On April 23, 2017, Concordia University–Saint Paul held its annual handbells concert. The Handbell ensemble and CSP Ringers played a total of ten songs. I played in both the Handbell ensemble, the CSP Ringers, and played percussion. The Handbell ensemble played a song “Jovano, Jovanke.” It is a Macedonian folk song that is traditionally sung and played by a band. It was fun to play on handbells, have the opportunity to play the chimes that are as tall as I am, and play the big thirteen-pound bells in the ensemble. “Jovano Jovanke” was a fun upbeat song that had a fun ¾ beat measure. The ringers used interesting techniques by ringing the bells and then lightly tapping the tables with the rim of the bell; they hit the bells with mallets, and mart-lifted them, which is where the ringer hits the bell on the table and lifts it to create a longer noise. My favorite part was the transition into the B form. That’s when the bass ringers would hit the bells with mallets having a dotted quarter note and two staccato notes following in each measure to create a syncopated feel. “Sing Praise to God Above” was one of the songs the CSP Ringers did. I play bass clef bells, so I malleted almost the entire song. It was difficult to play when first learning the piece, but it was easier after a while. One way to help keep the beat was thinking of the Takademe counting (Ta-dee-me, Ta-dee-me, ta-dee). It was beautiful hearing the takademe counting and melody switch from bass (who used mallets) to treble bells (who used thumb damping technique) halfway through the song.
Throughout the song “Jovano, Jovanke,” I could imagine the Macedonian women and men dancing their traditional dance. In the last song, “Ring Dance,” played by the Handbell ensemble, Anna Reinecke played her bells and they sounded like light rain falling, until the other bells came in to disrupt the light sound. The song “Nocturne in C Minor” sounded like a night song. I could imagine a little bat in the dark under all the stars sleeping in a tree. All of these songs evoked a feeling of joy and relaxation throughout the concert. I could imagine a story line and each note played allowed me to fall into a sense of relaxation as my mind began to imagine. Last semester, Honors learned about the ways of knowing. Emotions are what shape us and drive us, whereas Imagination helps us make sense of a situation or an experience. Throughout the songs listed above, I felt very relaxed, until halfway through the concert when I played percussion. As the audience was applauding from the previous song, I checked to make sure I had the right music and all my ducks in a row. When I saw the music, I noticed it was not my part. I asked the person next to me where my music was and where my instrument was. The percussion leader said I was going to play what was infront of me and my instrument was what looked like a gourd with beads on it. Looking at my music and down at the instrument I had no idea how to play it. I became panicky, I started to feel fear welling up inside me, and I had a deer-in-the-headlights look. The leader saw this and told me how to play the gourd as the conductor turned around to start the piece and we played. This situation aligns with the James-Lange theory of seeing something reacting to it and then having an emotion. Thankfully the percussion leader saw my panicked face and changed my emotions quickly.
The concert went very well. It had many beautiful pieces that incorporated interesting bell techniques. Both handbell groups were challenged by these pieces but were able to pull it together. The concert was not long, and it was refreshing to hear music so close to the end of the year when there is a lot of stress in everyone. I was honored to play in both bell choirs and with the percussion. At the concert I was surprised I could pick up the lowest bells because they are somewhat heavy and hard to ring and damp. It was fun to play the heaviest bells. I hope to play the big bells next year as well.