Sunday, December 25, 2016

Musical Monday - Wonderful World - Choir! Choir! Choir! at Eaton Centre

Merry Christmas!!!!  Look at the faces as they sing.  The joy and pleasure here is contagious.  May you add this happiness to yours.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Musical Monday - The Next Generation Leahy Christmas

All of we who love the Leahy sound are intrigued by this new generation.  Listen to some of the very cool harmonies and rhythms.  What a treat.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Musical Monday - Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy with Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly

If you didn't watch last Musical Monday then go back and watch it first.  This is is a great take off.  Their sound is really great but the ending is too funny.  Ho, ho, ho!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Musical Monday - Bing Crosby, David Bowie - The Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth

I am not a David Bowie fan.  I acknowledge that he did well in his career and by all accounts made some outstanding contributions to music.  However, I have never really enjoyed watching him.  However, this skit with one of my fav's Bing Crosby, is a good one.   Their voices are very compatible and I do enjoy this song.
 Now, tune in next week for another fun Christmas musical skit. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival at the Royal Albert Hall

Last night I had the pleasure of being in Royal Albert Hall.  Well, I am writing this in anticipation of that moment so I can share more about that later.  However, our daughter has often attended these Christmas concerts at Royal Albert Hall and I wanted to share the fun with you.  As you listen, decide what makes it fun.  In such a grand edifice with such history you might think it should all be serious stuff.  Does having fun with the music make it any less "serious"?  I think NOT!!  How could we incorporate some of these ideas in our concerts?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Musical Monday - Cat Choir Teach Use Vowels

Vowels can be the bane of any choir leader.  There is the discussion of which vowels as in old English, new English, different language vowels etc.  
One thing I know for sure is that vowels must be round and forward to carry the sound.
This piece of music is an actual composition.  These two young men have been taught and use some superb vowel production.  Listen carefully the second time for the vowels.  The first time is just too funny to concentrate.  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Musical Monday - Piano Choir

Although this is part of a television program in Britain, it really is a cool idea.  Imagine this choir having each to remember a SINGLE note and sing it when the light goes on.  I truly think this would be a great warm up exercise for any singing group.  Having to remember and reproduce only YOUR note as you are asked would be a super exercise in mental music.  Let's try it!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Musical Monday - Singing Pumpkins - Blue Moon as Never Heard Before

Happy Hallowe'en tomorrow.  Although this is fun to watch and listen, I believe it would be a great introduction for any age choir to various styles of music.  I can remember taking a song as simple as Row, Row, Row Your Boat and having the students sing it as a ballad, jazz, rock, opera etc.  They came up with some great suggestions.  With the internet, there is so much material out there to help understand each genre and then apply.  First of all, have fun listening to this presentation.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Musical Monday - Celebration at Knox United Embro

The fall colours are simply gorgeous here this year.  This was but one of the glorious trees we saw as we drove to Knox United Church in Embro this morning to sing at their celebration of the newly renovated basement.
We have often told you about how wonderful the folks at Knox United have been to us in allowing us to use their beautiful space for rehearsals.  They are so generous as we know that many choirs constantly struggle to find a practice space with good acoustics, appropriate area and instruments for singing.  We have found all of that in this lovely old church.

 The old basement is where we started out back in 2010.  It was dark, damp and acoustically poor.  Well this morning we got to warm up in the new basement that is now bright, warm and much more open.  Then, up to the church we went.

It was a delight to be leading the music today.  We sang For the Beauty of the Earth. 
 Angels Among Us

 The Storm is Passing Over & Any Dream Will Do

Basses & Sopranos
Tenors & Altos
Kristy is back in great form at the piano keeping us all together.  We are so pleased that her injured foot is healing so well.

We are saying our thanks to our hosts at Knox United by giving them the money to tune and repair the piano downstairs in their lovely new basement.  Embro Thistle Singers are all about Song, Service & Fun.  We experience all of those using this wonderful facility.  Many thanks to our friends at Knox United.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Musical Monday - Timpanogos High Choir Sings William Tell Overture (Funny)

You have to understand.  The William Tell Overture was the theme song for the old television show, The Lone Ranger.  When my brother was about 3, every time that theme played he galloped around the dining table until it was finished.  So imagine my surprise when surfing YouTube to find this choir using that very piece and doing some horsey impersonations.  

Not only is this fun but they sing beautifully.  Speed is a bit of an issue in my mind at times but then they are really having to move a lot.  Notice that they use only a few sounds throughout the entire piece.  Oh how fun this is.  Talk about audience engagement.  I think this kind of treatment would be a grand addition to a concert that has more serious or solemn sounds as well.  What do you think?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Musical Monday - Pitch Slapped & Unique Presentation Ideas

The young people in this video are tremendously talented. List the things they are doing to make this a Capella piece unique.

1. The Introduction - pushing the "button" for the introduction gets your attention right away.  Why couldn't any of us do something similar?  
2. Black & white none-matching outfits.  They keep their individuality while remaining a group. 
3. Movement.  I am not a proponent of general movement when you sing but sometimes it helps focus on the meaning of the song. In this case, it helps to tell the story.  Used judiciously, it can be an integral part of the presentation.  Notice they limited the movement when the music had a serious turn.  It really focuses the attention where it belongs. 
4.  Enthusiasm.  Always bring that excitement with you as you sing.  When you enjoy your work, so will your audience.  Whether a serious or playful message, make sure you show your love of the music you are making.  Done & dusted. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Musical Monday - Sharing Your Musical Joy & This Ole House / When the Saints Go Marching In

