Archive for the “Chorus” Category
I’m not sure why I have gone so long without blogging. It may have been because, with Ms. Morton teaching, we didn’t have some of the class discussions that tend to trigger blog posts. It may be that I’ve been a bit distracted, since a lot of my spare time has been taken up with the arrangements for my daughter’s wedding, which will take place before the end of school. Whatever the reason, it’s time to write again.
The last day of school for all of you is June 6th, which is six weeks from yesterday. That’s not that far off, is it? And the last day of school for me, forever, is June 7th. I am looking forward to retiring, but I will definitely miss all of you. But I know that it’s the right time for me to do this, and now that Ms. Bennett has hired Ms. Morton to be your teacher next year, I know that I am leaving you in good hands. And I will be around. I told Ms. Morton that I’m not going to be here looking over her shoulder, but if she has questions or needs help with anything, I will be glad to help.
Between now and the end of the year, however, we have a lot of work to do. Here is a list of upcoming performances:
National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony: May 8th. This is a handbell performance.
Fifth grade articulation (when next year’s sixth graders visit): May 16th. Handbells and Concert Chorus.
Spring Concert: May 23rd. Beginning and Concert Choruses and Handbells. This is the biggie! And, since it’s my last spring concert, it will be very special.
8th grade awards: June 3rd, at Wellington High School. Concert Chorus.
6th and 7th grade awards assemblies: June 5th, during the day at WLMS. Handbells.
Boy, that’s a lot to squeeze into the next five weeks. Are you ready?
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Although I’m sure that you would prefer that the title of this post was Superiority, never be ashamed to be excellent. Both Ms. Morton and I are very happy with the job that both choruses did at MPA. We talked in class about the fact that judging has an element of subjectivity. The results are the results.
We have lots to look forward to in the less than three months left of school. Our priorities right now are to prepare for the 25th anniversary celebration (Concert Chorus) on April 13th, and our Spring Concert (both Beginning and Concert Choruses, as well as Handbells) on May 23rd.
Unfortunately, the audio files are too large to add to the blog. I will try to put them on Edline.
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Concert Chorus is going to be singing “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” for spring concert, despite the fact that the language arts department frowns on the grammar I don’t have a recording to play for you in class. I didn’t buy the accompaniment CD for this song, because the little band that accompanies us each year at spring concert plays it so well, the recorded accompaniment is kind of a disappointment. But I know that most of you like to hear the songs we’re singing, especially if it’s something you don’t know.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was originally recorded by the British rock band, The Hollies, in 1969. You might be interested to know that Elton John played piano on the recording. That was before he was famous on his own. But the link I have for you here is a recording that was done by the Justice Collective and released last year. The Justice Collective is a group of well-known musicians and celebrities who came together to record this song for a group of British charities related to the Hillsborough Disaster, when 96 people were killed and almost 800 injured in an accident at a soccer match. I think I like this recording as much as the original. I hope you enjoy it, too.
The Justice Collective, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
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As some of you know, I am a huge fan of Pinterest. I have a number of boards, and one of my favorites is titled “All Things Music.” Over the weekend, I found a great pin that I repinned there, but wanted to share with you. Since Concert Chorus is singing “A Tribute to Queen” for Spring Concert, my attention was caught by this pin: it’s a very artistic representation of the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I downloaded it, but it’s not very big. I’ll have to see if I can find it in a bigger version and fix this post. But, in the meantime, enjoy!
I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to be at the Equestrian Festival on Saturday night. OK, not really, because I was at Disney, as most of you know. Everyone has told me about the great job that you and Ms. Morton did of singing the national anthem. Ms. Prater sent me this picture, and I’m impressed by how
everyone has their mouths wide open!
While I was at Epcot, my husband and I went to hear the Voices of Liberty. If you haven’t heard them, it is definitely worth your while to go listen to them. They sing a cappella, in nine parts! Really! They are always wonderful, but this time was probably the best. They sing mostly patriotic and American folk songs. This time, they sang “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” a beautiful old song. It’s a special song for me, because, when I was in college, our choir director used it as a warm-up. They also sang “O, Susanna,” which is one of their signature songs that they do at almost every show. When they sing it, one of the men in the group sings the second verse as a solo, and gets down on one knee to sing to a lady in the front row of the audience. Can you guess who that was? Right: me! The amazing thing is, it was the fourth time in about 15 years that I’ve been “Susanna.” My husband and I were talking with the gentleman who sang to me after the show, and my husband mentioned that I teach middle school chorus. We started talking about staggered breathing, because he says it is the key to all their singing. So, next time you go to Disney, do yourself and your family a favor and go to the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot to hear the Voices of Liberty.
