Choir Notes: Fall Term, 2017

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January 9, 2018 ~ Welcome to all you wonderful singers. We had several newcomers and lots of old timers. It was a great way to begin the New Year.

What we sang: “The Sleigh” – we began practice by running through this fast, fun wintry song, which we’ll keep in out notebooks and perform in our June concert. (It’s OK to remove all other winter/holiday songs from your notebook)


4 New songs – 1st time sight reading:

“I Sing Because I’m Happy” – a joyous gospel piece. Be mindful to pronounce “I” as “ah.”

“Long Time Ago” – Sopranos have the melody on this ballad.

“Sixteen Tons” – Before singing this familiar piece, we worked to understand how it is put together. James finds the last chord disappointing, so we’re changing it. First sopranos will slide up to C; second sopranos slide to A; altos to G sharp; tenors will slide up a major seventh to E sharp; basses will sing the F that’s written but down an octave. It sounds really cool the new way (and will all become clearer with practice)!

“Memory” (from Broadway musical “Cats”) – lots of shifting between 12/8 and 10/8 time in this piece. James explained how to count them, and how they differ in feel (quite likely he’ll explain again!).


“Loch Lomond” – Tenors and basses start serving as “bagpipes” at measure 44. Be mindful of the 2 repeats (measure 53 repeats back to measure 50; measure 61 goes back a page to measure 54). ONLY sopranos sing on the downbeat of the last measure of the piece; ATB (alto, tenor, bass) must watch James for cue to sing the final “oo”.

Just for fun: James likes to leave us with a weekly “Piece to Listen To.” If you have a chance, listen to/watch “Ave Maria” by Kevin Memley:

An aside: A very big "Thank You" to Mary Beth Earley for volunteering to be our new Note Taker! And a very, very big "Thank You" to Alesha Jess for her years of notetaking. This is an important job. Last night I asked who used the notes. Well over 50% of the choir members refer to the notes! Yes! warmly, Dianne

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January 16, 2018 ~ Had a great evening of singing and were delighted that newcomers from last week actually came back for another week of singing. Yahoo!

“Long Time Ago” – We primarily worked from bottom of page 3 to bottom of page 4. James noted that it’s important for the rhythms to be precise. The MP3 will be especially useful for sopranos and altos to learn these rhythms.

“Loch Lomond” – To make the end of the piece work, it’s critical for altos, tenors and basses to stop singing after beat 4 of the second-to-last measure (measure 69). ONLY sopranos sing on the 1st beat of the last measure. Please mark your music however you need to in order for this to happen. Altos, tenors, basses: watch James for cue to sing the final “oo”.

“We Rise Again” – At measure 29, we are changing the word to “rejuvenate.” In this piece, breathing with the phrases is important. For instance, for the phrase beginning at measure 19 – “We rise again in the faces of our children” – breathe after the phrase during the eighth note in measure 21. No breathing in the middle of phrases!

“Seal Lullaby” – We did a full run-through, since this piece is a carryover from previous terms. Again, consistently breathing with the phrases (not in the middle of them) is important. James walked to the back of the room to hear us from an audience’s point of view, and was impressed!

“Sixteen Tons” – On page 9, measure 36, our own James will sing the bass solo: “A well-a bless my soul.”

Fun note: Merle Travis wrote and made this song a hit in 1946, but most people are familiar with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 1955 cover, which sold 20 million copies and became a gold record. You can watch the song performed by Travis, Ford, Johnny Cash, ZZ Top and others at:

“Memory” – We continued learning this new piece. Using the mnemonic “tri-pi-let tri-pi-let du-ple du-ple” may help us learn the rhythm of the 10/8 measures.

“I Sing Because I’m Happy” – We also continued learning this piece. Remember to always pronounce “I” as “ah.”

This week, James suggests we listen to "Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine" by Eric Whitacre (composer of "The Seal Lullaby")

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January 23, 2018 ~ Be sure to check out "Watermelon Man", see below.

“We Rise Again” – All sopranos and altos will sing at the beginning of the piece, and also at Verse 2 (at letter “D” – top of page 6). Basses can be more prominent from G to H. Note that we are in unison at measure 58 (top of page 10). To lessen the somewhat melodramic finale, James may be changing where we end this piece.

