Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - WestJet Christmas Miracle: 12,000 mini miracles

West Jet is an amazing Canadian company and they encourage their employees to think of actions they can do to make lives better.  This is so cool. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Musical Monday - You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Here at our place, Mr. Grinch was no where to be seen.  There was nothing but generosity and smiles everywhere.  I pray your Christmas was just as great.  This song is too fun not to share and the harmonies are swell.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Fun Friday - Star Wars in 99 Seconds

The newest Star Wars movie has raised the level of Star Wars memories.  Here is a 99 second version that shares much of the past stories.  This is fun but also really well done.  Thanks Colleen for the tip on this one. 
Merry Christmas and enjoy your turkey with a little Star Wars on the side.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Hallelujah- Lindsey Stirling- #aSaviorIsBorn

The Embro Thistle Singers do a particularly great job of singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.  Here are some different words and a really great sound for one of our favourite pieces. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fun Friday - Whisper Whisper

Thanks Paul for the tip to look up this lovely song.  Do you think we should learn this one for next year?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Musical Monday - Mary, Did You Know? - Peter Hollens

One of the best choir leaders I have had the privilege to work with, Ron McNutt, shared this wonderful version of Mary Did You Know? with me.  The harmony is quite lovely.  Now, think about the technical genius in getting this all to blend and work so well.  
As one of ETS's favourite pieces, we are always excited to find a new arrangement.  Sit back and enjoy this lovely version. 
 Thanks, Ron.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Musical Monday - Great Answers to Really Weird Questions - 12 Days of Christmas Style

Sometimes, people can be really silly and ask the most ridiculous questions.  Instead of being upset or angry, this family has chosen to take it in stride and have some fun.  Remember this the next time someone says something untoward when your choir sings.  For example, "Your choir was a bit flat on the chorus." Well first of all, you are either flat or not.  It is like being a "bit" pregnant but that is beside the point.  When someone makes a comment like that I am wont to say, "That's great.  I would love for you to come to our next practice and help us hear the correct intonation."  Watch the back peddling happen!!
Listen to these great comebacks. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Kenny Rogers - Children, Go Where I Send Thee

This is a great song.  It can go on for ages as you can have many verses.  This is a great upbeat version.  I dare you to try & sit still.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Musical Monday - My Fair Lady Triumph!

Our singers have been very busy with many gigs this fall.  We sang at the Mount Elgin Church's 155 year Anniversary today.  Wow!  The music was really an appropriate fit for the messages of the day and choir sang beautifully.  It is so worth the effort when the people tell you how much the music added to the service.  Yes!

A number of our singers have been busy outside of our Embro Thistle Singers being a part of the amazing My Fair Lady musical put on at the Embro Town Hall as a major fund raiser.  They had 88% of the hall sold in total.  Professional theatres would love to be able to have that happen.  However, as with any live production there are things that happen that test even the most seasoned.

One of the cast had a terrible case of laryngitis and another cast member did that part for 2 nights having to use the script.  He did a fantastic job.  Remember with small towns, there is little chance to have understudies.  Someone will step up and the show goes on.

Another cast member had a minor stroke while on stage.  The audience did not realize it as it was the place where he is carried off and away he went.  Thankfully, his doctors gave the okay for him to continue.  Now, that really puts "the show must go on" to the test.

I am sure there were costume glitches and lines dropped, lyrics forgotten and cues missed.  However, the show went on with great aplomb.  Wow.  What an terrific cast.

