I was born in Bellevue and have lived my whole life here in the Puget Sound Area. I grew up in the Renton UMC and Kent UMC. In the year and a half I have been a part of Aldersgate UMC, I have found a new home and a new family.
In 1986, a dear and wonderful lady, who became my mentor, at KUMC introduced me to a new world of music, Handbells. I started out in the Children’s choir, graduated to the Youth choir and was so good at it that in High School, I became the 1 st youth to be a part of the Adult choir. At my High School graduation party for friends, family and church family, my mentor asked me a very important, life changing question. She asked me if I had considered going to college to be a Handbell director. The seed was planted.
I attended Green River Community College and earned my AA degree in Performing Arts (Theatre Major, Music Minor). It wasn’t long after graduation that I felt called to step up and give back to my home church as the Handbell Director at KUMC for 7 years where I directed 3 choirs (Children’s Choir, Youth Choir and Adult Choir).
A Brief History Of English Handbells
In medieval times Christians travelled throughout Europe ringing bells while spreading the news of the risen Christ, and summoning people to congregate. Eventually, large bronze bells were cast and towers were constructed to house them. At first these towers were built apart from the church; then belfries were added above the church structures. When several bells are hung in a belfry, they can be rung together, or one after another. This group of bells is known as a peal and consists of up to twelve bells tuned to different notes of the scale.
By the 1700s tower bell ringing had become a very popular pastime throughout the British Isles. In order to practice bell ringing away from the exposed bell tower, hand-held bells were made. These handbells were used to practice the musical changes for the tower bells, but ringers soon became interested in using the bells to ring melodies. Simple arrangements of hymns and folk songs began to appear, written for newly formed bell choirs. By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly every village in England had its own handbell choir.
Today, there are 4 manufacturers of Handbells still in existence: in England, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in the area of London (1700 to today), In the Netherlands, the royal bell foundry of Petit & Fritsen (1660 – 2010) and in the US Schulmerich (1962 to today) and Malmark (1973 to today).