“Sixteen Tons” – In James’ words: “This song is all about cool.” We will be doing the finger snaps as written. On page 10, we will sing the phrase “St. Peter, don’tcha call me ‘cuz I can’t go” legato (smooth, connected). Four of us who listened in the audience agreed: dynamics are key to making this piece “sing!”

“Loch Lomond” – We continued to hone this song. At measure 24, sopranos and altos should pronounce “purple” as “pu-pl,” and “Highland” as “Hie-land” (slight emphasis on the “e”). Starting at measure 28, tenors and basses should “Think of Scotland!” and really resonate the “dai dai’s” bagpipe-style.

“Prayer of the Children” – Lots of honing on this piece as well. At measure 32, note that ONLY sopranos sing the word “for” to start the phrase “for something of their very own.” At measure 69, we will sing the word “softly” – you guessed it, more softly! – and with a slight emphasis on the “f.” We also practiced pronouncing the Croatian lyrics that begin at measure 90. Refer to the MP3 for extra help with that.

“Memory” – More work on this new piece. Note that its highlight is the phrase “If you touch me you’ll understand what happiness is” (measure 50-52). Let’s sing it like we mean it!


This week, the suggested piece to enjoy is Herbie Hancock’s "Watermelon Man." There's a neat a cappella version (though it starts a bit slowly) at And a live version featuring Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis at: Watermelon Man. Talk about COOL! ;)

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January 30, 2018 --

“Sixteen Tons” – This song really needs the finger snaps to come off “cool,” so James would like most of us to snap. Unlike our more formal choir pieces, we should pronounce words colloquially. For instance, “St. Peeta” instead of “St. Peter,” “ma” instead of “my,” “sto” instead of “store.” On page 5, we will do a small crescendo through “muscle and blood and skin and bones” (measures 12 & 13), then decrescendo through the next phrase: “a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong (measures 14 & 15). Then we hit the next phrase loud: “You load sixteen tons...” At the top of page 8 – beginning with “I was born one morning...” – James would like big sound and more attitude from the altos. This is your moment! Similarly on page 13, pickup to measure 59, basses should be ready to rock the phrase “If the right one don’t get’cha then the left one will.”

“Long Time Ago” – In the 5th measure on page 4, watch James for a slight slowdown (but no real fermata) at the phrase “Long time a – go.” James noted that the key to singing this “beautiful, moving” piece is to “milk it, ” but without doing too much.

“Memory” – Note that the measures in 6/8 go by very quickly, and flow almost immediately into their next phrases. We will increase intensity at the 6/8 measure on page 4, and slow down during the 6/8 measure in the middle of page 6.

“Words of Wisdom” – We sight read this new piece, which was written just for our choir by our own conductor and music director James Moursund! This is a piece that will challenge us with its harmonies and meter changes. The lyrics are from the Book of Proverbs.

“We Rise Again” – We continued working on this piece. At measure 25, on the 2nd beat, we are changing the quarter note to a half note (it’s the “cean” part of the word “ocean”). Hold that for 2 beats and remove the full beat rest that is written after it. Keep the half-beat rest that follows. So, the counting for that measure will be: 1, 2, 3 OFF “and then...” We’ll also do this at measure 49 (page 8), and at measure 57 (page 9).

A bit of background:

The song was written by Leon Dubinsky, a songwriter from Sydney, Nova Scotia, for a 1984 stage musical titled “The Rise and Follies of Cape Breton,” as an anthem of resilience and hope at a time when Cape Breton Island was going through an economic crisis. According to Dubinsky, the song is about "the cycles of immigration, the economic insecurity of living in Cape Breton, the power of the ocean, the meaning of children, and the strength of home given to us by our families, our friends and our music."

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February 6, 2018 -- Choir notes

“Sixteen Tons” – James changed the final note of the piece (page 15) for all voices. Basses will sing the F# as written but down an octave. Tenors will sing an A natural (up a third from the F# that's written). Altos will sing a C#, down from the F# that's written. Second sopranos will sing an E# -- a "tiny" step down from the F# that's written. First sopranos will sing a G, up a half step from the written F#. Then we will all "fall off" at the end of our notes.

Other notes: We should try to "swell" the modulations more (measures 27/28, 49/50). Pay attention to the decrescendo through measure 52, and to the rhythms in measure 53.

