Greetings, Intermediate Singers,

Thank you for a good rehearsal last night. Elena was so impressed with your beautiful singing and you made some important progress on all of your massed songs. Please be sure to work very hard at home this week to fix any challenging sections we had last night – particularly in We Can Plant a Forest! Keep up the great work – you will truly shine in our concert on May 6th!

Important Reminder About Next Week: Next week, our rehearsal will take place at United Methodist Church, Palo Alto at 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301 at the usual time of 5:00-7:15. This is due to Easter Week at FCC. See you there!

Trivia Question:  What are some of California’s most important natural resources?

Practice Log: It is very important to practice at home, and to know how much you are doing each week. At Cantabile, we expect our Intermediate singers to practice at least 20 minutes per day. Please use this practice log every Thursday morning as a tool to record the approximate number of minutes you have practiced that week (for example, Week of 10/20: 106 min). This does not include musicianship homework. The singer who has logged the most number of minutes will receive a special prize on the last day of rehearsal!

Action Items and Recap

Please see this list of songs you will be singing in the Spring Concert on Saturday May 6, and with whom. Many are memorized already, and everything (except for We Are a Circle) should be memorized by April 1st:

We Are a Circle (ALL)

For the Beauty of the Earth (Intermediate only)

My Maple Tree and Me (Intermediate only)

Kimineero (Intermediate only)

Kusimama (with Ensemble)

Can You Hear Me? (with Prep 3)

We Can Plant a Forest (with Prep 2 and Prep 3)

There Has to be a Song (ALL)

We Can Plant a Forest

  • LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN AND LEARN YOUR PART! Here are some short and useful excerpts of the challenging 3-part sections:

Part 1 Bridge and Chorus:

There Has to Be a Song

  • Sopranos keep working on that flat 7 in measure 39 – “Somewhere, somewhere..” Sing it soulfully – with feeling and beauty!
  • Watch all the staccato notes –use a more caressing sound as Elena showed you last night.
  • Please review mm. 39-45, which we worked hard to perfect last night!
  • Continue to practice the repeat from m. 69 back to 22, then the jump to the CODA from m. 36 to m. 70.
  • Take note of all the blue notes in the song, and make sure you are singing them – sing the D major scale, and incorporate si (sharp sol) tah (flat ti).
  • Continue to memorize and take note of all dynamic and articulations markings as you do so – they must be memorized and practiced along with the notes and the words!
  • Continue to listen and follow in your score.

Can You Hear Me?

  • Remember Elena’s words – to sing this as if it were to someone who cannot hear – how would you present yourself, with sign language and expression? Please practice in front of the mirror.
  • Watch your vowels to be tall and beautiful, particularly words such as “know” and “grow.”
  • Continue to review these measures very carefully: mm. 5-6, mm. 18-20, mm. 38-40, mm. 61-63, watch your pitches!
  • Please practice the sign language in front of the mirror and make sure the changes match the lyrics – try not to rush through them, but feel them along with the relaxed tempo.
  • Listen to the vocal tracks this week whilst following in your music.
  • Also watch this video of Biralee Chorus from Australia – their sign language is largely what I would like to use, with a few additions.


  • Please practice your motions slowly and precisely this week, but with flow and musicality! Great work!
  • Continue to watch this amazing video from Cantabile’s Spring Concert in 2013 to review the dance moves that you learned!

We Are A Circle

  • Please note we will just sing the main melody and the lower harmony through page 2 but then sing in 3-part harmony from the bottom of page 2 to the end of the song.
  • Continue to practice all the sections we worked on but also Listen to the full piece while following along in your score.

For the Beauty of the Earth

  • Part 1, please review the sections from rehearsal B, where we worked on a lighter and more precise sound, particularly the phrase “for the joy of love.” – no lazy singing!
  • It is time to really keep your eyes up for my direction of dynamic changes and final consonants/cut-offs!
  • Study and memorize the dynamic changes in your score as well!
  • Faster passages require clear pronunciation, for example: “Sun and moon and stars of lights.”
  • Altos can be lighter and more lyrical – give more shape to your phrases rather than focusing on a loud dynamic.
  • Remember the order of the verses:
  1. For the beauty of the earth
  2. For the beauty of each hour
  3. For the joy of human love
  4. For each perfect gift of thine

    I recommend speaking the text like a poem from memory!

