Rehearsal #4/February 1st, 2017

Intermediate Rehearsal # 5 Thursday February 3rd
February 4, 2017
Rehearsal #6/February 7, 2017
February 9, 2017

Rehearsal #4/February 1st, 2017

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for your presence, your courage, and your cooperation on Wednesday night.  You are making progress both individually, and as a group, and it was wonderful to see the work that so many of you have put into your music.  Our hope moving forward is that we can continue to build upon the work that you do each week and truly make this music come alive.  Please see below for your action items for this week.

Key ideas and Concepts addressed on Feb 1st:

  1. Courage, Vulnerability, and Connection: As Elena has mentioned throughout the semester it takes courage to be vulnerable, but it’s through the vulnerability that we as musicians (and human beings) can connect with each other.  Much of this music requires you to have courage, to stand tall, to be vulnerable and sing.  You can’t hit the high F#’s, make the big leaps, or sing the long phrases without believing in yourselves.  You can do this!  You DID this on Wednesday.  But we can’t spend a chunk of time every week getting you to believe in yourselfs as we did – you must come ready to sing with courage.
  2. Moving beyond the notes and rhythms.  While some of you are still working on getting this completely solid, most of you know the notes and rhythms for at least the Wind and The World Is Full of Poetry.  It’s now time to move beyond them.  This week you must take time to connect with the text: start exploring word and syllable stress, taste the words in your mouth, visualize what you are singing about, give the music attitude, express emotion in your tone and on your face.  It is your responsibility to show your conductors that you’re ready for this next step by doing it – don’t make us ask you for it.
  3. Keep practicing those notes and rhythms.  Most of you did an excellent job of learning your notes and rhythms (as we discovered when we sang by grade level) but not all of you did (and you know who you are).  Don’t assume that because I didn’t call you out specifically that you ‘got away’ with not knowing your part.  Everyone should continuing learning their parts this week (use your ‘divide and conquer’ technique), and be prepared for more ‘checks’ in the weeks to come.     

Action Items and expectations for next Rehearsal, February 1st:

  • Continue practicing the music in your folder no less than 3 times before the next rehearsal.  It was evident on Wednesday that most of you had done this.  This week it needs to happen from everyone.  As a reminder, you should be at the following levels of preparedness for each song, meaning right notes, right rhythms and right words:
    • The Earth is Full of Poetry: 90%
    • In Safety and Bliss: 100%
    • We Join With the Earth: 90% up to m.126
    • The Wind: 100%
    • Kusimama: 100%
    • Turn The World Around: 75% up to m. 41 and m.73-end
  • Record your practicing times and what you practiced in the practice log and hand in your practice log at the beginning of the class.
  • Practice the most recent yoga flow no less than 3 times before next rehearsal
  • Connect to your breath during breathing meditation every day for 5 min.


The Wind, Rich Campbell

You will be singing this song on your own at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • You made excellent progress with this last week: 90% of the notes and rhythms were there, they simply lacked confidence and courage (see above).  Practice your music enough so that you can walk into rehearsal next week and deliver your part with 100% confidence the first time through.  
  • In general you tend to get “lost” pitch wise at the ends of phrases when the notes jump to unexpected places.  For example: Sop m.70 F# to C#, m.75 D to G etc.  Practice going back and forth between just those two pitches until they are solid, then add in one note before and one note after.
  • Everyone needs to review from m.104 to the end for note accuracy.
  • Start adding in attitude, word stress, accents etc. – all the things that will make this piece come alive!  (See No. 2 in “Key Concepts” above.)  This is where you need to be ready to start next week in rehearsal.  

Turn the World Around, Harry Belafonte and Robert Freedman, Arr. Larry Farrow

You will be singing this with Vocalise at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • Continue learning your part from the beginning to m.41.  In addition, start learning your part from m.73 to m.85
    • Sopranos: don’t worry about the high Bb at the end – we will address that next week.
  • Keep a steady beat somewhere on your body (feet, leg, chest etc.) to help with your syncopated rhythms.  
  • Also!  There is an important divisi to note.  M.13-16 Alto 1s sing the tenor line. (Alto 2s continue singing the alto line.)
  • Please do not work on any other sections of this piece as there are important divisi to be assigned which we do in class.  
  • Watch this fantastic video!
  • As a reminder, this song is an African folk song from Guinea about the origins of mankind, and how the elements (fire, water, mountains, earth) are what we are all made of.  The composer reminds us that we are only here for a short time, and that it’s important for us to truly know and understand each other, as we are not very different from each other.  And that from that love and understanding, we can turn the world around.  
    • Extra bonus points if you can tell us on which TV show this song was performed!  (Write it on your practice log.)

