Come to the fellowship hall of the Sun Lakes United Methodist Church on Saturday morning, October 22, from 9:00-11:30 a.m. and learn how to ring hand bells. “Back to Bells,” a free class, is being given by Libbie Randels, seen in the accompanying photo. She is a representative of the Handbell Musicians of America, which is sponsoring this class. You will learn the proper techniques and be able to make music when the class plays together. The size of the bell determines the note it plays when rung. The larger the bell, the lower the tone, and bell sets can be three, four or more octaves.
Sun Lakes has five sets of hand bells! We probably have more than any other similar-sized community in Arizona! They are owned by the United Church of Christ, First Baptist Church, Risen Savior Lutheran Church, St. Steven’s Catholic Church, and most recently Sun Lakes United Methodist Church, which plans to start a bell choir this fall. All these bell choirs need members. Unfortunately, only the UCC bell choir and the Lutheran bell choir are active. Members retire from playing but replacements have not come forward to fill the need. Why not? I think people are worried that they won’t be able to play well and are afraid to try something new. I want to tell you a little secret. Bells are played by people like me who aren’t perfect. We are just doing the best we can. We hope that the rehearsal time has been enough to learn the music so that our performance is as close to perfect as possible, but the joy of making such beautiful music come alive outweighs the occasional missed note.
It doesn’t take a music professional to play hand bells. It is a skill that can be learned. You need to follow the notes that correspond to the bells you play and you need to be able to count to four, sometimes a little higher. Neither of these is difficult. You do need to use your arms, but if you can comb your hair and put dishes away in your cupboard, you qualify. Bells are played by men and women. Men are often needed for the larger bells and are encouraged to attend the class.
There are a variety of techniques to ring a bell or cause it to echo more after being played. All of these, and the ability to follow your notes in the sheet music, are easy to learn. Then you are ready to serve your community in this beautiful way. Attend the rehearsals and you will be ready for a performance. If enough people are willing to volunteer, we could have all our area churches ringing with this beautiful music by Christmas! If you would like to learn how to ring hand bells in a bell choir, please register for this free class by sending an email to Lyn Munn at Lynmunn@gmail.com.