Answering ‘The Look’ Question on Why I Ring Bells

Published on Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:33

When I tell friends, coworkers and family that I ring in a professional handbell ensemble, I get “The Look.” “The Look” encompasses everything from “Why would you want to do that?” to “How cool, I know nothing about handbells, tell me more.”

Jeni JonettJeni JonettSome people run long distances. Others practice meditation. I ring handbells.

Ringing is very therapeutic for me. When I’m in rehearsal, all the outside pressures of the world fade into the background, and for those three hours, I’m energized, I’m living life and I’m enjoying what I’m doing.

In concert, I see this musical therapy extend from behind the table out into the audience. I’ve had audience members approach me after a concert with tears in their eyes, sharing stories of why a piece we performed moved them so deeply. Others have exited a concert with such exuberance, the energy radiating off them lit up the room. I’m there, experiencing the same emotions right along with them.

What sets Twin Cities Bronze apart from church choirs I’ve rung in is that we make every effort to connect with a piece, and share that connection with an audience. If the tune has some sway, you can bet that behind the table, the ringers are swaying. And when we lay everything out on the table for a good bit of rock ‘n roll, all the toes in the audience will be bouncing along with us.

Without this connectivity, I believe the written music falls flat. It’s just a piece of paper with small circles and lines printed on it. It takes an ensemble connecting with the inner music to reel each and every audience member in, allowing them to enjoy the sounds the composer intended. One aspect of Twin Cities Bronze that allows us to better connect with an audience is we don’t have a director in front of us. It’s just the ringers, the audience, and an amazing blend of bell tones creating beautiful music.

I also have to admit I’m addicted to ringing. I love that goose bump sensation that crawls over me when a song builds into powerful chords. And I’ve experienced the “performance high” many times following Twin Cities Bronze concerts. You can tell when I’ve rung a concert the night previous – I always have tell-tale dark circles under my eyes because I wasn’t able to fall asleep thanks to the endorphins running through me.

Anyone who sees me ring doesn’t have to give me “The Look.” They know the answer to why I ring handbells (I’m having fun), and since it’s obviously cool, they keep me busy with questions about what I do and how I do it. Be sure to come to our next concert, and you’ll understand exactly what I’m writing about.


Answering ‘The Look’ Question on Why I Ring Bells