Archive for the “Performances” 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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It’s that time of year when we get very busy with performances. Beginning Chorus will kick everything off by singing at Barnes & Noble on December 1st. Yes, that is a Saturday, but it’s a very short performance. Everyone needs to arrive by 11:45. We will sing at noon, and our mini-concert lasts only about 20 minutes. As soon as we’re done, you are free to leave. It’s also very informal. You will need to wear your Chorus shirts, but you can wear them with jeans.
Winter Arts Festival is our opportunity to show off all the music programs at Landings. This is actually a series of concerts that takes place over three nights, but each group performs just once. (I know some of you will need to come twice, if you are in both chorus and band and your groups are playing on different nights. Sorry!) Beginning Chorus will sing at the Wednesday evening performance, and Concert Chorus and Handbells will perform on Thursday. The Wednesday evening concert will be short, probably less than an hour, because there are just two groups performing that night. Unfortunately, we have no beginning handbells this year; that would have been their night to perform, which will make the concert shorter.
Concert Chorus will have one more performance, on December 14th at the Kravis Center. I will be sending home more information about that in a few days. I turned down another performance request for December, because I think we have more than enough to do!
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Wow! The summer really flew, didn’t it? It is hard to believe that school is about to start. And we’re going to be busy from Day One.
For Concert Chorus, our schedule looks pretty busy. We will be singing on September 10th for the volunteer breakfast here at school. That means that we only have about three weeks to get ready, and usually we sing three songs. Also, because last year’s beginning chorus had a performance the next-to-last day of school, I didn’t get a chance to listen to everybody individually and place you as a soprano or alto. So we will have to accomplish that very quickly. I am also waiting to hear if we have been accepted to sing at the Kravis Center again this year. Those of you who sang there last year know that this is a great experience, but it means a lot of hard work to get ready.
I have some great music picked out for both chorus and handbells. I will get some listening links up soon. I think you will like the songs we do.
Have a fun last week of vacation. I know we’ll have lots to talk about next week.
You can probably tell from the fact that I haven’t put up a new post in a few weeks that it has been a very hectic time for Chorus and Handbells. Yesterday’s performances for next year’s sixth graders went very well, despite a few “blips” that we’ll discuss in class. And Wellington Ringers will perform this evening at Seminole Ridge High School, as part of their Spring Fling choral concert.
Now is the time to make sure that our spring concert is on your family’s calendar. The concert will take place on May 22nd, a Tuesday, at 7:00pm in the WLMS cafeteria. The performance will include both choruses and both handbell ensembles (no band). Handbell students need to be here at 6:30, and chorus students have a report time of 6:40. This performance serves as our nine-week exam, and attendance is mandatory. If you need to, you can check out the attendance policy in the Chorus Handbook or the Handbell Handbook.
Concert Chorus also needs to add Wednesday, June 6th, to their performance calendar. We will be singing for the eighth grade awards program, which will take place this year at Wellington High School. I will have more information for you soon as to the time, and what we will be singing. So pay attention in class!
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The only song that Concert Chorus is singing for spring concert for which we don’t have a recording is “Until We Sing Again.” I found a listening link for you, so that you can listen to the song online. This is a demonstration recording done by professional singers for the publisher of the music. There are several recordings of the song on Youtube, but of course, I can’t send you there. However, I watched and listened to a couple of them last night and, trust me, we will do much, much better than anything I saw or heard. In fact, one was so bad that I wished I could assign it as an example for you to critique. There were some really obvious errors.
I hope you like the song as much as I do. It’s the perfect piece for the end of the year.
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I’ve always known that I get to direct superior choirs, and now we have our MPA ratings to prove it. As I said in class today, I don’t worry about the actual ratings, because there is so much subjectivity in judging. Mr Bailey and I saw that when were reading the judges’ comments. One judge heard one thing, and another heard exactly the opposite. My concern is that everybody does their very best. I can’t ask for more. And I think this year, there is no questions that everyone did just that.
