Sunday, May 31, 2015

Musical Monday - Singing at Knox United - The Power of Music

The Embro Thistle Singers have been privileged to use the beautiful Knox United Church as our rehearsal area for 5 years.  They are very generous and we truly appreciate it.  Today we were able to give back by being the choir for the service this morning.
Here Anne (right) is finalizing details.  She did an amazing job as the leader and preacher for the service.  Her topic was "The Power of Music". She shared that the hymn "I, the Lord of Sea and Sky" which we sang today was the impetus for her becoming a lay preacher helping in many area churches.  

 We sang many of our favourites such as You Raise Me Up and Hallelujah.
 We sang John Rutter's For the Beauty of the Earth for the first time publicly and the sopranos shone.  However, kudos go to all the singers as they nailed the tricky rhythm changes and dynamics.

 For the first time, we sang the Parting Blessing a Capella and stayed in tune.  Yahoo.
 Kristy played the entire service including postilude and prelude.  Kristy plays at St James in Ingersoll usually so she is a very experienced musician.  We are SO blessed!!
 The singers managed to be great leaders during the hymns, the Lord's Prayer and all the intercessory pieces.  My it was lovely

 Thank you Knox Church and Embro Thistle Singers for a beautiful service and our chance to be of service to others.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fun Friday - Detroit Mass Choir - The Storm Is Passing Over

We are singing this piece on Sunday at Knox United Church in Embro on Sunday.  We have a different interpretation.  We sing considerably faster but the dynamics are very similar.  The harmonies here are great. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - My Fair Lady - The Rain In Spain

You know all those warm ups we do to get the vowels & consonants correct?  Well, here is what happens when they 'get it' !!!  What fun.  Of course, we know that Audrey Hepburn isn't actually singing but nevertheless, it is fun. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Musical Monday - Oh the Joy of Choir

Tonight's practice was just that - an absolute joy for all of us.  We are singing the Sunday service at Knox Church to thank them for our practice space.  We have pulled out some "chestnuts" to sing that we haven't done for some time and are also singing some that we have practised and really enjoy but haven't had the opportunity to sing publicly yet.  Well the result was yummy!!
So what happens in your choir when they sing really well.  Here is what we did.

1.  Let it be - Check out the song on Fun Friday this week.  We are singing that very song.  At rehearsal, we sang it first and it was quite good despite a ragged entry.  The rest of the piece came together really well and the dynamics were especially good.
Instead, of going back right then and fixing the entry, we let the great sound we finished with stand.  We went back to it at the end.  99% was marvellous.  Let it stay and fix the one spot later.

2. Push the envelope a bit - Every piece they sang was really well done.  The one thing we haven't done is to sing a Capella.  We always said that we wanted to.  After singing so well, and having that great feeling of accomplishment, I knew they would be able to tackle a Capella with confidence.  We sang the Parting Blessing (Irish Blessing) with piano and then a Capella.  Kristy played the chord at the end and they were bang in tune.  We built on the great work that they had done through the practice and they extended their comfort zone.  Yes!

3. Leave them wanting more - We did a quick sing through of the medley we are singing for the Embro Fair in September but just that.  We sang through a couple of the pieces for the service as well before doing our Parting Blessing and then we went home.  We all kind of floated out on a feeling of solid accomplishment.  We stayed and chatted a bit and all parted looking forward to Sunday.  If we had tried to do more, I think that great sense of contentment might have been compromised.

I am still grinning.  What a treat!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fun Friday - Old Men Grooving

This is so much fun.  These guys sure don't look like they have much to contribute but looks can be deceiving.  Their joy creates our enjoyment.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Wheel of Musical Impressions with Adam Levine

When people are good at doing impressions, it helps us remember those performers of the past.  Which of these evokes a favourite memory for you?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Musical Monday - How to Promote Your Choir with NO Budget

Image result for clip art fireworksHere in Canada we are celebrating Victoria Day this weekend.  We have lots of fireworks going off as I write just outside my window.  Celebrating happens both Sunday & Monday. Yahoo.  

