I'm very excited that you are thinking about joining a handbell choir! We have new people joining all the time, so if you decide to try us out, you won't be alone. We have an extra set of handbells available, so we always have room for a new ringer. Often, a new ringer begins as an understudy. They are not asked to ring in Worship or at a special event until they are ready.
The vast majority of ringers are not professional musicians who get paid for entertaining an audience. Most ringers are volunteers who love music and have a passion to share their love of ringing handbells. As you tour our website, you will quickly see what we are all about.
We offer two different practice times each week depending upon your current musical knowledge. All you have to do is show up at the practice of your choice!
Sunday evening - this is for our beginning ringers with little musical experience. This group is led by James Schrag. Wednesday evening - this group is a little more advanced. An experienced musician can fit in nicely. This is the group that I direct.
To help me prepare for you, my I ask a couple of questions? 1) Have you ever rang handbells before? 2) Do you already know how to read music? 3) Do you now, or in your past, played a music instrument? 4) If you read music, do you prefer treble or the bass clef?
In full disclosure, you should know up front the commitment that is expected from each ringer. First and foremost, we ring in Worship generally once per month. Traditionally, we ring on the 3rd Sunday each month, but this does change on occasion. In addition, our experienced choir receives many requests to ring in events outside of the church. In the past, I have limited this to once per month as well. With this general guideline, you will be expected to be available every week for practice and to ring twice each month either in Worship or at a special event. On our website you can see the type of events we do outside of Worship.
A broken piano - Being a member of a handbell choir requires a special commitment from the ringers. Each ringer is responsible for their particular ringing position. It is like asking 12 people to play a piano at the same time with each person only playing 2 or 3 keys. No one else plays "your keys". If a ringer misses practice or a ringing event, the song will be missing their notes. Can you image how a song would sound if a piano was missing some of the keys?
Muscle memory - Ringing in a bell choir is very different than singing in a choral choir. A choral choir has 4 parts - soprano, alto, tenor and bass - with many singers for each part. Practice in a choral choir can continue with a couple of singers absent. Not so in a bell choir! During bell practice, each ringer gains muscle memory for their part. Very few ringers are capable of taking on additional bells at the last minute when a ringer is missing. They haven't gained the muscle memory required to make good music. As you can see, every ringer is important and necessary every time a bell choir rings. A missing ringer compromises the entire bell choir.
Passion - Ringing in a handbell choir is truly a wonderful experience. Successful ringers have a true passion for ringing handbells. You will be a part of a very close group making music together. It is hard to be upset or mad when you are making music! If this information hasn't scared you away, I look forward to meeting you soon!