Overall, the top dynamic of the piece is mezzoforte. We should sing it sly, cool, sneaky -- but not that loud!

"Words of Wisdom" -- We worked carefully on the last few pages. Pronunciations to watch for: at measure 73, "grasp" should be more like "graahsp" than "grassp;" at 71, "happy" should not be too bright or "haa-py." Basses: at measure 61, the second note has been changed to an A natural. Basses can stagger breath at measures 65, 66, 67, but should "sneak" out and back in.

"Long Time Ago" -- On page 3, second-to-last measure, tenors and basses have the melody with "Dwelt a maid..." Sopranos and altos, entering just 1/2 beat later, add another texture or echo; they should be agile, wistful, like "leaves dancing around the melody."

"I Sing Because I'm Happy" -- From measures 39-42, all voices will sing the soprano line (in their own octaves). We will sing the repeat section (measures 43 to 47) four times, in this manner: only sopranos will sing the first time through; tenors join them (singing the tenor part) for 2nd time; altos join them (singing alto part) for 3rd time; basses join on 4th time through (bass part).

"Erev Shel Shoshanim" -- We ran through this piece, which we hadn't sung since our December concert at Timberhill. We remembered the text! We'll be singing it for our June concert.

"Memory" -- We worked at the end of the piece, beginning at measure 39. It's important to watch James for a "hint of a ritardando" at measures 51/52 -- where we should be loud!

"Proper Cup of Coffee" -- We ran through this just for fun!


Listen to: "Balleilakka" by A. R. Rahman, arranged by Ethan Sperry. One nice version among many on YouTube is at:

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February 13, 2018 -

"I Sing Because I'm Happy" – On page 5, measure 28, sopranos and altos should not take a breath before "For his eye..." So, remove the rest on beat 2 of measure 28; crescendo strongly from measure 27 into 28, and flow directly into "For his eye..."
Similarly, at measure 29, we will not breathe after the word "eye" (this applies to all voices) -- and at measure 30, no breath before the words "the sparrow." We can stagger breathe during the passage -- but won't breathe in those specific spots. [When this phrasing appears again at measure 50, treat it the same way: no breath between "yes I am!" and "For his eye…"]
Back at measure 21 (and whenever it occurs): basses need to be fortissimo with "Oh yes I sing” Rich, deep, "Yogi Bear" sound. Go ahead and "overdo it," basses!

At measure 33, sopranos (on C), altos (A flat) and tenors (E flat) will lengthen their first notes by 1/2 beat (shorten the quarter rest on beat three to an eighth rest).
We also reviewed how we'll handle the "I'm so happy, yes!" passages (measures 39 through 47). ALL voices will sing from measures 39-42, but instead of singing our notes as written, we will sing the soprano part (in our own octaves). We will sing the section from measures 43 to 47 a total of FOUR times (voices sing their parts as written). 1st time: sopranos only; 2nd: tenors join them; 3rd: altos join; 4th: basses join (with LOTS of power!). Then, at measure 47, all voices sing as written and continue to end.
We may add some instruments (tambourines? trumpets?) to this piece -- stay tuned!

"Memory" -- We agreed this piece is not among our most technically difficult. But, we need to work smartly to improve sections that tend to be sloppy.
We worked the section from measure 19 to 23, trying to achieve a sound that has tall vowels and is somewhat breathy -- ghostly, distant, "like an FM radio announcer." At 23, we return to regular voice (not breathy). This is another phrase where basses should be big and deep-sounding (Yogi Bear again!).
We MUST be ready to sing at measure 39, top of page 7, immediately after a piano solo and a page turn. Please mark your music prominently [James suggested "GOOOOO" -- the shouting form of "GO"] so you turn the page early and are ready to sing at 39. We mustn’t get lulled by the loveliness of Bryson's solo!

"Prayer of the Children" -- Throughout the piece, we will use brighter, more commonplace or vernacular vowels; James does not want us to sound too "traditional choir-y." We worked the section from measure 51 to 63, both on notes/harmonies and on rhythms. At 53/54 -- "lah dah dah dome" -- emphasize the second "dah" and don't hold it extra.

