On Cymbals and Drums

In a few weeks, our handbell choir will play the piece below: Praise Him with Cymbals and Drums, as part of a small local festival. In handbell world, this is a difficult piece (Level 5 on a rating system from 1 to 6+). The timing and rhythms are funky, plus it requires of variety of techniques. Unquestionably, this is the most difficult music we’ve played, and were are getting it – well … much of the time …. which means we have to hit it on performance day!

The choir in this video, the Golden Bells of Atlanta, is very good. In our version, we will be adding percussion, which will be an interesting twist. On a special note, during the last 30 seconds watch the two bass players on the right because they are awesome.

As for me, my part is the same as the guy behind “Golden” in their banner, which also plays the mallets in the background. This fun piece will demonstrate that handbell music is much more than traditional hymns. Enjoy!

On a Musical Journey

Music is a wonderful human gift. Thinking about all the musical variations throughout the world and through time is boggles my mind. As readers here know, I share my participation in our church handbell choir.

Today’s tour guide is Sonos – an elite handbell group from the San Francisco Bay area. Enjoy their version of Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.

On a Knob

Knob: a projecting part, usually rounded, forming the handle of a door, drawer, or the like (dictionary.com)

Knobs seem so simple and mundane. This story starts in 2004 when we decided to update our kitchen. Not a major overhaul involving gutting what we had, but just updating – so we hired a husband and wife team we somewhat knew, plus we know others who used their skills.

In their team, he did most of the heavy work while she had a gifted eye for coordination and detail. Interestingly, his communication touch was quite a bit softer than hers. As time went one, it was time to pick the knobs. I can still hear her unique voice and manner saying, “Come on Frank. The knobs are going to be the final touch that makes this room right because they are more than something to grab and pull.”

Our previous cabinets lacked knobs. Meanwhile, selecting knobs is not an easy task, and believe me, I traveled the city looking for the perfect, 40 attractive, reasonably priced knobs – and yes, I saw some expensive ones too!

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We got to better know this couple after the project, did things with them socially, and eventually both of them joined our chime choir – which shortly thereafter transformed into a handbell choir. Although she lets everyone know that she is not a good player, she is the least confident and very much part of us all. Her occasional frantic meltdowns during rehearsals caused much laughter – and her husband simply smiled to say, “And that’s my wife.”

The lady in this story is the friend who passed away last week. Her funeral was joyous, sad, and difficult – but a celebration of her life. We played a peaceful piece that brought all of us to tears during rehearsals – but we got through it when it counted. We also had a simple tribute displaying a bell, empty gloves, and a rose (which we gave to her daughter). By the way, I will feature the beautiful tune on Friday, or watch it here.

Our handbell choir continues without her and her husband (although he could return in time). We are adjusting, yet it is not the same as each of us glance to her spot in our U-shaped arrangement with a sense of emptiness and sorrow. (We also had a rose in a vase at her position.)

The piece below is an interesting arrangement that intertwines Oh Come Emmanuel and Carol of the Bells. To me, it has a Manheim Steamroller feel, This choir plays it very well – and they have a good four-in-hand player, which is an interesting skill that is definitely not me.  (I play the same part as the far-right female.)

Our group plays this piece (Emmanuel Bell Choir, arr John Malinowski) on Sunday in our first regularly scheduled time since her passing – so enjoy this music of the season as I dedicate this to my friend – the one whom our kitchen serves as a daily reminder to my wife and I. Blessings my friend!

On a Thanksgiving Reprise

Thanksgiving starts each for the cook and for many travelers. Some have the family morning tradition of watching the Macy’s parade before the guest arrive.

The arrivals eventually descend on the host’s domain, and the feeding frenzy begins with appetizers – which happens to flow directly into the annual feast.

Everybody ate a lot and the many dishes, utensils, pots, pans, and glasses eventually cleaned and returned to their rightful place. Fortunately, the second feeding of the day uses disposable plates.

As the day nears an end, the adrenalin is starting to flow in crazies wanting to storm the retail Bastille for the Black Friday specials. On the other hand, some of us still want the calm of the holiday’s intent.

In Thanksgiving spirit, our handbell choir played this tune at Wednesday evening’s service. Enjoy.

On Ringing in Monday

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and special considerations to those living in the east as they dealt with the effects of Irene’s wind and rain.

Monday will be our handbell choir’s first rehearsal of the upcoming playing year. I don’t know what music we will encounter, but our leaders have promised us another good year and one to expand our horizons.

In honor of the upcoming season and to start your week, here’s a less-than-a-minute music treat from the Sonos Handbell Ensemble, a select choir from the San Francisco Bay area. Now these people can play, so enjoy the short treat titled Hummingbird. Have a good week.