We are so proud of you all and most especially our amazing Harold, Kathy and Elaine who have worked so very hard at the rehearsals and the 6 performances the last of which is going on as I type.  Aren't we blessed to have such involved and talented people among us.  Well done all!!!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fun Friday - Sugarplum Fairy from Nutcracker with a Salsa Rhythm

Just when you think the Christmas music can become too much the same, you find a video like this that really adds some punch.  Dance along. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Ringing of the Bells - The Muppets

This is fun to watch and listen as our Muppet friends present the Carol of the Bells without any words.  The snow has arrived here in our area so this is just right. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Musical Monday - Joy To The World – Pentatonix

Last Thursday, our wonderful singers sang at the Lighting of the Lights in downtown Ingersoll.  It was windy and cold but those who weren't either attending or performing in My Fair Lady in Embro braved the evening.  We could barely see our music.  I had to stand on my music stand and my pages blew around so it was a good thing I know most of the songs.  The choir soldiered on even with children running wild and yelling as we sang.  
Now check out this video and see how lovely the sound is in this church where there is no one present to cough or unwrap candies to add to the sound.  The hard surfaces of the church give the marvellous harmonies a lovely acoustic.  
Next week we get to sing at Mount Elgin Church.  Although we may encounter coughs and candies. we will have light.  We won't however sound quite like this marvellous group.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fun Friday - Peter, Paul and Mary - Puff, the Magic Dragon

Peter, Paul and Mary used their music to tell stories often with a deeper meaning than the words would seem.  Kids love to sing this song to this day.  Okay, ready, sing-----

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Peter, Paul and Mary - Blowing in the Wind

The words are so powerful and of course Peter, Paul and Mary were activists using their music to make a statement.  This one makes us think.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Musical Monday - Your Voice Control - Simple Stuff

So many times folks think that getting your voice to do what you want is hard.  This explains that it takes, like any skill, practise, and thought.

The amount of movement required for your entire range is three millimeters -says Mark Baxter
Can you drop down into a split without warming up? How about after warming up?
Vocal range is a lot like the range of motion of your limbs. The elasticity necessary to do a split requires a lot of stretching.
The same is true for your voice. The vocal folds are membranes (a little smaller then your eyelids) that stretch over the windpipe. When air streams between them, their edges vibrate.
The action required to sing different notes is more like tuning a guitar than playing one
The vibration is nothing more than a microscopic wiggle. Look closely at a guitar string after it’s played and you’ll see the same thing. To sing high, your vocal folds vibrate fast – really fast.
The action required to sing different notes is more like tuning a guitar than playing one. Muscles in the larynx pull or release the folds to create high and low pitches.
The amount of movement required for your entire range is three millimeters.
Re-read the above line about a thousand times until it is embedded in your subconscious.
The root of all vocal problems is that we perceive the activities involved with singing as big events.
They’re not.
We ball our fists and load up enough air pressure to create an aneurysm just to get through the chorus of a song. The automatic reaction to such force is resistance; the body braces for the assault.
vocalizing daily at a low volume will allow you to visit higher notes without stress
Rigid muscles lock up the vocal folds. No flexibility, no range. It’s that simple.
The key to singing high notes is volume – as in, start with less of it. Reducing the volume of your voice removes the burden of excess air pressure so your folds can become more elastic.
Just as a little stretching every day is necessary to do splits, vocalizing daily at a low volume will allow you to visit higher notes without stress.

 The Ultimate Guide to SingingMark is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to SingingAvailable in print and Kindle versions in the US, the UK and across the world.
Mark Baxter Professional Shoot
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fun Friday - The New Seekers - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

Here is the original Coke commercial that became a best selling hit.  I just love the words.  This is an all time favourite for me.

Here are the New Seekers singing the former commercial as a hit song. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesdays - Sara Bareilles - Brave

Image result for clip art poppyI posted this some time ago but it is worth posting again on this Remembrance Day.  Those who go to help out in times of war, major disasters and other desperate times should be in our thoughts always.  We can be BRAVE too every day in our lives.  As we apply these words to our own lives think of those who are brave even far from home!!  Thank you to all who serve others here and far away. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Musical Monday - Remembrance at Union Church

Brenda a the Union Church just outside the wee hamlet of Uniondale, asked us back in August if we would sing at their Remembrance Service November 8.  The choir said yes and boy are we glad we did.

Pastor Kate, Brenda the organist and the wonderful people of the church were just so welcoming and warm.  The service was very well thought out with a Canadian Veteran laying the wreath, and a wonderful trumpeter playing Last Post and Reveille.

