Thank you for a productive and meaningful rehearsal this week. We did not get to the part-testing I had planned to do, but I felt it was important to take a few minutes to talk about the events in Las Vegas earlier in the week. Parents, we talked about how it would be normal for singers to be experiencing many emotions after such an event – shock, sadness, fear, anxiety. Many of the singers shared how their teachers at school had been working with them and giving them ways to process these emotions. At Ensemble rehearsal, we talked about what we could do, here in our own little corner of the world, about such a tragedy. I shared a quote with the singers from Leonard Bernstein, a great American composer and conductor, who had these words to say in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy back in 1963:
This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor his spirit, commemorate his courage and reaffirm his faith in the triumph of the mind.
Here, Bernstein was speaking of Kennedy, but I suggested to the singers that perhaps we could dedicate our rehearsal to honor the people who lost their lives in Las Vegas. Those folks will never know that we did this for them, but in doing so, we keep their stories alive and let them not be forgotten.
So, let us continue to make music intensely, beautifully and devotedly!
- Add yoga positions of monkey and chair to your yoga flow each time you practice, or perhaps practice your yoga flow first thing every morning or just before bed each night. Regular practice of yoga and meditation are important elements of your practice routine. Descriptions of monkey and chair poses are below.
- Peter Go Ring-A Dem Bells – ensure that your part is accurate and memorize the whole by next week, October 11
- The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy – be ready for part testing of p. 9-end
- Amani – be sure to add the hand claps to this song as you sing
- Unending Flame – review your part as best you can using recording below
- Caribbean Mass (Santo and Agnus Dei) – review and keep listening to recording below
Practicing for next rehearsal in detail: WHAT and HOW
Just a reminder that practice time expectation for the Ensemble choir is 90 minutes per week. Lori recommends this routine:
- Begin spending a quiet few minutes practicing your breathing, yoga flow and rediscovering your standing alignment (see details below)
- Whether you decide to practice sitting or standing, make sure your body is aligned for best vocal production and breathing.
- Warm up for 5-7 min., using warm ups you have learned in choir or from your voice teacher
- Choose one or two songs to practice and decide what you would like to achieve. I.e., learn a verse well, memorize the lyrics, improve your ability to sing a phrase on one breath or amplify your consonants, etc.
- For inspiration and great sound reference, listen to the recordings attached to the blog
- Go on and spend 15-20 min working on songs: phrase by phrase section by section, frequently checking pitch accuracy (on an instrument or your phone.)
- For the next practice session, choose different pieces but make sure you will cover all of them before Wed.
BREATHING MEDITATION, STANDING POSITION AND A YOGA FLOW
Continue practicing breathing as follows (5 min a day.) 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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Our first yoga flow…
Singers and musicians of any kind, athletes of all types, and creative people all over the world have long recognized the power, benefits and joy of yoga. Mindful, fluid movement through yogic poses — a flow — is one of the greatest ways to re-align your body with your mind, to feel calm, joyful and energetic. We will spend about 5 min at each rehearsal practicing different poses — monkeys, pigeons, roosters, green dragons, cats, cows, dogs and sphinxes!
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.
Peter, Go Ring-A Dem Bells
Here is the recording of of the full performance of this song.
- Be sure you are accurate on your part. Then memorize by repeating the song a section at a time. I like to start at the end of a song (ie, ms. 114-end), repeat it several times without looking at my music, then go to the section just before that (ie, ms. 95-113) and repeat it several times. Then join those two sections together without looking at your music. Keep adding sections on until you reach the beginning of the piece. Remember to memorize dynamics, too!
NOTE: if any recording file tells you you need permission to access, go ahead and request permission. I will open it to you as soon as possible.
The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
Concentrate on the section of this song that has 3-part division: p. 9-12. Use these rehearsal tracks:
Unending Flame by Paul Carey
- Listen to this recording of this song, performed by the children’s choir that commissioned it almost 10 years ago, the Michigan State University Children’s Choir.
- Do your best to start learning your part using the recording.
Caribbean Mass (Santo and Agnus Dei)
- Listen to the two movements we will be singing with Vocalise here: Santo (remember, we will not sing the solo lines) and Agnus Dei. Review your part and memorize.
- Listen to these other movements of the mass: Kyrie and Credo, which both have wonderful steel drum band playing along! Experiment with moving and dancing while you listen – remember where your hips are and move them, too!
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS:
- Annual Cantabile Gala: your singer should have given you a packet of information about this year’s gala and fundraising auction on Wednesday after rehearsal. We request your help putting together a fantastic auction for this event and invite you to attend the gala in February to support the wonderful programs of Cantabile..
- Tour to Anaheim: Registration is now open on the member portion of the website. As a reminder, we need to register by October 15th. Register soon – you do not want to miss this exciting Ensemble tour!
- NOTE: your singer should have given you a paper copy of the packet of Carnegie Hall-New York City Tour information this week. This is a fantastic opportunity to sing in one of the greatest concert halls in the world, visit areas of NYC that are rich in musical history and visit other important and awe-inspiring landmarks. Registration is open and the deadline to register is October 31st.
- Next Open Rehearsal will be Wednesday, October 18th. This month, we will invite you to come earlier at 6:00 so you can observe more of our regular rehearsal. Also this evening, we will hold a Tour Orientation from 6:45-7:00 pm. You won’t want to miss hearing about the exciting upcoming tour(s).
Happy practicing! If you ever have questions or need help with an assignment, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .