Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - Glasgow Phoenix Choir - 'Because We Believe', A. Bocelli, D Foster and A...

This is one of our favourite songs to perform.  This rendition in the lovely old church but the Glasgow Phoenix Choir is quite lovely.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cambrocourt Rocks AGAIN

We had a fabulous evening last night at what has become our annual invitation to Cambrocourt Manor in Embro.  We are the entertainment after what seemed to be a sumptuous meal.

Poor Kristy had a work emergency so was a bit later getting on the road.  The Embro Thistle Singers rose to the occasion and we did our warm up a Capella.  After having done the Lighting of the Lights a Capella due to the weather, we were on a role.

Kristy made it and set up the keyboard and bless her heart sat right down and away we went.

It was last year that we were asked to learn Mary Did You Know and so it was one of our songs.  We still have more work to get it refined but it wasn't bad.
However, Calypso Carol, and Angels Among Us were stellar.  Now, we have to put Baby It's Cold Outside in a whole new category.  At the last practice, we slowed it down and suddenly, the words became more a focus.  Last night, the choir relaxed into the song and sang it back and forth to one another and really had fun.  Tops indeed!!

Thanks again to our friends at Cambrocourt for their wonderful support.  We have been asked to do Mary's Boy Child for next year so we will take on the challenge.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Musical Monday - Warm Ups for Fun & Purpose

This is a very busy time of year.  Sometimes when we are practising for our concerts we forget that a warm up can be useful in focusing on a skill that will help us do our best work on the pieces we are shaping up for concerts.  Here are some really simple but effective ways to fix a small problem and get the mojo going.  Click on the name of the song if you forget what it sounds like.  You may have another that will do much the same job.

If You're Happy & You Know It - If you have staccato or legato changes so that with this wee song.  You could also try  slides, clean phrasing
clapping, snapping, shake hands.

My Bonnie -  If you click on the My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean link you will hear a good rendition of this children's song.  The Intervals & pronunciation really make this one a good one to do.  this is always a great song to get the letter "b" formed correctly.  It's called the "bouncing B" for a reason.
P.S. If you have a children's choir or people who get restless here is a great bonus activity.  On the first word starting with "b" stand up.  On the next "b" word, sit down.  The chorus needs directing, Bring back, oh bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me. REPEAT.  I LOVE this one.

Partner songs - Row, Row, Row Your Boat & 3 Blind Mice- These are songs you can sing together.  This is especially good for children or amateur singers to get used to harmony.  You can sing one staccato, while the other group is singing legato, then switch.  Sing with varying dynamics decided upon before you sing or with signals as they sing.

Hokey Pokey - or Hokey Cokey in the U.K.  You can sing this sitting or standing for just plain good exercise.  Then sing it watching out for slurs or do them on purpose. You can use these words to crisp up the diction.

These are just a few suggestions.  Anybody have any other ideas?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fun Friday - Flash Mob @ the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

What an appropriate place to have a musical flash mob.  Notice how the crowd doesn't just keep on but actually pays attention.  Such talented people. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - Mary, Did You Know? - Pentatonix

Last year, we were asked to consider singing this beautiful song.  You will remember we posted Mark Lowry singing his song in two different styles.  Here the group Pentatonix use their unique harmonies to interpret Mary Did You Know in a little different way.  Perhaps, we will get a recording of the Embro Thistle Singers singing this song at our gigs this season. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Musical Monday - How to Handle Negative Comments

As much as it pains us to admit, we do get negative comments from time to time.  How we handle those can set a tone for our choirs.  Getting upset or defensive can create a combative climate.  Bowing to each negative and trying to change according can create conflict and confusion.  So just what do we do as choir leaders & as choir members to handle those sometimes dreaded comments.

1.  See the good - First of all, know that someone is going to disagree.  It is the nature of people to have an opinion and even more often in the art world.  If someone is offering an opinion, (and remember that it is just that - THEIR OPINION - more on that later) then they have heard something that hit them where they live and want to comment on it.  That is good.  If no one says anything, then perhaps some re-evaluation is needed.  Something not worth talking about didn't make much of an impact.  So even seemingly negative comments are good.

2. Let the audience own it - One of the things I learned during my own children's teen years was that they were NOT going to like something.  Similarly, some people cannot find the good in anything.  They have to pick things apart.  some people are just simply having a bad day and you happen to be the target.
     When someone comes up and says, "I don't know why you would have chosen that song or interpretation or arrangement or whatever."  Your usual response is go into defensive mode with something like, "Our choir liked it.  Or we are too big/small for another arrangement. Or ---   S T O P !!!!!!!
DO NOT DEFEND!  Let the person talking own the comments.  You must respond with something like, "I am sorry you feel that way." or "What an interesting idea."  or "Perhaps, you will enjoy our other choices."  You see, the person with the comment owns it.  You take ownership when you try to defend.  Whatever you do, smile nod and when in doubt you smile, nod and say, "That's great!  Thanks for your feedback."  And then walk away baby, smiling all the way!

3. When the choir disagrees -  Depending on the constitution of your choir, you may have a committee that chooses music or you ask for suggestions.  In that case, it puts paid to criticizing choices.  However, their can be differences of opinion on interpretation or learning methods etc.  Our choir is always encouraged to share their opinions.  Some do it quietly, and some not.  We have no one who dissents just to be obtuse, thankfully, but you may have.
I believe that respect is earned.  I love to get opinions and ideas.  Some of them are really astute.  Other eyes and ears helping are great.  However, they know that in the end, I get to choose.  Earn that respect by first respecting the rights of others to hold and share opposing opinions.
The best solution is to be open to ideas and as often as practical, try them.  If however, you have a Negative Nelly or Ned you may have to do some quiet, private intervention and point it out.  Often they don't even realize they are being so negative.

Welcome the comments.  Do not defend to outsiders but take on their comments to see if improvements can be made.  All comments, negative and positive are signs of interest.  And that's a good thing - right?