Our Beymer MUMC Fellowship Hall is filled with bells, the Beymer Bronze Handbell Choir to be exact. I had such a fun time visiting this group's Monday night practice for the blog article. Everyone was so welcoming, very professional, excited to answer my many questions and very, very talented.
Beymer Bronze began in the early 80's. In 2012 they submitted a video tape to share their talent before an international audience and perform at Walt Disney World. The submission was evaluated on interpretation and execution of music, stage presence, showmanship and overall show value. Well, this group hit it out of the park as they have been invited back to perform EVERY year since.
The bells are set up on the padded tables with the smallest bell being high G and the biggest being low C. The biggest bell weighs in at 8 pounds. The ringers wear gloves so fingerprints aren't left behind as they are very hard to get off. Please don't sneeze or cough on the bells as the salvia reacts with the bell and will leave a permanent mark behind.
I "learned" the fine art of bell ringing and was even invited to give it a try. To play the bell the clapper is positioned, when holding, to the back of the bell and the bell is rung forward thus projecting the sound forward. It is moved in an arc back towards the shoulder. A slower, wider arc keeps the sound projected longer like in a 4 count beat. The sound is stopped by lightly, but preciously touching the bell to the shoulder or padded table. Each musician is responsible for particular notes, sounding the bell whenever those notes appear in the music
As I listened to them practicing, along with the music of the bells I heard, "12, 35, 66, 97, 110." What was this I wondered. People were calling out the number of the measure every so often as they practiced to help them keep track of where they are in the arrangement. If you look at a piece of handbell music, you might notice there are lots of different signs and symbols not seen in other music. In addition to general music notation markings, handbell music includes special technique-specific markings.
Beymer Bronze Handbell Choir practices on Monday nights. If you can read music and are interested in playing with the group, please contact their Director, Joe Jones, for more information. Beymer Bronze is an accomplished and advanced handbell choir. They will be performing on Sunday, February 14th during the 11:00 service, but here is a little snippet of this creative group as they practice.