Vocalise Rehearsal #9: 10/31/16

Bravi/VTG Rehearsal #9 10/31/2016
November 3, 2016
Intermediate Rehearsal Blog # 11 Thursday November 3rd
November 4, 2016

Vocalise Rehearsal #9: 10/31/16

Dear Vocalise,

Thank you for your time and focus during our Halloween rehearsal. It was great to see all of your faces and costumes!

Action Items for Monday:

  1. Keep practicing EVERYTHING with a metronome. Every singer should be internalizing and memorizing the key tempi for each piece.
  2. Monterey singers: Review the three competition pieces. Practice the Pakkanen choreography alone and with singing. Use metronome (150) and practice choreo in front of a large mirror. Once you have these down, you can fully engage emotionally; that’s what will take your performance to the next level.
  3. Keep practicing the rest of the concert rep. Keep it fresh even if we haven’t rehearsed it for a few weeks.
  4. SSA: Review all of the Arabic text for Iraqi Peace Song. Make sure your pronunciation is aligned and consistent. Here’s a recording of Heba speaking the text.

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 — OFF the program

Unfortunately, we have to postpone performing this song until next year. This was supposed to be a joint piece with the Ensemble choir but it is a bit too late for them to learn it.

ALL of your instructors are grateful for the opportunity to begin learning this great song. Your work has not been in vain — we will bring it back next September.

Hymn to Freedom

  • Please, review the words and make sure you have them memorized solid.  Sing it with lots of feeling. The idea that freedom, peace, and unity can be achieved through song is very powerful. Believe in it!


  • This should also be memorized.
  • Diction:

— do not over-aspirate “K’s.” They should be more glottal.

— Sing through the double consonants (for example, “KaNNNa”)

— Use a similar treatment for “kai-ki” even though the “k” is not doubled.

  • Don’t let the repetitive nature of this song mislead you. There are slight changes in pitch, dynamics, and the voicing of the texture for each part. Review where those change, and bring out what’s different.
  • Accent the note-changes at both m. 68 and m. 91. Crescendo through those measures and give a lively pulse to the note change without singing a break between those two notes.
  • Review where the final syllable of four-bar phrases changes and doesn’t (for example: the note changes at m. 68, but does not in the next phrase at m. 72).
  • When you get to the section at the key change, continue to sing strong downbeats throughout. Those should be very firm landing points at every measure. This is exciting! Don’t let up at the climax.
  • M. 80, remember to take a group breath after “deh!”
  • Quick breaths at the end of m. 101 and at the end of m. 102. Watch Elena for the ritardando and these breaths.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

  • There is a lot of joy and excitement in this song! You don’t want your faces and energy to say “It’s the kinda okay time of the year, I guess.”
  • Sing with bright and clear diction. It’s hard to communicate anything to an audience when they can’t tell what you’re saying.
  • Remember dynamic changes are. Remember “contrast is the spice of life.”
  • Lower voices: mm. 32-33, those should be separated, marcato
  • Mm. 56-63: Upper voices – this is the moment to be cute. Milk it! Lower voices: think robust marshmallow man.
  • “There’ll be scary ghost stories” – Add some more character here, maybe make it even comically spooky.
  • Strive for a light and buoyant tone at all times.  
  • Really dig into that crescendo at “long ago” (mm. 71-72). Contrast is key in this song!
  • “With the kids jingle-belling…” this should smoothly glide along like happy children skating gracefully on Christmas Day. Lower voices: review part. Make sure you’re not singing the melody here.
  • On the closing “Merry Christmas,” listen carefully for those non-diatonic D#s and F#s. Basses, don’t overpower the other parts. You should sing this as elegantly and gracefully as the upper voices do.  Basses, please be sure the vowel is forward and rather bright — not too heavy.

I Thank You God:

  • Don’t get lazy on the diction here. Forgetting to enunciate can lead us to sing “I than you Gaaah.”
  • 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.
  • M. 7: Don’t be late on voicing the end of the word “trees.” That tied quarter note should become an eighth note followed by an 8th rest for your breath.
  • Mm. 8-9: No crescendo at the fermata. Soprano 2s, really bring out that beautiful line.
  • Mm. 14-18: sing through and stagger your breathing. Even though you are repeating the same four words over and over again, express each one a little more fervently.
  • M. 23: Altos, come in confidently on “I who have died…” with a firm glottal stroke.
  • 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 kind of 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 this text, and it’s set very beautifully. Think about what this kind of rapturous gratitude feels like. Imagine the best day of your life after having the worst day of your life.


  • 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!

Iraqi Peace Song:

  • Please review all of the diction notes covered at rehearsal. There are a lot of bright vowels – you should rarely be singing a round “ah.”
  • Think deeply about interpreting this song. This should come of as a sorrowful call for peace after experiencing what feels like endless war in your homeland.

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

Other announcements and reminders:

  • November 5th Fall Rehearsal Information: Please read the email that went out a few weeks ago 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 less than a week 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 for your time and commitment on a holiday evening. We really appreciate the time and effort you have spent with us so far. Please find the time to really think about these songs and their meanings. Engaging with these texts and creating a channel for empathy through performance are really big reasons why we do this. We can touch so many people with our beautiful music!

Always our best,

Elena, Jace, Jazmine, and Justin

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