September 7, 2016/Rehearsal #3

Intermediate Rehearsal # 3 Thursday September 8th
September 9, 2016
September 12, 2016/Rehearsal #3
September 14, 2016

September 7, 2016/Rehearsal #3

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for a good rehearsal on Wednesday night, and it was lovely to get to meet with all of you and your parents about this year’s events.  Even though it was a short rehearsal, we got some great work done!  Please see your action items for practicing below:

  1. Practice breathing and the fun yoga flow we reviewed at the last rehearsal. (See directions at the end of the blog.)
  2. For the next rehearsal (Wed. September 14th), be prepared to sing these songs well:
    1. Caverns in the Clouds (your part solid beginning to end)
    2. Rise up Shepherds (from beginning to msr. 45)
    3. Grace, Vindo, Fox Wassail, Sing Legato: same assignment as last week (details below)

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. Elena recommends this routine:

  • 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.

Caverns In The Clouds

We continued working on this piece this week, focusing on the ending.

  • Have your part ready to go by next week, including the ending which we worked on in rehearsal.  Remember, our goal is to transfix and transform our audience when we perform this in the big Holidays with Cantabile concert at the beautiful California Theater.  
  • Make sure that you’re holding long notes for their entire duration.  There are quite a few dotted half notes and whole notes in this piece, and they need to be held all the way until the next downbeat, otherwise we end up with holes in our clouds!
  • And remember to snap on those rests!

Rise up Shepherds

We started this new song and got through most of it! Work on your part — figure it out, it’s not difficult at all. Here is a good recording to help you learn the part.

Old Fox Wassail

Homework: learn your part beginning to end — we will be practicing it in earnest next week!

  • We read through the text of this piece and talked about the tradition of wassailers and the meaning of the words they sing in their greetings. Wassailers were practically carolers: a tradition that developed later — going door to door singing and asking for either food or money or even shelter. If you are a history buff like Elena, you might enjoy reading this great article about wassailing here  
  • Listen and start learning your parts so that we can put together the harmonies next rehearsal. At the very least, you should be able to say the text in rhythm beginning to end.

Sing Legato

  • Keep singing through the first song, Sing Legato in several different keys.  See if you can challenge yourself to sing it with different emotions and in several different keys.  

Grace, arranged by Mark Hayes

  • Homework: learn your part solid from beginning to mrs. 57.
  • Altos and Soprano 2, make sure your score is marked with the part you are singing.   (Please see last week’s blog for those changes)
  • This is one of the songs that you will perform at the Holiday Concert in December, together with Vocalise and Bravi.
  • In class, we listened to a great rendition of the piece on Spotify, performed by the Women’s Chorus of Bringham Young University on their CD, “Wonderous Love” (you can hear it again on spotify)


  • Continue practicing your part from beginning through m. 77 (the key change).
  • Listen to the song (video link below) and sing your part along.
  • Make sure you got the pronunciation right for this Finnish-language-influenced nonsense text. (not everything in life must have purpose and make sense — some things are simply for fun and pure joy! Vindo is one of them 🙂  I promise to give you plenty of “serious” songs later!
  • Here’s the video we listened to in rehearsal.

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:

  • 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!
  • Retreat: all singers are required to attend the Cantabile retreat at YMCA Camp Campbell September 16th – September 18th.  Please make sure you read your handout given out the first week of rehearsal.
  • 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!
  • Bring your yoga mats!  Every week we will start at exactly 5:05pm on the floor with our shoes and socks off, and our yoga mats half-rolled beneath us. New singers will be getting their Cantabile yoga mats at retreat.  
  • Musicianship Homework: please make sure you finish all your assignments for this week, as well as any work that you haven’t yet completed.  Musicianship books are due at the beginning of class each week to Hannah!

Remember – we can do anything in life with joy and passion, or with dread and apathy.  Here at Cantabile, we are all committed to practicing and performing music with joy and passion – whether we’re sitting at home learning our parts, or performing on the big stages of the world.  Wishing you much joy as you practice this week,  

Elena and Jazmine


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