"Words of Wisdom"-- In this piece we WILL use "really high English." All vowels very tall. Think "Choir of Cambridge College."
At the beginning of the piece, James made these note changes:
Sopranos, measure 11: all three quarter notes are now C sharps. Measure 12: first note ("one"), change to a C#; the word "who" remains C#; beat 3, C#. Altos, measure 11 is fine as written. Measure 12: first note ("one"), change from G# to an A (up 1/2 step).
For the passage "Her profit is better than silver" (begins at measure 21): there is no breath after "pro-fit". Pronounce "better" as "be-ta" and "silver" as "sil-va."
It's important that, when sopranos and altos cut out at measure 29, tenors and basses hold strong. Only when sopranos and altos come back in at 30 do tenors and basses decrescendo and fade out.
Measure 39: altos and tenors must watch James because the notes "can" "com" will be shorter. Those voices can stagger breathe during measures 37/38, while the sopranos and basses are still singing.
"16 Tons" -- We ran this quickly at the end of rehearsal. At pickup to measure 52 (start of phrase "If you see me comin'"), we should hit the word "If" at mezzo-forte and then pull back immediately to mezzo-piano. The audience will be expecting just another verse, but we'll surprise them with a new feel. Sneaky!

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February 20, 2018 --

"I Sing Because I'm Happy" – On page 5, measure 38 (after the second repeat), we added some “Bryson Time” – a piano solo! We then ran through the piece. With practice, we’ll be able to come in together at measure 39 after Bryson’s solo is done.

"Words of Wisdom" – We worked on measure 63 to the end of the piece, honing notes and lengths of notes. The word “her” in measure 70 should not really have an “r” – make it more like “huh.” James would like us to “hug” the final word of the piece – “happy” – at measure 72. Give a bit more volume, more emphasis, on the beginning of that word.

Starting at measure 56, we worked on notes and rhythms of the passage “Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” The tuning on “peace” (measure 62) is important; we want the tone perfect; it should “ring.”

“Sing Unto God” – We ran through this piece, which we hadn’t sung in a while. We agreed that it was hard to pull off the malismas without having practiced them recently.

“Long Time Ago” – Before running through this, James noted that the first word, “On,” should be pronounced more like “Awn” than “Aahn.” At the end of the piece, while holding the word “go,” it’s OK to stagger breathe – but if you do, re-enter quietly (“sneak back in”).

To hone our notes, we practiced using the what James calls the “Bum bum bum” technique. Instead of singing the words as written, we sang “Bum….bum bum… bum bum...” etc. – and didn’t hold out the notes for their full beats. Trying it the first time, it was obvious that we tend to rush in this piece. The more we worked on the music using “Bum bum bum,” the more precise our notes and rhythms became. Try it at home!

“We Rise Again” – Sopranos and altos: Section A, measure 2: the ‘s’ of “waters” needs to be clean and the note needs to cut off quickly (no holding longer). Same thing 4 measures later with the ending of “daughters.”

At measure 25, we have changed the “cean” part of “ocean” into a half note, and eliminated the quarter rest that follows. Do this whenever it occurs in the rest of the piece: measures 49, 57 & 65.

Page 6, measure 20: there must be an audible “K” on “dark.” Tenors & basses will join sopranos and altos at measure 33: “We look to---rejuvenation---to explain our lives.”

Overall, James would like the basses to be louder, more resonant throughout the piece.

"Memory" – At measure 43, on “Ah------,” tenors and basses are really acting like stringed instruments. The vowel should be tall so the notes tune perfectly and “ring.” At measure 51/52, the phrase “understand what happiness is” should be gentle (not loud as we practiced in previous weeks).

“Sixteen Tons” – We primarily ran through the piece, but stopped to make these improvements:
Every time we do a modulation (key change), it needs to be loud and confident. These occur at measures 27/28 & 49/50. On page 11, measure 53, the rhythm of “com-in’ bet-ter” is different (faster, with sixteenth notes) than whenever it occurred previously. Sopranos, altos, tenors, please refer to the mp3’s to learn the rhythm.

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February 27, 2018 -- Great rehearsal with lots of honing!

