At Donna Dean’s memorial service, I met the lady who gave the handbells to PPUMC, and she told me that she wanted to return to hear them play in worship.
I panicked! After I told her that the sanctuary bells have been dormant for nearly a year, she looked at me and said: “Well … maybe I need to give the bells to a place that will use them.” Unfortunately, I understand how she feels, but I am not ready to give them up. I need your help! Let us save the bells of Plymouth Park.
We have not touched the bells since spring of 2016 because we struggled with the same issues that have haunted the bells for years: rehearsal time, keeping skilled players interested and challenged, and difficulty integrating beginners and keeping them. The last issue offers the best opportunity to fix our problems; therefore, I propose to start a beginner bell choir.
Laura Payne, who is a seasoned player and a director, has agreed to help me with this reboot, and we are excited to bring this opportunity to you!
Since I started the bells after I arrived, we have had some beginners join us, but they inevitably felt like they held the ensemble back. We will start with only true beginners, and we will start with the basics. Our step-by-step goals:
- Rehearse to improve and solidify the skills of the beginners.
- Bring several beginners’ musical offerings to worship.
- Bring the now seasoned beginners together with the intermediate players.
- Rehearse the larger group using slightly more challenging music.
- Offer several bell anthems of increasing difficulty.
- Add the advanced bell players as players and mentors to the ensemble.
For this to work, we need you — yes, you! If you ever wanted to make music, please consider joining us for this worthwhile endeavor. You truly do not need any prior skill or experience; we will teach you from the beginning.
The crucial aspect of this process is that we find, teach, and nurture musicians, not merely bodies with two hands to hold and ring bells. We will also ask the intermediate and advanced ringers to take a few steps back in their skill development. Bell ringing cannot — MUST not — be perfunctory or pedestrian. It is not simply ringing the correct bell at the right time; bell music is as much visual as it is aural, and we have not lived up to the first part of that.
This will take a long time, and it will take motivation, dedication, and passion. Those of you who are musicians know that the end more than justifies the means and sacrifices. I need your help! Let us save the bells of Plymouth Park.