Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: Bells (page 1 of 7)

New Beginnings (part 2 of the bell choir story)

As I prepared myself for my retirement from the Bells on Temple Square, I decided that I would like to start a community bell choir of my own. I asked the Highland City Arts Council if that was something I could do under their umbrella, and my contact agreed. I had already been doing a teen chimes group at the arts center building, so this would just replace that. My optimism was bright and shiny as I started writing grants and requests for donations. My friend on the arts council assured me that she would help me apply for funding, and that they had received several grants, and in fact had recently purchased a $30,000 piano with grant money. Wow!

After applying to over 50 businesses, and spending SO many hours writing grants and filling out paperwork, I was just done. All I got back were NO’s, or just no response at all. I came to the conclusion that I suck at grant writing, and that no one believes in or wants to support this project. But I was still determined, so I decided to just beg for money from regular people. I set up a crowd funding project and really just got to begging. Even though I did get about $1000 from friends, it was a bit humiliating to beg, and of course, I took it personally, and instead of just realizing that not everyone has money to give to support my dreams, I internalized it that people don’t like or support me. I KNOW that’s not the case, but discouragement is a tricky tool of the adversary, and if he can get me to doubt my worth in any way, he will certainly do that. I’m working on not taking rejection so personally, but it’s a process.

I did receive word that Wal-mart would donate $500. Hooray! With the money I had raised, along with money from teaching my chime choir last year, I started looking for used bells, since brand new is out of the question. I found a 2 octave set of Malmark bells on ebay that was at around $3000. There was 30 minutes left in the auction, and I quickly looked at the pictures, and just started bidding. Reckless. I was very nervous, but kept on bidding until the very last minute, and I ended up winning that auction with a bid for $3450. Then I got really nervous. What if they were in terrible shape? What if I had just wasted ALL my money? I beat myself up mentally for taking such a risk, while at the same time, I was nervously excited that I had taken the leap and made a purchase! When the bells arrived, they seemed to be in good working order. I started polishing, and was pleased that my money hadn’t been totally wasted. I did have a professional look at one of the bells, and he agreed that they were in good shape. I have discovered that two of the handles are wrong, and one of bells has already needed repair ($70), but I am relieved that they are playable and sound good.

Soon after, I found another box of bells on ebay and I bought those, as well.

So we are now 4 bells short of 3 octaves. Unfortunately, they are the c4,c#4,d4, and d#4, and they are around $500 each. I also haven’t seen any of these bells on ebay, so I’m not very optimistic about finding them used. So, I haven’t forked out the $2000 to buy them. I did receive another $500 in donation from Rocky Mt. Power, so that’s encouraging, but not it’s not enough to justify buying those 4 bells yet.

Sadly, there is much more to starting a bell choir than just acquiring the bells. I realized I needed foam pads, and foam pad covers. That was another $200 and a week of my life spent measuring and sewing the muslin covers for the foam I had bought. I started advertising in on the Highland Arts Council website that we were forming a new handbell choir. I decided on a name and made a facebook page for the Timpanogos Ringers. I started talking up this choir and inviting people to come and “audition”. I had met some people in the play I was doing, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, who expressed interest in trying handbells, and a few people that I know also seemed interested. I started getting emails asking about the choir, and I had a list of about 10 people who had said they were going to come and try handbells. Things were starting to come together.

The beginning of September came, and I was excited to get started. However, only 4 people came to the first week.
Recruit, recruit!
The next week a couple more people came, but some of the first ones didn’t come. I emailed all the people who had been interested, and I heard back reasons why they couldn’t commit to a once a week activity at this time. It seems that my enthusiasm for something is not enough to compel others to commit. My Wednesday nights were not looked forward to with enthusiasm, but with dread. Discouragement raised it’s ugly head, and I thought about just giving up. Directing a choir is SO different than just showing up each week to play. A friend said to me, “why are you doing this? If it’s for you, and it’s not bringing you joy, then maybe it’s not worth it. If it’s for the community, then it’s a service you are doing.” Another friend said, “you could quit, but you aren’t a quitter, are you?” I wasn’t to the point of quitting, because I had 4 dedicated members who were excited about bells. One of them even asked if he could arrange a song for bells from a piano piece and if we could play it! I couldn’t give up yet. But I did tell myself that I only had to do this until Christmas, and then if I didn’t have enough interest, I would take a break for a while.

