When I look back over my 35 year career in the handbell world I am amazed at what I see. I was a young woman when I was first approached about directing a youth handbell choir. At the time I had no directing experience and was more of a background person than one that enjoyed being in the forefront. So naturally my first instinct was to say “No thanks”…but amazingly it was a “Yes” that came out of my mouth. And that is where my handbell journey begins…the time I have spent directing and playing with all the folks, young and old, that have been in one of my groups has truly given me some of the greatest joys in my life. To watch the ringers, start out as individuals, and end up as one unit is amazing to witness, suddenly instead of a bunch of people playing individual bells they become one playing ONE instrument. The teambuilding process that a bell choir goes through is very similar to a sports team; every person has a specific task or position, a purpose. In handbells, everyone is vital to the group; the commitment level is very high, as each member totally depends on the ringers next to them.  Imagine 12 people standing around a piano, each with their finger on 2 keys, throw a challenging piece of music at them and ask them to perform it…well, that is just what I ask of them, two notes each and play this piece of music so it seems one person is doing it. What I ask from them is not easy, I want it to be well played, I want their emotions flowing into the piece, and I want them to listen and feel each other’s emotion and match it...and there you have it…music!

I do not come before them with a degree in music, or even directing, but I do come with a humbleness at the process, a huge love for the instrument, and a passion for working with these ringers to watch them stretch and grow and become one together. You all are amazing!
Janice Murray
Director
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