This article written by Dellinda Ebeling, Area 9 Chair Elect
When looking back on my Christmas ringing experiences, I remember the hours spent with fellow musicians, practicing new music, and laughing with friends. In preparation for a season filled with firsts, I found a shared intimacy ringing in an ensemble setting, a feeling I had never really achieved in a traditional choir. Here is one of my more memorable stories from December.
An inquiry came in from a local hospital that wanted our concert ensemble to play at an event for a seniors’ group in their facility. The request was “for about fifteen minutes while the band takes a break.” I had to explain that wouldn’t be possible due to the vast space we would require, and then we discussed the possibility of bringing a small ensemble. It was a lovely venue; they accommodated everything we needed. No problems, right? Wrong! The audience members were all seated at tables to our left and right because of a large dance floor. When the band took their break, the audience mostly took advantage of that time to talk to everyone around them. Almost no one could hear us, and the seven of us couldn’t even hear each other. We got kind compliments while we packed our instruments to leave, but they were along the lines of “we thoroughly enjoyed what we could hear.”
Many of the other events I rang in were fun, while others were just okay. I’m sure you’ve got your own humdinger memories from this year – a few just okay, but many genuinely amazing.
These shared experiences make us realize that, above all, what we do as musicians has to make us happy and feel fulfilled. If it doesn’t, then we need to find something else to do. We’ve all heard stories or seen social media posts where small bell ensembles were primarily used as background music while something else was happening. But the stories we love and like and retweet – the best stories – are the ones where handbell musicians have huge smiles on their faces from playing at the places uniquely special to them.
As you reminisce about your holiday ringing season, remember playing for people who can no longer go out into their community or ringing in hospital hallways for children too ill to get out of bed. Remember the big smile on your face and the warm feeling in your soul. Never forget bringing the magic of Christmas to those who had lost it. Most of all, know where your mission will continue to be in the new year.