Earth Songs – The World is Full of Poetry, David Brunner

You will be singing this with Vocalise at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • Keep learning your parts for this movement, making sure that you are singing exactly the right notes in places such as m.35 and m.57
  • Please review m.55 to the end for correct notes.
  • This week in your practicing start adding in word stress, tone color etc.  (See No. 2 in “Ideas and Concepts”)
  • You can listen to a great recording of the 1st movement (“The World is Full of Poetry”) by the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir, on their album called Homeland on Spotify.  (The track is titled “The World is Full of Poetry from Earthsongs (David L. Brunner)”.)

Earth Songs – In Safety and Bliss, David Brunner  

  • Good to job to those of you who could recite the poem this week!  Next week we’ll hear from a few more of you…
  • M.88-end mark which beat you come in on, and which beats your cut off on with your “blissful hearts”.  
  • Isolate your leaps and practice them over and over, making them as smooth and legato as possible.  Right now they sound quite awkward and out of tune. (Ex: m.84 E to C#, m.85 E to D# etc.)
  • Just like with Turn the World Around, keep a steady beat (ideally with an eighth note subdivision) somewhere in your body.  This will help with keeping your place for your entrances and cut offs.
  • As mentioned above, start working on internalizing the text when you practice this week by reading the lyrics as poem.  See where the natural word stress falls.  Remember our rule with repeated text: every repetition has to have new musical or poetic meaning.  Start thinking about how each repetition of “blissful heart” is going to mean something different.

Earth Songs – We Join With the Earth, David Brunner  (from last week)

  • I was very happy with the work you did on this last week, and was equally proud with how you supported each other as we sang this by grade level – good for you!
  • By next week you should have your part 100% solid up to measure 126.  Practice with courage, sing with courage!
    • Review your notes at m. 124!
  • Use the downbeats to springboard you into your offbeats and stars of phrases.  Practice clapping or snapping in places such as beat 3 of m.104, or beat 3 of m.107 etc.  This will keep your entrances clean, your phrases energized, and keep the tempo from dragging.
  • Begin to notice and incorporate the dynamics and tempo changes throughout this movements – there are quite a few of them!

Kusimama (Stand Tall), Jim Papoulis (from previous rehearsals)

You will be singing this with Intermediate at the All Choir Concert this Spring.

  • At this point your parts should be 100% learned.  As you do the choreography see if you can also start working on memorizing the music – they go together!
  • Some notes on the choreography:
    • This song is called “Standing Tall” so your movements should show that.
    • Your posture should be tall and proud at all times.
    • Connect what you’re singing (“with love”) with your motions (spreading your hands out in front of you) throughout the song.
    • Don’t look at your feet or your hands (they aren’t going anywhere!) – look out to the people you’re singing to!
    • On the side to side movements (“Watoto” etc.) your body should face the 45 degree angle between ‘front’ and ‘side’.    
  • Remember the keys to your syncopations: shorter sounds on every note that precedes a rest, along with plenty of space on the rests themselves.  This is what gives the piece its lively, grooving feel.
  • Here’s your recording from our rehearsal on Wednesday to review.  Remember – this isn’t perfect yet! It’s here so you can see where you’re at right now.    
  • Please us this great recording of Cantabile performing this back in 2013 to see what it should look like.  

Review: Breathing meditation, standing position and a Yoga flow

Continue practicing breathing as follows (5 min a day.) It’s been wonderful to see how many of you list yoga on your practice logs each week! 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.

Other announcements and reminders:

  • Musicianship Homework: Make sure you are turning in your musicianship books each week!  Please make up your missed work and turn it in to Hannah every week!
  • Practice Log: As a reminder, please record the day you’ve opened the blog, when you’re practicing, for how long, and what you’re practicing in each session.  During practice, focus your attention on details by following blog instructions for each song.  Bring your completed practice log with you to the next rehearsal.  You can now use this Cantabile Practice Log to record your practicing each week.  

Again, we acknowledge and thank you for all the work that you put in last week.  It is because of that that we were able to start new music, and that next week we get to really start making music together.  Until then – stay healthy!!!!

All our best,

Elena and Jazmine


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