Friday, June 27, 2014

Fun Friday - Yodelling in the Choir

Here is an amazing group from Switzerland who sing beautiful harmony and yodel beautifully.  It is a gorgeous tone that is created.  They have a spot with beautiful acoustics so it really allows for a marvellous blend.  My question is, are the tenor yodellers using falsetto?  Anyone know?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - To Move or Not to Move While You Sing

I know that sometimes it feels like you really want to "get into" a piece of music and nod or bop or sway.  Personally, as many times as I see it happen, I have never really enjoyed it.  I know some choirs always "jive" or move to the music.  My choirs do not.  If I want to move to the music then we would do a staged musical.

The coro calicantus sings Imagine by John Lennon and they face the back and face the front.  I think I understand what the idea is behind this movement however, I wouldn't want to read too much into it or I am in danger of becoming my high school English teacher reading into the literature that which the writer never intended.  What do you think?

This next choir sings the same song but does not move.  I enjoy the harmony and the words and am not busy trying to figure out why they are moving.  For me, I am much more focused on the sound and of course the director.  Do you find one more enjoyable than the other and has movement or lack thereof anything to do with that choice?

Friday, June 20, 2014

E. T. S. Sings at Relay for Life - 2014

Tonight was just beautiful.  The weather was perfect, the people were enthusiastic .  and the choir was spot on.  What a wonderful performance you gave ETS!!  The men sang with courage and the ladies were right on.  Kay was great as both an alto & tenor depending on what was needed.  Such amazing people we have!

Kristy our accompanist was just superb and bonus of bonuses, Kenny jammed with his guitar as we sang.  What great talent!  Thanks Kenny for such magical sounds.

Pictures by my wonderful hubby Barry!  Thanks again.

Waiting for the sound guys to finish plugging etc. 

Kenny on guitar, Kristy at the keyboard & Jim turning pages!!

Making the wonderful Embro Thistle Singers sound.  Yummy!

Fun Friday - Any Dream Royal Albert Hall & Donny Osmond

Tonight we will sing at the Relay for Life here in Ingersoll.  We are always so honoured to be chosen to help provide the entertainment for the teams raising money for the Cancer Society. One of our newer songs is Any Dream Will Do.  Although we will sing outside without Donny Osmond we will have lots of people singing along with us.

Aren't these children in the video marvellous?  They will forever remember the time they sang not only at Royal Albert Hall but with Donny Osmond.  Outstanding.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - 10 Tips to Becoming a Conductor - Esa-Pekka Salonen

I was reading an article posted to Facebook the other day.  Esa-Pekka Salonen became a conductor when he filled in for an absent colleague.  

In the following short video, you can pick up on both his talent and sense of humour.  Below is a summary of his 10 tips for becoming a conductor plus the link to the full article.  Enjoy!.

10 Tips to Becoming a Conductor - Esa-Pekka Salonen

Click above to see the full article.  

1. Love the Music - The main word here is PASSION.  You have to love the music.  Obviously, when you read the full article, Salonen thought that some conductors were just outfits and hair.  My take is that you have to have HEART & the hair and clothes are a nice extra. 

2. Go to Rehearsals - He means here that the best learning happens as you watch others rehearse.  I feel that very strongly.  You will learn many good things you want to replicate and perhaps even more you want to avoid.

3. Learn to Play an Instrument Well - My best instrument is my voice.  That is where the abundance of my training lies.  If you are helping people to use their skills to reach for greatness, then you had better understand how to learn.  

4. Accept That You are Just a Waiter - To Salonen, the composer is the chef and conductors the waiters, serving the creation.  Now, you know that the best waiters know the dishes they serve and even have favourites.  Waiters can have an elan that adds to the experience.  Is that you as a conductor?

5. Shed Your Thick Skin and Don't Scare People - Being sensitive to the artists in your group is so important.  It doesn't mean that you don't have a very definite plan for the music but that you are aware that others may not feel that way.  Salonen says not to shout and rant but to share your passion with others and bring them along with you. 