I came home and told my family that I needed their support. I needed 2 or 3 more people to come to bells and play bells, because I can’t direct AND play, even though I’d much rather play than direct. I also asked my sister if she would be willing to try. That night, Ryan came, Amy came, and Jenna and her friend Ryan came. It was awesome (even though I didn’t have enough bells for that many people)! Ryan and Amy actually had fun and have agreed to keep coming. Yay! And Ryan helps me carry the bell boxes to the car and back into the house each week, so that’s also a bonus.

We now have 9 ringers, which is perfect! If all of them would just keep coming every week, that would be great! They sight read very well, they are all good musicians who understand counting and notes because they have all had music lessons of some kind (even if they were kids, it helps!). I do not dread Wednesday nights! I’m having fun, and I think that they are having fun. I took a week off the week of fall break because I wanted to attend the wedding reception of a dear friend, and we are taking off Halloween. But I’ve scheduled us for a concert on December 12 at the community center, plus a couple of parties and the festival of trees. We will not be perfect, but I hope that everyone has fun. I’m hoping to get 9-10 songs ready, but if we don’t have that many songs ready, that’s ok, too.

I will still look for funding options so that we can get those bells we need, but it’s not urgent. I feel like my efforts of the past 10 months are finally starting to pay off and this crazy venture of mine might actually work. Will it replace the choir I’ve loved for the last decade? No. But this will allow me to express my love of bells and music in a new way, while hopefully instilling that love with new people. I hope that as we perform this Christmas and into next year, we will become more confident, and ready for new challenges. I also hope that we will grow as friends in the group and that it can be a safe and happy place for all who come, and that we can have joy in making music.

Breaking up is hard to do

I just removed myself from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir facebook group. It’s just a group for members of the choir and orchestra. While no one says you have to leave the group when you retire, it’s just not so applicable to non choir members. But, after my social media fast, I realize that there are things I can let go.

I’m still having a hard time NOT being in Bells on Temple Square. It’s been 4 months, so I should be over it, right? Well, I’m not. I think I haven’t finished the grieving process, and I need to go through a few more emotions before I can be done with that. So, I’m writing this for me. To help me work through. You can read it if you want, or not.

It’s hard to let go of something that was so amazing. This group was like a family to me. I know people say that about lots of groups, but really it was. It’s not a huge group like the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (hard to type that, and it doesn’t really roll off the tongue just yet), but only about 30-35 people in the bell choir at any given time. Some of us have been there since the beginning, so 13 years. But, as we age out, that number is getting smaller.

This is our original group picture, and from that group, there are still 11 charter members. Some of them have taken breaks for babies, illness or personal reasons. I never took any seasons off, although I did miss one Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir concert. I won a trip to Cancun from a radio contest, and so I had to miss performing with the group for the Sissel concert, but I still did come to the concert and watch it.

We rejoice with people when they got married or had babies, we support each other when our kids leave on their missions, and honestly care about each other. We are sad when one of our own gets divorced, and we rejoice when they get married. While we don’t see each other outside of choir things too often, some of us do socialize in other areas. I’ve had bell friends come over for different occasions, we go to wedding receptions. But really, since we see each other once or twice a week, we do keep in touch. I can’t say that I was super close to every ringer, but I do have some very close friends. We have shared hotel rooms, shared lunches, dinners, shared folders, shared music, and shared each other’s lives.

It’s hard to let go.

