Thankfulness Thursday: Making a joyful noise

I’m proud to announce my brand-new membership in my church’s handbell choir.

Okay, I lied. I’m terrified that I will be performing with the handbell choir this Sunday. (Click here for video of the song we’ll be performing. Or in my case, trying to perform!)

Yep. Last night should have been a “watch and decide whether the choir is out of my league” observation, but one member was out recovering from surgery and the choir members jumped at the chance to have all of the parts covered. Apparently, they have not had a full complement for a long time.

I’ve had many years of classical training music, but I only had two years of handbell choir experience. Many years ago. In a small student choir that played Gospel acclamations and Alleluia chimes, not real, grown-up pieces for special church performances.

Out of my league? You bet.

Yet I left rehearsal exhilarated. For ninety minutes, my brain whirred to take in all of the new techniques (that I never learned or forgot I’d learned). Chimes. Striking the bell with a mallet. Damping on the shoulders instead of on the table. Striking the bells (lightly) against the padded table. Accidentally clinking one bell against another and wincing, remembering former choir directors’ wrath at injuring the instruments. (Bells are expensive!)

For ninety minutes, my life centered on four bells and four chimes. One mallet. The hole on the index finger on my left glove. Flipping through the sheet music to find the correct song. Sticking my tongue in between my teeth as I silently counted “and one and two and” to come in at the right rhythm. Cursing the accidentals popping up for one note, having to switch bells, and losing my place while double-checking to make sure I had the right bells in my hands. Wincing at wrong notes, thinking they were mine, and relaxing when someone else admitted to playing on the wrong beat.

The conductor raising his baton to rehearse only the eighth notes. Waiting for the run-through, then jumping in the second time.

“Did you all hear me when I said only the black notes?” he scolded.

“Sorry!” I yelped, mortified. (For the record, it wasn’t just me playing when I wasn’t supposed to!)

“Be nice or she won’t come back!” scolded one of the other players.

“She’s doing great!” said a few others. “Must have had music training.”

Church music directors are notorious for their frustration in dealing with amateur musicians, and church amateur musicians are notorious for not caring. πŸ™‚

Today, I am thankful for a childhood spent practicing scales. An adolescence spent largely in practice rooms and rehearsals, learning how to love music and how to perform. I hated the pressure of performing then, but now I get to enjoy the camaraderie of making music with fellow music lovers.

“Handbell ringers are few and far between,” the choir director told me last Sunday when he invited me to watch the rehearsal.

I feel as if I’ve been given the passcode to a new world, a ninety-minute time warp once a week when I get to be absorbed by worrying only about music and nothing else.

Last summer, I became caught up in the rush of enjoying baseball. With the close of the season and onset of winter, baseball mania has faded. I needed something to energize me, wake me up, and stir my passions.

First bread-making.

Now handbells.

Yesterday I made a joyful noise, and for that I am thankful. I took the sheet music home with me and have been playing “air bell” to prepare for my debut on Sunday. πŸ™‚

What makes you thankful today?

34 thoughts on “Thankfulness Thursday: Making a joyful noise

  1. Roz says:

    Congratulations on the choir Ana! That is wonderful and it sounds as though you did a great job and that your fellow choir members were impressed πŸ™‚ Wishing you all the best for Sunday. You will be great πŸ™‚

    Right now I am thankful for my bed! LoL (heading there now πŸ™‚ Oh, and a sunny, blue sky day today. Would have been much better without the horrid gale wind … but still thankful πŸ™‚



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      lol! I like your thankfulness. Why not? I’m thankful for my bed, too. πŸ™‚

      Oh, I’m also thankful I have a suitable black-and-white outfit for Sunday. I used to live in black and white for performances. πŸ˜€

      Thank you so much. I hope you have another blue-sky, sunny day tomorrow without the gale. πŸ˜€


  2. constance masters says:

    Congratulations Ana on your place in the bell choir and congratulations to them on getting you!

