Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Whom The Bell Tolls

The Ring's The Thing

Going through my daily list of blogreads, I ran across a reference to someone taking their kid to bell choir practice.

I didn't quite expect the flood of memories that mentioning 'bell choir' set off in my skull. Handbells. Wow. How long ago was that?

As a teen, I was a reluctant churchgoer, to say the least. Mom & Dad pretty much quit forcing the issue about midway through high school, and more and more frequently Sunday mornings would find me snoozing until past noon, and finding some reason to avoid the evening church youth group.

Bell choir, I actually enjoyed, though. As a band geek, I was already up to my ears in music, and bell choir was just another outlet for my middling dose of musical talent.

The downside to bell choir practice was that at some point, they expected you to perform. And of course, the church service was the preferred venue. Not just the 10:30 service either. Oh, no. You had to be there for the crack-of-dawn service as well.

I always preferred the times we'd provide background music for some part of the service, as opposed to being the "featured performer". It seemed more appropriate, as opposed to a "Hey, look at my kid ringing them bells!" opportunity. Christmas was always fun, too, with all the carols.

The other downside, at least for me, was being a strapping six-footer with some beef on my frame. Not for me the rows of teacup-sized alto bells, and the chance to play the melody. Nope, I got the big mondo bells the size of the Stanley Cup. The biggest was probably a G two octaves below Middle C, which on a piano isn't that big a deal, but on a hand bell translates to 20+ pounds of bronze. You definitely got a workout on any uptempo song.

It would be fun to make a little music again. I understand that there are a few community-based bell choirs, as opposed to a church choir. Nothing against churches, I'm just afraid that if I was to enter one after all this time, I'd leave smoking, charred footprints on the carpet.

It seems like an expensive proposition to fund. I just checked on the Schulmerich website, where a set of 5 octave bells runs in excess of $20,000. That's a big pile of bronze...

So, anyone else wear the white gloves in their youth?