It is SO important that when you sing you show that you are actually enjoying it.  If you are singing a Requiem, you probably won't be grinning but sing it with your eyes.  Beauty of the music should show in your face.  
When singing something livelier and less serious, smiling is a must as long as it doesn't impede the sound or create broad vowels that can flatten your tone.
I think there are a few ideas that can help you to be certain that the finished product connects with your audience which of course is the bottom line.
  1. You as the director must have an understanding of the music & the text and how they work together to get the MEANING across.  The big job is to be sure that all of your singers are on the same page. 
  2. Once you have decided what the song means, then make certain as you are learning the parts that the PHRASING maintains the story you are trying to tell.  Breathing in the wrong place is like putting a comma in the phrase where it doesn't belong. For example, there is huge difference between Let's eat grandpa and Let's eat, Grandpa.  
  3. If you and the singers are enjoying yourselves no matter how serious or fun the song is, your audience will enjoy your presentation.  
Here is a quartet that is loving what they sing and when they pan across the audience, look at the faces.  This is fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Musical Monday - For Kristy - Happy

Many years ago in a land just down the street, a teacher arrived at a new school & an enthusiastic colleague got things rolling for us to mount a number of musicals & musical events. 

Well, that was great but we needed an accompanist who could be with us before school for 8 a.m. rehearsals & after school and weekends.  One of the mums suggested her friend's daughter who was in grade 9 at the high school.  Enter Kristy Van Kooten.  Now this was a talented young lady.  Kristy played for us for the 3 years I taught at the school next to her high school. 

We won't talk about the time the rehearsal went over time and Kristy was late for her classes.  When they called her mum at home, she thought Kristy was missing and called the police.  Oh the excitement.  All was forgiven and on we went.  

There are many children including our own daughter who have many happy memories of the music we created in those years. 
We did the Psalty Musicals with our grade 5 teacher dressed as a hymn book (a.k.a. Psalter hence - Psalty).  Our principal was the voice of God.  Really.  And all the while it was Kristy who held us together with her fabulous accompaniment and patience.  

Then, she agreed to play again when I was to direct Kiss Me Kate with the community theatre.  Heaven!!

Now, our Kristy is the accompanist for the Embro Thistle Singers. She knows what I want before I do.  Many times we will stop together with the same idea for improvement.  What an amazingly talented and generous person she is.  

Well a few weeks ago, she injured her foot at work.  That didn't stop her from coming to our concert for the Embro Cemetery service.  She also scooted down the aisle at the church for our rehearsal 2 weeks later.  

Well, Friday Kristy had to have a toe amputated.  She is healing well but it will take time.  Does that mean she will miss any of our concerts?  Nope.  Just before she went into surgery, she called to make certain of dates.  

Kristy, you are one fantastic woman and we are so very blessed to have you as part of our musical partnership.  We have so many laughs together as we learn and work.  You make our time so much fun.  

Here is a young choir on a mum's cell phone video as they rehearse.  The second is of their performance.  Can't you see the choirs we had doing just this?  With great memories and so much happiness, I thank you from the bottom of a truly grateful heart!! Heal well and we can hardly wait to again be making music together. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Musical Monday - Make Words Meaningful with Different Presentations

Sometimes, when we sing songs we like but have sung over & over, using a different accompaniment, arrangement or tune can really make us & the audience sit up and take notice. 
1.  The Anthem Lights have taken a number of beautiful hymns and put them together as partners in a beautiful a Capella arrangement that really makes you listen in a new way.

2.  This next one uses a completely different tune for a well known hymn.  Does this get in the way of the beauty of the words or help you to hear them differently?  
We have to weigh the benefits of using something that is so unexpected to its ability to make the song(s) even more meaningful.  My only caveat is that we don't make changes just for change sake and that we consider our audiences and our purpose carefully.  For me, these two example work well and enhance the hymns.  Do you agree?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Musical Monday - Dallas Street Choir - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Sometimes certain genres of music can seem to be unrelated.  The love of music is very evident in this video in every single face.  They sing because they can & happily share their talents among them.  Music more than anything can bring people together and bind their souls.  Listen.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Musical Monday - How to Sing VOCAL HARMONY!

Singing something other than the TUNE of a song is scary to some people and can actually keep them from trying out a choir.  This is a fun and simple lesson on singing harmony.  Follow his instructions and see what you can do.  Isn't it fun?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Musical Monday - What Foods are Good for Singers?

This is a hotly debated subject.  I had always been told not to have milk products before singing so I didn't.  I also don't drink a lot of water because I just don't like how it feels.  I do drink lots of tea.  That hasn't bothered my voice.  I seldom eat before a performance even when conducting.  I just don't feel like it.  
Bottom line it seems to me is to do what works for you.  However, here are my rules and they have more to do with my fellow performers than me. 

1. Don't eat garlic, onions or other smelly foods before a performance.  Save it for the day ahead or after.  The resulting odoriferous-ness (is that a word?) could be deadly.  Read between the lines here.
2. Don't drink alcohol before rehearsals or performances.  Aside from the obvious alcoholic smell, your behaviour and ability to concentrate could be impaired.  And we haven't even touched on the drive there and back if you don't have transit available. 
3. If you need to sip water or suck a candy then have a discreet cup from which you can sip quietly or have candy UNWRAPPED and don't choose to do either in the middle of the quietest part.

Here is an article by Kristie Knickerbocker about the myths and legends of eating and drinking and the voice.  It seems as if it is all in our head and our vocal folds don't really care.

