How Many Notes?

My bell stand partner has been to the music store and is all excited.

They have duets. Play one with me. Hand bells and organ – I’ve already talked to our director (she doubles as organist, triples as choir director).

The ability to say “NO” to flattering invitations slips away. We arrange a practice time, arrive on schedule, and lay out the bells. I don’t want to count them. How can such shiny, elegant brass and leather instruments intimidate?

Missed notes, wrong notes, late notes lead to laughter. Begin again. One, two, three, four. Move bells around for easier changes. Again.

Next practice we each miss fewer notes. I mark extra spoons with note notations and practice at home. In my head, as I count, it’s beginning to sound a little like a hymn.

Weeks, then a month goes past. Are we ready? A practice or two with the organ. Yes, it will work. We play from our hiding place in the balcony for a summer service.

More practice. More confidence. More tricks learned to position bells for quick changes. Passages memorized from repetition. (And because page turns come in the middle of the most difficult phrase.)

Courage. Confidence. Circumstance. No hiding for a special service as we give a Thanksgiving duet.  Taunt nerves relax at the end. The same relief remembered from after the first concert with beginning band all those years and miles away.



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