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Twin Cities Bronze
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Bronze Buzz

Practice! Process! Performance!

Hi!  I'm Rachel and I'm a bass bell ringer.  I had the good fortune of starting music lessons very early in life, and eventually handbells became part of my musical outlet.  As the years progressed, I could play other positions but I was pegged as a bass ringer in high school, perhaps due to the lack of people in my church who could and would wield the weighty bass bells.

Here I am now ringing bass for Twin Cities Bronze again - I'd first joined in 1999, scared out of my knickers to be ringing for such an advanced ensemble.  The program at my childhood church was good, but Twin Cities Bronze is on a completely different level.

Like any good ensemble, we study our music on our own, outside of the three hour weekly rehearsals.  So with the music in front of me, a metronome at my side, and pencils and bottles in front of me as my bells, I run through my part in the music. That lays the foundation for the muscle memory required to perform, but it's just notes on the page at this point.

Once we get to rehearsal, with the weight of the bells in hand, is when the magic starts to happen. There is nothing quite so electric as the first time through a piece and we nail it, and the more challenging the piece, the greater the thrill.

The day of a performance comes, and the adrenaline starts.  We arrive on site hours early out of necessity - I cannot think of another instrument so labor-intensive in its preparation for performance.  Nerves are allayed by the sheer amount of set up required - bell ringers with idle hands are, generally speaking, not in their natural state! We like to be ringing, or if need be, setting up to ring.

We are as much a visual medium as aural, and all sections of the group fascinate me.  I can't do what our treble bell ninjas do - they're insanely good!  The bass has its own technical demands too. Where the treble section needs the fine motor skills of a bonsai tree artist, we in the bass need to evoke that same musical sensitivity out of more metal by several degrees of magnitude.  Our bells are arranged on the table to facilitate ease of access to them - assignments change from piece to piece, and may not necessarily be in keyboard order.  And unless you are Andre the Giant, they're not going to be rung four in hand.

So, that's a little taste of our passion, what goes on behind the scenes, part of the process.  For the full experience, well you'll just have to check us out at one of our concerts.  We look forward to seeing you then!