missed one of our members who faithfully showed up to a locked door and no one there in really nasty weather.

We have depended on our e-mail contact with everyone and now I realize that we have to have a backup system in place to make certain that never happens again.  So what kinds of systems can we have in place?

1. Facebook - If you have a Facebook page then it would be a good idea to get your members to check it before practices if they are able.  You can put bulletins there and maybe people will see that or a neighbour will be able to let them know.

2. Twitter - Again a bulletin can be written to advise any and all who have the Twitter feed pushed to their e-mail.

3. Telephone - I think we will institute a telephone tree where I phone one person and each person then calls another until all have been updated.  Although it is old school, it is a great backup.

4. E-mail - This is usually an effective method to reach all of our members.  However, one member has a work e-mail which rejects the e-mails regularly.  And of course, when changes happen, someone could be missed.

I really learned this time that we have to have a backup.  This Canadian winter is about to set records and so in the interests of safety, we had better make certain ALL our members are safe and sound.

 What do you do to make certain emergency messages get through in a timely fashion?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fun Friday - B.B. is Amazing

Singing and playing from your heart really is our goal.  We want our audience to FEEL the music.  This is a bit earlier but this amazing musician sure does hit your heart with his.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Singing from the Heart

I just returned from a conference in New Orleans. My oh my what an amazing place it is. The Conference Centre has been improved with added windowed extensions and much more people-friendly areas for sitting and gathering. Most importantly, wherever you go in New Orleans you hear music.

My friend was able to get tickets to hear B. B. King. He is now in his 80's but sat happily sharing stories and singing his wonderful Blues.  He just lets the music flow.  Talk about touching our hearts.

When we came into our breakfast room at 7 in the morning, we were greeted by the staff lined up and singing their own idea response styles. They clapped and danced and sang from their hearts and touched ours.

How do we sing from the heart? Or should we?

1. Care - If you think more about your audience than yourself you will sing from the heart. When you worry about the harmony or choice of song or other technicalities, you may lose a connection with the people who listen to you and are your biggest support. Get over the small stuff (and in the end it's all small stuff) and sing for your audience. Yes, you must sing well but you must care first!

2. Choose well - If you choose music you can learn well and that has some connection to your audience, you will touch them. I have to admit that when we sang in Wales, our host choir sang everything in Welsh. Bravo to them but after the second song I could hardly wait for them to be done. The pieces were lovely but without understandable words and tunes that weren't generally known, the connection broke down. We had learned their National Anthem in Welsh by learning the phonetics. It was hard but our heart was there to connect without audience.

3. Be True to Your Mission Statement - The Embro Thistle Singers sing for Fun and Service to others. That doesn't mean we don't stretch to try a tough arrangement but it does mean if we can't make a great sound and enjoy it then we put it aside at least for a while. We may come back to it and try again. We have to enjoy the process. Then, our listeners will enjoy the results too

We care, choose well and make every effort to share the joy we have in making our music. How do you manage to keep the heart in your singing?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fun Friday - Pipes Drums & Orchestra - The Rogues and an Amazing Arrangment

This is a wonderful arrangement with The U.S. Air Force Band and the Rogues pipes and drums.  This builds from softer and quieter to a rousing gig and full sound.

Please watch the hands of the conductor of the Band.  As a conductor myself, I find his style very interesting.  What say YOU?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - How Do You Choose an Arrangement to Suit YOUR Singers?

This is an area where I can feel quite inadequate.  I am NOT an arranger or even a writer of music.  I do know what sounds good and am usually a very good judge of what works for the choir I am working with.  If you are a talented writer, you can arrange music to your liking.  If not, maybe I can share a bit of my experience and maybe you will share some of yours back.

clipped images,cropped images,cropped pictures,entertainment,icons,leisure,media,music,music notes,music scores,musical notes,PNG,scores,sheet music,transparent background1. You have to like appreciate the song - When I taught young people, I disallowed the use of the word "like" in the classroom.  The only time they could use "like" was if they were intending to lay down cash to purchase same.  Like is so subjective.  I must admit that at times I start with a negative attitude but if I let my ears lead, I often end up really hearing something special in a piece. As you listen, hear the phrases, dynamics and possibilities.  Listen to it on YouTube. You will certainly find pieces you WON'T choose.  As a singer, your leader will appreciate your input.  So everyone, put your ears on and find something to appreciate.