When I was younger, I was petrified that eating before a performance would screw it all up.
I can remember vividly, sitting at a Texas Music Educators Association competition as a kid near me consumed an entire slice of pepperoni pizza before disappearing into his audition room.
He leaned over and smiled, “It’s always good luck for me.”
I was aghast, and I hope my face did not reflect what was going on in my head. Food? I thought. Before singing? NEVER!
But, why did I believe so strongly that the voice gods would shun me if I ate a bite of anything? Should superstitions be revered? Is it really all in my head?
He obviously thought that the pizza was his golden ticket for the American Idol of Texas choir competitions.

The Power of A Placebo?

Some performers believe licorice before a gig helps improve vocal range – a placebo effect?
Some performers believe licorice before a gig helps improve vocal range. One singer would consume an entire bag of licorice prior to a performance. Is this a placebo?
After discussing, he stopped and the range remained the same. Hmm…. What about those singers that tell you eating Lays potato chips will lubricate their throats? Is this only in Nashville?
What you eat and drink will not touch your vocal folds; it only touches the tongue, soft palate, throat walls and esophagus.
If it is touching your vocal folds, you are aspirating!
A recent post on a professional voice teaching thread inquired about what teachers advised singers to drink to lubricate their cords.
Home remedies included vinegar, garlic, ginger, olive oil, sugar, and even aloe vera. None of these have scientific evidence that they are harmful to the voice, so if you think it helps, then by all means.
Nothing really lubricates the cords from the outside, but drinking hydrating beverages lubricates from the inside, so this is kind of true…kind of…Just make sure you don’t become a yummy snack for your speech therapist if you come in smelling like an Italian dish.

Bottom Line: HydrationHydrationHydration. There is no scientific evidence that certain foods or beverages will improve or hinder your performance.
Water will always benefit the friction and heat created by your vocal folds by lubricating them on a cellular level.

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides voice, swallowing and speech therapy in her own private practice, a tempo Voice Center, LLC. She also lectures on the singing voice to area choirs and students. She belongs to ASHA’s Special Interest Group 3-Voice and Voice Disorders. She keeps a blog on her website at

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Musical Monday - What's In It For Me?

Image result for clip art choirThe Benefits of Singing in the Choir

Singing in a choir is a unique and fun experience.  As I have mentioned before, you need to check out the choirs in your area to find one that fits YOUR needs.  
1.  If you are a classically trained singer who wants constant challenge, you may want to explore choirs that require an audition and want you to be able to read and sight sing and do much of the learning of your parts on your own.
2.  If you are more relaxed and want to learn the major part of your learning at practice and are willing to work with the choir and your director to learn bit by bit, a community choir may be more your style. 
3.  There are still some churches that have some fine choirs and again if that style of music is your favourite then send your talent and time in that direction. 
No matter what type of choir you end up choosing, here are some of the rewards I feel you gain. 
  • You increase your listening skills.  Firstly you have to actually listen to what the director is saying.  (Directors please note:  Please take a page out of my book and learn to talk less and sing more!!)  Those directions are important to at least one person in the choir and if you aren't listening then you may be interrupting others' ability to listen. You also have to listen so that your voice blends with the voice of the person next to you, as well as with the sounds of the particular type of song you’re singing. Listening well takes a great deal of energy. A good director will recognize that and help you learn those skills.
  • You learn more about reading music.  Even if you are a trained musician, there are always some ways of interpreting the written music you may not have experienced in the past.  As in any art, there are different styles.  You will get to begin to create or hone your very own style.
  • You learn more about using your ears to know correct sound.  Picking out your part when the other voices of the choir are surrounding you is a good workout for your ear. You develop the ability to know when your part fits into the others without slipping into the tune or another part being sung close to you. 
  • You get a chance to work on your social skills. In choirs, you often find people who like you are inspired by beautiful music. Being around other people enjoying the process of learning and making great sounds, is a joy not to be missed.  You really have to be there. 
  • You may get to travel with the choir. A choir I belonged to years ago, toured England, Scotland, and Wales singing and interacting all the way.  It was an amazing trip I wouldn't have experienced without that choir.  Our ETS stay closer to home but we still travel to new areas and have met some really wonderful people along the way.
  • You may become a more self-assured person.  Anytime you learn new skills and do things that may otherwise have been outside of your comfort zone, you grow more confident.  When you gain confidence then you can share that with others around you.  
Singing is a wonderful release and opportunity to express yourself through music and singing. You just won't know until you try.  Find a singing group and see how it goes.  Commit to one season and find what you can learn and then grow from the experiences.  Most importantly, have fun!  It is the key to everything. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Musical Monday - What is this Choir Thing About & Is It for Me?

Here are some words from Gareth Malone on thinking about singing in a choir.

"If you’re reading this, congratulations, as you have either already taken that first step and joined a choir or you are thinking about it. Singing is not only a lot of fun but also gives you confidence and is great exercise for your heart and lungs which in turn gets the brain working. Performing with others in a choir is a great way to start singing and singing at work with your colleagues has benefits too. It can improve communication and teamwork plus it’s a great stress-buster. Singing is good for you!"

1. Firstly, you must get the courage to show up for a choir.  Yes your voice is good enough if you really want to sing.  You won't know if it will work for you until you try.  Some choir require an audition.  That means you sing a song you know in front of at least the director so that your voice can be assessed.  I would suggest that if this is your first choir attempt, you may want to try a community choir that does not audition.  Ask about how practices work and whether you are expected to learn music on your own or if the skills are taught during rehearsals. Then, commit to coming out to 4 or 5 practices and then you can all decide whether it is a fit.

2. Be willing to learn.  Gareth Malone expects people in his choirs to do some work on their own.  I expect our choir members to keep singing.  We do recordings for extra practising.  Here is a link to Gareth's suggestions for working toward your singing best.