I’m not saying it was perfect. It was not. My time in the choir was also hard. I missed out on a lot of things because I had rehearsal. I missed many of my kids’ concerts, I missed my family Christmas party nearly every year, I missed any ward activity that was on a Wednesday night. There were many things I couldn’t do because they were on Wednesday. But I was blessed so much, that it hardly seemed like a sacrifice. Wednesday night was my time. I knew that I would get to talk with my carpool, chat about what’s going on in our lives, see my friends, and then I would work really hard for two hours sight reading or learning music, working out hard passages, and just playing. To be bathed in and surrounded by beautiful and often very spiritual music for two hours every single week is a rare gift. Yes, when the time was over, I was spent. My brain was tired, my back would be aching and my feet might hurt. But I knew that my brain and my body had worked hard and it was a good feeling. To work hard on a common goal together and to rejoice together when we finally got things right was amazing. And I’m not trying to brag too much here, but this group really is amazing. I mean, if you think about how many hours we practice to get to that level, it makes sense (at least 1352 hours in the 13 years I was in the choir, by the way, and that’s a pretty conservative estimate of 2 hours per week. Many weeks we had rehearsal twice a week). Like, we’re kind of a big deal. Well, they are kind of a big deal. Now, I’m just a person that USED to be in the Bells on Temple Square.

It’s like that song, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”. That’s kind of how I feel. Like I’ve been dumped by a boyfriend.

Overdramatic? Yes.

I’m trying not to overglamorize my time spent with the group. There were times I felt like quitting. Seriously. There were times I was very frustrated, and times I would come home and cry. And not just at the very beginning, either. When we started, I was sure I was not good enough for the group and that I would NEVER be good enough. In fact, I know that I was not the best ringer there. I struggle with complex rhythm and my sight reading is not the best. I would see others around me playing perfectly while I struggled. At one point, I was told that I should not switch spots to ringing 4 in hand. I went home and cried and considered quitting. The next week I made some other obvious mistake and was so embarrassed I came home and cried again. I got reprimanded when I decided to do a play and had to miss 3 weeks of rehearsal. So, no, it wasn’t all just glam and roses. But, I got to perform with the most amazing musicians, got to be on tv with the choir, even got to go to the National Handbell Association Convention and perform in their closing concert.

June was the end of my service, and I was already in the midst of rehearsing a play that ended up being a wonderful experience, and kept me busy for July. Right after that there was a vacation, but when school started, and I didn’t go back to bells, the sadness hit me full force.

–To be continued.

Spring concert…At least there was no barf

Monday was our chime choir Spring Concert.

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The kids get to perform twice for the school, and then once for the parents in the evening. They had some pretty difficult songs, and I scheduled the concert pretty early (so as to be BEFORE the band concert, as per request of the kids), so they weren’t totally performance ready. But they did ok.

We never have quite enough time as we would like to rehearse that morning, but it went ok.

We went in the afternoon to practice with the teens, and there was a karate group in the gym. Oh, well. We’ll just go up to the stage. I was thinking ahead this time, and brought everything I thought I would need for the evening. I brought T-shirts and a sign that said how much the t-shirts cost, and even listed the sizes of the shirts, I brought tablecloths for the t-shirt table, and the cookie table, I printed programs and brought those, the tables were all set up, the props were there.

For the evening concert, there were all three groups performing. I have an AM choir that meets before school at 7 am, a PM choir that meets before school at 8:00 am, and a TEEN chime choir that meets in the afternoon at the City Arts building. The teen choir is new, and I didn’t have anywhere for them to perform, so I just added them to this concert group. They really haven’t had as much time to prepare, since they rehearse on Mondays and there have been so many Monday holidays off of school. But, since they are a bit older, they pick things up faster.

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We were just about to start, and the kids tell me, “Lily is feeling sick! Should we go tell her to stay in the car?” Without saying too much about this particular child, there is a reason that I do not normally include 2nd or 3rd graders in my choir. They are just not ready for it, and usually don’t have the musical knowledge that is needed. But, if there is a sibling in the choir, I’ll often make an exception. Mistake. Anyway, I told her brother that she really should play. Probably just nerves, right? She looked terrified, and I’m not sure if she played her notes or not. I asked her if she was doing ok, and she said she thought she might throw up. So, I put things in fast gear for that group. Not much talking, cut out the banter. Just get through those 4 songs so that sick girl can be off the stage and away from the chimes. I really cannot imagine what I would have done if she threw up on the chimes (and music and tablecloths). I think we would have had to just call it and be done right then.

