Intermediate Blog # 11 Thursday March 23rd

Vocalise Blog #10: 3/20/2017
March 23, 2017
Prep 1 Blog #6 Week of March 20, 2017
March 25, 2017

Intermediate Blog # 11 Thursday March 23rd

Greetings, Intermediate Singers,

What a wonderful evening of singing and great work! I felt so much positive energy and enthusiasm all around, and you created so many beautiful sounds and moments of true artistry. You are already well-prepared for the concert, but it is important to keep working in detail on the newer songs, and to start practicing the more familiar songs in front of your mirror, with strong and open posture, engaged facial expressions, and when there is movement, ensuring it is accurate and flowing.

Trivia Question:  How is the circle an important symbol in Native American cultures?

Thursday March 30th Masterclass with Elena Sharkova

Parents are welcome to sit in on this special opportunity for the singers of Intermediate Chorus to perform and receive expert instruction from our world famous Artistic Director. The Masterclass portion of our rehearsal will take place from 6:00-7:00, during which time the singers will perform and work on 1-2 selections from their current repertoire. Please join us!

Practice Log: It is very important to practice at home, and to know how much you are doing each week. At Cantabile, we expect our Intermediate singers to practice at least 20 minutes per day. Please use this practice log every Thursday morning as a tool to record the approximate number of minutes you have practiced that week (for example, Week of 10/20: 106 min). This does not include musicianship homework. The singer who has logged the most number of minutes will receive a special prize on the last day of rehearsal!

Action Items and Recap

Please see this list of songs you will be singing in the Spring Concert on Saturday May 6, and with whom. Many are memorized already, and everything (except for We Are a Circle) should be memorized by April 1st:

We Are a Circle (ALL)

For the Beauty of the Earth (Intermediate only)

My Maple Tree and Me (Intermediate only)

Kimineero (Intermediate only)

Kusimama (with Ensemble)

Can You Hear Me? (with Prep 3)

We Can Plant a Forest (with Prep 2 and Prep 3)

There Has to be a Song (ALL)


  • If you practice, you must warm up as well, as we do in rehearsal. You can choose from any number of warm-ups we do, and move up and down by half-steps: Mama Made Me Mash, Vowels (Oooh Oh Ah Eh Eee), My Dog Has Fleas, Sing Ee Sing Eh Song Ah, I Sing My Song La-la-la, Soda Pop Can…and many more!

There Has to Be a Song

  • Great work on this – start to memorize and take note of all dynamic and articulations markings as you do so – they must be memorized and practiced along with the notes and the words!
  • Please review mm. 39-45, which we worked hard to perfect last night!
  • Practice the repeat from m. 69 back to 22, then the jump to the CODA from m. 36 to m. 70.
  • Take note of all the blue notes in the song, and make sure you are singing them – sing the D major scale, and incorporate si (sharp sol) tah (flat ti).
  • Continue to listen and follow in your score.

Can You Hear Me?

  • This is sounding very beautiful  – look for all the sustained notes and take note of the vowel you will be singing, on a lovely flowing exhale, with good breath support.
  • Please practice the sign language in front of the mirror and make sure the changes match the lyrics – try not to rush through them, but feel them along with the relaxed tempo.
  • Please review these measures very carefully: mm. 5-6, mm. 18-20, mm. 38-40, mm. 61-63
  • Listen to the vocal tracks this week whilst following in your music.
  • Also watch this video of Biralee Chorus from Australia – their sign language is largely what I would like to use, with a few additions.

We Can Plant a Forest

  • Part 1 you need to me more solid and confident with your vocal line – particularly the responses in mm. 13-18, mm. 31-35, and mm. 64-66.
  • Everyone should watch the “ah” vowel in “time.” Keep it tall and beautiful.
  • Please  continue to study the middle section (known as the “bridge”) mm. 48-56 – you made great progress on this section last night.
  • This song is pitched quite low, so be sure to stand tall and use a light and focused voice in the lower part of your range, so as to not over-sing or “belt” – sing on the vowel, and use a scarf to encourage strong breath support for this one, too.
  • Listen and follow along in your score.

We Are A Circle

  • Excellent start – continue to practice the sections we worked on but also Listen to the full piece while following along in your score. We will add more layers and verses next week.

For the Beauty of the Earth

  • It is time to really keep your eyes up for my direction of dynamic changes and final consonants/cut-offs!
  • Study and memorize the dynamic changes in your score as well!
  • Faster passages require clear pronunciation, for example: “Sun and moon and stars of lights.”
  • Altos can be lighter and more lyrical – give more shape to your phrases rather than focusing on a loud dynamic.
  • Remember the order of the verses:
  1. For the beauty of the earth
  2. For the beauty of each hour
  3. For the joy of human love
  4. For each perfect gift of thine

    I recommend speaking the text like a poem from memory!

  • Listen to the vocal tracks while following along in your music!
  • Continue to review these sections in solfege: 1. Page 5 “of the day and of the night..” 2. Page 6 “Lord of all…..hymn of praise.” 3. Page 7 “Friends on earth..//thoughts and mild.”
  • Continue to find all the phrases which have sustained notes such as half notes, dotted half notes, whole notes, and tied whole notes – how will you continue the sound and give the note direction? Use your finger to “paint” the phrase or aim the note in a direction so the music continues to move!

My Maple Tree and Me

  • Continue to review the “giggling” section in measures 52-53; you should practice getting into it from measure 49.
  • Please also review measure 54-end of the song, especially the two “growing toward to sky” sections.
  • Everyone must review all the sustained notes sections  (such as measures 15-16, mm. 26-27, mm. 33-34, m. 36, m. 38, m. 55 and m. 57.) Find the correct vowel and sustain it beautifully as you sing the note for its full value. Paint the note with in the sky as you sing!
  • Listen to the vocal tracks while following along in your music!
  • Continue to review these measures in solfege: m. 17, m. 26, m. 30-31, and m. 36.
  • Continue to study the dynamics and how you can sing them healthfully, with plenty of expression and clarity in the text.
  • Listen, while following along in your score.