When we belong to a choir one thing we need to do is celebrate that choir everywhere we go.  Even in a choir with a closed membership, you need singers in the wings and you definitely need people to fill your audience when you sing.  So how do we celebrate our choirs and keep the message before people that we would love to have them join us either as audience or members?  I have some ideas that we have used with our choir and I bet you have some that you use too.  We would love you to share them with us.

1. Do good - Offer to sing for a fund raiser.  Whatever is happening in the world or in your community, there are many opportunities for fund raising.  We have sung for the Tsunami relief, Relay for Life for the Canadian Cancer Society, the Red Cross and others.  We got dates for concerts from two and garnered new members from others.  Our goal is to provide song, service and fun with our music.  While doing just that, we can promote our choir and tell others that we are available to sing as well as looking for new members.

2. Free print & radio advertising - Every community has a free paper or two that invite you to advertise.  Our local radio station also invites community groups with no budget for advertising to get their activities promoted on the air.  In a large choir, you may need one or two people who's job it is to find these opportunities and write up the articles.  Keep eyes and ears open for these opportunities and stay in the forefront of your community.

3. Business cards - In this day of easy desktop printing, it is simple to have business cards with your logo and contact information readily available to all.  The more they are passed along, the better you will be known.  Make certain to put on them whether you have ticketed events and the approximate dates and cost.  If you are available to be booked for events have that on the back for sure.  Having your name and contact information in as many hands as possible can never go wrong.

4. Posters - When you are singing for an event or serving snacks at the theatre or at the fire hall for Canada Day, have posters up that reflect what you have on your business cards.  I know that social media is very important and we talked about that some time ago, but nothing beats the immediacy of big letters saying what you need people to know.  If appropriate, a short recording of some of your songs would be helpful. We have posters made up that go up as needed.

No matter what you need to always be promoting your choir.  Talk to people, hand out your business cards as you talk and be excited to share the information.  Whether you sell tickets or provide concerts for donations or for free, you need people to know about you.  Be the very best salesperson ever and tell everyone.  Share your passion.  You never know, it may be the difference maker for a full house and/or choir.  Above all else, have fun!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Nat King Cole sings "When I Fall in Love"

Nat King Cole had such a wonderful, relaxed style.  Nothing seemed beyond his ability to sing.  Listen to the intervals here.  Clean and smooth.  Yummy. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

We Came - We Sang - We Sweated!!

The people at Oxford Manor were very fine hosts on Friday night.  We really enjoyed singing in the beautiful parlour of the old home which is still in its original form.  The lovely high ceilings were a real blessing as the extraordinary heat.  Remember when we were complaining about the -30 temps that seemed like yesterday?  Well now it is +30 degrees Celsius.

No matter, we had a great evening.  The audience was very enthusiastic and loved all the songs. We were very proud to present the 2 arrangements by our friend, Karen Boyce.  Our first performance went really well and we couldn't be more thankful.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Whoopi Goldberg - Sister Act - I will follow him

If you weren't on the scene when this movie happened, check it out.  Great music.  However, some interesting conducting from Whoopi.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Musical Monday - What Kind of Conductor Are You or Do YOU Prefer?

Oh my goodness.  The more you watch musical offerings the more styles of waving your arms you will find.  I found a VERY accurate and funny presentation of conducting styles.   You MUST click on this link!!!  I know I have seen most of these in my lifetime but thankfully have never been on the receiving end.

Check out these styles:
1. The Pinwheel
2. The Basketball
3. The Bruce Lee
4. the Disembodied Hand
5. The Surprise Attach
6. The Big Wheel Keeps on Turning
7. The Big Wheel with Pinwheel Combo
8. the Catch and Release
9. The Stir the Soup
10. Cut Off with Warrior Pose

I recommend that if you are a caught in any of these styles, go take a course or watch really good choirs and see what type of conducting has made it happen.
Be clear, be precise and above all else, make certain you and your choir are on the same page with the understanding of what your gestures mean.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fun Friday - Whoopi Goldberg - Sister Act - Oh happy day

Now why can't I just sing "la-la-la-la's" and have our choir break out in mega harmonies.  What am I doing wrong?  Check out some fun conducting styles on Musical Monday next week.