If you’ve never experienced a handball choir, then you my friend are missing out on some white gloved awesomeness. Growing up in Massachusetts, I never saw a handbell choir. (Do they have them out West? Is this only a Southern thing?) But when I went to Samford University for college I was enthralled. It just seems like a pretty arbitrary instrument to make a choir from. Why not a triangle choir or a tambourine choir? How did we settle on handbells? (Please insert your own cow bell joke.) Today, with a fabulous guest post from Amanda, we all get a lesson in the wonder that is the handbell, enjoy!
THE 7 PEOPLE EVERY HANDBELL CHOIR NEEDS:
1. The Prima Donna
She’s is listed first because she’s always listed first. She’s better than you, and you both know it. She’s not happy unless she has at least two bells in each hand, and when members of your choir miss a rehearsal, she’s known to commandeer their bells and play them in conjunction with her own. She’s like the monkey grinder street musician that can play 47 instruments at once. She could probably play the entire piece by herself and doesn’t really need you, but one step at a time. She can’t just have a coup d’etat and overthrow the Director….at least not yet.
2. The Legacy
Her grandparents played handbells. Her parents played handbells. In a few more years, her daughter will be joining the choir too. This member has handbells in her blood. Sometimes she can become a Prima Donna. A Legacy member can be sniffed out by choosing older pieces of music. She will be unable to refrain from saying, “Hey, this is my grandmother’s handwriting on this music!” She may also subscribe to Reader’s Digest and love episodes of Matlock, which is a weird thing for a 17-year-old to do.
3. The Incredible Hulk of Handbells
Burly and strong, this token male plays the big bells. He’s the guy standing at his own table with at least a dozen bells larger than your head in front of him. Bells that you would need two hands for, he can pick up with ease in one. He’s like the Thor of handbells. And when you finally see a bell that takes both of his massive fists to hold, you think he could have given Quasimodo a run for his money.
4. The Handyman
This indispensable member of the choir often seems to be the most popular after rehearsal, with everyone crowding around him trying to get him to tighten their bell. Give him a bell and he can have it fixed in five minutes with a screwdriver, duct tape, and bubblegum. You’ve got to love a choir that requires one member to a MacGuyver. This guy is like the NASCAR pit crew of handbells.
5. The Nickelback
This person either can’t read music or has very limited range, like a former trombone player who can only read bass clef. She’s sometimes mistaken as a Prima Donna because she’s so territorial, but it’s not about territory. It’s about being able to play. She can’t switch spots with you because she can’t read the music at the other spot. So please, stop bothering her. She is a one hit wonder, or rather a one bell wonder and she would sooner hit you over the head with her bell than give it up. Like Nickelback’s endless stream of songs that all involve you living like your dying, if today was your last day, remember the photographs, this person’s bell playing all sounds the same.
6. The Mercenary
This member does not even go to your church. Likely they attend a contemporary church nearby. So most Sunday mornings they’re singing their fancy hymnless devil music, but come Sunday afternoon they’re at your church ringing like the most holy. In rare cases, a mercenary plays at more than one church. This factor can be tested by trying to change the time of handbell rehearsal one day. If they complain, then it’s probably because they have another rehearsal to get to. They also tend to have above average forearms.
7. The Director
The Director has unnatural powers bestowed directly upon her by God. This crucial member has the power to make you take your hands off the bells with a flick of her wrist. She’s been known to simultaneously direct and play to make up for that one empty spot. She can catch accidentally thrown bells out of midair. Often, she doubles as the Handyman. Don’t cross this magical creature. She holds more power in her baton than you will ever see in your life.
These are the people I’ve noticed in the various groups I’ve been in. (Yes, I’m the mercenary. I’ve simultaneously been in handbell choirs for churches I don’t even attend). If you’ve been in handbells, have you noticed these people? Which person are you? If your church doesn’t have handbells, then shame on you. You must go to one of those devil music places.
(For more great stuff from Amanda, check out her blog.)