3. Keep the vision of yourself as a singer.  Use YouTube to find choirs you love to watch.  See yourself there.  It will give you the motivation to keep on because we all have our up and down times.
Check out this video of these young people.  Young boys with changing voices are often reticent to sing but I know from experience that once they find success in a supportive environment, they really enjoy themselves.  Watch the faces as they make some pretty impressive sounds.
Check out the choirs in your area.  Choose one or two that sound like they match your vision and go to practice.  If you aren't sure, just tell the leader you are not committing just yet.  Any director worth his/her salt will be happy to accommodate.  Most of all HAVE FUN!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Musical Monday - What Voice Do I Have?

You have probably been singing the tune of most songs all this time.  You will have noticed that some songs are easy to sing and others just are not working for you.  Well that is easily explained.  Every singer has an optimum range or low to high number of sounds that are the most comfortable.  You will unconsciously choose songs that are most comfortable for you.

The great news is that once you join a choir, the director will be able to tell you where your voice will fit best.  Yes, your speaking voice will give that away.  So you don't have to know that ahead of time.  If you have never sung harmony that is notes that are not the tune, then you will learn.  Don't be hard on yourself.  Be patient.  All in good time.

Here is a fun video that will give you some pointers about singing harmony.  I love his explanation of harmony being a number of melodies sung at the same time.  Enjoy.  See it isn't nearly as scary as one might think.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Musical Monday - Unsung Town Choir perform Hallelujah...

For the next few weeks, we are going to share a number of ideas to help choirs & singers be the best they can be.  Some ideas with be technical & others more practical based.  As we prepare to get back to our regular singing routines, some of these thoughts may be used as you get ready personally or to be used as a group.  I know I need to be reminded of some of the finer points so that we can be the best group of singers possible. 
Gareth Malone is my hero.  He has reached out to many groups who otherwise may never have had the opportunity or the inclination to sing in a choir.  He has shared his efforts with us on television and of course on YouTube.  
This is a group of people who although they enjoy music never saw themselves as singers.  Check out more about this group on YouTube when you click on the YouTube icon on the video below.  Look at the faces.  Wow!  This is what music can do!! 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday -The Ventures - Wipeout live in Japan 1966

Check out the suits.  Check out the simple technical sound.  Check out the awesome drumming.  How does it compare to the Surfaris on Monday?  Notice the difference?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

HOT Musical Monday - Wipe Out - The Surfaris

It is HOT even in England right now.  It makes you think of the beach and surfing songs.  This band the Surfaris are known for 2 songs, Surfer Joe & Wipe Out which were the 2 sides of one 45 rpm record.  Every drummer in the world has tried to play Wipe Out at one time or another.  Remember?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Story of My Life - ThePianoGuys

We bring who we are & our life experiences to any piece of music.  When there are no words, we either produce our own pictures or as here some lovely images are added for us.  The Piano Guys are SO good at this. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Musical Monday - We're The Superhumans | Rio Paralympics 2016

Oh my gosh.  This is a MUST watch, amazing video using music and singers, instrumentalists to introduce the paralympics and many of the athletes.  Thanks Elaine.  I know when I think I am having a bad day, this will make me think twice.  Success is indeed a state of mind. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Epic Night! Featuring Rufus Wainwright + 1500 Singers sing HALLELUJAH!

Yes, Canadians can do the mass choir like no one else.  The OOO sounds are so right on.  I love the way they do the fugue like parts to the verses.  The sound in the old factory is just wonderful.  Look at the faces and see the enjoyment and pleasure all round.  Wouldn't you like to take part in one of these?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Musical Monday - SEND MY LOVE - Adele - Patty Cake

The harmony is just lovely.  The group dynamic is wonderful.  But the hand percussion is totally amazing.  Thanks Norm.  This is fun.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Kiss Me Kate - Brush Up Your Shakespeare - Royal Albert Hall

At 8 our daughter went with her grandma & me to see Kiss Me Kate by the Windsor Light Opera.  The others on the bus were snoozing on the way home while Colleen sang this song most of the way back to Chatham.  Much later I got the opportunity to direct this musical.  This song is still one of my favourites.  Now, having this sung at Royal Albert Hall doesn't hurt.  I bet you will be singing this all day!  Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Musical Monday - In Canada Chris & Dave Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who spent long months as the commander of the space station.  He used social media to connect with the world from space.  He also used his guitar and song.  Here he and his brother share their song about Canada.  We are so proud of all Chris has achieved.  He has shared all he has learned with the world and with children especially.  His pride in his country shines in this song with his brother.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Happy Birthday - Barbershop Quartet

It's Canada Day tomorrow.  We are 149 years old.  Mark your calendars and come to Ingersoll for next year's 150th Canada Birthday celebration at Victoria Park.  Embro Thistle Singers will be celebrating with song!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Musical Monday - Rachel Platten - Fight Song

Have you ever had one of THOSE days?  Sure, haven't we all.  Here is a song that I love to play at full volume.  If ever you needed a "fight song" this is it.  The Rocky theme comes a close second.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Rod Stewart - Have You Ever Seen The Rain (Official Video)

What gives an artist longevity?  I believe that following Rod Stewart's example and while not exactly reinventing himself, he certainly reworked the music to suit his audience.  Brilliant.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Musica Monday - John Denver live at Windstar Symposium - Wandering Soul

One of John Denver's strongest talents is his ability to put across the lyrics of the songs he sings.  Whether it is the funny  words of Grandma's Feather Bed or these very meaningful words of Wandering Soul.  Listen as his fluid voice and clear sound really make you think.  Thanks Virginia.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - No Tears in Heaven, Kerwood 2016