 We sang Brother James Aire.
 For the Beauty of the Earth
 The Lord's Prayer
 No Tears in Heaven

Hallelujah and finished with The Parting Blessing.
The Embro Thistle Singers outdid themselves.  The acoustics in the tiny, lovely old church were so lovely.  And of course our amazing Kristy had to play 1/4 beat ahead of us all because of the placement of the piano and of course, it all went off with aplomb.

Thank you to the Union Church for a wonderful luncheon afterwards as well.  All in all a very memorable morning with new friends.  I hope your Remembrance Service is as touching and thoughtful as the one we got to participate in today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - John Lennon- Give Peace a Chance with Lyrics

This song has had many incarnations.  It has even been sung in bed.  Go ahead and look up the history.  Great to see the words on this one.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mozart Will Survive

Thanks to our Elaine I have some great videos like this to share.  I think sometimes we need to take ourselves less seriously.  They are showing a prodigious knowledge of music, variations and skill.  A video like this is a gorgeous teaching tool for any age.  Can you name all the pieces of music represented in this performance?  Can you find the variations?  Did you enjoy the recitative?  Enjoy this first just for what it is, a great performance.  Then challenge yourself to finding the bits that make it so great.  Gotta love the creative use of the Dremel tool!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Musical Monday - Honey & Lemon - does it work

'Tis the time of year for colds etc.  I found this article and I think it is worth a look.  I do enjoy tea with honey and lemon if I have a gravelly voice.  How about you?

Is a drink of honey and lemon really the holy grail for your singing voice? Nutritionist Sharon Zarabi evaluates the claims.
A combination of vocal practice, travel, lack of sleep and demanding performances ahead have left you desperate for a treatment for your voice.
Now you are trolling through blogs that discuss the healing power of warm liquids for irritated throats.  Some of these promote honey, others lemon; still others – honey and lemon.
Could honey & lemon really be the holy grail of vocal health?
Let’s separate the fact from the fiction.

“It Heals My Flu or Cold”

This claim has been around for a long time; Egyptian physicians used honey to promote health and Greeks believed in its promotion of virility and longevity.
There is some truth behind these historic preferences.
Honey is high in many nutrients including iron, copper, manganese, silica chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium , phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium.
The darker the honey the higher the nutrient content.
The combination of the two intensify the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties
Lemon has been recognized for its natural disinfectant properties. It contains pectin which acts as a vacuum to help clean out the gut including environmental toxins.
The high potassium content aids in the elimination of these pollutants. Lemon has a high source of vitamin C to help fight infection and, like honey, contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The combination of the two intensify the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Lemons contain almost 90% of vitamin C as a whole fruit which helps repel free radicals and protects the healthy cells from becoming cancerous; all promoting healing when your immune system is compromised.


Don’t be running so fast for the synthetic, orange-lime flavored pack of Emergen-Cee®.
There is no conclusive evidence to say these packaged items work. You need to be careful too with the amount of lemon you use. Too much citrus can irritate the throat.
Too much citrus can irritate the throat.
Too much citrus can irritate the throat.
Also, natural citrus and honey may not help you when you are in the throws of a bad cold or flu.
However, research published by Pediatrics Digest concluded that citrus honey improved the cough symptoms during an upper respiratory infection, leading to a better chance at sleep— I’m talking NATURAL citrus honey.
Remember to always be your own judge. We all react differently to remedies so take the information and personalize what may work best for you.
Give it time to kick in as it may not usher an immediate response.

“It soothes my throat like nothing else!”