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Posted by: Mrs. Pernezny in Chorus, tags: solo
I tend to get very nervous when I choose a song that includes a solo. That’s because the part of my job that I like the least is choosing soloists. I think it goes back to the first year I was teaching, when a girl who wasn’t chosen as a soloist cried her eyes out in class for the next three days. I felt terrible, even though the girl who sang the solo was so much better. But every year, I still worry that people won’t understand why someone else got a solo and they didn’t.
Let me talk about the process of choosing a soloist.
- I try to listen to everyone who wants to audition. I usually do this in class, because, if you can’t sing in front of your classmates, you’re not going to be able to do it in front of an audience.
- I audition for each song. You may sound wonderful on one solo, where another song just doesn’t fit your voice. A perfect example of that is Concert Chorus’ song, “He Never Failed Me Yet.” Not everyone can sing in gospel style. You might not sound so great on that, but sing “Walking in the Air” perfectly!
- I give preference to eighth graders. I am very up-front about this. This is a policy was in place when I got to Landings, and I think it makes sense. However, there are times when a seventh grader does sound better on a song, and I assign the solo to them. But the eighth graders have put in their time, and I like to give them the chance to shine.
- Attitude counts as much as ability. I will give the solo to the person who works hard and gives 100% in every rehearsal, who is always paying attention, even if there is someone who sounds a bit better, but who doesn’t work as hard in class or who thinks of himself or herself before the group. If you come across as if you think you’re better than everybody else, that’s a huge turn-off to me.
I hope you understand the process I go through. What would you do if choosing soloists was your job?
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If you want to watch the YouTube clip I played in Concert Chorus of the song Birdsong, by Paul Read, you can do that again. The performance is by the Tar River Children’s Chorus from North Carolina. There are some other performances of this song on YouTube, as well, but this was the first one I came to, and it’s not too bad, so I haven’t watched any of the others. If you find one that’s better, please let me know.
As I said in class, the lyrics to the song come from a poem written by a child in Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Near the Czech town of Terezin, this camp was the one that the Nazis would “show off” to demonstrate that they were treating their prisoners humanely. There were a lot of cultural activities for the inmates in the early years, and there was a lot of music written by composers who were interned there. There were classes for the children, and there were a lot of children who spent time in Theresienstadt. However, it is estimated that less than 1,000 children who had been at the camp survived by the end of the war. Most people, including the children, were eventually transferred to one of the death camps. Late in the war, a crematorium was also built at Theresienstadt.
Over the years, we have sung a number of songs that have some tie to the Holocaust. This one is my favorite, partly because of the interesting music, but also because of the very hopeful, uplifting nature of the lyrics.
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Blackbird is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and Concert Chorus will be singing an arrangement of it in spring. I happened to find this version by The King’s Singers while I was on YouTube, looking for some clips of Renaissance music to show the general music classes. The King’s Singers are a group of six male singers from England. The group originally began in 1968, formed by six music students from King’s College at Cambridge University. The people in the group have changed since then, obviously. They sing an incredible variety of music. In fact, one of the songs that I’m considering for MPA, Can You Hear Me?, was written by Bob Chilcott, who was a member of The King’s Singers for many years. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video.
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I found a performance on Youtube of “Gloria” by David Giardiniere that we started to look at yesterday in Concert Chorus. This is by a girls chorus from Bogota, Colombia, and they aren’t too bad. There are some pitch problems, but overall, it’s a pretty good performance. I have a problem with their director being in jeans, but that’s just me I think you will enjoy listening to this. It is one of my favorite choral pieces.
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This song has become a tradition for Concert Chorus, and we will sing it again for Winter Arts Festival and for the performance at the Kravis Center. I have never seen the movie The Snowman, which is where the song is from. However, I found this clip from The Snowman, where you can watch and listen to the original recording. For the movie, it was sung by Peter Auty, who was a choirboy at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to Wikipedia, The Snowman is a holiday favorite on television in Great Britain, just as we see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or The Christmas Story every year.
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