Jazmine Harnishfeger-Brand

Dear Ensemble,

We had another good week of rehearsal, and while some of the pieces aren’t where we thought (or hoped) they would be, I feel confident that our time together on Wednesday was illuminating, and that each of you will take the steps needed to get us to where we should be for next week.  As a reminder, we now have four (4) Wednesday practices left before the Holidays with Cantabile Concert.   

Practice Log: As a reminder, please record the day you’ve opened the blog, when you’re practicing, for how long, and what you’re practicing in each session.  During practice, focus your attention on details by following blog instructions for each song.  Bring your completed practice log with you to each rehearsal.  You can now use this Cantabile Practice Log to record your practicing each week: cantabile-ensemble-practice-log

Action Items and expectations for next Rehearsal, November 2nd:

  • Learn your parts for Stars Tonight.  We are VERY behind on this song.  
  • Allunde: practice with choreography this week.    
  • All other rep – Grace, Vindo, Old Fox, Caverns in the Clouds, Most Wonderful time, Rise Up, Amavololo: fully memorized including choreography.  

Concepts addressed this week:

  1. Personal Responsibility: As we listened to your recording of Stars Tonight, many of you were greatly surprised to learn how weak this song really is.  We are simply out of time to learn notes, rhythms, words, etc.  This part of practicing is your responsibility, and if you haven’t learned your part yet (which many of you haven’t), you are letting down your fellow singers in a very big way. I look forward to hearing every note and word 110% solid next week.     
  2. Self-Reflection and Analysis:  Below each song are the recordings we made in rehearsal.  I strongly suggest that as part of your practicing this week you perform the “Self-Reflection and Analysis” exercise listed below for each piece.  Come prepared to share what you heard, what you learned, and how it influenced your practicing this week to the next rehearsal, and actually turn in your responses with your musicianship homework.
  3. Performance Preparation: We discussed how we only have one shot at performing each piece.  Practice getting yourself into the mind space that you need to before you sing a piece.  What are the words about?  Who’s telling this story?  What do you need to remember/focus on – both technically and artistically – before you begin?  Start preparing your mind to get into “performance mode”.     
  4. Internalize the meaning of each word and phrase of text – believe in what you’re singing. Your performance of Caverns was stunning – when you connect to the characters, words, and meaning, your performance transforms into an act of realness and beauty.  I’m still thinking about it three days later! 🙂

Self-Reflection and Analysis Exercise

  1. Before you listen to each piece, make a list of the following:
  • What do you expect to hear in this performance?
  • What do you think will be good about this?
  • What do you think may not be as good?
  1. Listen once without your music:  What do you hear?  (Actually write down what you hear, or don’t hear.)  Think about:
  • Sound/tone quality
  • Dynamics
  • Pronunciation and diction
    • Beginning and ending consonants
    • Tall vowels
  • Articulations – legato vs. staccato etc.
  • Expression in the text, including word stress
  • Entrances and cutoffs
  • Tempo – does it drag or rush?  Do certain sections or phrases drag or rush?
  • Overall, do you enjoy listening to your performance?  Why or why not?  What either makes it enjoyable, or what would you need to do to make it more enjoyable?
  1. Then, listen with your music in front of you.  Ask yourself the same questions as above (including writing down your answers), but this time being aware of what you should be hearing in the recording.  For example, if you see a crescendo for two bars, do you hear it?  If you see an accent, do you hear it?
  2.  Go back and review what your answers to number 1.  Did your predictions match what you thought you would hear?  Why or why not?
  3.  Next, given your predictions and what you heard – or didn’t hear – make a list of what you need to either practice, do differently, or do more noticeably in order to accomplish what you expected/wanted to hear.
  4.  If you were clinicing Ensemble next week, what would be the top three pieces of feedback/critique you would give them and why?       


Stars Tonight, Judy Herrington

As a reminder, this is a piece that we’ll be singing with Intermediate at the Holidays with Cantabile concert on Dec. 4th

  • The vast majority of you still don’t really know your parts.  They MUST be learned by next week.
  • In general this piece needs more consistent precise diction – it started beautifully and faded as we got through the song.
  • Dynamics and phrasing – we can do much, much more with the dynamics in this piece, especially in all of the crescendos and decrescendos in the phrases.  Spend time this week with your music, so that you know where each phrase begins, climaxes, and ends.
  • Here is the recording of your performance last week:

Rise Up Shepherd, and Follow

This is another piece that you’ll be performing with Intermediate for the Holidays with Cantabile concert.