Most sore throats are caused by viruses that are common in colds.
For singers and other heavy voice users there are, of course, other causes: vocal strain due to over-using the voice and bad technique (often these go together!)
These factors cause strain to the soft tissue of the larynx.
The edema or swelling of the blood vessels causes the vessels to become more porous and allows leakage of fluid into the tissue.
Singers need to deal with the root cause
This is turn causes swelling, immobility of vocal folds which in turn leads to the feeling of stiffness and a hoarse voice.
So, is honey and lemon THE cure?
In a word: no. Singers need to deal with the root cause, resting during a cold, learning healthier speaking and singing technique.
Of course, hydration is a part of great vocal health – and has rightly been described as the “engine oil” of the voice.
On this score, hot water with honey and lemon is better than alcohol and caffeine based drinks
The thermal effect of the warm liquid will help increase circulation to the affected area and the osmotic effect of the honey will aid in decreasing the swelling of the throat.
But, please, do not underestimate the power of staying hydrated on a regular basis with good ol’ H2O.

“It cleared my throat of mucous so I could sing flawlessly!”

Although a little bit of phlegm may be necessary to lubricate the vocal cords, too much can cause excess vibration.
Here, the combination of warm water and a drop of lemon scores some points.
It can help loosen the buildup of mucous, while the addition of honey can help coat it.
Add a bit of Cheyenne pepper or something spicy to the mix and you can clear up your sinuses to prevent the drip down to your throat.
-Sharon Zarabi

Sharon Zarabi
Sharon Zarabi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (RD, CDN) and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with the International Fitness Professional’s Association (IFPA) and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA.) She is a contributor to The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health (Oxford University Press) and her work can be viewed at

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fun Friday - Pig Flu Polka

At this time of year when THE FLU is all the talk, here is a rather fun version.  Well played people.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesdays - Riverdancing Violinist

See how many of these pieces you can remember as they have fun with the violin.  This is really fun.  You will be checking on Google I am sure.  I was.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Vocal Fry / Creaky voice, stop it!!!

Oh my goodness.  Who told the younger ladies that talking in the back of your throat with that "growly" voice was sexy.  Oh the damage you are doing.  Those of us who have choirs, or teach music in schools etc. have the opportunity to share this information with our young people especially.  Correct sound production and breathing will help them no matter what they do in life.  Speaking and singing require a correct use of the voice.  This constant strain placed by this current trend is dangerous.  This is a great video to point out exactly what is meant by "vocal fry" and why we shouldn't be doing it or allowing it.  Go forth and create GREAT sound correctly!!!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fun Friday - PDQ Bach - Beethoven Symphony No. 5

I sure wish I had had something like this for my students.  This is done as if it were a sports event with commentary and a referee and penalties.  This is funny.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Muppets "I've Got You Under My Skin"

This is from the first season of this marvellous show.  What songs can you think of that could be dramatized like this one?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Musical Monday - A Quick Way to Relax Your Voice Before Performance

Sometimes we come to a performance having had a not so great day or having been very busy.  Suddenly, we have to be in top form.  Here is great short video to give you a really great way to RELAX that voice and allow you to be in control whether you are singing alone or in a group.  You don' have to go to a quiet room or invite a zen moment.  Listen up. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Ode To Joy | Muppet Music Video | The Muppets

Our kids loved the Muppets but I think their dad loved them more.  He was the one who knew the times and made certain they were there with him when the show came on.  Here is one good reason for kids to watch.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Musical Monday - BBC Proms 2011: Tim Minchin - F Sharp (Comedy Prom)

Sometimes we get WAY too serious about some of our musical details.  Some people get bent out of shape because someone doesn't think an auditioned choir is the highest form of choral work.  Others think we should never use sheet music.  I on the other hand, believe there is room for it all. 
We need to be true to the music.  Good tone production, rhythm and harmony are paramount.  Whatever our format, teaching and supporting people who want to learn and grow are SO important.  
Not taking ourselves too seriously really makes it work.  There are any number of ways to get to the same goal that of really well done music that people enjoy producing.  
However, that being said, wait until you hear how this comedic bit has a really tough half tone.  Tim Minchin is a really great musician.  There is nothing harder than singing what seems like a "wrong" note.  Although it is in fun, it is really good musically.  What do you think? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Musical Monday - A Thedford Adventure

One of our basses, Paul, has been working with a group of people who for the last 10 years or more have been quietly working with the workers who come all the way from Mexico to work on our farms here.  They have transportation limitations, language barriers, and often feel isolated.  It was a chance meeting of two workers who actually knew each other and were working not far apart and yet had not known that they were even in Canada at the same time.