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The next group comes up, and we are missing one girl. Seriously? She’s been flakey all semester, missed more than half the practices, but she was there for the school concert, and I thought I had sent enough reminders home that she would come. Nope. Not there. And she’s on the high notes, so if they aren’t played, you really hear it. I called up a cute girl from my other choir and asked her if she would fill in. Sight reading. Seriously! She’s pretty awesome!

Even with her help, though, we had some serious problems. There were entire measures where no one played anything. It’s just me leading and GLARING at them, mouthing the measure numbers, hoping that someone…ANYONE…figures out where we are and GETS with the program. I’m glad the audience could only see my back at those moments. And not just one song. Multiple songs falling apart. Kids couldn’t find their folders, looking under the table trying to find them, missing notes that were borrowed for one song and not put back. Not smooth.

Ryan had told me that I was not allowed to complain about the concert, or we couldn’t go to dinner. So, I held my tongue. I was so exhausted! We did have a nice dinner out with my two chime choir kids, John and Jenna, at Rumbi.

As we were driving home from dinner, the kids were in a super giggly mood. “WANG CHUNG” came on the radio, and Ryan and I sang along. One of the kids asked what that meant, anyway, and Ryan said it was just a made up word. “It can probably mean anything, right? Everybody Wang chung tonight….I hope I don’t wang chung my lunch.” That set off a WHOLE slew of hysterical laughter and we were back on the subject of upchucking (or “Wang chunging”). At least we can laugh.

I’m very glad that we are almost done with chimes for the year. We have a performance in church on Sunday (eek! Why do I do this to myself?) and then a spring music festival next week where we all go to another school and perform and listen to other groups perform. And then we’ll be done. I’m burned out. I need to focus on other things (hello, wedding!) and take a break so I can be excited about teaching again come August.

It will probably take me that long to organize the file the music.

Sigh.

Rock Star!

cupcakesA friend of mine was telling us at book club about how she gets to guest lecture at BYU once a semester. She’s an author of several books, and one of her books is on their reading schedule for middle grade fiction. She talks about possible lessons and extensions that could be done with the book, and generally talks about writing. The students have all read the book and they are so excited to meet her, have her sign their book, and talk to her. I remember when Rosemary Wells came to my children’s literature class and I got to have her sign one of her books for me. So cool! She says she feels like a Rock Star.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star every once in a while.

I remember the first time I took students to Lone Peak High school to play the National Anthem on chimes, and the after they had played the last part of the song, “And the home of the brave”, the student section broke out in a loud chant of “USA! USA! USA!” It was full gym, everyone was standing, and they were all clapping and cheering. It was great, and the kids felt like Rock Stars. I take my students every year to do 2 basketball games, and it’s the highlight of the semester for these kids.

In thinking about my life, I’ve had a few times that I have had that Rock Star feeling. I loved playing Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof. Even though I was only in one scene on those nights, it was awesome. Fruma Sarah steals the show. When I walked out after the show to meet and greet, little kids were frightened and grown ups told me how they much they loved my scene. It was awesome.

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When I was in Pinkalicious, I got to play a few different parts. My main role was Dr. Wink, but when I went out afterwards to meet and greet the audience (mostly little girls wearing pink), they weren’t very interested in having their picture taken with me. But when I went out in the cupcake or the butterfly costume, they all wanted to give me a hug or have a picture taken.

Because who wants to take a picture of a doctor? They’d much rather take a picture with a GIANT butterfly.
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Playing bells is amazing, but I don’t often get recognized as a member of the Bells on Temple Square. Except for a few years ago, when there was a bell convention in Salt Lake City. A few of us from our choir attended the convention and rang bells all day with a guest clinician, went to classes, and had a blast. Part of the convention was that all the attendees were to come to the tabernacle to see our spring concert.
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To play for so many bell ringers, who understood how technical and difficult the music was, was amazing. When we went back to the convention the next day, so many people came up to us to tell us how amazing the concert was, and many expressed interest. One lady asked how she could join our group. Well, first of all, you need to be a member of the LDS church. We certainly felt like rock stars that day.

When a child comes up to me in the hall and says “Hi, Mrs. E!” or gives me a hug, I feel like a rock star.

