Have you ever wanted to get some one-on-one musical training at minimal cost? Don’t read music, but want to learn in a fun, easy, and unintimidating way? Would you like to take part in an activity that brings joy to many people in our area? Then the Desert Bells Handbell Choir wants to hear from you.
“Now is the perfect time to try handbell ringing!” says Carmen Ranta, president of the Desert Bells Handbell Choir Society and the choir’s director. The choir has taken delivery of a new octave of bells, giving it a four octave range, and new ringers are needed for that and to replace positions that have recently come open.
“People are coming and going from the choir all the time, and we have two spots open now,” says Ranta. “We’re covering, but it would be great if someone wants to try. And with the new octave it’s the perfect time for new people.” The choir has filled one of the new octave positions, but has openings for two spots in the middle and one at the high end, with new members able to receive one-on-one coaching from established members of the choir.
Ranta notes that the music is simple, but quite beautiful, and ringers of all ages—children, adults, and seniors—are welcome. “We have 10-year-olds in the choir. No musical experience is necessary. It’s nice to have the opportunity for students to learn to read music. They can learn as they’re doing it, rather than sitting there with books. They will get coaching from members, and it’s something they can bring forward in their lives.”
She says that the music the choir is working with is simple in order to make it available for people who are learning to read music. “We want to make sure the music is doable for them. With new students we’re trying to make sure that everyone is comfortable, and no one feels left out.”
In addition to the new octave of bells—which gives the choir a range beyond that of most handbell choirs in the province—Ranta says that the group is excited to be able to purchase a fourth octave of hand chimes, which will give the choir even greater range.
The choir meets every Wednesday for a rehearsal from 6:15 to 8:45 p.m. at the Cache Creek Community Hall, with a car pool and rides available. There are no rehearsals during spring break.
The choir is now rehearsing for a concert at the Kamloops United Church on April 22, where they will be performing with two handbell choirs from Kamloops. That will be followed by performances with the Sage Sound Singers choir in Ashcroft on May 5 and 6. Rehearsals will not start again until the fall, for a Christmas performance.
“The fee is only $25 per term, which is amazing for one-on-one teaching,” says Ranta. “We get grant funding, which keeps the costs down.” Theresa Takacs has taken over the conducting duties from Ranta, who is ringing in the choir; but as a music teacher, she says that she can coach anyone who comes into the choir beside her.
“I sometimes I feel like we—the handbell choir—are like the little engine that could,” says Ranta. “We’re the only group teaching music to all ages in our region!”
For more information about the Desert Bells Handbell Choir, contact Ranta at (250) 457-1250.