From there, a small group of dedicated people started a service that these "guest" workers could attend done in Spanish for them.  A meal became part of the evening as many workers came right out of the fields.

Image result for clip art guitarPaul and his musical friends in the Men of Song from Strathroy, joined in the planning of a fund raising evening to be held at the Thedford Arena.  We also got invited to participate.  What a great evening it was!!!

Although some of the workers weren't allowed to leave the fields at the last minute, many attended to play soccer and share a barbecue.

ETS members all had to drive more than an hour to attend but oh we are so glad we did.  There was our Kristy playing the piano with the Presbyterian minister and her guitar and another church member and her uniquely mellow bongo.  They played familiar songs and the audience just joyfully joined in.

We sang with a small but mighty group and they did a fabulous job of Hallelujah, Wonderful World, You Raise Me Up and The Storm is Passing Over.  Then the Men of Song joined us and we sang a number of hymns including Just as I Am, In the Garden, and No Tears in Heaven.  Wow!

The service continued in Spanish with guitar and spiritual songs and very energetic participation from the audience.

All the while, there is food still available at the side of the auditorium for those coming in late from work.  The homemade goodies and coffee and water were abundant and people just got up and got what they wanted as the evening progressed.

This was a unique and wonderful opportunity for ETS to be able to  participate.  Thanks to Paul and a wonderful group of kind of generous people that this opportunity is available to the workers to not only have a spiritual home but a place to meet fellow workers and socialize.  Bravo all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesdays - The BEATLES "Birthday" song

Somebody is having a birthday today.  This is for you.  The rest of us can save this in the archives and play it with lots of great memories.  Gotta love the Beatles.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Musical Monday - The Source of Most Singing / Vocal Problems?

So many times, singers want to use their instrument more efficiently but find difficulty in understanding how to do just that.  Here is a wonderful video that explains the diaphragm and other support muscles etc.  See what you think and I hope it can help choir/singing leaders to explain and singers to practise properly.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fun Friday - Victor Borge Dance Of The Comedians

Victor Borge not only was a great comedian but a very well versed and competent musician.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Musical Monday - Building Your Confidence

Enjoy this guest blog.  We can't learn enough about building our confidence and the confidence of others. My take is that confidence IS determination.  If you are more determined than fearful, you will succeed.  
Her set of actions are interesting.  In a nutshell, I think it is learn as much as you can, practice, in making mistakes, learn and be brave and keep on keeping on. Fail forward to success. But read on and see what YOU think.  I have editted but not added. 

Confidence. That elusive quality we all strive for as performers and as people. How do we get it and how do we maintain it?

It is the niggling self doubt, the existentialist fear of not making a mark, that inspires many of us to try to do better
To me confidence is overrated. The lack of it, however, does not quite command the deserved acclaim.
In many, it is precisely the lack of confidence which propels them forward.

Replace Confidence with Determination

The trait I notice in those who succeed is not so much confidence, but more a dogged determination.
It is sheer bloody mindedness and resilience.
It is the ability to try, to fail, and to try again. It is the ability to jump in the deep end with all your fears and insecurities and learn on the job, make it up as you go along.
Those who do this often enough build experience. And experience is vital. It takes time. In our age of social media, apps and computers we are under the false illusion that instant gratification should be the modus operandi of life. But it isn’t.
Building real skills and a deeper inner knowledge and reliable intuition, takes time and experience. One cannot argue with it.
Building real skills and a deeper inner knowledge and reliable intuition, takes time and experience
And building a sense of self, an ability to find a place of inner calm and acceptance is hard work. It means accepting oneself with all one’s faults and follies and accepting the possibility that one may not please everyone.
The dictionary definition of ‘confidence’ is ‘belief in one’s own abilities, self-assurance’. I have met very few people who consistently ‘believe in their own abilities’.

