Avanti Rehearsal Blog

Dear Ensemble,

Thank you for a focused, productive rehearsal on Wednesday.  Your commitment to our artistry as a choir and to learning all you possibly can is inspiring!


Call Times for the Fall Rehearsal: TOMORROW, SATURDAY NOV 4th

Please note your call time for the Fall Rehearsal TOMORROW Saturday, November 4th.  Your call time is 9:00 am and you must arrive in your Cantabile T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes/sneakers.  Please arrive in the back parking lot (off of Byron St) for check in.  A friendly reminder that the concert is scheduled for 1pm, and you will be done by 2pm.  The rehearsal and concert are held at First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto: 625 Hamilton Ave.  


Yoga mat

Sack lunch

Water bottle with your name on it

Music binder


Please do not bring anything more than this, such as a backpack or rain gear: we will be inside all day and have a full schedule.  We are limited in our space and appreciate your support in not bringing unnecessary items.

Holidays with Cantabile Information Coming MONDAY 11/6

Please keep an eye out for information that will be emailed home to you on Monday, 11/6.  This will include information about your call and release times, drop off and pick up information, and volunteer sign-ups for our Dress Rehearsal (Tues 11/28) and Holidays with Cantabile Concert (Sun 12/3).

Holidays with Cantabile Tickets Now On Sale

Please visit the Cantabile website to buy your tickets today – they are going quickly!  Additionally, we need your help in filling the hall, so invite your extended family, friends, teachers, and neighbors today!

Tour Registration Reminder

If you haven’t already told us about your plans to attend tour, please either register via our website or email Jazmine (jazmine@cantabile.org) and let us know your status.  Thank you!



  • Be ready for Memory Checks starting next week during musicianship class.  The four songs you will be tested on this week are: Peter Go Ring-A Dem Bells, The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy, Unending Flame and Amani.  The remaining songs in our repertoire will be tested the following week.
  • Continue to practice the yoga flow of monkey and chair.  Regular practice of yoga and meditation are important elements of your practice routine.  Descriptions of monkey and chair poses are below.
  • Kyrie Eleison – keep working for accuracy and memorization.
  • The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy – this should be memorized now.  Practice singing with the emotions of joy, wonder and awe.  Watch yourself in a mirror while singing – be sure you can see the emotions in your face and body energy.
  • Unending Flame – be sure you memorize dynamics, stylistic elements and clapping along with words and notes.
  • Peter Go Ring-A Dem Bells – practice with all of the emotion and dramatic expression we discovered the last few weeks so that it becomes as much a part of your performance as the notes, rhythms and words.
  • Caribbean Mass (Santo and Agnus Dei) – work to perfect notes and rhythms and be comfortable with all the text.
  • Amani – use rehearsal tracks below to be sure you are accurate on your part.
  • Most Wonderful Time of the Year – be sure you are accurate on your part and begin memorizing.



Kyrie Eleison by Ron Kean

  1. AUse this recording of the song to get the entire piece in your ear and sing your part along with it to get used to hearing the accompaniment and other part playing with you.  Use the rehearsal tracks below to learn your part separately.Soprano


  2. This week we focused on the B section (ms. 21-45 and 64-85) as well as the final section (ms. 86-end).  Review the following as you practice:
    1. ALTOS – you found a beautiful, legato line.  Remember to sing your part as if it is a “solo” line.  You are not merely harmony-providers in this song – you have an independent melody that compliments the sopranos’ line.  Make it beautiful and full.
    2. Continue to notice and memorize the dynamic markings in the score, especially crescendos and decrescendos like in ms. 21-24.
    3. Whenever you have a wide ascending interval leap (ie, Sop in ms. 33-34 and Alto ms. 37-39), be sure not to scoop up to the top note.
    4. Continue to listen for dissonance and lean into it before tapering the phrase.
  3. Work on the A and C sections of the song as well, using some of the same techniques we worked on in the B sections and Coda.
  4. Suggestion:  the tessitura (or the range the majority of the notes lie in) is quite high for the sopranos in the second half of this song.  If it is tiring to practice it, try singing it without words, and instead sing it on “bo” or “ta.”  We will work on ways to sing it more comfortably when we are in rehearsal together.
  5. NOTE:  because this song lies rather high and because there are long phrases requiring incredible breath control, it is imperative that you sing this song often over the next four weeks.  Think of it as strength training or conditioning and sing it at least once every day!

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy

  1. Begin to experiment with moving while you practice this song this week.  We may add a few “choreographed” steps next week – nothing too fancy or hard, but this song cannot be sung standing still!  The movement of dancers in the Caribbean involves free and energenetic use of feet, hips and arms, so play with that as you sing to become comfortable moving and singing at the same time.  Here is a video of traditional folk dancers in Trinidad for you to enjoy.
  2. If it is not memorized already, MEMORIZE this song this week, using the rehearsal tracks below.  