This is a hymn based on a spiritual.  We love the words and the music.  I think it really suits our voices. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Musical Monday - Nicole Scherzinger and Choir Performing Brave

Our wonderful singers are working on this great song.  It has become a signature song for anyone going through something really difficult.  
I think this is quite lovely including these young cancer survivors in the chorus.  It is unfortunate that it is out of their range but they manage well in any case.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - For the Beauty of the Earth, Kerwood April 2016

John Rutter writes great pieces for choirs.  He doesn't make them easy but they certainly are a joy to sing.  Even though I really love his Gaelic Blessing, the choir will finish off practice and then want to sing For the Beauty and dismiss my pleas for the Gaelic Blessing.  Ah well.  You'll know I've been successful when one of Norm's videos features the Gaelic Blessing.  Until then, I love what the choir does with this Rutter piece.  We hope you will too. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Musical Monday - The Koi Boys "All About That Bass"

The other day I was in Canadian Tire and this song came on.  I started to sing along.  The lady at the counter leaned over and turned up the volume then leaned over saying that this was a great song.  We sang a duet while I paid for my purchases.  Here is your chance to sing along. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - We Believe, Kerwood 2016

We love the words to this song.  The music really makes the sopranoes work hard but don't they do a great job?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Musical Monday - André Rieu - You'll Never Walk Alone

We are working on a medley of Climb Every Mountain & You'll Never Walk Alone.  This rendition of the song from the musical, Carousel, is quite lovely and obviously enjoyed by the audience.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Wonderful World, Kerwood 2016

While we were getting ready to leave the church after Lorna's memorial, Jim started to play Wonderful World.  The remaining choir members just started to sing much to Jim's surprise.  Some songs are just like that.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Musical Monday - Bryan Adams - Summer of 69

Victoria Day is our Canadian holiday and unofficial start to the summer even though it is really a month away.  After the cold of the past 6 month we are ready to get into our summer stuff and play.  Our own Bryan Adams really nailed it in this song and it is still relevant today.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday - Hallelujah, Kerwood 2016

We sang this at the Kerwood Music Evening.  It is one of our favourites.  I studied Leonard Cohen's poetry in the Canadian Literature course in university and really didn't "get it".  However, now that much is set to music, a whole new world has opened up for me.  How about YOU?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Musical Monday - Choir! of 1999 Voices Sings Prince - When Doves Cry *OFFICIAL VID*

Here is a lovely arrangement of When Doves Cry sung by a volunteer choir of almost 2000 in Massey Hall, Toronto.  The conducting is very clear with large movements.  No wonder they sing so well and come in at the right times.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fun Friday - Boogie Storm - Britain Has Talent

Speaking of dance (well we did on Wednesday), here is a great use of costumes.  The movement of dance is enhanced by how the costumes move.  Again, as on Wednesday, they use different styles that really make you pay attention.  What fun!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Capital Cities - Safe And Sound (Official Video)

Elaine found this great video for us.  Check out how this modern song is knit seamlessly with old styles and currents styles in both costume and dance.  It is quite brilliant really.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Musical Monday - Any Dream Kerwood April 2016

Thanks to Norm & Elaine we are able to sit back and see ourselves singing.  This is a really helpful tool.  When you are performing, you are busy concentrating on the music.  
Our hosts in Kerwood were just wonderful and really enjoyed our offerings.  Being a volunteer group, we do no ticketed concerts.  We go where invited.  We appreciate every opportunity to share our songs.  Thanks Kerwood Church.  We appreciate YOU!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fun Friday - Star Wars Theme Medley - samuraiguitarist (Bluegrass)

This week we have heard very different groups singing varied songs.  Our Elaine found this very unique presentation of on of the most enduring themes of present time.  What fun. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - 4 Young Ladies ROCK this Barbershop Tune

These young ladies are very confident and oh my do they make a wonderful sound.  This is a pretty spectacular amateur video. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Musical Monday - Homeless, Not Voiceless (Dallas Street Choir)

Music is important.  We who enjoy being involved in the making of music know that well as do the people who sing in this marvellous choir.  This piece is particularly poignant - The Climb!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fun Friday - Shake It Off - Walk off the Earth

Walk Off the Earth is a Canadian group formed about 10 years ago in Burlington Ontario.  They won top album of the year at this year's Juno Awards.  This is very typical of this amazing group.  They are all about having fun with great music.  Check out a previous post that is quite a stretch!!  Tee, hee. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Singing at Kerwood United Church

Sunday the Embro Thistle Singers had the privilege of singing at the Evening of Music they hold each year.

We walked into the front of the lovely old church and were surrounded by original wood pews, beautiful coloured glass windows and a spirit of love and acceptance.

We really enjoyed singing in this lovely setting.  Thanks so much to the people of Kerwood and environs who welcomed us and were so complimentary.  We shall have videos soon so stay tuned.  Our professional videographer, Norm, was on the job.  Stay tuned. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Musical Monday - Michael Buble and Blake Shelton - Mixing Styles

Don't you just love it when two genres of music are mixed so masterfully.  It gives this song a whole new flavour.  This is a good idea to keep in mind when we sing in choir as well.  We do have chances to mix it up.  When has it worked for you?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fun Friday - Pharrell Williams - Happy - I Dare You NOT to Dance

It doesn't matter where I am, when this song comes on in a store, sidewalk, at kickboxing class, I dance.  Oh yeah.  Clap, hum and DANCE.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Poison - Your Mama Don't Dance

I think we should consider these costumes (or lack thereof) for our performances.  What do you think ETS singers?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Musical Monday - The State Dance Ensemble of Ukraine p. Virsky "Hopak"