10 Actions That Work

So what is there to be done? How does a performer build their self esteem?
This is only my opinion of course, but here is a list of practical things which can be done and which, I have come to believe through experience, work:

1. Be prepared and practice

Preparation and practice are not elusive concepts. They are something you can do, no matter how you feel about yourself.

2. Take sanctuary

Let your work be your sanctuary rather than the place to avoid.

3. Feed your passion

Be creative with your material and explore other repertoire, other artists, other genres, go to concerts, share with other creatives, dream about possibilities.

4. Take any chance to perform

Performance takes practice. The more you do it the better you become at it.

5. Carpe Diem

When an opportunity comes your way grab it with both hands and ride the wave. Don’t let it pass. Opportunities are rare gifts. If you ignore them until a time ‘when you are feeling more confident in your ability’, they may pass you by. Accept that you may never feel consistently confident and get out there and do what you need to do in spite of feeling insecure.

6. Accept

Learn to understand and accept your good and bad days. Think about what you do to sabotage yourself. Do you procrastinate when you feel overwhelmed? Whatever negative habits you have, be onto yourself. Break a large task down into smaller tasks and write lists. Simply get them done. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

7. Appreciate your quiet, awkward, nerdy, uncool traits

Being cool is overrated. Make friends with your demons, sit with your fears, and then get on with what you have to do.

8. Understand that experience takes time

Challenge the idea that your next song needs to be perfect or your next performance needs to be flawless. All great artists have had many failures. In fact they have probably had more failures. That is why they have succeeded in the end.

9. Be creative

Play, play with your music, sculpt a beautiful sound, bring yourself to your performance rather than hide behind it, play, explore, try things.

10. Aim to increase your success rate

..rather than aim to be perfect at all times. If 5 out of 10 gigs are good then that is not bad. Work your way up slowly. Allow yourself to fail, get up, dust yourself off and start again. Learn to laugh about it.
Confidence is a misplaced concept.
Learn to trust that you can get things wrong and then happily keep going. Learn to have faith in your own resilience, without loss of passion, humour and determination.
In this way you are building experience. And experience is hard to compete with.

Leontine Hass Bio
Leontine Hass BA, Melb. Uni, BMus. Kings College London, Dip. RAM is a singer, actress, vocal coach, Director of The Associated Studios and WAM.Co (The Word and Music Company) and a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing. As a vocal coach, Leontine has a busy private practice comprised of professional singers and recording artists.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - A Surprise While Shopping

You never know what amazing things can happen on a cold, drizzly day.  Stay alert.  You might just hear one of ETS's favourite songs. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Musical Monday - Explaining the SATB Choir Reprised

I have been asked to re-post this fun explanation of the idiosyncrasies of the parts of the choir.  All in good fun but I think their may be a bit of truth hidden in here.  As a soprano, I can attest to a number that I recognize.  Which ones seem familiar to you?
There is a really fun explanation of the 4 basic choir sections as seen by a young person.Thanks Kay for sharing the original.   I have paraphrased here.  

Image result for singing lady clip art
SOPRANOS - are the ones who sing the highest, and because of this they think they rule the world. They have longer hair, fancier jewellery, and swishier skirts than anyone else, and they consider themselves insulted if they are not allowed to go at least to a high F in every movement of any given piece. 

ALTOS - are the salt of the earth - in their opinion, at least. Altos are unassuming people, who would wear jeans to concerts if they were allowed to. Altos are in a unique position in the chorus in that they are unable to complain about having to sing either very high or very low. They know that while the sopranos are screeching away on a high A, they are being forced to sing elaborate passages full of sharps and flats and tricks of rhythm, and nobody is noticing because the sopranos are singing too loud (and the basses usually are too). Altos get a deep, secret pleasure out of conspiring together to tune the sopranos flat. Altos have an innate distrust of tenors, because the tenors sing in almost the same range and think they sound better.

