Bravi / VTG Retreat Blog – September 15 – 17, 2017

Prep 1 Blog #1 Week of September 11, 2017
September 18, 2017
September 20, 2017/Rehearsal #5
September 22, 2017

Bravi / VTG Retreat Blog – September 15 – 17, 2017

Dear VTG and Bravi:

What a great retreat weekend! In Elena’s estimation, it was the most successful retreat she can recall. Bravo to you all for your hard work and your open-hearted, welcoming spirit. It is really important to build community with our newer singers in Bravi, VTG, and Vocalise, and to welcome Ensemble singers into the performing division. Our musical work is only truly effective with mutual trust, and we built a lot of that this weekend.  

  • During your practice this week, spend some meaningful time reflecting on what you learned from our hour-long meditation and yoga session under the canopy.  Revisit the moments that helped you feel most calm, most centered, and most in-touch with your body and your breath. This awareness will make you a better singer through efficient breathing, and will make you a better practicer through a more centered and focused mind.
  • The more frequently you put these techniques to use (even in your daily life outside of Cantabile), the more natural they will feel and the more quickly you will be able to center and focus yourself.  Try it this week!

Action items and reminders for this week:

  1. Practice the standing breathing meditation (see instructions below) and the first yoga flow every day for at least 10 min. Incorporate breathing and focus techniques from Retreat.  It can be done any time but is most impactful before your practice.
  2. As we discussed in our Bravi rehearsal outside the cabins — Intonation must be our focus this season. No matter how well we know the pitches and rhythms, they will not be effective if they are not in perfect unison and sung with beautifully tuned harmonies. This must be a goal for each and every time you practice.
  3. Write translations from the Italian and Latin texts (Mass) into your score, if you haven’t already done so.
  4. Write in translations for “Convidando.”  Including the solos, please. I will be checking for this on Monday’s rehearsal!
  5. VTG singers — revisit all vocal exercises we covered in our warmup rehearsal — lip trills, “bo bo bo,” sirens, slides, etc. Even if you are having an no-practice day, you need to go through these exercises. It should take 7 – 10 minutes, maximum.

“Stacking up” alignment and mediation

  • With feet parallel, press down with 5 points of each foot: inner/outer heels, mounds under small and big toes, and big toes
  • Arches lift, calves and thighs activate
  • Micro bend in knees
  • Setting the frame: hips – ribcage – shoulders
    • neutral position of hips and pelvis
    • abdomen relaxed, ribcage soft, sternum lifted – space between pelvis and ribcage expanded
    • shoulders back and down, arms relaxed
    • chin slightly tucked in, back of neck lifts and softens
    • lips, cheeks, eyelids, forehead soft
    • tongue relaxed and fills the mouth
  • Eyes closed or slightly opened with soft gaze into an imaginary candle flame
  • Bring your attention to the belly and observe the rise and fall of each breath
  • Imagine your entire body as one hollow luminous space. Breathe normally or with extended breath, exhaling fully and inhaling from low- to mid-, to upper lungs.


Caribbean Mass (SATB), by Glenn McClure

  • Remember, it is practically impossible to disconnect movement from singing when practicing this repertoire.  Move as you practice, and practice moving.  Your hips should be loose, your knees should be slightly bent as to move easily, your legs should feel alive, and you should flow with the rhythm from your feet all the way through your body.
  • In the Agnus Dei, practice stomping on the downbeats as the meter changes (particularly downbeats with rests, such as those before “qui tollis peccata…”). This will help you internalize these meter changes easily.
  • Please revisit pitches and rhythms for the Agnus Dei as well as the Kyrie, which we have not rehearsed in a few weeks now.  Us the following listening guides to assist you:
  • Kyrie (sung by the MA All-State Honor Choir, Dr. Janet Galvan, Conductor):
  • Here is Santo…
  • …and Credo:

Convidando (TTBB), the Zespedes, arr. Wittig

  • Drill the Spanish for the first “juguete” with this diction recording.
  • Practice the notes slowly first on “da” or “bo,” or some other neutral syllable. Please make sure syncopated passages (there are LOTS of them!) are practiced accurately.
  • Put notes and rhythms together with the text when both are very comfortable. Use these part recordings to help you.
  • Use a similar method for the faster “estribillo”.  These words should be learned by next week.
  • Practice the claps for the estribillo, too — remember that Baritones and Basses are clapping the on – beats (pattern #1) while Tenor 1s and Tenor 2s are clapping the off-beats (pattern #2).
  • All tenors: I would like to hear the solo for the first Estribillo (it begins on page 2).  I would like to hear each of you sing it, as much as possible, at rehearsal on Monday.

Amani (SATB), by Jim Papoulis

  • Review the diction with this recording.
  • Please be sure your parts are thoroughly and accurately learned — the notes are not always the same for each repetition of text (compare mm. 3 – 5 to mm. 6 – 8, for example).
  • Practice the clapping patterns, including the new one at the end. Here it is, demonstrated by a youth chorus:
  • These practice tracks might help!  Tenor track here…  and Bass track here.

Twelve Days of Christmas (Bravi/VTG only), by Straight No Chaser

  • For this week, please practice slowly and softly to ensure accuracy and intonation. Set a metronome for 70 beats per minute and DO NOT allow yourself to rush.
  • Practice softly, with good support, and insist on intonation.  Check pitch at the end of each small phrase (ex: check after each “partridge in a pear tree” goes by. If you find you are out of tune, go back and check at the halfway point of the phrase, to identify exactly where the pitch drift is occurring.
  • If you’d like to sing along with the recording, you can do so with this YouTube vid, but please spend most of your time watching the score and not randomly singing along with them — you want to be sure you learn YOUR part, not the part that you hear most clearly on the video.
  • Tenor 1s and 2s: please remember that we changed your pitches to be lower in measures 40 – 41.  You must have these clearly and accurately pencilled in.


Other announcements and reminders:

  • Regular rehearsals resume next week!

Jace, Elena, and Lori


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