Vocalise Blog #15: 4/24/2017

April 24 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #14
April 27, 2017
Prep 1 Blog #11 Week of April 24, 2017
April 28, 2017

Vocalise Blog #15: 4/24/2017

Dear Vocalise:

Thank you to so many of you who replied to my message to state your commitment to Vocalise and the excellence it stands for. If you mean to perform in the concerts but haven’t yet written to me, read my direct email from April 25th and make your intention clear.

On Monday, May 1st, we begin our two-week concert stretch. These are intense times — vocally, physically and mentally. Please, make sure to stick with the great habits that help professional musicians to stay healthy and calm during performance weeks:


Hydration Drink plenty of warm herbal teas (avoid cold, carbonated, caffeinated drinks)

Hygiene    Wash your hands even more often, use nasal rinse (neti pot) to keep passages  

      Clean and moist; use a humidifier at night (if you have one)

Rest      You must get enough sleep every day or your voice won’t work.

      “Nuff said, no discussion.

Healing     Meditate no less than 15 min a day; follow with a minimum of 10 min of yoga/qi

      gong flow every day

Planning   Plan every day to include focused and deep practice of your music and a good

      vocal warm up; write down what you intend to practice and when. Your phone

      must be in a different room at the time of your practice to avoid distraction.


Action Items/Expectations: all singers should be able to put a checkmark next to the items below.


  1. All pieces must be memorized solid – Bridge Over Troubled Water and Imagine should be memorized by our rehearsal on Monday, May 1st.
  2. When reading the blog, enter all markings and comments into your score, per the detailed descriptions below.
  3. River and This We Know are still open for solo auditions: if you are interested, it’s best to send Elena your  recording of the solo.


Additional Announcements and Reminders:

  • We are rehearsing off-site at First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto) this week and next week. Rehearsal will begin at 5 PM, 30 minutes earlier than usual. Plan to be there by 4:45 as we must start on time.
  • Tell EVERYONE about our Spring Concert! This event is twice as big as it was last year, so we want to see twice as many people! Invite friends, family, teachers, etc. Direct them to www.cantabile.org/experience-cantabile/web-of-life


Repertoire Notes:

Only a portion of the pieces are covered below. All singers must practice all pieces each week. Refer to previous blogs for details.

Famine Song

  • Aria Sopranos: you come in on the B at measure 11 – review this part
  • Make your movement natural in the “rain” sections – your hand position should be relaxed, not clawed or firm and straight-fingered – follow one of your hands with your eyes.
  • Please sing with longer vowels throughout, but especially in the “Weave my mother, etc.” section – closing to the consonants early on “baskets” and “rushes” will not work.
  • Tenors, drop out after “Rushes” in m. 33 – return on the B in m. 34
  • “Out of heat, under sun,” “Famine’s teeth, famine’s claw” can still be sung with more grit, more bite – singing with a snarling resonance will better contrast with the legato that immediately follows.


Past Life Melodies

  • Closely read the accompanying rehearsal notes and program notes in the score. Take a moment to internalize their meaning and be prepared to practice and sing with your entire being.
  • Always sing with a smile – your tone and face should exude joy at all times. It’s not a dirge!
  • When making your tone more resonant, do so through the use of your breath, not by pushing and creating tension in your larynx.
  • Keep the sound bright, ringy, and very resonant — never “yell-y” or oversung.


This We Know

  • There are solo opportunities in this piece. If you are interested in performing a solo, please send a recording to Justin and Elena by Sunday, April 30th.
  • You are almost there with memorizing this piece. Remember that you are not just memorizing the words, notes, and rhythms – you are memorizing the dynamics, intention, phrasing, and how your part fits in with the others at every moment of the piece. Once you get here, send me an answer to this: Which song in our repertoire has all four elements mentioned in one phrase?
  • You heard the cello and oboe parts for the first time, this past week, played on the piano.  You were noticeably distracted by this.  This must not happen in future rehearsals.  Part of memorization is being prepared for whatever comes your way. You must be solidly on top of this before we incorporate the instrumentalists.


  • This piece must be memorized and practiced often before Monday . Though the pitches themselves seem deceptively straightforward, there is still a lot of work to be done in interpreting the music and getting used to the vocal stamina required for the piece.
  • As you finalize your memorization, please sing as legato as possible.  Every vowel should last until the very last minute before the next consonant. Never, ever settle for syllabic, note-to-note singing.  Sing phrases, shapes, and ideas. Notes/chords alone are boring and one-dimensional.


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