Carolyn’s Notes for Virtual Rehearsal 4 – 28/4/20

Published on April 27, 2020,

Dear Choir members

Doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself! Our fourth weekly virtual rehearsal is here already with more songs and rounds to keep up spirits; the second of the new term!

Yet again it is divided into sections, with anecdotes in italics! More insights into capers down in NZ and elsewhere without giving too much away!

Warm up

 As always it is important to spend a few minutes warming up with gentle exercises.

Shoulder rolls ending with a hunched gesture and dropping shoulders for perfect singing position i.e. weighted shoulders, straight back with head pulled up like puppet, tucked in tail and softened knees; good for that area where a lot of tension resides.

Again warm up with simple 4 notes ascending and descending scales to different vowel sounds. Important that as you go higher into head voice switch back to ‘oo’. Don’t forget working on your diaphragm. Inhale for 5 beats with your hand on your stomach, then blow out the breath in 4 short breaths and one long one. This week we can focus a bit on diction and moving your tongue. Starting on a fairly high note song down the scale to the word ‘Popocatepetl’ on each note of the scale. (By the way Popocatépetl is an active stratovolcano, located in the states of Puebla, Morelos and Mexico, in central Mexico. Just thought you might be interested). I have included a sound file to remind you.


I have been doing a lot of gardening this past week. Major project was cleaning out poly tunnel in which I found two magnificent slow worms. At the beginning of the lockdown we had cleaned out the pond and rescued several newts which inspired me to include this next round.

 Round: I wrote this with the help of William Shakespeare. Well to be accurate he wrote the words and I wrote the tune.

It is from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Again a sound file is available.

Spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen.

Newts and blind worms, do no wrong; Come not near our Fairy Queen.

Anecdote: Yet more snippets of information from South Island, New Zealand which I sent to my daughters:

Thought I’d mention Kaikoura and the whale watching trip which was truly amazing!
We saw 3 different albatross, the biggest seabird; the Salvin’s, White capped and the biggest of them all, the Royal albatross. They live for 50 to 60 years if not snared on single line fishing hooks which are used to catch very big fish like tuna and King fish. This accounts for about 150,000 deaths of sea birds. The albatross mates for life and weighs about 11 kilos.
We also saw some Buller’s shearwaters and Westland petrels before sighting Holey Moley, a big sperm whale. He stayed on the surface for ages. Then we saw a family of Hectors dolphins which were delightful, the smallest dolphin found only in NZ waters and endangered. There are only about 1 metre in length and played in the bow waves from the boat. Then some dusky dolphins appeared and a couple of NZ fur seals. We also saw shoals of baby lobsters. We also saw blue sharks which grow up to about 2 metres.
The boat trip was about 2-3 hours and the guides were clearly thrilled that we6had seen so much especially as the previous boat earlier had seen no whales or Dolphins.
After the boat we drove up the coast to see a seal colony of hundreds of fur seals. They were almost hunted to extinction but are now protected and have made an amazing recovery. It is a small sea lion species so it was interesting to see it clambering over the rocks. There were lots of babies learning to swim in shallow rock pools. It was really delightful.
Since the last big Kaikoura earthquake in 2016 the land rose along the coast by about 6 metres in parts. So there is more exposed rock for the seals etc. Geologically this is a relatively new land and fascinating. We drove from the west to the east through v-shaped, u-shaped and hanging valleys and wide braided river plains as well as the Buller earthquake fault line. Dramatic mountain ranges mostly covered in natural bush. And lots of sand flies which are just about the only things in NZ which bite (on land – plenty in the sea though!)

 To which Freya responded: Wow! Are you after David Attenborough’s job?

Song list

Hope you all got on well with ‘Harbour’ which we can pick up when we all meet again! Meanwhile you can sing the other verses and see how they fit the metre.

I would always recommend that everyone is familiar with the tunes of all of our songs before learning your own part.

Recap the other songs from this term like Bushes and Briars and Cuckoo in April plus Wild Geese, all now on the website for you to sing along to thanks to your various website operators! Here is another new song this week to keep you on your toes:


 New Song:  Brand New Day

This is a hopeful song with a good syncopated rhythm in 4 parts. It was written and arranged by Graham Pratt and inspired by the poem ‘Today’ by Thomas Carlyle.

Anecdote: did I mention the macaroons? Next time perhaps! Remind me! Missing you all!




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