Thursday, November 02, 2006

Handbell Choir 101

We're still handbelling. Handbells in the image are nearly the exact ones we use in our choir. If you've been around a while, you may remember that all of the children and I joined the brand new handbell choir last spring (2005). FYI, I can't read music and am tone deaf. However, I can count up to sixteen. I'm only responsible for my two notes & keeping up with where we are in the music. God bless him, our music director is sooo patient. Only two of the intial eleven ringers were able to read music so the learning curve for the entire choir has been enormous.

The lady who stands next to me is a teeny French lady. She's adorable. Whenever she gets lost (which is often) she mutters under her breath in French. Boy was she surprised to learn I could understand her. LOLOL :0 Husband is desperately trying to rearrange his schedule so that he can come hear us during rehersals Thursday nights.

Currently we're trying to learn three pieces for Christmas. Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella, Carol of the Bells and Good Christian Folk Rejoice. They're all really fun to play. I just wish we had enough ringers to play the full five octave version of Carol of the Bells. We only have three octaves so it took our director a while ot find a version for us.

So how does one ring in a handbell choir? I thought you'd be curious. Because we're beginners, we get one bell per hand, thus one note per hand. You always hold the same note in the same hand. Then you learn which dots on the music are your bells. When we started we used two different colors and marked up our sheets terribly. That way all we'd have to do is count and ring whichever hand the music called for. Keeping proper time, that is. Assuming you've paid proper attention & not gone mentally wandering far afield. Like making grocery lists in your head or hoping your cell phone won't ring during practice or idly pondering the plot of Lost.

That was actually my biggest problem. Playing requires sustained attention in a way that I wasn't used to. I was embarrassed to learn that my attention span has totally evaporated over the course of my adulthood. I'm slowly developing my attention span muscles, so things are better that way. It's kinda hard though when you're trying to learn new French curse words being quietly muttered in one ear by the cute teenytiny little French lady. I still mark my music, unfortunatley. Makes it easier. It's a crutch I guess. Too bad 'cuz I'm hanging onto my crutch.

Daughter has progressed immensely. She began in the same place as I did, musically, although she isn't tone deaf. Now she can read music and keep time and place properly. She knows what the Italian words are & what the arcane musical squiggles mean. I'm so proud of her. She's wonderful and amazing, my beautiful daughter.

The Sons you ask. Don't you love the sons too? Well, yes. I do. Most of the time. They are boys after all. However, the crucial difference would be that they've both been taught to read music. Son #1 has played alto sax since he was 11 & acoustic guitar. Son #2 is a gifted pianist & sings like an angel. Therefore I'm not so easily wowed by the sons' handbell progress. Get the little one to sing for me, then I'm impressed. Convince older Son to bring the sax home and play for me? Then I'm enthralled. Handbells? Not so much. This picture shows the ones older Son plays.

This page has a jpg of a totally cool 7 octave handbell choir, playing original music written just for them.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like so much fun, I've always wanted to join a handbell choir. Maybe that's something Ben and I can look forward to doing with Vivian in the years to come. Do you play concerts or during services? I wonder if we might be able to hear you play during our upcoming visit.

Please email me if you'd like any pictures of Vivian. Your mom and sister both have my address if you don't.

I should get to bed, happy Friday tomorrow!


Bookwormom said...

Hi Sarah- I hope all is well with Vivian. I remember how exciting & yet exhausting leetle ones can be.

The soonest we're playing will be Christmas Eve. Because we're beginners, we've only played before church services. We've a lot of growing to before we're ready to perform anywhere else.

I really reccommend trying to find a fun activity everyone (or almost everyone) can do together. We have tremendous fun THursday nights.

Thanks for the offer of photos, I have a few from my mom, but I'll be in touch.

Jenster said...

I LOVE handbells! The church I grew up in had an adult handbell choir. I always thought I would do that when I grew up, but instead I moved far, far away. lol

Sounds like a lot of fun for the family!


Angry Woman said...

Handbell music is so pretty. I saw a handbell mini concert when I was in Colonial Williamsburg for Christmas two years ago. The guy, Dean Shostak, had glass handbells. He's well know for playing the glass armonica so he decided to have a set of glass handbells commissioned for himself. At the concert he was demonstrating the various glass instruments he had. I was most impressed by the handbells and, get this, a glass violin.


CindyS said...

Wow! I played the piano for years so I can read sheet music but I think it would be harder when you are only responsible for two notes. I think that is a completely different talent because you have to know your timing down to the second in order to get the pitch of the music right. Way to start something challenging to the brain!


Bookwormom said...

Hi Ladies~ Thanks for the good wishes & encouragement.