Rehearsal #12/March 29th, 2017

Intermediate Blog # 12 Thursday March 30th
March 31, 2017
Prep 3 Blog #7 Week of March 27, 2017
April 1, 2017

Rehearsal #12/March 29th, 2017

Dear Ensemble,

We had another beautiful night of music making on Wednesday.  You are making good progress toward our All Choir Concert in May, and we acknowledge the hard work you have invested so far.  Please keep up the deep practice at home, focusing on the areas outlined in each song below.  There is still much work to be done!

Action Items and expectations for next rehearsal, April 5th.  Remember to practice with your best vocal technique at all times:

  1. Continue memorizing “We Are A Circle” including harmonies.  Listen to this recording to help your memorization
  2. Review choreo to Kusimam in front of a mirror!
  3. Practice “Turn The World Around” — all notes, rhythms, words, dynamics and styles (marcato, tenuto, accents etc.)
  4. Memorize “There Has To Be A Song” (see notes below)
  5. Review the ending of “EarthSongs”.  You lost the parts that we worked so hard on two weeks ago.   
  6. By now “Wind”, “EarthSongs”, and “Shine On Me” should be fully memorized.  Practice them at home, focusing on the quality of your sound, and capturing the different tone colors needed for each piece.
  7. Make sure to bring your practice log: dates and times of your practice, and the songs you practiced.
  8. As a reminder, you should be at the following levels of preparedness for each song, meaning “right notes, right rhythms and right words”:
    1. Shine on Me: 100% and MEMORIZED
    2. In Safety and Bliss: 100% MEMORIZED
    3. We Join With the Earth: 100% (including the ending!!)
    4. The Wind: 100% Memorized
    5. Kusimama: 100% Memorized (including choreo!!)
    6. Turn The World Around: 100%
    7. The Earth is Full of Poetry: 100% and Memorized


Key ideas from rehearsal:

  1. Matching your sound to the style of music and the meaning of text: We spent a good deal of time getting a light, beautiful, gentle tone in EarthSongs.  When you practice this week, pay attention to the color and tone that you are using.  Alto’s especially, don’t use a heavy, forced sound when the music doesn’t call for it.  Practice changing the words (“lightness”, “brightness”, etc) and using your hands and body to keep your tone light and gentle – sing through sparkly eyes and let go of those sandbags! Always practice with good singing posture, breath deeply and fully with your mouth and throat relaxed. Make vowels are tall, warm and round.   
  2. Move beyond the notes and rhythms: Much of our music is learned on the “notes and rhythms layers”.  We expect that you fully understand and apply musical concepts such as phrasing, word stress, articulation, dynamics and style. In your home practice, make sure to pay attention to these important details. Memorize dynamics, tempi and articulation (legato, staccato, tenuto etc.)  just as you memorize notes and words.
  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.  Hint, hint — you need to give this aspect of practice much more attention!  Beginning consonants that need more air, final consonants that require shadow vowels, tall and round vowels, fricative clusters,  – Elena called out A LOT of these throughout rehearsal.  Make sure they are marked in your score and you are actively practicing them!
    1. Final consonants (at the end of a word): k or t as in “like” or “heart”
    2. Shadow vowels (at the end of a word): “d” as in “a-roun-duh”, “ending-uh”  
    3. Syllabic stress: as in “PO-et-ry”, “for-Gott-en”
    4. Fricative consonants: sh or f as in “shine” or “transform”
  4. Performers are explorers of the human soul: We must constantly change ourselves to stretch the boundaries of our comfort zone, and to sing with every ounce of energy and sincerity we have.  Thank you to everyone who has been practicing “Shine On Me” with your arms (and hearts) outstretched in joy and elation.  It made SUCH a difference in your performance on Wednesday!   


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

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

  • More than any other piece, we focused on creating that beautiful, light, sparkling tone in this piece (see No. 1 above).  Lift your soft pallets, sing with sparkly eyes, and use your hands to help you create the proper sound.
  • Please double check your parts at m.38 (Altos) and m.54 (Sopranos)
  • Everyone: please review m.55 to the end for correct notes and rhythms
  • Some of you have started breathing before “poetry” in the phrase “The world is full of poetry”.  PLEASE DO NOT BREATHE THERE as it interrupts the musical phrase.  Breathe where there are breath marks indicated.
  • Review word stress (poetry), tone color, and tall vowels (“brightness) as your practice this week.    
  • You can listen to a great recording of the 1st movement (“The World is Full of Poetry”) by the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir, on their album called Homeland on Spotify.  (The track is titled “The World is Full of Poetry from Earthsongs (David L. Brunner)”.)

