Avanti Rehearsal Blog

Dear Ensemble,

Since I am just now getting the blog out to you on Sunday, your homework will be short this week, but no less important!  Below, you will find rehearsal tracks for several of our songs.  Please take some time to practice with them before Wednesday’s rehearsal, even if it you only go through each song a couple of times.

Parents, remember that Parent Orientation is this coming Wednesday, September 13th at 6:15 pm in the Parish Hall at FCC.  At least one parent must attend.

Please see your action items for practicing below (in bold and underlined):

Breathing meditation, standing position

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.



The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy

During rehearsal, we talked about the Calypso style of music in which this traditional Christmas song is written.  Here is an interesting article on Calypso music.  Notice that the origin of Calypso music is very similar to that of African-American spirituals in that it was sung by African slaves brought to Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean, as a means of communicating with each other when slave owners would not allow them to talk, and also as a way of mocking the slave owners.


Practice this song, being sure to tap a strong beat somewhere on your body as you work:

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

NOTE: Sop 2s, there is a mistake in your recording.  If you are a Super Sleuth and can find it, come tell me at the beginning of rehearsal on Wednesday!

Peter, Go Ring-A Dem Bells

Here is the recording of of the full performance of this song.


  • IF YOU DID NOT DO THIS LAST WEEK… Write in solfege syllables on your part in measures 18-34 and study your part compared to the other voice part.  Is the rhythm the same or different?  Do you always sing harmony with the other part, or do you sing unison sometimes?
  • Sing your part on solfege in this section, then on words.
  • Practice  the rest of the song using the rehearsal track for your voice part:

Soprano 1

Soprano 2 (Soprano in 2-part sections)

Soprano 2 (Alto in 2-part sections


Come and Sing, Wallace Homady

HOMEWORK (if you did not do this last week, please do so this week):

  • Listen to this recording of Vocalise and Ensemble singing this song.
  • As you listen, pay particular attention to the singers’ diction.  How do they shape their vowels?  Can you hear crisp consonants?  What happens to “r” at the end of a syllable or word?
  • Do your best to start learning your part.  Note: in the last two measures, Altos and Soprano 2s should stay on the second staff down as they have throughout the song.  Soprano 1s should split as we did at the end of Peter, Go Ring-A Dem Bells (the two singers on the ends of each row take the higher note).

Other announcements and reminders:

  • Information and links to forms, etc. can be found in the latest Scoop.
  • You should have received an email this week from Justin with a link to the Ensemble Commitment form.  If you have not yet filled this out and submitted it, please do so as soon as possible.
  • Parent orientation is Wednesday, September 13th at 6:15pm.  At least one parent must attend – we will cover a whole year of vital information! Ensemble is a family commitment: for you to be successful, your parents must be well informed and stay current to all our activities.
  • Retreat: all singers are required to attend the Cantabile retreat at YMCA Camp Campbell September 15th – September 17th.  You should have received an email from Jazmine  this week with Retreat details.  Be sure all your Cantabile forms are filled out and submitted before Friday.
  • ACDA Honor Choir: The American Choral Directors Association Western Division Conference is being held in Pasadena, March 14-17, 2018.  Cantabile Singers in grades 6-12 can audition for several honor choirs to be held during the conference.  These honor choirs are “mountain-top” experiences for young singers, conducted by leading choral conductors from around the country.  The audition deadline is October 13th, so act quickly!  More information and links to the ACDA Western Division website
  • Montalvo Arts Center Sound Installation Project: if you had trouble accessing the link to the project description, here is a link you should be able to open.  Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • 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!
  • Bring your yoga mats!  Every week we will start at exactly 5:05 pm 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 your assignments for this week, as well as any work you didn’t do last week, and bring them to rehearsal on Wednesday!  

I’m looking forward to getting to know Ensemble singers and parents this week at the Parent Orientation and Retreat!  See you soon.



September 10, 2017

September 6, 2017/Rehearsal #3

Dear Ensemble, Since I am just now getting the blog out to you on Sunday, your homework will be short this week, but no less important!  Below, you will find rehearsal tracks for several of our songs.  Please take some time to practice with them before Wednesday’s rehearsal, even if it you only go through each song a couple of […]
September 1, 2017

Week of August 30, 2017/Rehearsal #2

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for a wonderful night of music making on Wednesday!  I so appreciated your focus, hard work and beautiful sound! Parents, please be sure to read the announcements at the bottom of the blog.  There is A LOT of interesting and essential information there you will want/need to know. Singers, I would like you to begin using […]
August 26, 2017

August 23, 2017/Rehearsal #1

Dear Ensemble, Welcome to the 23rd season of Cantabile and a new season for Ensemble!  I hope you are as filled with excitement and anticipation as I am for the year ahead.  It was wonderful  to finally see your beautiful faces and hear you sing.  You all are destined for great things! I appreciated your enthusiastic participation in the Name […]
April 28, 2017

Rehearsal #16/April 26, 2017

Dear Ensemble, We are now in the home stretch!  We have one more week until the concert.  For some of you, that’s good news, and for some of you, it’s now or never to learn your music!  Please spend quality time with your scores in front of you this week, practicing everything from producing your most beautiful sound, to communicating […]
April 15, 2017

Rehearsal #14/April 12, 2017

Dear Ensemble, Thank you for your courage, vulnerability, and trust this past week.  It was deeply moving to watch each of you connect with your fellow singers, and the music, in such meaningful and honest ways.  As we get into our final weeks before the concert, it’s especially important that you continue to keep all of your repertoire fresh and […]
April 7, 2017

Rehearsal #13/April 5, 2017

  Dear Ensemble, What a wonderful night together this week!  Even though we were missing quite a few people, you cam together with such love, devotion, and expression, it was quite inspiring!  Please keep up the good work at home – we only have a few weeks left until our concert! Action Items and expectations for next rehearsal, April 12th. […]
March 31, 2017

Rehearsal #12/March 29th, 2017

Dear Ensemble, We had another beautiful night of music making on Wednesday.  You are making good progress toward our All Choir Concert in May, and we acknowledge the hard work you have invested so far.  Please keep up the deep practice at home, focusing on the areas outlined in each song below.  There is still much work to be done! […]
March 25, 2017

Rehearsal #11/March 22nd, 2017

  Dear Ensemble, Thank you for the excellent music making and the great spirit you brought into the rehearsal last Wednesday.  It was inspiring to see “Shine On Me” come together so beautifully and powerful as you truly gave yourselves to the music and the heartfelt message of the song.  Let’s keep that going in our weeks to come! Action […]