Oh my goodness.  Now this is a workout and a half.  Whenever I hear this music my mind dances just like this.  Yup. Just my mind and maybe my toes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fun Friday - Farmer Style (Gangnam Style Parody)

Thanks to Elaine for finding this wonderful salute to our amazing farm families.  Music makes this story so fun at the same time as it is informative.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Musical Monday - MERLE HAGGARD Sing Me Back Home

Notice how mellow Merle Haggard's voice sounds and what great flexibility he still has.  
These words are certainly a testament to the power of music.  Would Merle himself have been able to pull himself out of his trough of trouble had Johnny Cash not been his inspiration to become a musician?  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fun Friday - Kentucky Vocal Union - Footloose

You know how much I love Barbershop sounds.  This group is over the top and then some.  Enjoy the energy and the sound.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Amazing Grace to the tune of The House of the Rising Sun

This is a very interesting sound.  The words of Amazing Grace are so beautiful that I think singing it to another tune makes the listener pay more attention.  We may want to try this one.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Musical Monday - Classical Music Mashup

      As a music teacher in elementary school, I taught the periods of music which of course includes the "Classical Period".  That period is between the Baroque & Romantic Periods and is more simple than either of those with mainly homophonic sounds etc.  
When people call all "serious or art" music "classical" it is confusing in my mind.  
     That said this is a mixture of many pieces of many periods.  Amazing blending of sounds.  One of the comments from YouTube has this list that may or may not be correct.  See what you think.

1. Haydn - Symphony No. 94 (Surprise) 2. Mozart - Eine kleine Nachtmusik 3. Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 4. Mendelssohn - Wedding March / Midsummer Night's Dream 5. Dvorak - Humoresque No. 7 6. Wagner - Bridal Chorus / Lohengrin 7. Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 8. Saint-Saens - The Swan / Carnival of the Animals 9. Bach - Prelude / The Well-Tempered Clavier 10. Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture 11. Mendelssohn - Songs Without Words (Spring Song) 12. Bach - Cello Suite No. 1 - Prelude 13. Schubert - Ave Maria 14. Schubert - Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) 15. Verdi - La donna e mobile / Rigoletto 16. Boccherini - Minuetto from String Quintet in E 17. Beethoven - Fur Elise 18. C.P.E. Bach - Solfeggietto 19. Paganini - Caprice No. 24 20. Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 11 / Rondo Alla Turca 21. Grieg - Piano Concerto in A Minor 22. Mozart - Requiem / Lacrimosa 23. Schubert - Standchen 24. Chopin - Prelude in C Minor / Op. 28 No. 20 25. Brahms - Lullaby (or maybe Symphony No. 2) 26. Strauss II - Die Fledermaus Overture 27. Satie - Gymnopedie No. 1 28. Debussy - Premiere Arabesque 29. Holst - Jupiter 30. Schubert - The Trout 31. Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 32. Mozart - 12 Variations on 'Ah vous dirai-je, Maman' 33. Schumann - The Happy Farmer 34. Schubert - Marche Miltiaire No. 1 35. Petzold/Bach - Minuet in G 36. Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 16 37. Offenbach - Orpheus in the Underworld / Can-can 38. Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 8 (Pathetique) 39. Mozart - The Magic Flute, Overture 40. Tchaikovsky - Romeo & Juliet 41. Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 42. Rachmaninoff - Prelude in C# minor 43. Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 2 / Funeral March 44. Williams - The Imperial March 45. Tchaikovsky - Marche Slave 46. Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker / Waltz of the Flowers 47. Smetana - Ma vlast / Die Moldau 48. Borodin - Prince Igor / Polovtsian Dances 49. Strauss II - The Blue Danube 50. Vivaldi - Spring 51. Handel - Messiah / Hallelujah Chorus 52. Handel - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba / Solomon 53. Elgar - Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1 54. Pachelbel - Canon in D 55. Mozart - Symphony No. 35 (Haffner) 56. Chopin - Etude Op. 25 No. 9 (Butterfly) 57. Bach - French Suite No. 5, Gavotte

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fun Friday - Top Secret Drum Corps - Drumming, Marching, Moving & All Lit Up - Amazing!!

My socks always fall down.
I turn left when they say right.
I drop drum sticks regularly.
I am NOT in this group & they are SOOOOO glad. 
These guys are amateurs with day jobs.  Holy cow!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Energetic Flash Mob

Please just once when I am in an airport, would someone schedule a flash mob like this.  Oh the energy and the fun!!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Musical Monday - Kid Sings The Blues In Guitar Shop Like It's Nobody's Business!

I a going to bet this young man has never had a lesson but has listening and is replicating his favourite blues sounds.  Where is he now?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday - Alan Jackson - "The Old Rugged Cross"

It isn't that we can't have fun on this day but Good Friday for me is a more contemplative time.  This song has some beautiful words especially for this Easter time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Gaither Family

On this Ash Wednesday may we be thankful for our friends & family that surround us.  I am very thankful for my ETS family who's music & fun fill my heart and spirit!  Our circle grows ever wider as we meet new musicians & audiences.  May you be as blessed as I.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Musical Monday - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - A Lively Rendition

This is truly one of my favourite spirituals.  I love the energy and enthusiasm in this one.  Enjoy as we celebrate Easter Monday.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun Friday - Neil Young - Four Strong Winds

I know that Neil Young is a great talent but I have never connected to him.  When I heard this version, I still don't connect to Mr. Young but I enjoyed the the many acoustic guitars and the autoharp which I loved playing.  It is a gentle rendition of this wonderful song.  I just wish I enjoyed Neil Young more.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wnderful Wednesday - This Land Is Your Land - The Travellers

Last Wednesday, we had the original recording of The Travellers doing this song.  This is more modern.  What are the differences - well besides the words of course?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Musical Monday - What Singers Can Learn from Doris Day

Not only can we learn a thing or two about good singing from Doris Day but we can enjoy again some of her lovely songs.

