Orillia Vocal Ensemble

Music-Learning Resources

The OVE Education Committee maintains this section to provide, hopefully, an interesting and useful list of regional events and resources - including web-based resources - which might be helpful to anyone who wants to know more about choral singing. Suggestions and tips are welcome!

A. Tools and AidsByrdManuscript.jpg

A.1 Pronunciation Guides

A.2 Important Terms and Symbols


A.2.1 Musical Term: "Staff"
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In Western musical notation, the "staff" or "stave" is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch. The staff contains notes, rests, and other musical symbols. Notes are written on or between staff lines and when they fall off the staff, they are placed on little "ledger lines". A group of staves is called a "system".


Treble Staff:

The treble staff is marked at the beginning of each line with the "treble clef" (or "G-clef"). Its notes are generally higher than middle C on a piano, and are sung by the soprano, alto, and tenor voices in a choir.

The treble Clef is called a G-Clef because it curls around the second line up on the staff, which is a G as shown to the right.

The lines of the treble staff are, from the bottom, EGBDF and the spaces are FACE. Remember the lines by this phrase: "Every Good Boy Deserves Fun".

Evolution of the modern treble clef symbol from medieval times:




Bass Staff:

The bass staff is marked at the start of each line with the "bass clef" (or "F-clef"). Its notes are below middle C, and are sung by the Basses in a choir.

The lines of the bass staff are from the bottom GBDFA and the spaces are ACEG. Remember the lines by this phrase: "Good Boys Deserve Fun Always".

The evolution of the modern bass clef symbol from medieval times:


To see an excellent Wikipedia article about the musical staff, see this: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staff_(music))



A.2.2 Musical Term: "Note Value"
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In music notation, the note value of a "note" indicates the relative time duration of the note, using the color and shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags/beams/hooks/tails.

A "rest" indicates a silence of an equivalent duration.

For details, see this excellent article in Wikipedia.. Note Value


A.2.3 Musical term: "Time Signature"
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The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats (pulses) are to be contained in each bar of music and which note value is to be given one beat. In a musical score, the time signature appears at the beginning of the piece, as a time symbol or stacked numerals, such as C or 3/4 (read common time and three-four time, respectively), immediately following the key signature or immediately following the clef symbol if the key signature is empty. A mid-score time signature, usually immediately following a barline, indicates a change of meter.

For details, see this excellent article in Wikipedia.. Time Signature


A2.4 Musical Pitch

Pitch is the quality of a note which makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in musical melodies.

In traditional music theory, most countries in the world use the naming convention Do–Re–Mi–Fa–Sol–La–Si, including Italy, Spain, France, most Latin American countries, Russia, and all the Arabic-speaking or Persian-speaking countries. Within the English-speaking and Dutch-speaking world, pitch classes are represented by the first seven letters of the Latin alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F and G).

The eighth note, or octave, is given the same name as the first, but has double its frequency. The name "octave" is also used to indicate the span between one note and another with double the frequency of the first. To differentiate two notes that have the same name (A,B,C,..) but fall into different octaves, a system of so-called "scientific pitch notation" combines a letter name with number designating a specific octave. For example, the now-standard tuning note for most Western orchestras, A at a frequency of 440 Hz, is named A4 in this system.


Note Letter names can be modified by the "accidentals" which are called "sharps" or "flats". A sharp ♯ raises a note by a semitone or half-step, and a flat ♭ lowers it by the same amount. The accidentals are written after the note name: so, for example, F♯ represents F-sharp, B♭ is B-flat, and C♮ is C natural (or just plain C).

Additional accidentals are the double-sharp, raising the frequency by two semitones, and double-flat ♭♭, lowering it by that amount, or the natural symbol ♮ which is used in special circumstances.

A.2.4 Musical term: Tempo
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Tempo ("time" in Italian; plural: tempi) is the speed or pace of a piece. Tempo is usually measured by beats per minute, though tempo is often indicated by Italian terms which have acquired standard ranges of beats per minute by convention. Examples are Largo, Allegro, and Vivace.

B. Events and Workshops


This section contains a list of regional choral workshops and read-through sessions which may be of interest to OVE members. Attendance at a few of these can provide exposure to choral works we cannot do ourselves because of scale or complexity. You will also get experience with a number of excellent choral directors.

B.1 Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Workshops


TMC - "Singsation Saturdays"

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir conducts a wonderful series of "sing-through" workshops called "Singsation Saturdays" in Toronto which feature excellent directors who spend nearly three hours of singing through a wide variety of works on a Saturday morning. There are no pre-requisites and singers of all experience levels are welcome. There are usually 50 to 100 singers attending. The fee is $10 per workshop. Snacks are provided during the break.

