Rehearsal #16/April 26, 2017

Prep 3 Blog #11 Week of April 24, 2017
April 28, 2017
May 8 – Bravi / VTG Blog for Spring Concert
May 11, 2017

Rehearsal #16/April 26, 2017

Dear Ensemble,

We are now in the home stretch!  We have one more week until the concert.  For some of you, that’s good news, and for some of you, it’s now or never to learn your music!  Please spend quality time with your scores in front of you this week, practicing everything from producing your most beautiful sound, to communicating the text in your facial expressions, to performing your choreo with 110% conviction and confidence.  Now is the time my friends!

Action Items and expectations for next rehearsal, May 3rd.  Remember to practice with your best vocal technique at all times.  AT THIS POINT ALL MUSIC SHOULD BE 100% MEMORIZED!

  1. Refresh “Imagine” and have it 100% solid for next week.
  2. Check harmonies on “We Are A Circle”
  3. Continue making choreo to Kusimama “strong” and “firm”
  4. Work on the form for “Turn The World Around” including your starting note for each phrase.
  5. Review “There Has To Be A Song”, “EarthSongs”, “Wind”, and “Shine On Me”. Practice them at home, focusing on the quality of your sound, and capturing the different tone colors and expressions needed for each piece.

Key ideas from (all!) rehearsal(s):

  1. Connect with the text, yourself, and your audience.  
    We’ve talked about this every week now, and I’m beginning to run out of ways to describe it to you! 😉 There are some pieces, such as Shine, that you’ve truly mastered this with.  Others, like Earthsongs, still need more “heart and soul” in them. Spend time with each song this week, and decide on what’s its meaning is going to be for you.  Connect with it.  Write it down.  Keep it in your heart so that you can access it in a moments notice when you get up on stage to rehearse on Thursday, and perform on Saturday.
  2. Start at the end (or the difficult parts) and work backwards: You know the sections that you know very well.  You MUST spend time with the sections you don’t know so well this week.  Start with the endings of each of the pieces.  Start with the sections that you don’t feel 200% confident on.  DO NOT spend time going over things that you already know.  Once you have mastered the hard sections, then add in the others.
  3. Diction: as you know very well, singing diction is very different from speaking. Often called “lyric diction”, the singing diction requires exaggeration of most consonants and, in many cases, modification of vowels in the text. In Cantabile, we work on diction at every single rehearsal and with a ferocious sense of focus. Since none of us have to use this exaggerated kind of speech in everyday life, it takes much practice to create a habit of using it in singing. Remember: consonants communicate information, vowels communicate emotion. Use both of them to connect with the text, yourself, and your audience (above!).


We Are a Circle, Joan Szymko

This will be the opener for the All Choir Concert

  • Altos: you must practice this piece at home WITH A PIANO this week.  The notes still aren’t solid enough for you to only “sing through it”.  Please constantly check that you are singing the right pitches!  Especially focus on finding your first note on each new phrase.
  • A reminder: we are singing this in two bar phrases.  Please do NOT breath between “circle” and “within” or between “beginning” and “and”.  You should breath between “circle” and “with”.  
  • Annunciate your consonants on words like “hearts”, “circle”, “fire” etc.  (See No. 2 above!)
  • Just like “Shine”, this song must be sung with full commitment, fervor, and passion, even (and especially!) in the soft sections.  Practice this way at home!

The Wind, Rich Campbell

You will be singing this song on your own at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • As you practice this at home – sing it to yourself in the mirror: have a conversation with your reflection just as we did in two line in class!
  • As we discussed, there needs to be more distinction between the sections: m.36 needs to be “sassy”, the chorus needs to be accented and syncopated, m.65 needs to be lyrical and beautiful.  Right now they all sound the same!
    • Phrasing and breath support: m.66-m.84 should be sung with long sustained phrases.  Right now there are HUGE gaps between “so” and “strong”, and “of” and “field”. Sneak a breath when you need to, but not between those words!
    • Remember your “accents baby” every time the chorus comes around.  Use your waggy fingers back and forth to give those sections some life!
  • Lyrical diction: when you practice make sure your vowels are nice and tall.  Use your vertical hand pointing up then forward to remind you on words like “a-round”.  This also applies on words such as “skirts” (“skeh” instead of “skur”), “did”, “sky” etc.

Earth Songs – The World is Full of Poetry, David Brunner

You will be singing this with Vocalise at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • Your tone was much better this week.  Continue practicing lifting your soft pallets, singing with sparkly eyes, and use your hands to help you create the proper sound.
  • Review word stress (poetry), tone color, and tall vowels (“brightness”) as your practice this week.  Continue to connect with the text and share that emotion in your face and body.   