What Singers Can Learn from Doris Day

Is that not what we all strive for as students of voice?  To be so trained in the fundamentals that we don’t have to think about them, that we can just let go and express the music?
Doris Day in the studio
The overwrought and over-sung nature of modern vocals can learn a thing or two from Doris -says Mister Tim.
An outstanding dancer, singer, and actress, Doris Day was one of the most popular entertainers in the 1950’s and 60’s.
She began her career as a big band singer in 1939 and went on to be the biggest female box office star for 2 decades.
She released more than 600 recordings and starred in a sitcom that ran for 5 years.
Her singing is clear, direct, sweet, and full of happy energy.
Her clean-cut sweetness earned her criticism in the 60’s and 70’s as those things fell out of fashion, but I find these attributes refreshing compared to the overwrought and over-sung nature of modern female vocals.
Consider This:
Some things to consider about Day’s singing: it sounds effortless, but she is an excellent technical singer.
Her breath control, her diction, her dynamic control are all flawless. Is that not what we all strive for as students of voice?
To be so trained in the fundamentals that we don’t have to think about them, that we can just let go and express the music?
She had a masterful command of the different colors in her voice. She could sing light or strong in any part of her range.
She constantly varied her delivery to tell wonderful stories. She sang every song as if she cared deeply about what she was singing. It’s no wonder she was such a revered actress.

Sentimental Journey (1945)

Day’s first major hit became a sort of theme song for American troops waiting to return from theaters of war. It astounds me how she can sound simultaneously joyful and melancholy.

Put Em in a Box (1948)

From her first starring film role, “Romance on the High Seas” (1948). Her singing is completely conversational and effortless. Listen to how she sings “put ‘em in a box” slightly different each time (0:44, 0:59, 1:29, 1:51, 2:40). The happiest anti-love song you’ll ever hear.

Everybody Loves a Lover (1958)

A seemingly simple song, but listen to how many vocal colors she explores throughout the song. Light and easy (first verse), stronger and belty (0:55), playful with a silly voice (1:17 + 1:45). She’s constantly changing. It’s like she is discovering and exploring the song for the first time along with us.

Sunshine Medley (1975) with John Denver

The tastiest of cheese! From a Doris Day television special (young singers should know that these kinds of shows were very common back in the day, and thanks to YouTube you can watch many of them). Day was more than 50 years old and still moving and singing with all kinds of pep. I never get tired of the way she closes her ‘n’s and ‘l’s (see 1:03). Also a great example of her versatility, each song getting it’s own vocal treatment.
Original article by:
Mister Tim is a published composer, award-winning recording artist, and in-demand performer, teacher & performance coach.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - The Travellers - Something To Sing About 1963

This song by written by Oscar Brand is every inch Canadian.  Listen to this early version by the Travellers.  It has Brand's first set of words.  Did you catch the geographical mistake?

This version by the Arion Male Voice Choir has the corrected version.  Did you pick it out?  I remember teaching this song and it took us a while to figure out that what we were singing was incorrect.  As a matter of fact, I didn't spot it until I purchased a Readers' Digest Canadian Songbook and it had the story of why Oscar Brand had to change the words.  Listen carefully.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Musical Monday - Ian and Sylvia - Four Strong Winds

This week we are showcasing some great Canadian songs.  I wish I had a nickel for every time I have sung this song.  It really is one of my favourites.  How about you?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fun Friday - Stonewall Jackson High School - Concert Choir 2013 "Forever Doo-Wop"

Our wonderful Elaine spent some time researching some music possibilities for us.  This is one she chose for us to consider.  The photography is a bit like a boat ride but the harmonies are lovely.  I do think that the sound is sometimes compromised by the movement.  However, that is just me.  Less movement and more sound is my motto.  What do YOU think ETS singers & friends?  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - When I'm Sixty Four 64 (The Beatles) - A Cappella Barbershop Quartet

We could do a great job of this song I think Elaine.  This Barbershop rendition is quite fun especially when you think that these people are all in different countries.  Gotta love that Barbershop 7th!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Musical Monday - Rather Be - Pentatonix

We love this wonderful group of singers.  Rather Be is one of our new musical numbers.  We are really enjoying learning it. The words are really wonderful.  Listen carefully.  They are meaningful to wherever you are in life.  
 It is hard to believe that Pentatonix can make all these marvellous sounds themselves. Enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fun Friday - MusiCorps Band with Yo-Yo Ma - Wide River To Cross

Yo Yo Ma has always been a favourite of mine because he truly shares music with so many.  This is a very moving piece of music made more so by the people who are playing and singing.  It makes me count my blessings!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Giant Xylophone in Forest

This is really quite beautiful especially for those of us still working our way to the end of winter.  Do you recognize the piece of music?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Musical Monday - Dark Horse | Ten Second Songs 20 Style Cover

I love when people can take a song and put it in many styles.  We used to do this with simple songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat as recitative, or aria or rock or folk.  It is really fun.  Maybe you can try this as a fun exercise at your next choir practice.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fun Friday - The String Family as Seen by the Wind Players

Here is a very simple explanation of the string family for the orchestra.  Sorry Karen.  It had to be done.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Funniest Classical Orchestra Ever... - Rainer Hersch

Now this is an orchestra who has fun for sure.  Any person who says that orchestra music is dry needs to see this one. This has Spit Instruments and those fun String Instruments (check out Fun Friday) in all their sizes.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Musical Monday - The Spit Instruments Explained - Tee, hee!!!