TENORS - are spoiled. That's all there is to it. For one thing, there are never enough of them, and choir directors would rather sell their souls than let a halfway decent tenor quit. And then, for some reason, the few tenors there are, are always really good - it's one of those annoying facts of life.. So it's no wonder that tenors always get swollen heads - after all, who else can make sopranos swoon? It is a little-known fact that tenors move their eyebrows more than anyone else while singing.

Image result for TUBA
BASSES - sing the lowest of anybody. This basically explains everything. They are stolid, dependable people, and have more facial hair than anybody else. The basses feel perpetually unappreciated, but they have a deep conviction that they are actually the most important part (a view endorsed by musicologists, but certainly not by sopranos or tenors), despite the fact that they have the most boring part of anybody and often sing the same note (or in endless fifths) for an entire page. They compensate for this by singing as loudly as they can get away with - most basses are tuba players at heart.
As for the sopranos, they are simply in an alternate universe which the basses don't understand at all. They can't imagine why anybody would ever want to sing that high. When a bass makes a mistake, the other three parts will cover him, and he can continue on his merry way, knowing that sometime, somehow, he will end up at the root of the chord.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Musical Monday - Choir Sings Pachelbel Canon Medley - The Power of the Pentatonic

We had our first practice for this year at our house with a pot luck.  Now I have told you before that our choir is tops at bringing really delicious goodies.  They did not disappoint.  That is a bit of a problem as we then have our practice afterwards.  Yikes.  

We have 3 new members who were good sports and are going to be great additions to our choir.  Suffice it to say that we weren't quite up to the level of this video tonight (but close tee, hee!!)
The choir in this video is adding rock songs on top of a lovely rendition by the orchestra of Pachelbel's Canon.  How?  Well, Pachelbel's Canon is written in the pentatonic as are the rock songs they use.  

Amaze your friends by playing the piano with both hands and never having a nasty clashing sound when you play only the BLACK keys.  Those represent the pentatonic or 5 note scale that leaves out the two half tone steps of fah and ti.  Listen and see what I mean.  I think we have hatched an idea for more partner songs.  Enjoy!!

P.S. Please note that the poem correctly titled "The Dash" used in last week's blog was written by Linda Ellis.  The internet is a great place but sometimes the information you find is not quite correct.  Thanks Anne. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fun Friday - Ricky Skaggs - Country Boy

You may or may not be a country aficionado but you have to admire the skill especially in the guitar.  Now listen to Ricky Skaggs here and then scroll down to one of his first performances.

He is a cutey for sure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Musical Monday - What Will YOUR Dash Be?

Image result for choir picturesToday the Embro Thistle Singers had the pleasure of taking part in the decoration service for the Embro Cemetery.  We sang at the Knox Presbyterian Church one block south of our "home" base at Knox United.  What a delightful group of people and a lovely building.  We really enjoyed our time.

Hurrah for the fabulous singers who came and did a great job adding to the service by singing the hymns and Oh Canada as well as our contribution of Because We Believe, Hallelujah and You Raise Me Up.  The music was an important part of the service but the part that made it really special was Anne Hollis' message.

She said that as a child she often visited the pioneer cemetery near her home and wondered what people had done with their lives.  On the tombstones, you see the dates of birth and death and all the rest is represented by a small DASH.  Anne reminded us that it is up to us how we live that dash.

So have you always wanted to sing but weren't sure you could? Join a choir.  If you are afraid of a audition, find a community choir like ours that wants you if you are willing to learn and work with the team.  Whatever you do, don't let your music go unsung.  My lifelong dream is to conduct an orchestra.  I will do that.

Thank you Anne for another wonderful message.  Thank you

If music is a passion then make it happen for you.  Don't let your dash not be filled with all that is in your heart.

Here is the poem, How Do You Live Your Dash?.  As with many poems that say great things, it is by Anonymous.

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1934-1998)

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars… the house… the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Author Unknown…