AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

October 11, 2013

Public invited to pick up a bell, play along

By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Allied News

GROVE CITY — The Celebration Community Ringers Handbell Choir is looking for new members, and it doesn't take much skill to learn to play along with the Grove City-based group.

"If you can count, you can ring," member DJ Wagner said at Thursday night's open house and workshop held at Tower Presbyterian Church, 248 S. Broad St., Grove City.

The group is led by director Marilyn Hines, a past president of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, and it's been active for about 12 or 13 years, Wagner said.

The choir has about a dozen members and meets each Thursday night at the church, which also lets them use its handbell collection and equipment, as long as they keep it clean and polished.

Sue Garton, a national clinician and longtime member of the local choir who lives in Slippery Rock, led the workshop Thursday, telling her fellow bell ringers and a few newcomers about a recent conference she attended in Tucson, Ariz. The group is lucky to have Garton because she's in demand all over the country to perform and give workshops, Wagner said as Garton spoke about lining up the bells in a particular order.

"The key is to put them back in the right place," Garton told the group of about a dozen women of all ages.

Wagner has the task of working with the larger bells, which weigh about 8 pounds, so moving around to ring the bells at just the right time can work up a sweat, she said.

There is lots of body motion, Garton confirmed, demonstrating how she weaves back and forth from one end of her row of bells on the velvet-covered table to the other.

"It's fun. It's really not that hard. Anyone can learn," Garton said. Her advice is to learn at your own speed, but the longtime members are more than willing to help the new bell ringers. "I've been ringing since seventh grade," Wagner said of her own experience.

She also teaches bell ringing to children at Tower Church, where she is a member; the handbell choir also performs a Christmas concert at the church. The Celebration Community Ringers Handbell Choir plays at nursing homes and community events and dues for members are $20.

For more information about the choir, call 724-458-7260 and leave a message for DJ Wagner.

Published Sept. 18, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.