Earth Songs – In Safety and Bliss, David Brunner

  • We’ve mentioned this several times before, but some of you are STILL (yes, even as of 4/26!) singing wrong notes.  Check your notes in m.84 m.87:
    • M.84 E-C of “May all”
    • M.85 E-D of “May all”
    • M.86 A-G-E of “be of a”
    • M.86 E of “all”
    • M.86 E-E of “May all”
    • M.87 B-G-E-D of “be of a bliss”
    • M.97 Atlos: hold your “heart” all the way until the downbeat of m.98
  • Practice ending movement I, then creating a different sound and space inside yourself for movement II.  Do this over and over again this week!
  • As we’ve mentioned before – we can still use more clarity on your diction:
    • Fricative consonants such as “FFrail” and “FFirm”
    • Ending consonants such as “heart” and “exsist”
    • Tall vowels in “all”, “creatures” and “bliss”

Earth Songs – We Join With The Earth, David Brunner

  • Please focus on the following two sections this week, using deep practice and repetition:
    • m. 126-m.136 (its better, but everyone must know it!)
    • Practice transitioning between m.132 and m.136/m.137.  Its a tricky transition to change tonalities between E Dorian (in m.126-m.131) and E Major (in m.136) – especially those D#’s – so it needs extra love and care.
  • Remember the color, tone, expression, and meaning of this song is entirely different than the movement before it.  Your body, face, and eyes need to communicate that from the first note of the movement (when the piano starts)
  • This movement requires a much more graceful, gentle, lighter tone than the movement before it – breathe deeply, but don’t force or push the tone.

Turn The World Around, Harry Belafonte and Robert Freedman, arr. Larry Farrow

You will be singing this with Vocalise toward the end of the All Choir Concert in May.  It’s an earthy and joyful piece – it needs to overflow with life and passion!

  • YOU MUST MEMORIZE THE FORM for this piece this week!  Know when you’re in two part vs. three part harmony, and how many times you sing each line!  You CAN do this!
  • This week practice your transitions between phrases: this was where we fell apart last night.  IE: practice end of m.40 and stop on the downbeat of m.41.
  • Remember that “a-roun-duh” should have a shadow vowel on it’s final consonant.
  • “Mahhhhow-tain” – not “M-owwwwww-tain”: this is Africa!  Not Kentucky! 😉
  • Pay attention to your dynamic markings – they will also help you memorize your road map, and make the piece much more interesting!  There are also quite a few crescendos and decrescendos (m. 41-m.44, m.57-m.60 etc) that we didn’t even get to discuss in rehearsal.  Please practice them!!
  • Watch this fantastic video!


You are singing this with Intermediate at the All Choir Concert in the Spring

  • Before you practice with the choreo this week, you must spend time with just your score in front of you, reviewing your notes and the form of the piece.
  • Your movements for this pieces need to be strong, precise, on the beat, and uniform.  Practice in front of a mirror at all times!!
  • Please review this video of Cantabile performing it in 2013.  
  • Remember – you are the “big kids” on this song, as you’re singing it with Intermediate.  There isn’t going to be Vocalise there to “make up for you” if you don’t know it.  Intermediate is counting on YOU to lead them!


There Has To Be A Song, by Andrea Ramsey

You will be singing this with everyone as the closing piece at the All Choir Concert.

  • You’ve made good progress on this piece, but it’s not quite there yet.
  • Pay close attention to when the notes are quarter notes, and when they are eighth notes followed by eighth note rests.
  • Articulation: there are tenedos, slurs, and staccatos throughout the piece that aren’t happening.  EX: m.17-m.20 etc.
  • Please see No. 2 above about your diction throughout this piece: it needs to be over articulated in order to have the words sing through the melody – especially your ending consonants!!!

Shine on Me, Tradition Spiritual, Arr. Rollo Dilworth (from last week)

You will be singing this with everyone as the closing piece at the All Choir Concert.

  • GREAT WORK on this at rehearsal!  It was inspiring to watch you all sing with such openness, honesty, and passion!  Keep it up!
  • M.15 – “me”, m.19 – “will” and m.20 – “on”: there are three different notes for each of those words, not one dotted quarter note.
  • Your ending consonants such as “t” in “light”, and your fricative consonants such as “shinning” are very important throughout the song – focus on them this week.
  • Add a sforzando crescendo on the final note.
  • Practice your “heel” motions this week, keeping your frame straight and aligned while you move!


Other announcements and reminders:

  • Location Change: Our rehearsal (and Musicianship classes) on Wednesday, May 3rd (next week) will be held at First United Methodist Church Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Ave.)  Please see the hand out given out on Wednesday night for a map for drop off and pick up!
  • Dress Rehearsal: Thursday, May 4th at 5:00pm, First United Methodist Church Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Ave.) in full concert attire!  Dismissal is scheduled for approximately 7:30pm.
  • All Choir Concert: Saturday, May 6th at First United Methodist Church Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Ave.).  Call time is 11:30am in full concert dress.  Concert starts at 1pm and should complete between 3pm and 3:30pm, with a short reception to follow.
  • Concert Tickets: Buy your All Choir & Spring Concert tickets now!
  • End of Year Musicianship Evaluations: All make up work/exams are due next week, Wednesday, May 3rd.  If you/your singer has outstanding work, you received an email about this this past week.  Please email me (Jazmine) with any questions!
  • End of year Evaluations: Dates and sign up sheets went out in this week’s Scoop.  Please make sure you sign up for your Evaluation spot asap!  


We’re almost there my friends.  We have one more rehearsal together, and then it’s into the dress rehearsal, and then show time.  You are so close to making this a truly exceptional concert, but neither of us (Elena or Jazmine) can do the rest of the work for you – it’s up to you.  So do it for the person standing next to you – so they can have the most amazing experience.  Do it for your best friend in choir – do if for your conductors.  But more than anything, do it so you can give yourself the gift of walking off that stage knowing that you gave that performance everything – everything – that you had to give.  We promise you, you won’t regret it.

Here’s to you – and all of the hard work and love you have (and will be) pouring into your final week together.

Elena and Jazmine


Comments are closed.