"Memory" –
Page 5:
– Measure 23/24: pronounce “mutters” as “muh-ters” and “sputters” as “spuh-ters” – stopping the sound after “muh” and “spuh.”
– End of measure 27: sopranos and altos should pay close attention to the rhythm of “wait for... the sunrise.” Hint: use the word “wait” as a reminder to hold the next word – “for” – a touch longer.
Page 6:
– Measure 33: pronounce “new” more as “ne-ew” and less like “nuu.”
– Measure 34: the “-gin” syllable of “begin” needs to be less sharp, less bright.
Page 7:
– Measure 43, tenors and basses are acting as stringed instruments with “Ah -----” Their tones should ring brightly. All voices: pronounce “another” as “a-nuth-a.”
For the final “touch me” passage beginning at measure 47: This needs to be more dramatic, even a bit operatic. James wants us to strive for the “fondue effect,” which is similar to the “cheeseball effect,” but less! More power from tenors and basses needed here also.

“Sixteen Tons” –
Page 13: Basses practiced “If the right one don’t get’cha then the left one will.” James would like the word “left” short and precise, and a slightly annoying “scoop” on the word “one.”
Page 14: Measure 66 – We should pronounce the “I” of “I owe my soul” as “Ahh.”
Overall comments: we have to be “so sneaky and sly” in this piece! Tenors especially have license to sound a little edgy, almost “dirty.” Think bright, big band singer, Cab Calloway naughtiness! To quote James: “It’s appropriate for this piece, and no other, ever!”

“We Rise Again” –
Page 4, letter B: We practiced getting the chord right on “ooh------” (altos, tenors, basses). We have to “lock” that chord. Please use the mp3s to help you be certain of your note.
Page 6, letter D: we tend to go flat on the “a” of “creation,” so aim high.
Page 8, measure 49: “ocean” should be more like “o-sheun” than “o-shun” (or even worse, “oo-shin”).
Page 10, pickup to letter H: the word “rise” should be held as a slight fermata (a “suspended expectant fermata”).

“The Sleigh” –
James decided that there will be NO ritardando at measure 23.

“Long Time Ago” –
To improve accuracy and tones, we practiced singing with “bum bum bums” and “lu lu lus” instead of the text.
Bottom of Page 6, “While” is pronounced “Whal” and in the next measure, “words” should be “wods.”
On top of Page 7, 3rd measure, watch James for a ritardando; the last 4 measures of the piece will also have a ritardando but it will be less than we did in previous rehearsals.

“The Seal Lullaby”--
Pronounciation: Tall British vowels! “Fond” instead of “find,” “thaht” instead of “that.” Take the “R’s” out of all words: “cul” instead of “curl;” “spaak-led” instead of “sparkled.”
– Altos need to be more prominent throughout the piece, with a more sustained, confident, darker sound.
– Throughout the piece, we worked to darken and mature our vowels, particularly the “ee” sounds in words such as “green” and “ease.” For instance, top of Page 3, measure 23: “green” should not be bright and full of “eeee.” We should say “e” but shape our mouths/throats as “ooo.”


James’ recommended piece to listen to this week is: “Zigeunerleban” by Robert Schumann. He thinks we could actually learn and perform this piece, although the German language would be challenging.
Various versions are available on YouTube. Tufts Concert Choir’s video pronunciation guide to the German is fun, too. Check them out!

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Notes from choir practice – March 6, 2018

We began rehearsal by discussing our upcoming gig at Stoneybrook Assisted Living on March 20 (6:00 pm showtime, 5:40 call time; address is 4650 SW Hollyhock Circle, Corvallis, 97333). After the performance, we will meet back at the Unitarian Fellowship for a regular (perhaps shortened) rehearsal.
It was mentioned that we’ll be singing during the residents’ dinnertime, so those performing should be prepared to “be unflappable.” Just sing out and keep singing! Map/directions for Stoneybrook

"I Sing Because I’m Happy” – We ran through this with the “mini choir” that will be performing at Stoneybrook. Other choir members served as the audience and gave feedback, including:
Overall we sounded great! A bit tentative at the start, but better and better as we got into the piece and gained confidence. More volume from sopranos and altos needed throughout. Singers should look up, project to the audience and --- appear HAPPY! Especially when we’re singing “I’m so happy!”

Songs we are likely to perform (final set list will come on March 13) include:
Prayer of the Children / Memory / I Sing Because I’m Happy / Long Time Ago / We Rise Again
We decided not to perform “Sing Unto God” due to rusty malismas (has anyone ever used that as an excuse?)

