September 28, 2016/Rehearsal #6

Prep 1 Rehearsal Blog # 3 Thursday Sept. 29th
September 30, 2016
Prep 2 Blog # 3 Week of September 30th
September 30, 2016

September 28, 2016/Rehearsal #6

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for another beautiful rehearsal on Wednesday night.  Your sound is improving each time we come together, and it is very exciting to hear the fruits of your home practicing! Please, remember to sing with beautiful, light and supported sound when practicing. Review the rules for good vocal production (they are below the action items.)

Action Items for Next Rehearsal:

  • Rise up Shepherd: memorized
  • Old Fox Wassail: song learned fully, memorize through m. 24
  • Caverns in the Clouds: we finished learning the song, memorize to m. 58
  • Amavolovolo: review words and choreo (youtube  link here)
  • Stars Tonight: finish learning you part (work on last page especially)
  • Most Wonderful Time: review  


Singer’s alignment while standing or sitting:

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:

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 keyboard.)
  • For the next practice session, choose different pieces but make sure you cover all of music before next choir rehearsal.

Songs to Practice for Wed. October 5th

Stars Tonight, Judy Herrington

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

  • Using part-recordings sung by Elena and with the music in hand, learn your part beginning to end of song.  
  • At rehearsal, we spent some time with the text, reciting the poem and “tasting” the sounds of it: the consonants, the vowels and the way they glide together to create soundscapes in each phrase. Please, review this new practice: say the lyrics with as much excitement and wonder as the words depict.
  • M.63 – m.81 — work on this section as it was particularly weak.
  • Altos at m.49: there are four equal quarter notes in this bar; avoid singing dotted rhythm. Some singers have learned it incorrectly.   
  • M.23: in this section (and whenever there is an echo/canon effect btw the parts), the sustained notes should be sung softer to give way to the other parts entering with the melody.
  • Practice stagger-breathing during all of the four bar phrases (i.e. m.7-m.10)
  • Throughout the piece (and especially during the opening “oo”’s) practice making your most beautiful, pure sound.  Again – experiment with where your voice is “placed” (or where it’s resonating) to see what gives you the sound that we talked about – light, open, relaxed, sound of the wind.
  • Pay attention to and mark exactly where final consonants are placed.  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!

Rise Up Shepherd, and Follow

This is another piece that you’ll be performing with Intermediate for the Holidays with Cantabile concert.

  • Entire song learned in class. Memorize your part from beginning to end!
  • Altos, please make sure m.37-m.44 is really solid – it was still shaky in rehearsal.
  • Also, Altos, remember to separate (slightly) in between “heed” and “to” in m.37, and “words” and “oh” in m.38 so that “to” and “oh” have a bit more emphasis.
  • As a reminder, the back row of sopranos are singing an additional line (starting on high mi) at bar 57. Here is your line:

Rise Up Shep- herd,  Rise Up Shep- herd  and fol- – low

E      E    D                 C      C    A         A        A      A       G

Caverns In The Clouds

This is coming along quite beautifully, and your sound is improving each time we rehearse it!

  • Please have your parts fully memorized by next week.
  • Make sure that all of your vowels are nice and tall – use your hand (moving from a horizontal to vertical line) to help you if you need it – especially on words like “light”, “sky”, “night” etc.
  • Remember all of your ending consonants, including “y” in the word “sky”, and the initial “f” in “fly”.
  • Just like with Stars Tonight, practice just saying the lyrics over and over again, tasting them in your mouth as you say them.  There are such beautiful pictures being painted with text in this piece – have fun with the words!

Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

You will be singing this with Vocalise, Bravi/VTG, and Intermediate at the Holidays with Cantabile Concert.

  • Everyone should now have a copy of this, so please learn your parts this week.
  • When practicing, snap on all rests. It’s fun and it helps you to avoid singing notes longer than they are!
  • Altos, there are several spots where you sing harmony: please, mark them in the score  some harmony in this piece, so pay attention when you practice that you aren’t just singing the melody.
  • M. 61: “And caroling out in the snow.” The pickup is an eighth note, not a quarter! This is the only time it happens in the piece – -please, mark your score and sing as written.
  • Another great waltzing song — dance it when you practice!

Old Fox Wassail

We had a lot of fun with this piece in rehearsal – walking to the beat, and acting out the lyrics of this very old English wassailing song.

Other Repertoire

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

  • 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. Potluck) 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!

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

Comments are closed.