6. Stay in Shape - Conducting takes a lot of muscle and you need to be in shape.  In a previous blog, The Well Muscled Singer, we discussed that very thing.

7. Get a Good Stick - Salonen talks about his special sticks and how important they are.  I have tried sticks and I end up doing damage to myself or those around me.  Perhaps, if I were conducting large orchestras, I too would have to learn. 

8. Make Little Excursions Outside Your Comfort Zone Daily - The point he makes here is don't jump too far but keep your new adventures close to home but a little scary. 

10. Be a Boy or a Girl - There has been some controversy lately over the gender of conductors.  Salonen says it doesn't matter.  Just have the passion and get on with it. 

Do read the full article.  It makes so much sense. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fun Friday - Abba - Thank You For the Music

At the Relay for Life Friday, June 20th, one of the songs we are singing is Thank You for the Music.  I love this version by Abba with their sparkle, bright sound and clear rhythms.  We will do our best to pay tribute.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - How Do You Prepare to Teach a New Song?

clipped images,cropped images,cropped pictures,entertainment,icons,leisure,media,music,music notes,music scores,musical notes,PNG,scores,sheet music,transparent backgroundYup.  I have a new piece of music that someone has recommended as just great!  Now what do I do.

1.  Does it fit the singers? - Is this a piece that might suit the abilities of your choir.  Right now we have fewer tenors than before.  Although our guys are good, doing something with a challenging tenor part is not wise.  We are using more SAB arrangements to suit the voices we have available. Just a look at the range of the parts and the complexity of rhythms will give you a good idea whether your singers will be happy learning that song at this time.

2.  Does it fit the choir's purpose? - Is this the type of music that your singers enjoy?  Honestly, sometimes you don't know that until you get singing it.  There haven't been many but a few have left us feeling less than fulfilled.  The music may be fine but the words not or vice versa.  Is the style suitable?  We started singing Blowing in the Wind early on and it didn't suit the singers at that time.  When we came back to it later, it was a hit and ETS is doing a grand job.

3. Recordings or You Tube -  Often times you can find the exact arrangement of the song you have chosen.  Be careful in listening to a different arrangement.  I like to get a general feeling for the piece but I don't listen to it more than 2 or 3 times.  Otherwise, the interpretation of the other choir or director gets too set.

4.  Play the piece over -  That is a great option if you are facile at playing the piano.  I am good at timing, but not at getting all the notes played together.  Let's just say I can sing it better than I can play.  I will often play over the various parts but most often just the more difficult bits.  The piano just doesn't replicate the voice and I find that less than satisfactory.  I use this option the least

5.  Have a read through - This is my favourite option.  The previous ideas are really for the director and some directors want to have a solid knowledge of the piece before beginning.  A read through is great for honing or learning sight reading, interval training, listening skills and co-operation.  There are some in your choir who read and sing well and others who are not as adept.  Even in an auditioned choir, you have levels of ability.  A read through gives you a chance to give those abilities some growth.

6.  Let it rest - Every once in a while, like the Blowing in the Wind mentioned above, I have left a piece that just didn't seem to be coming together.  Don't flog a dead horse all ready.  If it isn't working, let it be.  You can always come back to it and try it later.

I know there are conductors who memorize all the parts.  There are others who couldn't sing a part to save themselves.  It all seems to work.  I think the one thing that must happen is that YOU, the director, must have a vision for the piece and how it is to be presented.  Is it light hearted or serious> Does it need more rote work or will reading suffice?

The director is the key and you had better know where you are going with a piece and be able to give clear directions to your singers so that you are all following the same map.  Otherwise, you will figure you are ending up at the city centre and the rest of the choir is still in the fields.  Have a vision and use the suggestions above to help you and your choir to get there.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fun Friday - Beethoven Piano Guys Style

I love that the Piano Guys are not only extremely talented but here they share the limelight with young musicians.  What a wonderful way to showcase and encourage these talented people.  They will never forget this marvellous opportunity.  What do you think?