Friday, March 28, 2014

Fun Friday- I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker

Check out our Tonal Tuesday.  We talked about being brave.  Well, being a punk rocker would be a real stretch for me.  However, the words to this song are powerful.  Sandi Thom may have people who won't listen to this song because the title may give a different idea.  So be brave and listen.  This song is powerful. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Be Brave

If you haven't yet heard this wonderful song by Sara Bareilles, here is your chance.  Please listen closely to the words.  The video itself is really effective.  

We all need to be brave.  Too many times we can decide on an action just because we think we must.  It often takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to stand up for what we believe in when those around us may have a different opinion.  This can be very true of situations in a choir.

1.  Choosing Music - Some choirs have a certain genre they follow.  Others like ours have more eclectic choices.  In any case, we will sometimes stay with what is "safe".  Every once in a while, we really must choose something that stretches us or is just really different than what we are expected to sing.  So sometimes you might want to sing a Capella if you usually have accompaniment.  Take your sheet music away and learn by listening.  Or conversely, add sheet music if you don't usually use it.  Mix up the styles of music.  Be brave.

2. Sing with Others - Go ahead.  Call up one of the choirs around you and ask if you can practise with them one time.  Call up a local church and ask if you can sing a special service for them.  Call a service club and see they would enjoy your services for a special dinner.  Engage these groups in the songs and let them share your joy.  Then both you and they can be brave.

3.  Go Somewhere Fun - That may happen if you choose one of the above ideas.  You can also find cool places to practice.  Nursing or retirement homes are a great choice but what about a mall?  In warmer weather, choose a local park.  Why would we save our "carolling" just for Christmas.  Be brave and carol out of season.  

I am certain you have many more ideas for changing the ordinary with brave ideas.  Please share!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fun Friday - Happy by Elementary Choir

Now these young people have charisma.  They are part of an arts school in Detroit and oh my they are having fun.  Clap along!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Bread & Butter for Your Choir

Bread & Butter, Toast & Jam, Mashed Potatoes.  Those are basics that we all recognize.  Just for fun, here are the Newbeats with their version of those basics.  You have to love the falsetto.

There are some bread & butter basics that all choirs need.  

1. Raison d'ĂȘtre - A choir must have a clear mission statement.  Just to make music and make money is not enough.  ETS exists for SONG, SERVICE, FUN.  We make the best music we can in service to the community and have lots of fun doing it.  Some choirs keep alive a certain style or genre of music.  Others are the ambassadors for their communities.  Know your "WHY" and you will sing with passion.

2. Audience - You must know who your audience is before you sing.  We knew our communities were supportive and that we could be of service to clubs and fund raising events.  Because we have an eclectic audience base we cover many styles of music.  It doesn't make much sense to create a choir and then hope for an audience to come.  If you have a choir and your audience is dwindling then revisit your music choices and see where you can suit more potential listeners. 

3. Suitable Music - See #2.  As well as music to suit your audience, you must suit your singers.  Untrained voices need music that helps them learn and be successful at the same time.  I don't mean dumbing it down.  I mean choosing music in the range and parts that your choir will enjoy and while making a great sound.  If you only have 20 singers with limited experience, then doing 8 parts is probably going to create frustration.  Does that mean that sometimes you will work at something and put it aside?  You bet.  It may also mean that you may find that the challenge brings out the best in your choir and they are up to the challenge.  Be flexible and ready to call a halt when needed.

4. Accompanist - This is a hard one especially if you are a volunteer group.  We are very. very blessed to have our Kristy!  However, it is a good idea to ask people to be an accompanist for a short time at first until you find out if you are a good fit.  An accompanist who wants to lead and be the boss would be a bad fit for us.  However, a collaborative musician such as Kristy is, works really well for us.  Know your style and keep looking until someone fits the bill.  Sometimes, people are just waiting for you to ask.  Go find them.

A great mix of the above creates a charisma that translates to happy audiences not to mention very satisfied singers.  If one or other is out of sync, you need to butter your bread with a different brand.  Sorry I just couldn't resist!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fun Friday - Jimmy Falon, Idina Menzel & The Roots Sing "Let It Go"

I love it when the professionals show that you can create an awesome accompaniment with the simplest of instruments.  This is very well done.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Who Needs Choir Anyway?