“Memory” – Overall: “more sound, more space (head/throat space), more breath, more classical.” We mustn’t resort to lazier, American-speech singing, but need to keep pronunciations more classical.
Top of page 5: As we discussed last week, at measures 23/24, pronounce “mutters” as “muh-ters” and “sputters” as “spuh-ters” – quickly stopping the sound after “muh” and “spuh” – but NOT accenting “muh” and “spuh.” Page 7, measure 42: No “r” in “morning.” Remove “r’s” throughout the piece (again, think “high English”). Examples: “buhnt” instead of “burnt”; “anuhtha” instead of “another,” “haahs” instead of “haas” (has).

Erev Shel Shoshanim – James is looking for motion on two different dimensions. On the X axis, the motion is tempo – we speed up and slow down. On the Y axis, we have loudness and softness (dynamics). This piece will be very expressive if we are attentive to both! Page 6, first measure: we can’t be sloppy as we begin “E-rev.” We can try adding the tiniest “h” (“He-rev”) in order for the “E-” to land cleanly (as long as the “h” isn’t audible!).

“Sixteen Tons” – We practiced tuning the very first note of the piece, and hitting it cleanly on key (consider using the “place a teacup” approach). Measure 67 (a.k.a. “Leviathan”): Here is a time for us not to be all British and perfectly pronounced! Instead of “I owe my soul,” it’s “Ah o ma soul.”

“Set Me as a Seal” – After our first run-through, James noted that, overall, we need to sing this piece more loudly. He’d like to hear us be more extreme and deliberate with the swells and motion. We were far more successful on our second run-through. Pronounce “as” as “aahs” throughout. Taller vowle, more darkness, more space, more depth! On Page 3, there is a layering effect as each voice enters with “neither can the floods...” If we “chew” the “n” of “neither” each time we enter, we’ll achieve the swelling sound we want.

“Long Time Ago” – Overall, taller vowels and more space. Last three measures of page 5: sopranos, no breath from “Long time a-go” to “Bird...” Altos may catch a quick breath in between their two “ago’s.”
Page 6: at the end of the second measure, sopranos tend to go under pitch on “to,” so aim to keep the note tuned high. At bottom of page, altos, tenors, basses should breathe after “lis-ten’d” (this will help altos and tenors prepare for their upcoming high notes). While we practiced, James discovered “the ugliest word in the English language: “murmur.” So many “r’s,” and “r” is such a bad vowel! To fix it, we should sing “muh muh.” Or, in the case of last measure on page 6, “muh muh ring.” Top of page 7, WATCH James for a slow-down as we complete the phrase “murmuring low” (“fondue effect” happening here). Also, let’s “tenderize” the phrase “Tenderly her blue eyes glistened,” to make it really beautiful.

“Seal Lullaby” – Overall, we need to use more breath, which will give us a fuller sound. This is cinematic, movie music, so we should aim for a more sweeping sound. Tall vowels will help us achieve this. Remember to pronounce the word “arms” as “aahms” throughout. On page 4, last measure, tenors need to sound (and look!) devious as they enter with “The storm shall not wake thee.” Top of page 6, sopranos and altos must be precise when they enter with “of the slow swinging seas.” Top of page 7, measure 59, only sopranos and altos sing on beat 1; at measure 61, only tenors and basses sing on beat 1.

“Words of Wisdom” – We continued practicing sections that James does not plan to change before Spring term. Three things to remember: 1) More breath throughout 2) Tall, tall vowels 3) High English. Our chords tune much better when we remove “illegal” vowels (especially the dreaded “r”). “Huh” (her) – “betuh” (better) – “aahnd” (and) – “on-na” (honor). Bottom of page 5, “Her ways are pleasant ways:” We will decrescendo on “ways,” and crescendo through “are” to “pleasant.” That means the two loudest syllables will be the “w” of “ways” and the “pl” of “pleasant.” Make these volume changes as gradually as possible (given the length of the notes). Chewing the “pl” of “pleasant” will give it emphasis.


James’ recommended piece for the week is: “Cloudburst” by our friend Eric Whitacre (“The Seal Lullaby”)

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March 13, 2018 ~

Our gig at Stoneybrook Assisted Living is this coming Tuesday: Tuesday, March 20 (6:00 pm showtime, 5:40 call time). Address: 4650 SW Hollyhock Circle, Corvallis, 97333
Attire: solid pastel-colored top with black or navy bottoms (slacks or skirt). Black music binder.
Map/directions for Stoneybrook. After the performance, we will meet back at the Unitarian Fellowship for a (shortened) rehearsal (our last rehearsal of winter term).