  • Listen to the vocal tracks while following along in your music!
  • Continue to review these sections in solfege: 1. Page 5 “of the day and of the night..” 2. Page 6 “Lord of all…..hymn of praise.” 3. Page 7 “Friends on earth..//thoughts and mild.”
  • Continue to find all the phrases which have sustained notes such as half notes, dotted half notes, whole notes, and tied whole notes – how will you continue the sound and give the note direction? Use your finger to “paint” the phrase or aim the note in a direction so the music continues to move!

My Maple Tree and Me

  • Part 2 please review all the 2-part passages to make sure your pitches are secure, especially the two sections with the lyrics “side by side.”
  • Continue to review the “giggling” section in measures 52-53; you should practice getting into it from measure 49.
  • Please also review measure 54-end of the song, especially the two “growing toward to sky” sections.
  • Everyone must review all the sustained notes sections  (such as measures 15-16, mm. 26-27, mm. 33-34, m. 36, m. 38, m. 55 and m. 57.) Find the correct vowel and sustain it beautifully as you sing the note for its full value. Paint the note with in the sky as you sing!
  • Listen to the vocal tracks while following along in your music!
  • Continue to review these measures in solfege: m. 17, m. 26, m. 30-31, and m. 36.
  • Continue to study the dynamics and how you can sing them healthfully, with plenty of expression and clarity in the text.
  • Listen, while following along in your score.


  • Excellent job last night – this is sounding very exciting and beautiful.
  • Sopranos, please review measures 21, and 41, where you must hold your “mo” syllable for a sustained 5 beats!
  • Altos also need to study measures 21 and 41 to be better prepared for their light “ba-ba-ba’s.”
  • Both parts review measures 44-53, to see when you start your phrase with high sol or low sol.
  • Everyone maintain a lovely “ooh” vowel on “in-kum,” (“in-kooom”) even when the notes are fast! It will sound so much better!
  • Please review all dynamics and take note of the sections where the Sopranos and Altos sing a different dynamic from one another!
  • Listen to the vocal tracks whilst following along in your score.
  • Please review the final section from our key change (m. 89) to the end of the song, particularly the last page, which some singers are rushing. Keep your 2 Rhythm Block and sing it slowly!
  • Review the body percussion, and keep it crisp and precise, and not overpowering your vocal precision:
  1. During “Inkum kiddy kum kimo” it is clap-chest-chest pat-pat-stomp-stomp

2. During “Bah bah bah bah billy illy inkum” it is clap-chest-clap-chest-clap-chest-chest-pat

Musicianship A

Great job playing your vegetable rhythms in 6/8. You also reviewed whole steps and half steps, and worked on your sight-singing! It is now time to start reviewing for your exam. In addition to the pages below, please start reviewing these concepts for the exam on April 20th (sight-singing) and April 27th (written):

Music Theory

  • Identify and explain time signatures with 8 on the bottom
  • Write a major scale (C, G, and F major)
  • Write in counts for rhythms including 16th notes
  • Increased vocabulary (added tempos and articulation markings)

Aural Skills

  • Sing a diatonic scale (C, G, and F major)
  • Sing a tonic triad (in solfege)
  • Take a simple rhythmic dictation in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4
  • Take simple dictation in C or F major
  • Identify whole and half steps
  • Sight read melodies in C, G, and F major


  • Singers starting Book 2 should complete pages 38-40– please make sure you are all caught up to these pages!
  • Singers continuing Book 2 should make sure they have completed to book and start to review all pages for the exam on April 27th

Intermediate B

Great job improvising Vegetable Rhythms and creating some awesome rhythmic layers. I also was very impressed with your ability to sight-read and count some complex rhythms in 3/4, 6/8 and 4/4. You also came up with your own sentences to remember the order of sharps and flats, reviewed the major key signatures, and sight-sang in B-flat major. It is now time to start reviewing for your exam. In addition to the pages below, please start reviewing these concepts for the exam on April 20th (sight-singing) and April 27th (written):

Music Theory

  • All Intermediate A skills
  • Identify all major key signatures
  • Know the order of sharps and flats
  • Identify and write all diatonic intervals
  • Write in counts for rhythms with mixed sixteenth and eighth notes

Aural Skills

  • All Intermediate A skills
  • Sight read in keys up to two sharps or flat
  • Do simple dictation in those keys
  • Identify intervals
  • Sing a tonic and dominant triads (on solfege)


  • All singers should make sure they have completed Book III and review all pages for the exam.

