Justin Cavazos

Dear Vocalise,

Thank you for a wonderful rehearsal this Monday. We, your instructors, were moved by the resolve and the wholehearted commitment to music that you showed so sincerely last Monday night. Let’s “lift our eyes to the mountains” and keep the focus on the work we have been so passionately doing — bringing beauty, joy and healing to this world by building singing communities around us. For the remaining 3 weeks before the big performance, I want you to consider these simple concepts:

  1. It is by seeing the big picture and by giving attention to small detail that we create and sustain true art.
  2. Consistency of skill and precision are key at this point of our repertoire preparation — no more time for “two steps forward, one step back.” Only forward!

In other news:

  • Toi! Toi! Toi! to our Golden Trophy International Competition  singers! They will be leaving on Sunday and the competition performance in on Tuesday morning.
  • Only one rehearsal (Nov. 28th) is left before the Holidays with Cantabile concert. This rehearsal is mandatory.

Action Items for Monday:

  1. All pieces on the program are memorized by now. Continue to deepen your memorization level by practicing with specific goals in mind as well focus and deep concentration.  
  2. For all songs with movement, practice movement separately and then put it together with the singing. Don’t practice singing separately.
  3. Monterey singers: Review the competition pieces, with additional attention to the new repertoire. Practice the Pakkanen choreography alone and with singing. Use metronome (150) and practice choreo in front of a large mirror. Once you have these down, you can fully engage emotionally; that’s what will take your performance to the next level.

Amazing Grace (from “Ower the Hills”):

  • Keep this as legato as possible. Don’t “chew” on your syllables – the vowels should stay pure throughout its entire value; consonants are swift and crisp; all glides and diphthongs treated like consonants — short.
  • Keep your vowels as tall and long as possible.
  • When you sing the melody, bring it out expressively with rich and full tone color.
  • Soprano 1s: when you reach your highest notes, especially that F at m. 29, use more air. Renew the breath so the upward air flow is consistent.
  • Soprano 2s: at m. 30, sing the dotted triplet rhythmically precise and with energy.
  • Aim to fill the space with your voice when you return to singing in unison at the end of the piece.
  • Focus on being together when you split into parts at the pickup to the last measure.

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal:

  • Alto 1s: Review your part splits at the end (starting at m. 40). Upper parts here, lower parts here.
  • Pay attention to how you bring out moments in the text – for example, playfully swelling on “Swollen waters” at mm. 5-6.
  • Every “H” of “Hallelujah” should be audible, aspirated. Don’t get lazy with your pronunciation
  • “And my soul though stained…” This verse should be darker and more solemn than those before. Match your tone color to the meaning of the text.
  • Alto 1s, keep the final F at the top of the pitch when you return to it in the last measure.

I Thank You God (from last week):

  • Keep engaging with this text. There’s an extreme sense of joy, wonder and spiritual fervor in both the text and the music. Imagine radical humility and rapturous gratitude.
  • Please, continue practicing your part of a metronome. Use the landmarks 88, 108,  and 120 and practice your accellerandi and ritenuti between them.
  • Whenever you switch from 88 to 108, kick the tempo forward, you should arrive completely to your new tempo as soon as you reach the new tempo marking (for example, m. 14).
  • Mm. 14-18: sing through and stagger your breathing. Even though you are repeating the same four words over and over again, express each one a little more fervently.
  • Altos: when you enter with “I who have died…” at m. 23, come in confidently with a solid glottal stroke.
  • Enjoy the climaxes!
  • M. 33, make your vowels long. Don’t close to the M of “am”
  • Take a quick group breath at m. 53 after the first “doubt you.”
  • M. 57: “lifted from the no of all nothing…” keep your vowels consistent in shape and in color as you ascend this line – they’re mostly open, tall vowels.
  • Everyone mm. 62-63: Please, please, PLEASE take a good breath at measure 62 and carry through to the end of m. 63 (“now the eyes of my eyes are opened”). That’s such a beautiful moment, and it kind of falls flat when you interrupt it with a massive group breath.
  • Soprano 2s, Altos, m. 69: Use the triplet on “opened” to motivate the accelerando.
  • The first measures of rehearsal “I” (“I who have died am alive again…” ) are piano and cantabile! Don’t forget the dynamics here.

