Vocalise Rehearsal Blog

Dear Vocalise,

Thank you for your focus, energy, and commitment at the last rehearsal! We have just over a month until our Winter Concert and just three rehearsals until our competition in Monterey. You’ve done a lot of good work, so keep it up!

Just a reminder, we WILL be having a rehearsal on Halloween (spookiness TBD). Feel free to come to rehearsal in costume!!!

Action Items for Monday:

  1. Keep practicing EVERYTHING with a metronome! Every singer should be internalizing and memorizing the key tempi for each piece. (We had very few people at this last rehearsal confirm that they actually used a metronome to practice — it needs to be EVERYONE.)

Singing with choreography adds great excitement to the performance but also presents its own challenges.

  1. Monterey singers: Review the three competition pieces. Practice the choreography alone and with singing.Make sure you have completely internalized tempi, notes, words, pronunciations, etc. Once you have these down, you can fully engage emotionally; that’s what will take your performance to the next level.
  2. Keep practicing the rest of the concert rep. Keep it fresh even if we haven’t rehearsed it for a few weeks.
  3. SSA: Arabic text must be well memorized: a diction coach will be coming to the rehearsal.

Concepts introduced and reviewed:

  • Intention and conviction in movement
  • Engaging with and expressing text
  • Memorization, internalization, and expression of dynamics and tempi

Happy X-Mas, War is Over:

  • When you’re learning the notes and rhythms, please pay VERY careful attention to what’s written on the page: the rhythms are often similar to the recording, but aren’t exactly the same. For example, ends of phrases (m.5, second syllable of the word “begun,” M. 7 “fun”) and pick-ups (whenever you say “so this is Christmas,” m. 4, m. 13, etc.).
  • Sopranos, please double the tenors on the first entrance, singing up the octave from mm. 1 – 4. (Same for pickup to 13 – 17 and pickup to 26 – 29).
  • Tenors do not sing from the pickup to m. 5 until the pickup to m. 10.  Instead, basses please double the alto melody down the octave for these measures.
  • Everyone please sing your parts as notated from m. 10 – 13.
  • Please pay close attention to all cutoffs as you memorize — some are notated on big beat 2 (or little beat 4), while others are notated on big beat 3 (or little beat 7).  Compare the cutoffs in measure 6 vs. measure 10, for instance.
  • Think about the historical context when finding a way to express yourself in this song. Why did John Lennon and Yoko Ono feel that these things needed to be said?
  • Listen to the recording to get a feel for the song BUT…
  • DO NOT sing like they do on the recording. The way Lennon sings is idiomatic to the style, but does not quite work in a choral arrangement. Remember to sing in your own voice.
  • Pay attention to who has the melody or counter-melody, they should definitely be heard.

Allunde Alluia:

  • Review this song and make sure you have memorized it correctly. Don’t let all that repeated material fool you! Know where you’re coming and in and what’s next at all times. Remember where to breathe and where to carry through.
  • Basses and Tenors: Do not sing at the beginning of the song. Wait for your entrance, but stay physically and emotionally engaged.
  • Your movement should have conviction, but it should also be tender. You’re celebrating the birth of a child and praying that it will be a wonderful member of society!
  • Connect your movements fluidly. Don’t let the choreography become separate sets of moves. Each motion should transition into the next. Practice your choreography in the mirror and see where you unintentionally stop moving or engaging.
  • A few things we reviewed last night:
    • “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.

Vindo:

  • Review this song. Notes, rhythms, text, and dynamics should be memorized!

Iraqi Peace Song:

  • Thank you so much for reviewing this and connecting with it much more! There were a lot of really nice moments when we could feel you engage more with the text
  • Focus on all of the syncopation in the piece! Subdivide in your head to remember exactly where they lie.
  • Don’t over-sing when the line goes lower in your voice, but continue to sing expressively; move phrases, keep dynamics in mind.
  • Think about why you’re singing this song and who you’re singing it to. It’s a lullaby. I like to think of this as a mother not only singing their child to sleep, but also reassuring the child with words of peace in a time and region fraught with unspeakable turmoil.

I Thank You God:

  • Great job following a new conductor on this piece! There are a lot of tempo and meter changes and cut-offs that need to happen in this piece, and your conductor is going to be your reassuring force. It’s important that you feel confident enough in your memorization that you don’t need a conductor to tell you what to do.  And, at the same time, you need to be confident enough in your singing that you can do whatever a conductor asks you to do.  
  • Please review dynamics! You’re singing beautifully and expressively, but we need to pay more attention to the dynamics and dynamic changes to really push this song to the next level.
  • Great job on diction overall. Keep it up!
  • Don’t forget to take some really solid breaths on some of those shorter rests (for example, that eighth rest at m. 14 – don’t let it surprise you!)
  • Good job overall on singing legato on all parts. Pay attention to how you sing when you start leaping or singing quarter notes – some of those moments lost that smoothness (for example: Sop 2 mm. 27-28, Altos m. 34).
  • Everyone mm. 62-63: Please, please, PLEASE take a good breath at measure 62 and carry through to the end of m. 63 (“now the eyes of my eyes are opened”). That’s such a beautiful moment, and it falls flat when you interrupt it with a massive group breath.
  • Keep engaging with this text. There’s an extreme sense of joy and wonder in it, and it’s set very beautifully. Think about what this kind of rapturous gratitude feels like. Imagine having the best day of your life after having the worst day of your life.

