My Mentors: Amy Maakestad and Deb Olsen

Published on Thursday, 13 June 2013 22:06

As a new member of Twin Cities Bronze, I wanted to share my history with two members of the group: Amy Maakestad and Deb Olsen.

I first met Deb when I was in second grade. She was helping direct a children’s musical that I was a part of at my church, Centennial United Methodist in Roseville. Around that time, my mom was looking for piano teachers for me to start taking lessons. We had visited many teachers, but none seemed to be a good fit. Discouraged, my mom asked Deb if she had any recommendations. She said that she knew someone who might be just right for me – a friend named Amy.

We visited her and knew that she was the right choice. Amy allowed me to be excited and ask questions – even take apart the piano to see how it worked! I took lessons from her for many years.

In the meantime, Deb became director of children’s choirs at church. She directed a musical every year, which the kids and congregation alike always looked forward to. One of Deb’s many accomplishments was starting a kids’ handbell program, and I learned to ring in her choir.

I quickly began to enjoy handbells, so much so that I started attending Twin Cities Bronze concerts while I was still in elementary school. Deb was in the group, and it was exciting to experience handbell music that was so fun and challenging. Once I scheduled a birthday party around one of their concerts, so they surprised me by ringing Happy Birthday during the performance!

I rang in Deb’s choirs for 10 years, getting to play challenging music, do fun things like processionals and bell trees, and participate in many events such as Kids Ring, Bellfest, Brass and Bells Spectacular, and High School Handbell Happenings. Deb encouraged me to try solo ringing, finding solo music for me and offering advice. She was always supportive of all the kids she worked with, helping them reach their fullest potential through music.

When Deb joined the Toll Free handbell quartet, they invited me to ring and play flute with them as a guest, which I have done many times since high school. I got to meet Kate, one of the ringers who is also a member of Twin Cities Bronze. Toll Free also premiered a piece I wrote, First Light, with Amy as a fifth ringer.

Now, having joined Twin Cities Bronze and working with my past mentors again, I feel part of my musical journey has come full circle. I am so happy to be a part of the group, and I look forward to working with all the members of the ensemble.