This last Sunday at Lighthouse Baptist, we finally started reading music. After spending the first three weeks practicing only two techniques (ringing and damping), I decided that the ensembles were ready for the next challenge.
Boy, was it a challenge! The adults and teens all have a moderate to advanced knowledge of music and can read notes…or so we thought. It took us a few minutes to play our first scale on the printed page, but we finally figured it out.
We spent rest of the rehearsal practicing basic scales and some chords, all in the key of C major. We had a lot of fun, and almost all the mistakes were things that we could laugh about together.
At the end of the rehearsal, I shared James 1:2-4 with them: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Now, James probably didn’t have music rehearsals in mind when he wrote that passage, but it was enough of a trial for us to remind us that we need to keep working hard while remaining patient. Eventually, we will play some beautiful music together, but until then, we must wait and work and strive to improve.
As for the children’s rehearsal- that was a different story. Almost none of them have prior experience reading music, so we get to start from the beginning with them as they learn to ring together. By the end of the rehearsal we successfully played two scales an octave apart simultaneously…in both directions!
This brings me to my next reason for having a church handbell ministry. You can use it to teach people how to read and play music! That seems like a no-brainer, but perhaps we don’t realize just how much of a blessing this can be to the church.
Music lessons generally are not cheap, especially if they are good ones. Outside of the United States, there are some countries where music lessons in general are scarce. But here in our church we are using handbells to give people free music lessons every week.
Because of the unique nature of handbells and how each person only has a piece of the melody (as discussed in my last post), those who already have a musical background have the opportunity to expand their knowledge base.
For those who do not know how to read and play music, they get to learn something new, and perhaps later they can build on this knowledge by learning to sing or play other instruments.
So there you go! Reason #3 for starting a handbell ministry in your church 🙂