Laurenne and I had the privilege of joining 400 other handbell ringers at the bi-annual Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers (affectionately known as OGEHR – think Shrek) Festival. We were at McMaster University in Hamilton and Laurenne is now enthralled with the idea of going to university, living in the dorms and eating in the cafeteria – heaven help the bank account! Anyway, to ring a song with a gym full of bells was an experience like none other. We were stretched, challenged in our ringing, and our feet (from walking) and arms (from ringing) will be sore for a few days yet!

I’m sure many of you were even unaware that Laurenne and I were in a handbell choir. Our church has the best handbell director that has made playing bells cool and not just for retired people! There are three choirs at our church – an intergenerational choir (that Laurenne and I are in) an adult choir and a teen choir. St. John’s teen choir was the one that played the bells for the Swiss Chalet commercial that was on a few years ago…

We love playing bells and I am looking forward to introducing them to the classroom. It is an excellent instrument to use (move over recorder!) and is accessible for all students, whatever their musical ability. There were numerous workshops (Laurenne and I now know how to play two bells in each hand) and I’ve learned under two master conductors (what a pleasure to watch their conducting technique – geeky, I know…)

So, while most people spent their weekend relaxing and sleeping in, Laurenne and I (along with 400 other people) rang, sang and had a BLAST! We are eagerly looking forward to two years from now when our playing ability will be much better and we will get to play with the ‘big kids’.

So, while sleep was at a minimum, we have happy, ringing hearts and are blessed to have been a part of such an amazing experience. I highly recommend you find a handbell choir in your area and start ringing.

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