Even when I make a dinner that everyone likes and eats and they maybe say how delicious it is, I feel like a rock star a little bit.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star at some point in their lives. When are you a rock star?

Not really a writer, just pretending sometimes

I’ve been in the Bells on Temple Square for 10 years- almost 11, now. After our first concert, someone I didn’t know came up to me and asked me a few questions about the concert. She said she was from the choir’s newsletter, and could she email me? The choir has a newsletter? OK, Sure. That led to them asking me if I would write an article for the “Keeping Tab”, which is the Choir’s biannual newsletter.
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Here’s me and my dear friend Liz.
I didn’t realize at that time that it was a permanent thing. But every 6 months, I would write one or sometimes two articles about what the Bells on Temple Square were up to. After a couple of years of doing this, they invited me to be set apart for the magazine staff. I got to go meet President Mac Christensen in his office in the Tabernacle. I invited my family, and they thought it was pretty cool to go backstage with us and President Christensen (Mr. Mac to those of you not familiar with him) and he set me apart as a member of the writing staff.
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The Choir has lengthy articles about their latest tour and concerts, and I’m all like, well, we did a spring concert, and a fall concert, and several music and the spoken word broadcasts in between. And we rehearse every week. Hmm. So, I would try to come up with other things to talk about. I wrote about our summer parties, about how many people in Bots were related, about what it’s like to play bells, backstage at the Christmas concerts, etc. Some articles were better than others, of course. My favorite part of the magazine is always the “mint slippers” or the funny things that the directors say in rehearsal. Thankfully, I have a helper, Theresa, who has always written those down for me. I write a few down, but she has a more comprehensive list. Larry, our associate director, is now always saying, “Oh, don’t write that down!” because he says such funny things in rehearsal.
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Me with some dancers backstage at a Christmas concert

It’s been fun to write the articles, but as the deadline rolled around and I had been newly called as Relief Society President, I wondered if it were appropriate to be asked to be released from the writing job. It’s not like it takes a ton of time, but even a couple of extra hours when you have a lot to do is a bit much. And shouldn’t someone else get the opportunity and blessings, as well? I spoke to my director and she agreed that it was fine to be released, and suggested someone to take my place.

A few weeks after that, I got this presentation at rehearsal one night. A thank you for my service of writing for the newsletter for 10 years.

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In case you can’t read the small print, it says “Keeping Tab Pulitzer Prize, Best Literary Articles, Paige Erickson, For making the star studded directors look almost human, and making the ringers look more important than the directors.”

We don’t take ourselves too seriously, obviously.

It’s been an honor and really a lot of fun to be on the writing staff. When my days in the choir are over, I will look back at all those keeping tabs and smile as I read about our concerts and adventures.

Auditions. Such fun.

Friday I checked my email and there was a note from a theater friend of mine, letting me know of a play, Curious Savage, I should audition for. I looked into it, and thought,
“Oh, I do miss theater, and it’s SO close. And I don’t have any bell things coming up, besides our regular once a week practice, and not too many Relief Society things are at night, And the play is at the end of Feb, so it wouldn’t take up my whole life for very long, and they do call for women in their 40’s and 50’s. Let me look at the calendar and see how many conflicts I have.”
It takes me about 2 minutes to go from ‘I’m too busy’ to ‘I’ve got time’.
I checked with my hubby to make sure he didn’t have any qualms about my auditioning, and then I looked for a monologue that I could do for an audition. I was not completely memorized, but I went anyway.
It was fun. In a nervous energy, not sure of yourself, what am I doing kind of way.
On Saturday, there were call backs. Even though this play is in Highland, I didn’t know a single other person there. They had me in consideration for three different women’s parts. One of them was Mrs. Savage. What? No, I didn’t want to be that part, I’m here for this smaller part of one of the “patients”. But, most of the people there were younger. there were only 2 other “mom” types. OK. Here goes. So, I read with several different people, in several different roles. They had four mini scenes, and they kept switching people out to see how they worked together, reading these different scenes. It was fun to be acting, even if it was just cold reading. I don’t exactly know what they are looking for, but I did my best.