In the past we have talked about the great good that singing in a choir does for the body, mind and soul.   In fact, being in a choir can be like taking a tonic or medicine making it all better.

The self confidence and discipline learned in choir often helps people in later life.  ChoralNet has had a very cool series about people who are famous and have been in choirs.  I think if we all tried we could find many in our communities to whom that applies.

The Mayor of our town of Ingersoll, Ted Comiskey, is a very talented musician who sings alone and in groups.  In fact, before politics, he created our Canterbury Folk Festival, a free summer music fest that has featured people such as Ashley McIsaac.  His music has affected an entire town, county and thousands of individuals.

We have a choir of adult volunteers.  What earthly good is a choir to them?  Will they become astronauts like Chris Hadfield?  Maybe not but they will change the world in many ways.
 ETS Singing at Knox Church.  

1. Social - The choir practices are a great time to interact with others.  It certainly takes my mind off the mundane and lets me enjoy others on a personal and professional level different from everyday. I have met people who would not have entered my life but for our ETS.   The other big bonus is that our choir members are great cooks.  At our annual kick-off practice in August the pot luck is amazing.  People and music, food and fun.  Oh yeah.

2. Learning - Because we are doing new music all the time, we are constantly learning.  We learn new terms, new styles and lots of new words.  I remember that when I taught in schools, we would learn a word like "legato" and I would tell the students to go home and brag that they now spoke 3 languages, English, French and Italian.  Well, I say the same to the adults.  Why not?  They learned it

3. Change - We can get stuck in our everyday lives.  We can listen to the same music, go to the same restaurants, and remain in the same place day after day. Choir can change that.  We go to different places to practice and to perform.  We sing various genres of music.  We sing various arrangements.  Nothing is mundane.

4.  Example - We can set an example for others by continuing to be active in our communities and with our music.  It is great for community members, children, grandkids, - the world, to see that we keep singing and love it.  No, I believe we are NEVER too old.
Singing for fun at the Embro Fair.  Check out the bikini.  

5.  Fun - Yup.  We laugh, we cry, we chat and we have fun.  We have fun learning and don't get too serious about the process.  We laugh at our mistakes and rejoice in the victories.  It is serious music learned with heart!

Choir is just as important to those of us who aren't just starting out.  May it continue!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fun Friday - Coffee Break Rhythms

Maybe this will break out at a Starbucks near you.  Very creative and fun.  True performance art.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - It is TOO COLD - Not to the Piano Guys or ETS

The Piano Guys create wonderfully creative videos.  You may remember that video in December  where they used lots of creative ways to present the music.
Here they are using a winter palace in which to perform.  They have voluntarily chose to perform in a very, very cold forbidding spot and have done a grand job.  Check out the behind the scenes video as well.

Well we are experiencing the coldest winter in more than 20 years here.  In England, they are experiencing huge storms and massive flooding in some areas.  Other places are having their areas as well.

This of course makes getting to concerts and practices more of a challenge.  We actually missed our practices in January due to nasty and dangerous snow storms.

So what can you do when you have these adverse conditions to overcome.  Here are a couple of ideas we used to survive and if this weather continues as predicted may use yet again.

1. FIND YOU-TUBE VIDEOS OF YOUR NEW MUSIC - Luckily we had distributed new music and then had no chance to begin practicing.  I found those arrangements done by a couple of choirs and sent out the links to the choir.  I asked them to listen and notice what each choir did differently and which they preferred.  That gave them an introduction to the pieces and we were able to interact in a limited way.

2. ENCOURAGE SMALL GROUP PRACTICE - It was possible for a few of the choir to gather and sing through some of the music.  This gave us a core of singers who had some knowledge of the music so once we did get together it wasn't completely foreign.

3. FALL BACK ON THE TRIED & TRUE - Pull out some well know nuggets and use them again.  This is a great way to remind them how good they truly are.  Not only that but it brings back great memories of past performances.

4. DON'T SWEAT IT - If you can't practise, then you can't.  It happens and oh well.  Enjoy the golden oldies and for goodness sake, have fun!