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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