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

  1. In the first half of this song, phrase shaping, breath control and dynamics are going to be really important, since the tempos are slow and the accompaniment is not always full underneath you.  Study your score and mark the places you think we should not breathe, and how we should crescendo and decrescendo the phrases to shape them.  What is the most important word in each phrase?  The phrase should push ahead up to these most important words and then taper off after them.
  2. Learn your part using these rehearsal tracks:Soprano


  3. Pay special attention to the order of the words and where we clap on pgs. 7-12.
  4. 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.

Peter, Go Ring-A Dem Bells arr. Jeffery Ames

  1. Here is the recording of of the full performance of this song.
  2. Review and think about the meaning and importance of the text.  Put yourself in the shoes of the people who would have sung this song and how you would feel singing the words from their perspective.

Soprano 1

Soprano 2 (Soprano in 2-part sections)

Soprano 2 (Alto in 2-part sections


Caribbean Mass (Santo and Agnus Dei)

  1. Use these rehearsal tracks to ensure accuracy of your part and memorizeSoprano


  2. The recordings of a performance of the pieces can still be found here: Santo (remember, we will not sing the solo lines) and Agnus Dei.
  3. Listen to these other movements of the mass: Kyrie and Credo,  NOTE:  we are not singing these on the concert.  I just want you to be familiar with them and understand the context of the two movements we are singing with Vocalise (Santo and Agnus Dei).


  1. Review and memorize.
  2. There is still a measure or two for each voice part where pitch/rhythm mistakes are being made.  Use the rehearsal tracks below to clean those up and memorize the song.High Soprano 1

    Low Soprano 1

    Soprano 2


  3. Be sure to include the hand claps in places they are indicated.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

We will sing this at the November Workshop and Family Concert.  Continue to learn this song, and invite your parents and siblings to learn it too!



Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Use these rehearsal tracks to be sure your part is accurate and continue to memorize.




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.

Happy practicing!  If you ever have questions or need help with an assignment, don’t hesitate to email me at lori@cantabile.org .



November 3, 2017

November 1, 2017/Rehearsal #11

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a focused, productive rehearsal on Wednesday.  Your commitment to our artistry as a choir and to learning all you possibly can is inspiring! ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS: Call Times for the Fall Rehearsal: TOMORROW, SATURDAY NOV 4th Please note your call time for the Fall Rehearsal TOMORROW Saturday, November 4th.  Your call time is 9:00 am and […]
October 27, 2017

October 25, 2017/Rehearsal #10

Dear Ensemble, As we draw nearer to the Holidays With Cantabile concert on Dec. 3, I want to encourage each of you to visualize yourself on the stage of the grand California Theater, completely confident that you know your music thoroughly and are eager to share the message or story of each song with your audience.  This wonderful experience can […]
October 21, 2017

October 18, 2017/Rehearsal #9

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a joyful, productive rehearsal this week.  Every rehearsal you experience some wonderful growth moment, whether it is your vocal sound or your ability to sight read a piece with no help from the piano or your beautiful dramatic expression as you sing.  We are making good progress towards being ready for the holiday concert!  However, […]
October 14, 2017

October 11, 2017/Rehearsal #8

Dear Ensemble, Great work at rehearsal this week!  I very much enjoyed listening to your part tests.  It was a wonderful opportunity to hear your voices individually and get to know the color and tone of your “instrument.”  Each one of you brings something valuable and uniquely YOU to our ensemble and we would not be the same without each […]
October 6, 2017

October 4, 2017/Rehearsal #7

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a productive and meaningful rehearsal this week.  We did not get to the part-testing I had planned to do, but I felt it was important to take a few minutes to talk about the events in Las Vegas earlier in the week.  Parents, we talked about how it would be normal for singers to be […]
September 30, 2017

September 27, 2017/Rehearsal #6

Dear Ensemble, I can hardly believe this is the blog for WEEK 6 ALREADY!  They say time flies when you’re having fun and you make each rehearsal such fun for me.  It was wonderful to have some of your parents visit this week.  I am looking forward to sharing even more of our rehearsal process with them next month. This […]
September 22, 2017

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 […]
September 15, 2017

September 13, 2017/Rehearsal#4

Dear Ensemble, We had a wonderful time meeting with all the parents at the Parent Orientation on Wednesday!  Thank you for your time, parents, and for supporting your singers in their artistic endeavors.  Since we are together at Retreat this weekend, this week’s blog is a summary of what we worked on in rehearsal Wednesday and a review of our […]