  • Continue practicing this with a metronome this week!  As a reminder you consistently drag throughout the piece.  We practiced singing only our vowels, and it helped tremendously.  Your consonants need to be fast so that your vowels are sounding on the beat, instead of your consonants sounding on the beat.
  • Throughout the piece your diction needs to be clearer and more precise.  This week the piece should have been called “Eyes up Shepheard”.  In addition, make sure you take a good full breath and have the space prepared in your body for each entrance.  That will ensure that your ready to come in on time with a big “R” for those phrases.    
  • There’s still not enough excitement and joy in your voices.  If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – this is exciting music, and it needs to sparkle and grow in each phrase, which we worked on this past week moving to each different note.  That still isn’t happening enough yet.  Give us more!
  • Here is your recording from last week:  

Old Fox Wassail

  • This is sounding better every week, though some of the Altos’ need to still be practicing with their music!
  • Continue practicing this with the metronome at 90-95 bpm – you did a very good job of keeping it together unconducted, but it does tend to drag throughout the piece.  
  • “Fox” in “sits an old red fox” is short – practice this over and over again until you can’t sing it any other way!
  • In addition “God Bless You” needs to be separated – use your “glockenspiel mallet” hands to remind you how to sing those notes.
  • You can listen to a great recording here!

Caverns In The Clouds

Your sound is coming along beautifully in this piece!

  • 2nd Sopranos and Altos – the first time we sing “to caverns in the clouds” (m.24) you do not sing the echo!  The 1st Sop, 2nd Sop, and Altos all sing “to caverns in the clouds” together – we only sing the echo after we sing it all together the first time.
  • You’ve lost some of your diction in this piece.  Use stronger sound of “f” in words like “fly,” “fill” and “k” in “caverns” (etc.) to make the text come alive.
  • Reminder: keep your long notes moving, growing, going forward, and connected to the next set of text when there isn’t a rest.
  • Please pay attention to your dynamic markings throughout the last page: it’s not all loud all the time.  
  • Make sure that all of your vowels are tall and round – use your hand (moving from a horizontal to vertical line) to help you visualize the shape of the vowel. Especially in words like “light”, “sky”, “night” — these tend to be a bit spread and quite bright (hey, these two more words that have the same combination of sounds!).
  • You did a beautiful (beautiful!) job of connecting with the text and the music this past week.  As a reminder, we thought of other children throughout the world who live in very different situations than ours; places where their safety is not guaranteed, places where they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, places where they don’t get to go to school every day, and places where they may not even have a home due to violence or poverty.  Let this song be about flying away from all of that to somewhere where “dreams can never die” – channel all of that hope and yearning come through your sound.  I was noticeably moved by your performance when you let yourself connect in this way.  Keep it up!  
  • Here is your performance from last week:


We’ll also be performing this at the Holiday’s with Cantabile concert.

  • Parts of this went very well on Wednesday night, and other parts were very rusty.  You must make sure that you are keeping all of your repertoire fresh and alive each week, even if we don’t have time to sing through it all in rehearsal.
  • Please look at this again this week (especially the second half) and make sure you have your notes 110% solid.   
  • Here is the recording from last week’s rehearsal:

Allunde Allua

This is the choreographed opener for our Holidays with Cantabile concert on Dec 4th.

  • Rehearse with the choreography this week.  Here are a few reminders from Wednesday
    • “Allunde, allunde” –  your open, upstage hand (in a firm, but not stretched L) should frame your chin closely, but it shouldn’t be on your face. When you call out, your head should not be completely facing the side, but rather at a 45 degree angle from the audience.
    • When you raise your hand at the beginning of each non-”allunde” phrase, trace it with your eyes – “admire” it.
    • Rocking the baby should have your arms overlapping each other. Always start rocking to the right.
    • When you bring your arms up and cross them with outstretched hands, give a slight lift when you reach the downbeat of the last “allunde.”
    • Your hands come down straight in front of you, not in a widening circle.
  • Here is a recording of Cantabile performing it in 2012 to help you practice both the music and the movement.

Review: Breathing meditation, standing position and a Yoga flow

Continue practicing breathing as follows (5 min a day.) This technique will not only relax and center you but will also greatly improve your ability to sing long sustained phrases.

Mind and body are one continuum, reconnected through breath

  1. Sitting on the floor cross legged, close your eyes and lengthen your spine: crown reaching up/tailbone reaching into the ground, sternum lifted, chest expanded.)
  2. Notice your natural breath for several rounds, while relaxing your abdomen and facial muscles. Notice gentle expansion of the ribs and belly on the inhale.
  3. Empty the lungs completely by pulling the navel close to the spine but keeping the chest up. Inhale slowly and mindfully, filling up with air from bottom to mid- to upper lungs. Exhale slowly pulling the navel in. This is the extended breath.
  4. Continue with extended breath for a few more rounds. Feel your body expanding with shimmering luminous light and contracting into the belly. Notice your body relaxing and feeling lighter.