I know that my bell choir director would frown upon me missing more than one rehearsal, and I could see by the schedule that there was a performance on a Wednesday, and for sure there would be a dress rehearsal the week before. I decided to send an email to the director letting him know that I have Wednesday night conflicts. I could be there for the performance, but couldn’t commit to being there any other Wednesdays. Then, if they decide that’s too difficult to work around, they won’t cast me in their play. (That sounds kind of arrogant. They might not like me for those parts and wouldn’t cast me anyway).

Today, when I opened the email with anticipation, I read over all names and did not see mine. For the first time EVER, I was not disappointed. I was a tiny bit relieved. I would LOVE to do a play. I LOVE theater. But I could recognize that I have a bit going on in my life, and I don’t really need the added stress of a play. As I think about the lady they did cast as Mrs. Savage, I think, “Ok. I think I was better, but maybe I don’t exactly fit into their vision of the play. Maybe I’m not old enough. Whatever.” And I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to memorize all that. How lazy of me! But I’m not disappointed. For the first time EVER after an audition and a not getting the part (which happens SO very much), I do not feel like I wasn’t good enough. Maybe I’m not good enough, or maybe I don’t fit the look they are going for. Or maybe they don’t like the fact that I have too many Wednesday nights I need off. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I did my best, I was honest, I wasn’t trying to impress.

I hope I can do a play this year. I will audition for more this spring and this summer. There may be a few weeks that we don’t have bell rehearsal when the choir goes on tour, and that gives me a little bit more wiggle room at that time. But I hope that I can have this same attitude the next time I audition. Instead of feeling bad that I wasn’t good enough, to recognize instead that I just may not be what they are looking for.

Wonderful way to spend a Sunday Morning

Sunday we got to perform on Music and the Spoken Word for a special for Martin Luthor King day. We played “Every time I feel the Spirit” on the bells, and then we stood through the next song, which was “Down to the River to Pray”. I’ve loved that song for quite a long time, since I first heard it in “Oh, Brother, Where art thou” (one of my favorite irreverent movies). Because who doesn’t love hunky George Clooney with his hair slicked back with Dapper Dan.

I have that album and In 2010, Timberline Middle School performed a piece that Mack Wilberg had arranged for them, Down to the River to Pray. He arranged it FOR them! It was quite a big deal, and Dr. Wilberg was there at the concert. Cole was playing the flute in the band back then and I was so impressed with their Grand Concert.

So, on Sunday, when I heard them rehearse that number, I was excited that I could be right there, between the choir and the orchestra, to listen to the program. My family came up to Salt Lake to watch the broadcast, too, which was kind of special. Since we had these boys from Brazil here, we are trying to show them the sights of Salt Lake, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is kind of a big deal, so I thought they might like to see it live. Not sure if they liked it or not, but Ryan did say they were not texting on their phones during the program, so that’s a plus.

As we were standing there, it hit me again how incredibly AWESOME it is that I get to participate in this AMAZING organization. I get to sit there and watch the phenomenally talented Mack Wilberg conduct the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I hear the choir behind me and I get to sit among the orchestra members and watch and listen in amazement. Sometimes I get so carried away by the sheer awesomeness, that I forget that I’m there to play a song and I have to concentrate.

We have been together almost 10 years as the Bells on Temple Square. I have been able to perform on Music and the Spoken word at least 40 times ( I don’t know the actual number, but I’m guessing here). Some people may think it’s a sacrifice to get up early to be to the tabernacle by 7:30 on a Sunday morning, and to come to an extra rehearsal with the choir on Thursday night, but it’s a privilege. I am so honored and thankful that I get to be a part of this group. I often feel like I’m being blessed beyond what I deserve.

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In the recording studio (sort of)

This week the Bells on Temple Square got to be a part of the recording process for an upcoming Mormon Tabernacle Choir album. We’ve only ever been on the Christmas CD, so this was a new experience for us. The choir and orchestra doesn’t fit into a traditional studio, so they make the Tabernacle into a recording studio.

There’s a great article about all they do to eliminate extra noise like the hum of the drinking fountain or the buzz of a smoke detector when recording I found from the Deseret News in 2008.