And I don’t think my hair got too frizzy. I know I didn’t look like the director in this post!
I know you’d like to listen to your performances again, so here they are.
01 Music Like a Radiant Light
02 Good Night
Rise, Rise Thou Merry Lark
As I’ve said a couple of times, there are rules of conduct that we are expected to follow while we are at MPA. We will discuss these in class on Tuesday and again on Friday before we leave. However, they are so important that I’m listing them here. These are taken from the Florida Vocal Association handbook.
Listening: A vital part of the evaluation is listening to other groups perform. Choirs are required to remain in the auditorium for the entire block. Violation of attendance policies will result in disqualification.
1. Director should brief all students on the rules of conduct so that they are thoroughly understood. (That’s what I’m doing here.)
2. The following rules apply specifically to the MPA site:
- Reasonable quiet should be maintained at all times.
- Radios, recorders, beepers, cell phones, watch alarms, and other portable sound sources are distracting and must be turned off at the performance venue. Violation of this rule will result in confiscation by an FVA officer, who will take the device to the FVA office until the school checks out. The device will be returned to the director.
- No one is to enter or leave an adjudication room while a performance is in progress.
- No flash pictures may be taken during any performance. (And since your cell phones must be off, no pictures with cell phones.)
- No food or drink is permitted in any adjudication or warm-up room.
- Individual schools are responsible for any property damage that is caused by any of their participants.
Infraction of any rules will result in disqualification of the entry.
As you can tell, Florida Vocal Association is very serious about these rules. So, what does it mean for us? It means that, once we get off the bus, we are QUIET. We will line up and stay together at all times. Once inside the auditorium, you will stay in your seat until we are called to go to the warm-up room. We will do that quietly, as well. When we finish sight-singing and return to the auditorium, we will sit quietly and listen respectfully to the other choruses. You can applaud the other performances, but this is not a place for whistling, screaming, or any other sound to acknowledge a performance. When we are finished, we will leave the auditorium in a quiet, orderly fashion.
As far as I’m concerned, how you act is as important as how you sing. Remember, the judges will see you in the auditorium before they see you on stage. Impress them with your good behavior as soon as you walk in the door. Don’t be like the person in the picture!
When we sing at MPA, we are evaluated by three judges on our stage performance, and by a fourth judge for sight-singing. The best score a judge can give us is “superior,” which is like getting an A, or level 5 on the FCAT. But how do judges decide on a rating?
This first link will take you to the judging sheet used for choral performance. You will see that there are three main categories: tone quality, technical preparation, and musical effect. Tone quality is, in essence, how you sing and what you sound like. This includes elements like our breathing and breath control, tall vowels, crisp consonants, and blend of voices. Technical preparation is how well we know the music. Are we singing the correct rhythms and pitches? Are we singing in tune? Do we come in and cut off where we’re supposed to? When we sing in parts, are the parts balanced, or is one louder than the other? Finally, musical effect refers to how we use our tone quality and knowledge of the technical aspects of the songs and make them musical. How are our dynamics? What about phrasing? Are we singing with expression? Do the singers respond to what the conductor is asking them to do? As you scroll down to the second page of the document, you will see the scale, just like the grading scales or rubrics that you are used to seeing in all your classes, that the judges use to determine their grades for each of the main elements.
I have also included a link to the sight-reading judging sheet. This also has three categories. The first is about rhythmic execution. Do we keep a steady beat? Are our note and rest values accurate as we sight-sing our rhythm example? The second category, melodic and harmonic accuracy, is used for our melody exercise. Do we sing the correct intervals? Do we stay in the same key? When we sight-sing in parts, as Concert Chorus does, is there balance between the parts? The final sight-reading category is called musical and tonal fundamentals. Here, the judge listens for tone quality, just as the stage judges do. The judge is also listening for confidence (everybody singing), phrasing, dynamics and expression. The judging scale is on the second page of this document, too.
Now that you know how we will be judged, think about what we’ve been doing in class. Are we earning an A in all those categories every day as we prepare? That’s our goal.
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