To see the series of workshops for this year,
See this website page at the TMC site: http://www.tmchoir.org/singsation-saturdays/

B.2 CAMMAC Reading Sessions


CAMMAC Toronto Region caters to music-lovers and amateur music-makers who live within a 100 km radius of the Toronto area. We offer various activities (for singers and instrumentalists) throughout the year, opportunities to meet other music-lovers through learning, playing and enjoying music. Everyone is welcome to participate.

See this Site: www.cammac.ca/toronto
Send Email to this address: toronto@cammac.ca

"Readings" This winter season:

All Readings begin at 2:00pm sharp, and end at 4:30pm.
Please arrive 15 minutes early to set up so that the Reading can begin on time!

For details, see cammac.ca/toronto/toronto-region-music-readings/

C. Performances / Top Choirs

See the Choirs Ontario list of Choral Performances in the Region..


Top Choirs
(You can learn a lot by just listening to anything sung by one of these mostly professional choirs. If you can get to a live performance, Do it!)

D. Associations

This section is a list of Associations which provide support for the choral Community in Southern Ontario.

D.1 Choirs Ontario


Choirs Ontario (previously known as the Ontario Choral Federation). Organization established in 1971 to promote choral activities in Ontario, with an elected voluntary board, a paid executive secretary, and offices in Toronto.

WebSite: www.choirsontario.org/about



CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens amateurs du Canada). Non-profit organization founded in Montreal in 1953 with the aim of encouraging the activities of amateur musicians at all levels. "CAMMAC Toronto Region" serves Southern Ontario with workshops and read-throughs in the GTA.

CAMMAC Montreal
CAMMAC Toronto

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To encourage people of all ages to experience the joy of making music together in a welcoming, supportive environment.


..People making music with others, developing connections that are the essential ingredients of a happy, healthy and productive life;

..People sharing common artistic experiences, enjoying personal growth and a sense of belonging;

..People being coached by excellent teachers, learning, and listening to and making music together;

..People, exposed to a bilingual environment, building bridges between our cultures.

D.3 Toronto Choral Society


The Toronto Choral Society (TCS) was founded in 1845, to foster a positive musical environment in which members can learn and develop both musical ability and choral repertoire. In addition, TCS aims to be an integral part of the community of Toronto, presenting important works from the traditional choral repertoire, exploring the music of the many cultures that make up our community, and making an active contribution to the life of the city by participating in community events,

WebSite: www.torontochoralsociety.org

D.4 Toronto Early Music Centre


The Toronto Early Music Centre is a non-profit corporation with charitable status serving the interests of all enthusiasts of early music, including amateur and professional players and singers, teachers, makers of historical instruments, and the general public.

Website: www.torontoearlymusic.org


D.5 Choral Canada


Choral Canada is the national voice of the Canadian choral community, representing and uniting a network of conductors, educators, composers, administrators, choral industry leaders, and more than 40,000 choral singers from coast to coast to coast. Choral Canada advocates for Canadian choral music and musicians and encourages excellence in the choral art through our programs, including the National Youth Choir (NYC) the NYC Conducting Apprenticeship, Podium (Canada’s national choral conference and festival), and the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs. By connecting choral communities with information, resources for professional development, and advocacy tools, Choral Canada inspires greater awareness of choral singing across the nation

WebSite: www.choralcanada.org



Online Choir Practices using ZOOM!

Greetings from Blair and Mary-Jo,

We are looking forward to 'zooming' with you everyTuesday starting Nov. 3rd to start working on some Christmas selections from the Oxford "100 Carols for Choirs" book. Sopranos and altos will be singing with Mary-Jo, tenors and basses with Blair, from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The link for the 'Zoom' hook-up will be e-mailed to you beforehand on Tuesdays. Watch your emails. The room will open 15 minutes early at 7:15pm each week.

Note that you can use any device you have handy - Laptop, desktop, Tablet (eg: iPad, Galaxy, ), or Smart Phone (eg: iPhone, etc). Just click on the link you are sent before the practice. 

It is best to register on the Zoom website here Registration is free and provides help and tutorials if you need them. Always log into your Zoom account before you join a meeting; that way you will retain all the settings you like.

Your Zoom tech contact is Don Van Wyck but several choir members are very familiar with Zoom - perhaps you are - and can help you. For help or info, send a message to webmaster@orilliavocalensemble.com

Sheet Music you need

For this first session we will be focussing on the following pieces from the Oxford Carol Book, "100 Carols for Choirs" which most members have purchased and have on hand. In case you dont, see below.