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“The quilts on the benches are also there to improve sound quality. “The quilts are like an audience — but with no coughing and talking,” he says. “The engineers didn’t like what they call a ‘swimmy’ sound, so we put the quilts out to absorb some of the sound, and the quality becomes crisper, cleaner.”

And probably only with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, he says jokingly, “could we send out an e-mail in the morning and have every member show up with a quilt that night.”

We memorized our song, and since we couldn’t rehearse in the tabernacle, we set up our rehearsal in the North Visitor’s Center. So cool to walk through the visitor’s center to a theater and find our tables all set up for bells. It was a little dark in that space, but we could still rehearse. When they needed us, we took our bells over to the tabernacle, and silently climbed the stairs behind the choir loft. At the signal, we made our way along the balcony seats and stood right at the edge of the balcony on both sides, as close to the orchestra and Mack Wilberg as we could be.

As we played our part, we worried about staying with Mack’s beat, yet not being ahead of the choir. Not sure if we were right on, since we are above and in front of the choir, we listened carefully to direction. Ryan Murphy was back in the sound booth listening carefully to each take. They do not record a whole song all at once, rather go over each section, sometimes even a few measures over and over to correct each inconsistency and fix any errors. While we were there, we heard them complaining of ONE tenor voice standing out. “We didn’t have this problem yesterday, men, so fix it. Have you moved seats or changed anything since then?” Mack said.

We were there for almost an hour between the waiting for our turn and playing our parts over and over. Not hard work, but my hands hurt from not being able to put down the bells or change them (especially my right hand that had two bells in it). We were just excited to be a part of a recording, and thankful that we were invited!

It’s just one song, and not even the whole song, but we can add that to the many Christmas CD’s we have played (I’ve been on 8 of them) I’ll be sure to let you know when this recording becomes available.

Share the music

I just got back from taking 18 of my 3rd-6th graders on a little performance field trip. We played the National Anthem at American Fork High for a basketball game.

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Why? Why? Why do I bring these things upon myself?

Hmmm.

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There are several reasons, none of them seem all that valid right now, when I’m tired. Tired of the kids and just tired.
1-After we played the National Anthem at Lone Peak’s basketball game in December, the kids were SO excited. They felt like they were the most important ‘musicians’ in the world when they got that huge applause. I want them to have that kind of experiences with music.

2-We had already learned the song, so it wasn’t that much rehearsal to just adjust it for the few kids that are new this semester. I felt like since we had already put so much work into the song, it would be a waste not to play it again.

3-I want to share the love of handbells and handchimes. Most people who go to a basketball game haven’t seen or heard anything like this before, and so we want to share our art.

4-I may be trying to prove to myself or anyone who cares that I can actually do this job of teaching a chime choir. Maybe.

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This time, at least, it was only ONE game. When we played at Lone Peak, they had us play for the girls’ game at 5:30, then play for the boys game at 7:00. This time it was just one game, but we still had too much time. I had everyone meet over at the school too early, and we had too much time to kill. We found music stands, rehearsed our song a few times, but don’t want to overrehearse, so we played a little game, then got ready. I told the kids if they wanted to do more fun stuff like this, they would be ABSOLUTELY silent in the halls. We had to go around the auditorium (where they were just starting the school play) go outside, and around to the gym door. Try keeping the kids quiet through that!

They actually did GREAT. The song sounded nice, and even though they were nervous, they played well.

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Two people stopped me on my way out and said, “That was amazing!” The second one was a cop, who put his hand on my arm. I thought I was in trouble, but he said, “WoW! They did GREAT! I guess that’s why I do it.

Afterward, we traipsed back outside and around to the music rooms, put the chimes back in the boxes, and hauled them to the car. I brought four noisy boys home with me.

And my hubby just brought me a shake, and it tastes yummy and feels great going down my throat.

I can feel proud of a job well done. I can feel good that I got those squirly kids to calm down long enough to learn and perform our national anthem, and hopefully they are learning a thing or two about music along the way.

Thank you 2013

What a year it’s been for us!

