September 20, 2017/Rehearsal #5

Bravi / VTG Retreat Blog – September 15 – 17, 2017
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September 20, 2017/Rehearsal #5

Dear Ensemble,

What a joy it was to spend the weekend with you at Retreat!  I was so, so proud of you at the concert – the audience (including all the Cantabile staff) LOVED you and your performance.  There are so many great things in store for us this year as we continue to work and grow together.

THIS WEEK…begin each practice session with a few minutes of breathing meditation and re-discovering your standing pose.  See description below for your reference.


Peter, Go Ring-A Dem Bells

Here is the recording of of the full performance of this song.


  • Concentrate on the final section of the song, p. 16 & 17 using the rehearsal track for your voice part:

Soprano 1

Soprano 2 (Soprano in 2-part sections)

Soprano 2 (Alto in 2-part sections


Be sure that you are confidently accurate on your own part AND that you are following the dynamic instructions in the music (remember what Marcena tells us: “Start softly so you have somewhere to go” for the crescendos!)

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy


Concentrate on the section of this song that has 3-part division: p. 9-12.  NOTE: this could be the week we begin part-testing by having just a few people on each part sing this section of the song during rehearsal.  Use these rehearsal tracks:

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy-Soprano 1

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy-Low Sop1 Ending

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy-Soprano 2 (Sop in 2-part sections)

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy-Soprano 2 (Alto in 2-part sections)

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy-Alto

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..  Be prepared to answer this question next week: What is it about this recording that makes this song so exciting?
  • 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!

Breathing meditation, standing position

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

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Standing Pose…

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.


  • Bring your yoga mats!  Many of you forgot them this week!  Every week we will start at exactly 5:05 pm on the floor with our shoes and socks off, and our yoga mats half-rolled beneath us.
  • PARENTS:  URGENT: if you have not yet submitted your RSVP for next Friday’s Montalvo Arts Center event, please do so now at this link.  It is imperative that we know for sure who is going to be there and how many cars the Center can expect for parking.  Thank you!
  • ACDA Honor Choir: Watch for an email with details about this opportunity coming shortly.
  • Carpooling: Please use this spreadsheet to both request and offer carpooling to and/or from weekly rehearsals, events (eg. Retreat) and concerts. The more of our families that use this resource, the more useful it will be to our community. If you can offer a carpool – please add yourself to the list. Thank you!
  • Musicianship Homework: please make sure you finish your assignments for this week, as well as any work you didn’t do last week, and bring them to rehearsal on Wednesday!  

Enjoy this beautiful fall weekend!



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