Pakkanen:

    • The opening must set the stage for the entire piece. Imagine yourself Alice walking into the Wonderland. Put yourself into a magical snowy forest.  That scenery should be reflected on your face and in your eyes as well.
    • When you bring your hands to your mouths for “ha-ha-ha” or “na na na…” you should move them sharply to your face right as you start making sound.
    • All of your movement should be intentional, have a precise physical and rhythmic start and finish, and land sharply.
    • Your forward leans should be unified and should not extend too far — only a slight lean from the waist.

 

  • Keep your eyes engaged the entire time! You should be looking out into the distance. A lot of the time, if you’re looking straight ahead, it kind of looks like you’re looking down. Make sure your eyes have a real focus!

 

  • Use your sternum and your eyes to trace a circle in the distance when you’re leaning.
  • Every singer must be 100% confident about the correct direction to lean, depending on which row you stand in, as well as your respective side of center.
  • Shrug your shoulders sharply and intentionally; make them seem more like a dance than you saying “I don’t know.” The music feels mysterious, like you’re having fun telling a secret.

Music Down in My Soul

  • At m. 8, make that G on the word “feel” more full of joy than ecstasy.
  • M. 11, Make the accents weighty, open, and full
  • Mm. 16-17: Keep that B natural high!
  • Feel the rhythm of this piece in your body.  There is no reason to stand completely still–in fact the enthusiasm and deep spirit in this music should make it difficult to stand still.
  • Starting at m. 39, more soul!
  • On p. 6 (and all analogous places), remember that “everlasting” is as important as the words that come before it (joy, love, peace, etc.)
  • Starting at m. 47 “I’ve got Joy, etc.” feel the groove in 2 instead of 4.
  • Starting at m. 64 (“Do you love the Lord?” Call-and-response section), upper voices should really bite into the words “I love the Lord,” with richness and clarity. Lots of power!
  • At the top of page 10, sopranos: don’t hold your note too long; altos: emphasize that syncopation on “Well!”
  • mm. 81-86: remember the order of the call-and-response text:  PEACE, PEACE, LOVE.
  • In the final three measures, the most powerful notes should be the blue third (alto 1 on B-flat) and the flat 7 (alto 2 on F-natural).  These are the most important notes in a gospel scale, and should not be overbalanced by the soprano 1 high G.

Other announcements and reminders:

  • Tour to the Crescent City: Our registration deadline has been extended! You now have until December 1st to register for tour. Let us know if you have any questions. We hope you come with us!

As we near the Monterey competition and Cantabile’s holiday concert, make sure you are communicating your hard work and expressing your musicality through complete commitment with your physical presence and your facial expression. Keep your bodies healthy and take care of one another!

Always our best,

Elena, Jace, Jazmine, and Justin

November 17, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #11 11/14/16

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for a wonderful rehearsal this Monday. We, your instructors, were moved by the resolve and the wholehearted commitment to music that you showed so sincerely last Monday night. Let’s “lift our eyes to the mountains” and keep the focus on the work we have been so passionately doing — bringing beauty, joy and healing to this […]
November 11, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #10 11/7/16

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for your time and focus during our Halloween rehearsal. It was great to see all of your faces and costumes! Action Items for Monday: All pieces on the program are memorized by now. Continue to deepen your memorization level. Everyone should practice with a goal in mind; with focus and deep concentration. For all songs with […]
November 4, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #9: 10/31/16

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for your time and focus during our Halloween rehearsal. It was great to see all of your faces and costumes! Action Items for Monday: Keep practicing EVERYTHING with a metronome. Every singer should be internalizing and memorizing the key tempi for each piece. Monterey singers: Review the three competition pieces. Practice the Pakkanen choreography alone and […]
November 3, 2016

Bravi/VTG Rehearsal #9 10/31/2016

Dear Bravi and VTG, Thank you for your time and focus during our Halloween rehearsal.  I hope you enjoyed my carefully considered costume.  No one guessed I was dressed as a choir director!  🙁 Action Items for Monday: Keep practicing EVERYTHING with a metronome. Every singer should be internalizing and memorizing the key tempi for each piece. Keep practicing the […]
October 28, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #8: 10/24/16

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for your focus, energy, and commitment at the last rehearsal! We have just over a month until our Winter Concert and just three rehearsals until our competition in Monterey. You’ve done a lot of good work, so keep it up! Just a reminder, we WILL be having a rehearsal on Halloween (spookiness TBD). Feel free to […]