2013 was the year we finished our basement. It’s so lovely to have that space finished, now.
. I love how it turned out, and look forward to when we can do the tile in the bathroom. No, it’s not totally done, but it’s mostly there, and we love it.

2013 was the year we took Larissa to Disneyland, and she got to go to California for the first time ever. What a fun family vacation that was, and how blessed we were that ALL the kids got to go.
In February we found out where Cole would be serving his mission, in West Virginia.
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In March, my little chime choir got to play at the spring ring, and it was a big boost to my program. After that performance, the parents really got behind my effort to purchase my own set of chimes, and the kickstarter fundraiser was a success. We got enough pledges to buy a 3 octave set of chimes. We also took family pictures and proceeded to get Cole ready for his mission.

Spring was a time of many birthdays. Cole turned 19, Larissa turned 16, and Megan turned 17. We hosted our share of parties. We didn’t go anywhere exciting for Spring break, but we still had some fun around here.
Natalie sang in a special choir for the YW broadcast and we all went to the conference center to hear her sing.

May was a BIG month for us. Cole went through the temple, and got ready for his mission. He entered the MTC on May 22, and it was heartwrenching, yet happy and exciting to take him to the MTC.

They also started work on the development that is going in behind our house, took out the trees, and started cleaning things up back there.

It was busy with the end of the school year and all the parties, awards, concerts, etc.

In June, Larissa prepared to leave us. Her Mom came over from Germany, and the two of them got to do some traveling through the west before they flew back to Germany.

It was hard for her to pack up all her stuff from the whole year, and it was harder to say goodbye. We all had such a wonderful experience with her here, it was difficult to see her go.
New chickens joined the family, and Cole left the MTC for his mission.
Since it was summer, that meant rehearsals started, as Natalie did one play and I did another one.

July was a blur of rehearsals, trek, exchange students from China, parties and barbeques, and family reunions. Natalie was in Peter Pan! We worked on our garden, the weather was hot, and the chickens grew up. It ended with saying goodbye to a dear friend who passed away, and the Scarlet Pimpernel opened.

August was wonderful. A whole month of Pimpernel.

Somewhere in there we finished summer and school started. Megan did a HUGE project with floppy disks
, and we ate a LOT of peaches. Oh, the peach harvest was so wonderful! We put up 50 quarts of our own peaches, and could have done many more, had we the time and energy. It’s ok to share some of the harvest, too.
Ryan was so supportive and helpful, I don’t know if I could have done that show without him. It was really a special experience for me. I met so many new and wonderful people, and it changed my attitude about a lot of things.

September my chimes choir started up again, and it was wonderful to not have to be trying to get a grant. I could just concentrate on teaching. The art projects started to take over much of the table and counter space. I just love this fish.

We had a small party for John’s birthday, followed immediately by a BIG cast party for the Scarlet Pimpernel. Even though the weather did not cooperate, things worked out, as they always do.

Ryan’s niece got married–the first of the kids’ cousins to get married, and we are so proud of her.
I also got to spend a weekend with Ryan in Denver. He was working, me not so much. Loved it!

In October, we enjoyed the beautiful fall. Not too hot, and not too cold. The Adventures of Merlin opened, and I learned that doing a show that performs EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKDAY. is really quite hard.
But what a great experience it was.
Halloween was great, the kids had fun with their costumes and candy, and we hosted a big costume party.

November really kicks off the Christmas concert season around here, and so it was good that all plays were over by November 1st. The Bells on Temple Square concert was SO much fun. Thanksgiving was a smallish affair, with only 16 of us at Ryan’s sister Julene’s house. We missed Cole, but were glad that he had plenty of warm Kentucky hospitality.

December was a whirlwind of snow, concerts, presents, and family.

Meeting John Rhys-Davis was a highlight of the concert week, and it was a wonderful experience.
I love all the Christmas decorating, wrapping, gift giving, baking…I love everything about Christmas! It’s sad to let it go and say goodbye to December, but I must say it was really a GREAT year.

I am SO thankful for the HUGE blessings and MANY opportunities I had to expand my vision and friendships this year. I can only imagine what wonders 2014 has in store for us.

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