First Performance!

On May 18 TVA Bells had their first performance. They did great! They played The Entertainer, a pretty complicated piece. 

The group was down a member, so Michael had to step in and play a part at the last second, but all was well. The kids even played the first half of the song from memory. 

The performance was not without hiccups, but these students had zero handbell experience at the start of this year and ended the year playing a very complicated song. We are so proud of them! 

The rest of the concert was wonderful too. The whole school worked hard and put on a great evening of entertainment. 

For those who want to hear the performance, you can check it out by clicking here

The rest of the school year is going to be spent on polishing technique and playing around with a new song. 

We are looking forward to what next school year brings!

Bell Workshop

Last week TVA Bells held an all-day handbell workshop. 

You know that song, "I get by with a little help from my friends"?

Yeah, we didn't play that. But we had help from friends! Jared was part of the bell choir that became Ring of Fire, and he came to help out and mentor the members of TVA Bells. Thank you Jared! 

The kids worked on their spring concert piece and did some teambuilding for most of the day, but they also played the first part of Capriccio, the song Ring of Fire was famous for. 

They did well! 

We ended the day by heading to the local handbell festival concert, which wound up being a story in itself, but we had fun. 

We look forward to showing you what the kids have been working on at the Spring Concert! In the meantime, please pray that the tough parts of the music click, that memorization comes easily and that the kids see Jesus in all of this. 

Practice, Practice and More Practice

I had the pleasure of crashing handbell practice just before Spring Break. I hadn't heard the bell choir since the fall. 

WOW. What a difference a few months make!

The kids are working on their Spring Concert piece. They were much more confident, learned new things faster, and were playing a pretty complicated piece, some of them doing that from memory. 

What is the secret to teaching kids to play handbells well? 

Practice. Lots of practice.

Ring of Fire practiced 4-5 hours a week. TVA Bells is currently practicing about an hour and a half a week. Yet the kids have managed to pack as much learning into that amount of time as possible. They've grown so much from where they started last fall, and we're very proud of them. 

Next year we'll aim for more practice time, but in the meantime, Michael has set up an all-day handbell workshop with Ring of Fire alumni for April 15. The kids will have the benefit of very close attention from experts who have been in their shoes to help them learn and grow, and they will spend all day polishing their concert piece. 

I can't wait to see what they sound!

Playing From Memory

Playing from memory is huge to TVA Bells. It is what allowed Ring of Fire to play with such musicality. When the students stopped focusing on their music and started playing from memory and by feel, they were able to put emotion behind their music that other bell choirs had never achieved. 

Last week TVA Bells hit a milestone. They played the first section of their spring concert piece by memory for the first time. 

We are so, SO proud of them! They will have gone from never picking up a handbell in September to playing a fairly complicated, long piece by memory in May with about an hour and twenty minutes of practice a week. 

Kids are amazing.

Come join us on May 18 at 7:00PM to hear the bells perform as a group for the first time!

Cookies and Pretzels and Cinnamon Rolls, Oh My!

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Hungry for cookies? TVA is selling cookie dough, Auntie Anne's soft pretzels and Cinnabon cinnamon rolls to benefit the handbell choir right now! Orders are due Tuesday. You can place your order with any TVA student, or click here for more information. 

We are raising money to replace worn out tables and bell cases and to help offset the costs of being in bell choir for any student who might need it. 

Thanks for helping us bring the bells back to TVA!

What does the director do during his off time?

He arranges music.

Michael has been pouring heart and soul into two things over this Christmas break: programming an app to help the kids get more practice time when practice time is limited, and arranging music for their next piece.

It's going to be pretty neat, if I do say so myself.

We're really looking forward to hearing the kids play this piece! 

Polishing Party

Part of learning to play handbells is learning to be a team. Another part is learning to care for the instruments that they have been entrusted with.

What better way to learn this than to have the kids polish several years' worth of finger prints and grime off the bells?

They had a blast, the bells look great, and the next person to put a fingerprint on a bell is probably going to hear about it from their teammates, all in good fun of course!

Chapter 2

TVA has a history with handbells. Ring of Fire was a phenomenal choir while under the direction of Jason Wells from 1996-2005. They did amazing things. Kids did amazing things.

And then, the bells were silent. 

This year TVA is focused on growth. They are looking at new ways to provide a curriculum that addresses today's ever-growing technological advances. They are expanding to 9th grade next year. They have opened a second Kindergarten class.

They brought the bells back.

The choir is now under the direction of Michael Blackburn, a member of the first Ring of Fire bell choir. The kids are eager to learn, just like they were 10 years ago. 

The expectations are high, but the kids are already showing signs that they are up for the challenge. 

Are they Ring of Fire yet? No. But they are growing, learning and dedicated. With time and practice, they have the potential to be Ring of Fire.

Come join us on this journey. It's going to be one wild ride!