Singers who have completed Book 3 – Please continue to work on last week’s Noteflight assignment, and to review all sight-singing excerpts from past blogs:

  • Log-in to Cantabile’s Noteflight (first name and first letter of last name) with password cantabile2016
  • Be sure you are all caught up with your assignments and have read and followed my comments and feedback which ARE NOW AVAILABLE. I am very impressed with your compositions and please note they are part of your final exam grade.
  • Please continue to work on the attached sight-singing excerpt and do the following:
  1. Identifying the key (major or minor)
  2. Writing in the solfege
  3. Identifying the time signature and how you would conduct this piece
  4. Sight-singing one piece per day
  5. Add lyrics (preferably nature-themed), dynamics, and articulations to three of the songs, of your choice. Practice singing it with lyrics and all your compositional markings.
  6. If you play even a little piano, try adding a bass line by playing the basic chords from the key you are in as you sing the song. I, IV and V chords likely fit the best, but try some ii, iii and vi chords as well.
  7. Review additional concepts and exercises at

Advanced Sight-Singing

Trivia Answer: California has deposits of petroleum, natural gas, tungsten, gold, and boron. Forests, mostly of sequoia and pine, cover about 40 percent of the state. They are important for timber production and preserving the state’s water supply. Water is also one of California’s most important resources.

Have a great weekend! See you next Thursday in Palo Alto!



April 7, 2017

Intermediate Blog # 13 Thursday April 6th

Greetings, Intermediate Singers, Thank you for a good rehearsal last night. Elena was so impressed with your beautiful singing and you made some important progress on all of your massed songs. Please be sure to work very hard at home this week to fix any challenging sections we had last night – particularly in We Can Plant a Forest! Keep up the […]
March 22, 2017

March 20 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #9

Hi, Bravi and VTG: Thanks for a great rehearsal on Monday night. I agree whole-heartedly with Elena’s remarks: VTG has risen to a more successful level of preparation and ability these past couple weeks.  Please keep the hard work — it’s really paying off. As Elena said in the Vocalise blog:  “Joan Szymko [composer of “We Are a Circle”] will be […]
March 16, 2017

March 13 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #8

Hi, VTG and Bravi: It was great to spend a full rehearsal with you all last week, following a couple unusual weeks while Elena was away.  Thanks for your hard work and flexibility while I was elsewhere! Action Items for this week: Bravi and VTG: learn all words and pitches (including added pitches) for “Rain Music” by Laura Farnell. Work […]
March 10, 2017

Vocalise Blog #8: 3/6/2017

Hi, Vocalise: Thank you for Monday’s rehearsal.  Learning a large amount of new material in one rehearsal is difficult, particularly when the music is so rhythmically complex.  Keep working on it — we’ll get there!  Elena will be very excited to return next week and see the beginnings of your work on this new repertoire… and you will have a […]
February 11, 2017

Vocalise Blog #5: 2/6/2017

Dear Vocalise,   Hope your weekend if off to a great start. Things are busy here in preparation for tomorrow’s Gala. Best wishes to Aria and Bravi singers on being the entertainment and the inspiration at this this very important and celebratory event.   “Strength often lies in numbers but excellence can only come from personal dedication” (anon.)   “Practice […]
February 9, 2017

Feb. 6 – Bravi Rehearsal #4

Hi, Bravi and VTG: VTG singers should refer to the Vocalise blog, which will be posted very soon, for their rehearsal this week.  Hang in there, VTG — your work will be very helpful in bringing Bravi up to speed as they rejoin you with Vocalise in rehearsal next week! Bravi: First and foremost, thank you for your hard work […]
February 4, 2017

Rehearsal #4/February 1st, 2017

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for your presence, your courage, and your cooperation on Wednesday night.  You are making progress both individually, and as a group, and it was wonderful to see the work that so many of you have put into your music.  Our hope moving forward is that we can continue to build upon the work that you do […]
February 2, 2017

Jan. 30 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #3

Hi, VTG and Bravi: This week, for the last time this semester, the blog will address Bravi and VTG singers separately, since we’re working on different goals until next week’s gala.  Most of the blog is devoted to Bravi since VTG spent most of last Monday with Elena and Vocalise.  We’ll be back on the same page soon enough, but in […]