September 21, 2016/Rehearsal #5

Prep 2 Blog # 2/Week of Sept. 23rd
September 23, 2016
Intermediate Chorus Blog # 5 Thursday September 22nd
September 24, 2016

September 21, 2016/Rehearsal #5

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for a great, focused, and engaging rehearsal on Wednesday night.  We’re so glad you enjoyed the retreat so much, and it was fun to hear what your favorite parts of retreat were!  Before diving into specific things to practice, we wanted to review how to make a beautiful sound as a singer. Practicing and performing with a free, light, and well-supported tone is key to developing your voice and musicality.  Please, make sure you’re always listening to the sound that you’re producing and (better yet!) make short recordings of your warm-ups and song-practicing to get more understanding.

  • Singer’s alignment while standing or sitting (REVIEW):
    • Connecting to the ground through five points of the feet
    • a micro bend in the knees, thighs activated,
    • pelvis/hips in neutral position
    • ribcage lifted, sternum up, shoulders down and back, aways from ears
    • arms relaxed, neck long and soft, chin tucked, jaw and cheeks relaxed
    • lift up through the crown of your head.
  • Jaw, Tongue, Throat during singing (NEW)
    • Should be relaxed at all times: on in-breath and out-breath
    • The tongue should feel relaxed and forward. On the inhale, the jaw releases down (avoid dropping it too low, this can cause tension.) The tongue should relax down and should touch the back of the bottom teeth. Practice in front of a mirror and notice the position of your tongue while singing: if you see the tongue pulling back like a scared turtle pulls its head into shell, stop the singing and take a few gentle deep breaths through the mouth to release the tongue forward.
  • Resonance: we had fun using our hands to “trace” the resonance in our heads: all the way from the very front of our noses to the back of our throats.  As you practice this week, spend a few mins each time playing with what sounds you can create as you shift where your voice is placed, and see where you can create your most beautiful sound.

Practicing for next rehearsal in detail: WHAT and HOW

Just to remind you that practice time expectations for the Ensemble choir is 60-80 minutes per week. Here is your routine for practicing Cantabile music:

  • 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 or suggested on Spotify
  • Go on and spend 10-15 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.

Songs to Practice for Wed. Sept. 28th

Rise Up Shepherd, and Follow

As a reminder, this is a piece that we’ll be singing with Intermediate at the Holidays with Cantabile concert on Dec. 4th

Stars Tonight

This is another song that we’ll be singing with Intermediate.

  • The notes in this piece aren’t hard, but the magic lives in the text and  in the beauty of your sound as you sing.  Please have your parts fully learned by next rehearsal.
  • Make sure you are stagger-breathing during all of the four bar phrases (i.e. m.7-m.10)
  • Throughout the piece (and especially during the opening “oooo”’s) practice making your most beautiful, pure sound.  Again – experiment with where your voice is “placed” (or where its resonating) to see what gives you the sound that we talked about – light, open, relaxed.
  • Altos – really focus on your sound starting at m.40 (which we worked on in rehearsal)
  • Pay attention to where your final consonants go throughout the piece.  As we remember from Aria’s wonderful skit at retreat – final consonants are very important in order for the audience to understand what we are singing about!

Old Fox Wassail

We did some great work on this at retreat: keep practicing! Make sure to learn the last page with the 100% accuracy.

Other Repertoire

At this point, you should know your parts on the following songs.

  • Caverns In The Clouds
  • Grace (should be memorized)
  • Vindo (practice the last three pages– especially when your part is NOT melody)
  • Sing Legato (practice waltzing at home as you sing!)

Please start working on memorizing them.  We will pass out the schedule for memorization next week in rehearsal.

Review: 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

  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.

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.

Other announcements and reminders:

  • 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 1st.
  • Blog Posts: If you’d like your child to be receiving the notifications of blog posts directly, please email and let us know your child’s email address so we can add it to the mailing list.  
  • 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!
  • Girls: We are changing the shoe requirement for this year.  Please purchase your new shoes (Capezio Daisy Ballet Flat in black) through Amazon or Capezio asap!
  • Everyone should have their very own Cantabile yoga mat.  Please make sure you bring them to rehearsal each week!  

We’ve been together for five weeks now, and you’re really starting to come together as a group.  Please keep up the good work at home, so we can spend our time together making music!  The concert will be here before you know it, so use your practice time wisely this week.  

Thank you again for a magical rehearsal this past week, and here’s to many more to come!

Elena and Jazmine


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