  • Sopranos, please review measures 21, and 41, where you must hold your “mo” syllable for a sustained 5 beats!
  • Altos also need to study measures 21 and 41 to be better prepared for their light “ba-ba-ba’s.”
  • Both parts review measures 44-53, to see when you start your phrase with high sol or low sol.
  • Everyone maintain a lovely “ooh” vowel on “in-kum,” (“in-kooom”) even when the notes are fast! It will sound so much better!
  • Please review all dynamics and take note of the sections where the Sopranos and Altos sing a different dynamic from one another!
  • Listen to the vocal tracks whilst following along in your score.
  • Please review the final section from our key change (m. 89) to the end of the song, particularly the last page, which some singers are rushing. Keep your 2 Rhythm Block and sing it slowly!
  • Review the body percussion, and keep it crisp and precise, and not overpowering your vocal precision:
  1. During “Inkum kiddy kum kimo” it is clap-chest-chest pat-pat-stomp-stomp

2. During “Bah bah bah bah billy illy inkum” it is clap-chest-clap-chest-clap-chest-chest-pat


  • Listen to the vocal tracks while following along in your score.
  • Continue to review the following:
  1. Sopranos: m. 7, m. 11, m. 15 mm. 43-45 – also remember to check for all sustained notes and to sing through them for their full value, for example m. 16 on “do”.
  2. Altos: m. 7, m. 8, m. 10, m. 12-14 – you must also keep track of longer notes, and be sure to hold the “oh” in measure 13 for its full value to create a dramatic harmony with part 1!
  • Reinforce this song’s complex rhythmic motifs by keeping your 4-Rhythm Block whilst singing or chanting the different sections.
  • Please remember the true literal pronunciation and practice speaking in rhythm:

Koo-see-ma-ma, mee-mee koo-see-ma-ma, nah yoo-pen-doh, nah tai-mah-nee, wa-toh-toh nee kah-ree-boo doo-nee-yah

  • Continue to watch this amazing video from Cantabile’s Spring Concert in 2013 to review the dance moves that you learned!

Musicianship A

Great job working on rhythmic counting and dictations. You also reviewed some important scales and key signatures and worked on your sight-singing! It is now time to start reviewing for your exam. In addition to the pages below, please start reviewing these concepts for the exam on April 20th (sight-singing) and April 27th (written):

Music Theory

  • Identify and explain time signatures with 8 on the bottom
  • Write a major scale (C, G, and F major)
  • Write in counts for rhythms including 16th notes
  • Increased vocabulary (added tempos and articulation markings)

Aural Skills

  • Sing a diatonic scale (C, G, and F major)
  • Sing a tonic triad (in solfege)
  • Take a simple rhythmic dictation in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4
  • Take simple dictation in C or F major
  • Identify whole and half steps
  • Sight read melodies in C, G, and F major


  • Singers starting Book 2 should complete pages 31-34– please make sure you are all caught up to these pages!
  • Singers continuing Book 2 should make sure they have completed to book and start to review all pages for the exam on April 27th

Intermediate B

Great job improvising Insect Rhythms and creating some awesome rhythmic layers. I also was very impressed with your ability to sight-read and count some complex rhythms, and your sight-singing and melodic dictations were great. It is now time to start reviewing for your exam. In addition to the pages below, please start reviewing these concepts for the exam on April 20th (sight-singing) and April 27th (written):

Music Theory

  • All Intermediate A skills
  • Identify all major key signatures
  • Know the order of sharps and flats
  • Identify and write all diatonic intervals
  • Write in counts for rhythms with mixed sixteenth and eighth notes

Aural Skills

  • All Intermediate A skills
  • Sight read in keys up to two sharps or flat
  • Do simple dictation in those keys
  • Identify intervals
  • Sing a tonic and dominant triads (on solfege)


  • Book 3 singers should complete pages 39-40 – please make sure you are all caught up to these pages!

Singers who have completed Book 3

  • Log-in to Cantabile’s Noteflight (first name and first letter of last name) with password cantabile2016
  • In honor of our circle song, please compose a short piece in ternary form (ABA) – you really only need to compose two sections – A and B! Please make the piece in f minor (like Kimineero) for two instruments, or for piano. You can utilize some basic chords from f minor, and please incorporate dynamics and articulation, and text with a cyclical theme if you wish!
  • Be sure you are all caught up with your assignments and have read and followed my comments and feedback which ARE NOW AVAILABLE. I am very impressed with your compositions and please note they are part of your final exam grade.
  • Please continue to work on the attached sight-singing excerpt and do the following:
  1. Identifying the key (major or minor)
  2. Writing in the solfege
  3. Identifying the time signature and how you would conduct this piece
  4. Sight-singing one piece per day
  5. Add lyrics (preferably nature-themed), dynamics, and articulations to three of the songs, of your choice. Practice singing it with lyrics and all your compositional markings.
  6. If you play even a little piano, try adding a bass line by playing the basic chords from the key you are in as you sing the song. I, IV and V chords likely fit the best, but try some ii, iii and vi chords as well.

Trivia Answer: The circle is symbolic of equality, where no person is more prominent than any other person. Circle meetings ensured that all people were allowed to speak and the words spoken were accepted and respected on an equal basis. A circle around other Native American symbols signifies family ties, closeness & protection. The circle has no break and holds that which cannot be broken.

Have a great weekend! See you next Thursday!



Advanced Sight-Singing


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