Thanks to our friend Karen Boyce for sharing this one.  Okay now tell me if you don't play one of these, it pretty much covers what we do know.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fun Friday - The Tokens-The Lion Sleeps Tonight

We love singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  This is so much fun to watch this performance in the early '60's.  Check out the hair and clothes.  Neil Sedaka was an original member of the Tokens.  Imagine.  Enjoy this blast from the past.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Stompin' Tom Sings The Hockey Song

Nobody is more Canadian than our own Stompin' Tom Connors.  It is getting close to the playoffs for hockey here.  If you think  the Super Bowl is a big deal, well then wait until there are Canadian teams in the finals for the Stanley Cup.  This is just for fun.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Musical Monday - Celine Dion Surprises the Canadian Tenors and Sings Hallelujah With Them

I was so disappointed when the Canadian Tenors changed their name to The Tenors.  Apparently, they had a new distribution contract with an American company that year as well.  Perhaps, they felt they would be better received in the United States minus the "Canadian" name.  
Even the writer of our Canadian National Anthem, Calixa Lavallee, had to go to the States to make a living.  So many times our Canadian talent feel they must leave Canada to be a bigger star south of the border.  Maybe that is why we love Stompin' Tom Connors who was Canadian to the core and never felt the need to leave.  
Nevertheless, here we have 2 of our fine Canadian talents together making a rather lovely sound of another of our favourites to sing. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fun Friday - My Younger Self Dance Moves

I want a magical mirror to see my younger self dancing to this music.  Yes it is a commercial but my what fun it is.  Now, I challenge you to try this out.  Imagine.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Axis of Awesome - 4 Chords Pop Song

Last Friday we had the Pachelbel Rant where a cellist complained about the 4 notes he plays during the Pachelbel's Canon.  He also talked about how there are so many songs that reflect the sound of Pachelbel and his one hit wonder.  
Here is a fun study of the the 4 chord rock/pop music.  When I taught a rock unit to young people I would have them at the piano playing the 4 chords as we sang along with various songs much like this fun Axis of Awesome does.  Smart guys who can really sing.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Musical Monday - Adele - Hello / Lacrimosa (Mozart) – ThePianoGuys

Last Monday, we had a marvellous Canadian group, Walk Off the Earth doing a take on Adele's "Hello".  
It was so fun with unique instruments and movements including some great tap dance moves.  Now, check out what our amazing Piano Guys have given us.  Not only is the music fabulous but they are playing with "light sabers".  Well, they look just like light sabers.  Listen carefully to how they meld the two seemingly disparate pieces.  Oh yeah.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Fun Friday - Pachelbel Rant

We love Pachelbel's Canon but we haven't played the cello part.  This explains why maybe cellists don't like Pachelbel.  He is really funny.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Africa - Angel City Chorale

You have to turn your sound up to hear the hand rubbing at the beginning properly.  Creativity is the name of the game.  We had something like this posted a couple of years ago but this one is even more creative.  Enjoy the storm of sound and some great harmony. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Musical Monday - Hello - Walk off the Earth - Canadian Group With Creativity Plus - Wait for the KICK!!

Oh my goodness this is amazing indeed.  Watch it on the biggest screen you have available to you.  Check out their smiles especially with the zipper slides.  The cymbal kick nearer the end is simply spectacular as are the tap dance bits.  I wish they had videos of coming up with these ideas.  Fun, musical, and really creative.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fun Friday - Pentatonix - Wizard Of Ahhhs

Now this is a really fun take on the Wizard of Oz.  The Thistle Theatre did a swell job of doing the actual musical a couple of years ago.  This is a very different sound and interpretation.  Thanks for finding it for us Elaine. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday - Jimmy Fallon, The Roots & "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

This set up is a bit reminiscent of the old Hollywood Squares game but the sound is quite awesome.  Look for some really famous people singing away.  Doesn't this give you the idea that we could use this same format to sing some fun tunes?  Hmmm.  Thanks Elaine. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Musical Monday - Accent the Correct Syllable - Hallelujah

When we sing, we are communicating with our audience.  One of the ways we do that is with the words of the songs we choose.  
There are times when the music makes getting the accent in the correct places a challenge.  The song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen is just such a challenge.  Indeed, anytime you sing the word hallelujah, depending on the length of the phrase and thus your need for air, it is tempting to accent the last syllable.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  
Halle- LU-jah is the correct accent of course.  Please listen to this beautiful rendition of Hallelujah and notice how he accents his phrases.  The syllable that would be LU is on the down stroke and thus stronger.  The last syllable - jah- is on the upstroke and of course creates that softer accent.  Listen carefully and then sing it as it is played here.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fun Friday - Optical Illusion Dance

On Musical Monday we had a fun rhythmic performance.  Here is a fascinating dance or movement performance enhanced by creative costuming.  Again, there are a number of groups who would love to do something like this who wouldn't think of singing.  It all works. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"We Remember" on Wednesday - Surfin' USA - The Beach Boys

If you want to sing then how about singing along with this one.  Many of us can remember watching these young guys and it just seems like yesterday.  The overdubbing in the sound tracks was precedent setting.  Listen carefully.  Now listen to some more modern sounds.  Hear the difference?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Musical Monday - Hand Clap Skit - The Original!

Musical performances do not have to be orchestras, bands, choirs or soloists.  These young men have a wonderful performance with some complicated rhythms that are a treat to watch.  Remember this when you want to do something musical but people are loath to sing or play.  Imagine the fun of the rehearsals.