Ensemble Rehearsal Blog

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for your flexibility this week as Jazmine subbed for me at rehearsal.  She said you all were wonderful to work with and that you accomplished a lot.  I so appreciate your respect and kindness for her and your commitment to the group to work hard.  I am beginning to feel better now that I have been on good medicine for several days and will hopefully be “right as rain” in no time!

When we get back from Ski Week (remember – no rehearsal next Wednesday, February 21) we will have only four rehearsals to put the music for the Festival together.  It is doable, but it will require you to practice diligently on your own over the next two weeks.  Please use your time wisely and set aside time regularly to practice, using the pronunciation guides below for the Portuguese songs.

OPEN REHEARSAL: Parents – we warmly invite you to our next Open Rehearsal, Wednesday, February 28th, from 6:40-7:00 pm.  Come and sit in (literally) with the choir to get a peek into the preparation process of our All Choir Concert.  The staff at Cantabile loves to see parents enjoying music with their singers, and to this end, we will invite parents to join us on stage at the All Choir Concert to sing several songs with us!  Don’t worry – we’ll get you prepared at the Open Rehearsals this semester.

If you ever have questions or need help with an assignment, don’t hesitate to email me at lori@cantabile.org .  Have a great week next week, and take some time to have some fun!




Cantabile Ensemble Practice Log


Breathing meditation, standing position and a Yoga flow

Continue practicing breathing as follows (5 min a day.) Include your yoga on your practice logs each week! 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.

Standing Pose…

Is the most important pose to learn for anyone who wants to improve his/her singing, posture, health, wellbeing and creativity!

Here is your “template” practice daily and try to keep this posture intact while walking too!

Stand with FEET parallel, feeling “rooted” through the 5 points in connection in both feet

  • Inner heels, outer heels
  • Mounds underneath big toes and little toes
  • Big toes

Activate the arches of feet, relax the KNEES with a microbend

Tap THIGHS to activate them but stay relaxed

Tuck and tip pelvis slightly to find the neutral position of the HIPS: in line with knees and heels

Lift STERNUM noticing the space between hips and RIB CAGE

Relax SHOULDERS down and back (shoulder blades tucking into imaginary pockets)

ARMS relaxed and long, by your side

Reach up through sides of the SKULL, CHIN tucked in, JAW relaxed, NECK elongated.

Gentle smile – – feeling calm, present, rooted to the groups and open to the limitless sky of possibilities.

Flow #1 (Forward bend/monkey/chair)

Begin in standing pose (as described above)

Hands together in front, slowly raising them to a forward salute (inhale)

Exhale — forward bend: round the back, release neck, head, arms; let gravity pull you down, stretching the hamstrings, lower back, calves.

Place hands on lower back, bend knees, chin tucked: slowly unbend – vertebra by vertebra- to standing, neck and head come to place last — this takes INHALE and EXHALE

Slowly bring arms up as before, inhaling — forward salute and forward arch

Exhale- forward bend

Inhale — monkey (legs straight but relaxed, spine straight and long,hands on knees, back and head make a “table”

Exhale — forward fold, bend knees

Inhale — Chair (knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms raised above head)

Exhale — standing

Exhale into standing.


WARM-UPS (recordings coming soon)

Next, warm up your voice and stretch it with these vocalizes:

[mu-i-u-i-u, mu-i-u-i-u, mu-i-u-i-u]

[hu-u-u-u-u-u-u] 56—-54321

Lip trills

Include na-nE-ni-no-nu


Menina Me Da Sua Mao, arr. By Brad and Lucy Green

Here is a pronunciation guide:

Use these tracks to practice your part.


Soprano 2


Answer these questions and mark in your music:

  • Where do the two voice parts sing in unison?
  • When the voice parts begin singing in harmony, who sings the melody?
  • Notice that the voice parts often sing in canon, meaning that one part begins singing and the second part begins singing the same melody a few beats later.  Are the two melodies exactly the same?  Can you explain why they are the same or why they are different?

Rosa Amarela, arr. Daniel Afonso

Practice the music on a neutral syllable (doo, da, la, etc.).  Also practice speaking the Portuguese one word at a time and in rhythm.  When you are fairly confident on the notes and the words separately, put them together and sing on words.

Soprano 1 – at the beginning, if you can’t whistle, practice the first few measures on “loo.”

Pronunciation Guide:

Soprano 1

Soprano 2

Alto (use both tracks)


Cangoma, arr. Lon Beery and Elisa Dekaney

Use the same method as above to learn this song.  Here is the Pronunciation Guide:

Soprano 1 Low

Soprano 1 High

Soprano 2/Soprano



Sing along with this recording to see if you can sing your part while the other parts are going, too.  Click on the black Play button.

Two Brazilian Folk Songs, arr. Lon Beery and Elisa Dekaney

Use the same method as above to learn this song.  Here is the Pronunciation Guide:



Here is the full recording.  Click on the black Play button.

Come and Sing by Wallace Hornady

Use these tracks to practice your part.  Then sing your part a cappella.  Consider recording yourself and listening back to analyze whether you sang correctly or not.  Mark the places you need to be especially careful to sing accurately.  Write it in your practice log if you do this.

