Patty HighlandThis article written by Patty Highland, Area 9 Secretary

As I write this article, I am reflecting on the year of ringing in Area 9 – the joy that has been shared and that has grown through the year through the art of handbells. Handbell ringing is alive and well in our area!

Let me share a few highlights.

We started the fall offering both Back to Bells and Bell Boot Camp events – helping ringers across the area get those bells out, dust them off, and get them ringing again. Whether the bells had just taken the summer off or several years, these were great events to get the bells ringing again. In your local ensemble, you too were getting your bells ringing again.

Then the holidays were celebrated with bells pealing and music ringing throughout the country. Bells add a unique beauty and sparkle to any holiday event. Plus, it is the time of year that everyone wants to hear bells ringing!

In the spring, Area 9 offered four different locations for our Spring Rings – for ringers to come together to grow their skills and ring for a day.

In addition to those things listed here, there is much more happening in the Oklahoma and Texas world of handbells – thanks to you and your efforts. I know there are many events and concert happening which we love to share via our newsletter! Keep sending in the details.

Moreover, now, I am guessing that you are – or are getting close to – wrapping up your handbell year with your ringers – ringing for the final time in concert or worship this semester, celebrating the year of growth and beauty with your ensemble.

As I reflect, I am proud of the handbell community in our area. Those of us who ring or direct handbells are so blessed and, honestly, incredibly lucky to play this instrument and to be a part of such this beautiful community. When I watch children and youth at my church ring, and I see the bonds they form through their participation in the ensemble. I am reminded of the blessings – musical and non-musical – that we gain by being part of such a group.

I had the honor of judging ten youth handbell ensembles for Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Fine Arts Contest this spring. I was so proud of these young people for the work and preparation they put into their ringing and thrilled at the joy they shared through this endeavor. Our challenge as ringers and directors is to continue to invite more people into the world of handbells – to give them an opportunity to ring, to let them experience the thrill of learning a new skill and a new instrument, and being a part of the fellowship of such an ensemble. I challenge you to look around you and see whom you can invite to start ringing.

I look forward to seeing you on Area 9 Summit 2016: The Ocean Journey in June, and hope to see you as we ring the national anthem at the Texas Rangers Game in August (there’s still to time to register) Keep those bells ringing!