2. You have to have enough singers.  I remember listening to a huge choir sing a song my smaller choir had struggled with.  I wondered how they sang it so well.  A very experienced musician said, "If you make enough noise and have enough people in each part, no one will ever hear you sing a wrong note.  It will be drowned out and become part of the whole.
If however, you have a smaller group, then every note is heard so be careful that you have enough voices to sing them.  We are a group of less than 20 and we are NOT going to sing in 8 parts.  We sing SATB or SAB occasionally splitting for a short time for a descant or obligato.

3. Get your singers(musical director) on board.  Sometimes it isn't so much the notes of the music but the overall effect that will sell it.  We have worked on some arrangements that are tricky in timing.  It takes some doing to get the parts just right.  But the choir and director are willing to do just that because they know that the result is going to be worth it.  Sell the result by listening to good recordings of that arrangement and everyone will be willing to make it happen.

4. If it doesn't work, let it die!  The piece is well known; it has the right part structure; everyone can reach all the notes without struggle.  Yes, all the elements are in place.  BUT it just isn't coming together.  STOP.  Put it away.  Maybe forever or maybe just for a while.  We have gone back to a piece that seemed impossible and there it is surprising us all.  Some we just let die.

5. So how do I find the music?  Borrow something from another choir that you enjoyed listening to.  Try a couple suggested by others. In this day of social media, you can ask choirs of your type all over the world for help.  Keep trying something a little different.  Most will work, some won't.  So learn and move on. Just keep singing.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fun Friday - Trains and Boats and Planes

This week here in our part of Canada, we had horribly cold weather and lots of snow and ice.  It meant that the trains, boats & planes were just not going anywhere.  A lot of cars didn't move either.  It did make me think of this song.  I am sure there are some people that were happy to be delayed and many who were very inconvenience.  I wonder how the lyrics of this song would have changed in light of this week's happenings.  Here is Billy J. Kramer

And here is the version that eclipsed Kramer's version.  So which do you prefer?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Social Media & Choir part 2

Last week I talked about Twitter & Facebook as tools for your choir.  Of course, this very blog is a great tool and certainly, sharing other blogs has been an amazing learning curve for me. Many blog platforms such as Blogger are free and quite simple to use & set up.

1. TIME - You could of course spend your whole day keeping your social media feeds updated but that would be rather silly.  You have to timetable your social media as you do anything else like practice and study.  The amount of information and ability to interact with others is certainly worth the effort.  I just keep thinking how differently I would have taught had I & my students had these opportunities.  Both YOU TUBE and PINTEREST are more static that Twitter or Facebook but you need to keep them up once a week or so.

2. YOU TUBE - Oh my goodness.  There is no end to the learning here.  You can listen to any number of presentations of pieces you are doing or want to do.  You can get great ideas and make comparisons.  And by all means, put your own work up on YOU TUBE.  It is yet another way for your choir to hear themselves and see what you are talking about.  The simple Windows Movie Maker allows you to add titles and edit easily.  Just play and learn.  When in doubt, click the help menu.
Even a video such as this done with a camera phone is fun and educational.

3. PINTEREST - This is a sharing medium that is great fun.  If you click on our Pinterest button on the right, you will see how we have "boards" which are like files.  In the search line, put in what you would like to find, e.g. humour in music and then when you like it click on the PIN button.  From the drop down menu that appears, you place it on the BOARD you wish.  You can start with just one board and go from there.  It is wonderful, now many people & ideas are out there.  This one is really fun but drives activity to your blog or Facebook etc. 

4. OTHERS - a. ETSY - for selling hand made items
                    b. FLICKR - for sharing pictures.  I have found some good ones here.
                    c. and the rest - Vimeo, Meet Up, My Space, FourSquare, goggle +, tumblr etc.- each has a specific audience and reason for being.  I think you need to understand these but you and the rest of the choir will want to decide what works best for you.  Read up on each and see if they rill a need for you.  The name of the game is communication.  Have fun connecting & learning!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fun Friday - We Are Christmas - Spelman College Glee Club - Bell and Voice Choir

As we come to the end of our Christmas season, the words and sounds of the Spelman Glee Club presentation really tell the whole story.  Just lovely.

Fun Friday - He Could Have Quit BUT He Sang The Rose - He Has that X-Factor!

Christopher Maloney's was frightened beyond frightened.  He sang for his "nan" and in the end kept the promise he made to himself.  It took him 5 years!  Christopher did it and so can you.