Earth Songs – In Safety and Bliss, David Brunner

  • We’ve mentioned this several times before, but some of you are still 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
  • M.88-end has gotten better with entrances and cut-offs, but isn’t perfect yet. Mark which beat you come in on, and which beats your cut off on with your “blissful hearts” and make sure you hold your notes for thier FULL VALUE (m.88, m.89, m.97)  
  • As we’ve mentioned before – focus on your diction this week:
    • Fricative consonants such as “FFrail” and “FFirm”
    • Ending consonants such as “heart” and “exsist”
    • Tall vowels in “all”, “creatures” and “bliss”
  • Practice starting a metronome at quarter note = 60bpm and subdividing two full bars in your heads before you come in in m.3.

We Are a Circle, Joan Szymko

This will be the opener for the All Choir Concert

  • Keep reviewing this at home this week, and begin to memorize it.
  • 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”.  
  • Pay attention to your dynamic markings, especially between different verses!
  • Altos, hold the last note of m.18 all the way to the downbeat of m.20
  • 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!

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 are very close to having this down solid!
  • 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.
    • Altos: You keep singing a “D” instead of an “F” at m.41.  You MUST practice JUST this transition until you can’t sing it wrong!!
  • Remember that “a-roun-duh” should have a shadow vowel on it’s final consonant.
  • 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!!
  • Remember the contrasting section of m.45 – its marked “Suspenseful”!
  • Also, the words “clearly” in m.50 should be long and legato
  • At m.55 separate each note, rather than slurring through the line.
  • Clean cutoffs, crisp articulation, and big spaces: in sections such as m.41-m.44, m.45-m.52 (staccato means separated, not short!) and m.53-m.54 etc.
  • 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.
    • Reminder – everyone sings the top the line the first time through!
    • Altos: m.8 – you hold the Bb the whole time (no sol-la-sol embellishment!) 😉
    • Altos: m.13 – you sing the Eb the entire bar (off on four) you do NOT rejoin the melody
  • Please review this video of Cantabile performing it in 2013.  During rehearsal our “standing tall” was more of a “standing around looking confused and scared”: you must KNOW the choreo in order to perform, and everyone needs to perform!
  • 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 (from last week)

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!!!
  • You can listen to an excellent recording here.  (Please listen to the audio file of the Lawrence Children’s Choir, conducted by Janeal Krehbiel.  It is the small triangle ‘play button’ listed above the You Tube video of the Santa Barbara Men’s Choir)

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!
  • Remember to make this a conversation between the Soprano descant and the Alto melody.
  • You can listen to an excellent recording here.

Earth Songs – We Join With The Earth, David Brunner (from last week)

  • Unfortunately we lost a lot the progress that we had made two weeks ago in this piece: you MUST keep working on your part from m.126 to the end!!!
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Altos; sing m.124 -m.126 (including the D pick up) down the octave.
  • Keep this fresh in your ears and mind.  You should work on it every time you practice between now and the end of the season.

The Wind, Rich Campbell (from last week)

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

  • Altos: m.46 please sure you are singing a “B” and not an “A”!!
  • 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.  Don’t breath every three or four notes.  Sneak a breath when you need to throughout the line.
    • Remember your “accents baby” every time the chorus comes around.  Use your fingers (or better yet, your whole body) to give those sections some life!
  • Vowels on the beat, consonants before the beat.  This piece is still dragging because you’re late with your vowels – don’t be!
  • Double check those notes from m.100 – end!!
  • 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.
  • Practice with a metronome: the song drags quite a bit because you’re not used to the correct tempo.  Half note = 74 bpm for the versus and 84 bpm for the choruses

Oher announcements and reminders:

  • Musicianship Final Exam: Instructions about the Musicianship Final Exam were passed out in class on Wednesday.  Parents: please take a moment and read over this explanation.  If you/your singer will not in be the rehearsal on April 12th, you must email me (Jazmine) immediately so we can set up a date for a make up exam.
  • Musicianship Assignments: Additionally, in order to be considered for promotion into the next level of Musicianship, you must complete your musicianship homework to a satisfactory level and turn it in to be reviewed.  Several of you have not done so at all this semester.  If you have any questions on your child’s progress, please reach out to me and I’m happy to update you.
  • Location Change: Our rehearsal (and Musicianship classes) on Wednesday, May 3rd will be held at First United Methodist Church Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Ave.)
  • 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.

We’re in the homestretch of our season.  We have 5 regular rehearsals left together.  Let’s work as hard as we can at home, so we can spend our time together making the music as beautiful and meaningful as possible – for ourselves, for each other, for the audience, and for the world.

May your week ahead be filled with beauty, love, and song,

Elena and Jazmine


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