    I’m thankful for my Mum who came up to see me today with my sister. I have been completely stressed and she can still make everything alright at 92. She’s amazing and we are all still lucky to have her πŸ™‚


  3. abby says:

    I love to listen to bell choirs, and envy their talent….many many years ago I pounded on a piano. Wish I could be there to hear your official debut on Sunday, bet it will be heavenly!
    I am thankful that I can stay in today and not head out in the freezing temps.
    hugs abby


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Abby, I just read a rant saying that handbell choirs are the bane of churches and should be banished to professionals only. The author said most choirs are terrible. LOL. I guess beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, eh?

      Yay for staying in and enjoying the warmth!


  4. Terry says:

    Hi Ana
    Congratulations on becoming a member of your chuch’s handbell choir. I have seen handbell choirs perform a few times and have always been so impressed by the beautiful music and the skill of everyone working together as a team. I’m sure that you will be wonderful this Sunday. I wish we all could be there to listen to your concert. I envy you your musical background and talent. I never took music lesions beyond the mandatory “song flute” in elementary school. I know that it is never to late to learn something new so maybe someday. Baseball, bread making and handbells ( and novel writing). This sounds like it has been a great year for you.

    I’m thankful because tomorrow is my day off and my husband told me that he wants to take me out to dinner someplace nice but won’t tell me where. πŸ™‚


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Song flute? I wonder if that’s what I call a recorder.

      You’d be surprised at what you can learn! Most of learning to play an instrument is mind-numbing repetition of scales, exercises, and counting practices. I was grateful, most of all, for my lessons in counting tricky rhythms correctly.

      You know what? There are two people in the handbell choir who can’t even read music! If you have a handbell choir near you that takes beginners, you should look into it. It’s a great first instrument to try if you like music but are intimidated by it.

      Ah yes, naughty novel writing. πŸ˜€

      Yay, a nice dinner! Yay for husbands. Do tell us how you enjoy the evening.


  5. Mona Lisa says:

    Oh, Ana, how exciting! I am almost jumping up and down here next to my PC
    The piece you are going to play is beautiful!
    Good Luck!

    Today, I am, as Roz has written, grateful for my bed. I’ve got a runny nose and sore throat and am thankful that I can rest me up a few days in my bed.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You are so sweet. πŸ˜€ Aww. I am glad you like the piece! I wish I could find a better recording of it. This was the best of three, and the rhythm and notes are off in a few places. Still, it gives me courage to perform even if I miss some of the notes.

      I hope you are feeling better very soon and able to get up again, and I hope you also enjoy your pajama time while recovering.


  6. pao says:

    Scales! Mm, I remember those things… I think performing as an ensemble is always a lot more fun πŸ™‚ Just like doing anything together in a team! I am thankful to be able to visit home soon πŸ˜€


  7. angel says:

    Congrats Ana I am happy for you I miss you the last few days I wasn’t allowed on my computer I don’t know why as there is no way I could have done anything wrong……I missed chating with you You will do great Sunday Have a great day


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, thank you so much. I missed you, too! I hope you are okay now and will stay out of trouble. Be good! Live up to your name. πŸ˜€ Though everyone I know named Angel is anything but…lol.

      Take care and see you soon.


      • angel says:

        I am a Angel always lol…. I even learned to use my smart phone online I am so excited I can do so much more now with out having to be on the laptop lol


  8. quiet sara says:

    Congrats on the handbells! You sound really excited and happy. Good for you for trying something new-ish.

    I had a dream last night that I was supposed to sing for a big event but I got stage fright. Sounds about right!!!

    Today I am thankful for heat. It’s cold in here! πŸ™‚

    love sara


      • quiet sara says:

        I sing at home but every time I have tried to sing in public I just end up with horrible stage fright that turns into blathering tears. I gave up on that dream long ago. Some things just aren’t meant to be? πŸ™‚

        And thanks. I hope you get to babysit that little baby next door!