Other announcements and reminders:

  • Fall Rehearsal Information: Please read the email that went out last Thursday with important information about the fall rehearsal!
    • Call Time: 9:30am in the parking lot off of Bryant St.
    • Uniform: Black Cantabile t-shirt, smart jeans, tennis shoes
    • Please also bring: your Cantabile music, pencil, labeled water bottle, and sack lunch.  (Please do not bring your yoga mat.)
    • Pick Up: Approximately 2pm in the Fellowship Hall after the concert
  • Tour to the Crescent City: Registration is now open on the member portion of the website.  As a reminder, we need to register by November 1st – which is only a few days away!!!   Don’t make Elena call you personally and remind you to sign up!
  • Full Uniform Check: On November 9th everyone needs to come in their full uniform – including shoes and socks, and with pants hemmed – to rehearsal. 
  • Carpooling: Please use this spreadsheet to both request and offer carpooling to and/or from weekly rehearsals, events (eg. Potluck) and concerts. The more of our families that use this resource, the more useful it will be to our community. If you can offer a carpool – please add yourself to the list. Thank you!

Elena will be back next week for rehearsal, and is super excited to hear the progress you’ve made while she was in London.  Thank you in advance for the time, careful attention to detail, and hard work that you’re going to invest in practicing this week: that’s what will make this a truly exceptional concert!

All our best!

Elena and Jazmine

October 28, 2016

Rehearsal #10/October 24, 2016

Dear Ensemble, We had another good week of rehearsal, and while some of the pieces aren’t where we thought (or hoped) they would be, I feel confident that our time together on Wednesday was illuminating, and that each of you will take the steps needed to get us to where we should be for next week.  As a reminder, we […]
October 21, 2016

October 19, 2016/Rehearsal #9

Dear Ensemble, Thank you to all of you who worked with me (Jazmine) this past week in rehearsal.  I was grateful for your dedication, maturity, and cooperation.  I know it was different having quite a few of your colleagues gone at the Carmina rehearsal, but you rose to the occasion and took full ownership of your rehearsal and musical success. […]
October 21, 2016

October 17th 2016/Rehearsal #7

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for another week of focused, meaningful rehearsal.  Please see your action items for next week: Action Items for next Monday (Reh. 11 of 17) Practice EVERYTHING with metronome. Memorize tempi for each piece. Pakkanen: Practice your choreography!  (See below for links and instructions) Alunde Alluia: Watch and listen to this performance from 2012. Learn the piece […]
October 15, 2016

October 10th 2016/Rehearsal #6

Dear Vocalise, Great rehearsal last Monday! Keep practicing 🙂 Action Items for next Monday (Reh. 10 of 17) Practice EVERYTHING with metronome. Memorize tempi for each piece. Memorization checks on 10/17: Vindo, I thank you God, Pakkanen (competition singers only). Memorization checks are conducted in small groups. Pakkanen: Elena moved memo date for this piece from 10/31 to 10/17 since […]
October 15, 2016

October 12, 2016/Rehearsal #8

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for your energy and musicality at the last rehearsal. It had our first round of memorization tests, and your teachers are very proud of the results: most of you had solid grasp of the music and could sing without the score and next to the other voice part. Well done! Now you know the process of […]
September 30, 2016

September 28, 2016/Rehearsal #6

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for another beautiful rehearsal on Wednesday night.  Your sound is improving each time we come together, and it is very exciting to hear the fruits of your home practicing! Please, remember to sing with beautiful, light and supported sound when practicing. Review the rules for good vocal production (they are below the action items.) Action Items […]
September 29, 2016

September 26, 2016/Rehearsal #4

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for another great night of rehearsal.  It was the warmest night that we will have all year, but you stayed focused, engaged, and did some wonderful work in preparing for our Holidays with Cantabile Concert, and the Golden State Competition. NEW PIECE: Allunde Allua This is the opening choreographed number for the Dec. concert (with Ensemble […]
September 24, 2016

September 21, 2016/Rehearsal #5

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a great, focused, and engaging rehearsal on Wednesday night.  We’re so glad you enjoyed the retreat so much, and it was fun to hear what your favorite parts of retreat were!  Before diving into specific things to practice, we wanted to review how to make a beautiful sound as a singer. Practicing and performing with […]