We ran through the set list for Stoneybrook:

1) “Sixteen Tons” -- Some general reminders: snap! and pronounce sing “St. Peter” as Saint Peeta. Basses, be more percussive – you are acting as the string bass. All parts should work to deliver that sly, sneaky, attitude-y feel makes this piece so cool. We practiced our notes at the modulations at measures 27/28 and 49/50 (we tend to be too low on the second one). We also tuned the held chord (“go”) at measure 66 (page 14). Please refer to your mp3 to clarify your notes in these important spots. Basses worked on their solo (page 13, measures 58-60), making it smoother, more legato. On the last measure of the piece, note that James may wait for us to be properly tuned on our written notes before he cues us to slide to the final “cool” harmony – so be watching!

2) “Long Time Ago” -- Basically a run-through. Note that on the last measure of Page 4 (“go”), we are in unison -- all singing the same note. Altos have a big jump down to their note.

3) “Memory” -- Important: James had us cross out the second measure of the piece. So, there will be only 1 measure of piano intro before sopranos begin with “Mid-night...” Pronunciation reminder for Page 4, measure 18: “again” should be taller – “a-gaahn” (think British!).

4) “Set Me as a Seal” -- In the third measure of the piece, there is no breath between “heart” and “as.” We do breathe two measures later after the word “arm.” But, sopranos and altos need to be careful to sustain their dotted half note (“arm”) until tenors and basses finish their three quarter notes. Don’t leave the tenors and basses hanging! Pronunciation reminders: Page 2: “as” should be “aahs;” love should be “laahv;” “many” should be “maahny.” Page 3: “drown” must be “draahn.” (Tip, when in doubt, go with a long “aaah” sound!). Also, chew on the “n” when singing “neither.” Overall thoughts for the piece: more breath, more legato, and tall, tall vowels!

5) “The Sleigh” – Basically a run-through. On Page 8, first measure, we worked the tuning of the long held “ha” note. (If unsure of your note, consult your mp3.)

6) “Prayer of the Children” – Note that we will not slow down at measures 12/13. Measure 15, remove the “r” in “heav’n-ward” – make it “heav’n-wod.” Measure 32, only sopranos sing the word “for” of “for something of their very own.” It will sound sloppy if other voices come in too soon with “something.” Measure 40, pronounce “bet-ter” as “be-tuh.” Sopranos, at measures 18, 42, and 81, your second note has been changed to a G (instead of the C that’s written). We practiced the cut-time section beginning at measure 51. It’s “la da dah dome” – accent the “dah” and move quickly to “dome.” At measure 69, watch James for his cue through “soft-ly” (lots of “F” in “soft”). Use more sustained breath through the phrase “angry guns preach a gospel full of hate.” At measure 78, “in-no-cent” should be “in-no-cet.” James will take a more time through the phrase beginning at measure 81 “crying who will help me to feel the sun again….” – be careful to watch for his tempo. Measure 98, only sopranos sing “the” to begin the final phrase “the prayer of the children.”

7) “Seal Lullaby” -- We didn’t run through since it sounded good last week. Go us! :)

8) “Erev Shel Shoshanim” -- Top of Page 7, let’s “milk it!” Basses and tenors: shorten the second quarter note of “nim” and take a breath (right before “O”). We’re going to take time with this, so eyes on James.

9) “Bright Morning Stars” -- New: all sopranos and altos will sing at the beginning of the piece. So, sopranos and altos will sing the first phrase together until the middle of measure 4, then altos will drop down to their part as written. Page 7, measure 29/30: all parts should breathe during the ½ beat rest. Go for a dark, full, perfectly-tuned sound for “in ma (“my”) soul.” Tenors, remember to keep holding “soul” for 9 full counts (then, tenors can breathe easy as they are done singing the piece!)

10) “I Sing Because I’m Happy” -- We can and should move as we sing this! Sway, lightly dance, move our heads with the beat, etc. Bring your non-binder-holding hand above your waist to bring out joyous emotion. New: Bryson’s solo (bottom of Page 6) will be 8 bars long.

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