  9. terpsichore says:

    Hi Ana,
    I am so glad you found something more that brings you joy. Have fun making music! πŸ™‚ I am grateful for a great many things – at this moment in time I am thankful that the trunk of my car closed (it does not like the cold and decided to get stuck this morning and I can’t drive it with the trunk open) So yay! Now, I just can’t open it again until spring I guess… πŸ™‚


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL!! I guess you can always use bungee cords? I’ve seen people doing that with their trunks. I’m afraid to ask what’s in your trunk, by the way…

      I will have to pop over and see your thankfulness post later today…after quilting. πŸ˜€

      Try to behave. πŸ˜‰


  10. Michael says:

    Congratulations Ana! You should be very proud, and we are all very proud and happy for you. I love your fearless attitude of embracing new things and blazing trails of happiness with your new adventures. And make no mistake, your attitude is contagious both to your readers here and your friends in daily life. I bet your fellow choir members felt it as they witnessed your joy and exuberance. I know you will have a brilliant debut despite butterflies in your tummy the size of barn owls. But that pre-performance excitement will make the experience all the more fun and memorable. Just like those pre-spanking flutters which add to the richness of the OTK experience. Oh, speaking of spankings, I saw in video clip the handbell ringers (glad you mentioned the correct name because I was wondering what it was – bellers, ringers, chimers) were all standing so that makes it easier for you if you happen to be sporting an ouchy red bum during your debut. 😈

    Seriously, good luck and enjoy this new experience, Ana. Let us know how it goes. πŸ™‚


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, thank you Michael! I’m learning that I need to be a bit less enthusiastic about posting or else I can’t catch up replying to comments! πŸ˜€ Still, I can’t help myself.

      Standing up sounds like a good thing, until 90 minutes later your legs and feet hurt! Ah well, I was too focused during rehearsal to notice.

      I hope my attitude is contagious! Scary part is that it’s contagious both for good and bad–see post for today. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to increase the positive and decrease the negative.

      It’s time to practice some more air bell today so I can sail through Sunday’s performance. Believe me, I’ll let everyone know how it goes. πŸ˜€

      Hope you have a wonderful day!


  11. sassytwatter says:

    CingreTukations!!! Super excited for you.
    Have a wonderful performance this weekend.

    I’m thankful die a husband who takes care of me when I’m suck & can understand my jibberish texts sent in the dark it’s an art form.

    Beautiful thoughtful post as always that makes you stop and think.


  12. Ami says:

    I think you are so brave. I love to listen to people playing handbells but it looks so complicated. I couldn’t manage to ring two, let alone four. You are clever and adventurous. Sigh. You make sure you look forward to the weekend and don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      It’s not complicated, but it does take focus. Four plus three chimes…phew!

      I fell asleep at 6 PM last night after staying up until 4 AM making my third set of bread for the day. πŸ˜› I think I’ll keep trying to rest.

      Hugs and hope you are well.


  13. Irishey says:

    Hi, Ana. This is a lovely post that made me smile. I’m thankful for you for sharing this today. I also really enjoyed the video of the bell ringers performing.

    How wonderful for you to be able to step in for the bell choir just when they really needed someone with skill and experience. How fortunate for you to have this opportunity open itself so quickly after deciding to pursue again your interest in bell ringing. What is it “they” say? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

    Congratulations, and hugs!


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      So glad to make you smile! You always have the sweetest things to say. Yes, it was wonderful timing! I’m still thrilled, two days later. πŸ™‚ Funny how past life experiences come back to us, both for good and ill. Glad it was good this time! Hugs back.


  14. catrouble says:

    CONGRATULATIONS ANA! How awesome is that! Just remember to enjoy the experience and don’t be hard on yourself Ms Perfectionist. πŸ˜‰ I am very thankful for my health and for all my friends/family here in blog land.

    Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I was a perfectionist musician. πŸ™‚ It worked well until I went overboard. I’ll stay on this side of perfectionism this time. I hope! πŸ™‚

      I am thankful for your health as well, and for those who love you.


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