Soprano 1

Soprano 2


NOTE:  I am extending the deadline for submitting your part testing so you can focus on the Portuguese songs over the break.  If you already submitted yours, thank you!

Part testing:  I will ask you to record yourself singing your part a cappella and send it to me at lori@cantabile.org by March 7.  There are many free voice recorder apps available if you do not have one already.

Cantabile Festival for Young Voices 2018 Guest Conductor:

Dr. Daniel Afonso

Daniel R. Afonso, Jr. is professor of music and Coordinator of Vocal and Choral Studies at California State University, Stanislaus. He received a degree in Educação Artística from the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI-Rio), a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. Dr. Afonso is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has studied conducting with Carlos Alberto Figueiredo, Cees Rotteveel, Eph Ehly, and William Hatcher.

Dr. Afonso has performed with choral groups in Brazil, U.S., and Europe, and has previously taught music at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI-Rio), and Doane College (Nebraska). He was the winner of the First Prize and the Best Performance of Villa-Lobos Work awards at the Concurso Villa-Lobos de Canto Coral, a national choral competition sponsored by the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Afonso is strongly committed to the performance of new music and has commissioned and premiered many choral works in the last few years, including several of his own works and works by young composition students.

He is the founding director of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus and, since 2001, has prepared several choral masterworks with the ensemble. He often serves as a guest conductor with the Modesto Symphony and frequently conducts the orchestra and chorus in performances.

Dr. Afonso is a composer, arranger, and editor of choral music and has choral works published by earthsongs, Colla Voce, and Alliance Music Publications. He was composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Choral Artists during their 2014-2015 season and has also written works for the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and other ensembles in the US and abroad. He has written innumerous arrangements for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, including a new version of The Star-Spangled Banner for orchestra and chorus, premiered at the MSO opening concert for the 2015-16 season. Dr. Afonso is widely recognized for his research and performance of Brazilian choral music and continues to frequently present workshops and lectures about the Latin American choral repertoire—he most recently presented a series of lectures and conducting masterclasses at the Liszt Academy, in Budapest.

He is very active as a voice instructor, clinician, and guest conductor, and has presented hundreds of choral workshops, clinics, and coaching sessions throughout the United States and abroad. His professional affiliations include the Ordem dos Músicos do Brasil, the International Federation for Choral Music, and the American Choral Directors Association.

February 17, 2018

February 14, 2018/Rehearsal #7

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for your flexibility this week as Jazmine subbed for me at rehearsal.  She said you all were wonderful to work with and that you accomplished a lot.  I so appreciate your respect and kindness for her and your commitment to the group to work hard.  I am beginning to feel better now that I have been […]
February 10, 2018

February 7, 2018/Rehearsal #6

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a fun, rewarding rehearsal on Wednesday!  I am looking forward to exploring and learning all of the exciting repertoire we have for this spring. Our next adventure is Cantabile’s Festival for Young Voices, March 23 and 24.  The Festival itself is on Saturday, March 24th.  This will be a day of meeting young singers from […]
February 2, 2018

January 31, 2018/Rehearsal #5

Dear Ensemble, Sunday is the BIG DAY!  I am looking forward to spending the day with you, not only because you are going to be outstanding in the recording studio, but because you are wonderful people and I enjoy spending time with you!  Below is a reminder of how to practice Four Bridges today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday).  You are […]
January 26, 2018

January 24, 2018/Rehearsal #4

Dear Ensemble, WOW, WOW, WOW!  I am so proud of you!  You gave an outstanding performance Sunday at the MLK celebration concert.  Here are some of the words audience members and other performers have shared with me:  moving, thought-provoking, thrilling, community-building, fantastic, let’s do it again!  You have taken an enormous step in the process of building Ensemble’s footprint and […]
January 19, 2018

January 17, 2018/Ensemble Rehearsal #3

Dear Ensemble, Thank you, thank you for your great work, not only at rehearsal on Wednesday, but also during your practice at home last week.  Your improvement between rehearsals was significant and allowed us to focus on polishing the music and developing our expression of the important message each song contains for our audience on Sunday.  You know, Dr. King […]
January 12, 2018

January 10, 2018/Rehearsal #2

Dear Ensemble, My sincere apologies for forgetting to email you last week to let you know that a blog had been posted!  Thank you to those of you who went searching the Member Only page of the website and discovered it there.  I am feeling better this week and am back in the groove for posting blogs by Friday each […]
January 7, 2018

January 3, 2018/Rehearsal #1

Dear Ensemble, It was wonderful to see you all last Wednesday at our first rehearsal of the spring semester.  I hope you were able to reconnect and visit with family and friends over the break.  If you read all the way to the end of this blog, you can see the furry faces that greeted me in Colorado!  Spending time […]
December 15, 2017

Final blog of 2017! December 14, 2017

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for making room in your schedules last week to have a rehearsal with Howard to work on Four Bridges.  It will go a long way towards helping us to be confident at the recording session in February.  The spring semester is going to start with a bang, and I am asking you, singers, to devote some […]