Monday, November 26, 2012

Whispered in the sounds of silence

I had some time after work today and rather than go home and risk being distracted, I decided to take my music binder to Starbucks to practice bells. Unlike most other instruments, you don't get to bring your bells home with you to practice. Instead, you have to rely on reading through the music and work out counting  your part in your mind. If you want to build muscle memory, you can wave around a couple of pens in place of the bells.

So I sat for two hours at Starbucks, where I drank too many espresso-based drinks -- because the extra caffeine in espresso sounded like such a good idea at the time -- and vigorously waved around my pens and markers to music heard only in my head. I managed to snag a nice-sized area to myself, despite the otherwise crowded location. To be honest, I think I scared everyone away, since I heard one little girl cry, "No, mommy, I don't want to sit by her. Let's just go home, please mommy!"

But the practice paid off. I managed to keep up with the bell choir for a change, with only a few obvious mis-rings. Last season, I did really well in the Boca bell choir. In fact, I was proud to call myself one of the best ringers in the choir. Looking back, the pride was probably misplaced. There were only two people in the bells last year who had rung before. All of the rest of us were new ding-a-lings without a clue of what we were doing. I had the advantage of actually reading music and knowing enough to keep smiling even when you made a mistake. (You would think that music majors, in their senior year of college, would have learned not to say "opps, sh*t" during a performance, especially during a church service. But apparently not.) This year, after waiting several months for the bell choir to start up again, I decided to join the bells at my church. I confidently told the choir director that yes, I was an experienced ringer. She wisely put me in a beginner's chair anyway. Which was really good, since this bell choir really rings out the sanctuary! As a beginner, I only have four bells and four chimes. The more experienced ringers have four bells in hand, which calls for some mighty fancy wrist work. Just imagine what the barristas at Starbucks would have thought of me flinging around that many pens!

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