Pakkanen:

  • Good work on reviewing the choreography. We still have a few things to clean up!
  • Keep working with a metronome on this one (144)!  Soprano 1s – as we discovered last night, your section more than any others will drag the song down.  You have longer and less syncopated parts than any of the sections.  Therefore, you must, MUST subdivide in your head as you sing.  If you don’t we WILL slow down.  
  • Review your parts along with the choreography; no part should be a surprise to you.
  • Watch the ACDA performance for pointers on the choreography and how to perform it.
  • All parts: Don’t let those entrances at C1 (“Kylma soita, kyla mai-ta”) surprise you. Be ready for them, and use the rests before to take a well-prepared breath.
  • All of your movement should be intentional. Don’t throw any of it away.
  • Move your hands sharply to frame your mouth when you’re calling out or aspirating your “ha’s.”
  • Use your sternum and your eyes to trace a circle in the distance when you’re leaning.
  • Shrug your shoulders sharply and intentionally; make them seem more like a dance than you saying “I don’t know.”
  • Don’t throw away the “HEI!” after the shoulder shrugs; move your hands intentionally into the next position when you start your “leans”.
  • In general, this song and this choreography can be a lot of fun (I really wish I were doing it…). Give each phrase and movement energy! That energy was especially lacking in the Soprano 1 and Alto 2 sections. Keep those faces engaged!
  • On the final “Pakkanen,” prepare for your movement. You know what syllable you come in on and when you come in. Be confident!

Memorization: Please refer to the handout for the full schedule of when each piece is to be memorized and performed.

Other announcements and reminders:

  • Parking and traffic on Oct 31st: Please be aware that Halloween falls on a Monday night this year.  Typically the area surrounding FCC is a ‘hot spot’ for trick-or-treating.  As such, it may be challenging to do drop off and/or pick up that night.  Therefore, you may not be able to park outside the church either at drop off, or for pick up.  We recommend carpooling, allowing for extra time to get to church, and making a backup plan of where to meet after rehearsal if you’re not able to park in front of the church.
  • Orange Brooches from Holidays 2015:  If you still have your orange brooch from the Holidays with Cantabile Concert last year, please bring it to rehearsal on Monday Oct 31st.  Thank you!
  • November 5th Fall Rehearsal Information: Please read the email that went out last Thursday with important information about this event!
    • 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 10th – which is about two weeks away!!  Don’t make Elena call you personally and remind you to sign up!
  • November 7th: Full uniform check at the beginning of rehearsal.  Everyone needs to come in their full uniform (including shoes and socks) to rehearsal on November 7th.  
  • November 14th: Golden State Choral Trophy Festival Orientation Meeting.  All singers who are attending the Golden State Choral Trophy Festival in Monterey, and their parents are required to be present at this meeting.  We will start promptly at 8:15pm and end at 8:45pm.  

Thanks again for a great rehearsal this week! We’re into the final stretch before Monterey and our Winter Concert, so now is really the time to focus and polish with precision. We’re confident that the hard work will pay off, and we’re excited to see where each of you will be at next week!

Always our best,

Elena, Jace, Jazmine, and Justin

October 28, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #8: 10/24/16

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for your focus, energy, and commitment at the last rehearsal! We have just over a month until our Winter Concert and just three rehearsals until our competition in Monterey. You’ve done a lot of good work, so keep it up! Just a reminder, we WILL be having a rehearsal on Halloween (spookiness TBD). Feel free to […]
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 7, 2016

October 3, 2016/Rehearsal #5

Dear Vocalise, We had another great night of rehearsal last night. Thank you for your focus, flexibility, and receptivity to working with our guest clinician, Lori Bammesburger. We’re continuing to make good progress on all of our pieces, and our performances will be here before you know it! Action Items for next Monday (Reh. 9 of 17) Practice EVERYTHING with […]
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 14, 2016

September 12, 2016/Rehearsal #3

Dear Vocalise, Thank you for another great night of rehearsal.  It was lovely to see all of your parents present at the Parent Orientation, and we’re delighted that you’re so excited about our tour in the Crescent City (New Orleans) this summer: it’s going to be an amazing tour!  Please see below for your action items for this week, and […]
September 2, 2016

August 29, 2016/Rehearsal #2

Dear Vocalise, Thank you so much for a great rehearsal this week and ESPECIALLY for arriving so promptly and getting settled and focused for the welcoming mediation BEFORE 5:30. We had no late arrivals and that is a great year way to start the season! Your home practice assignment will be a bit more than usual since we have two […]
August 25, 2016

August 22, 2016/Rehearsal #1

Dear Vocalise, It was wonderful to see each and every one of you on Monday night, and on behalf of all of us at Cantabile, we are so excited for another year of exceptional music making! On Monday, in addition to meeting many new friends, we started three new SATB pieces, and one SSA.  Please see your action items for […]