Handbell musicians face a special conundrum when it comes to personal practice. Few of us own our own bells and it’s a challenge to go to where our bells our stored, haul out tables and foam and practice our 2 notes for a few hours. Hmmm . . . how do we make this exciting and sufficiently compelling to look at our score between rehearsals?
Understanding My Part. Carlos Avila, a very accomplished professional percussionist, said “I’m a better musician because I play handbells”. How true! If we erase everything except your part . . . OMG, every composition becomes a level 18 piece! If we take the time to look at rhythmic complexity on our own between rehearsals, we build confidence.
Score marking. There’s a false sense that only rank beginners mark their score. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The best handbell musicians mark their score so they are ready for challenges. In the beginning it might be crucial to mark every time a bell is exchanged, but even advanced musicians mark so that they will successfully ring smoothly. One of the greatest tools for building personal success is a pencil.
Listening. We are more than 2-note musicians. We are artists who are fitting into the larger who of the handbell orchestra in order to create a soaringly glorious moment of music. If the music is in our mind, it is easier to know how to fit into the whole. And, (this one is a biggie for your director) your confidence in looking up will increase many times over.
Patience. Most of us work hardest when we believe we are trusted and valued. Those who practice are always in that category. Be patient with difficult passages. Slow down and figure out what is daunting and how to solve those issues and then work through slowly enough to succeed. When frustration rises, walk away. When we return to a challenge with fresh eyes, more things are possible. Great music making, like fine wine, takes time. Give the tough parts your devotion every day with care and commitment. You will get where you are going if you go there with patience.
Coppers Classic will offer a community email digest so you can work on setting up local practice sessions. That will help so that you won’t necessarily always need to practice “all by yourself”, but know that you can.
By the way, “All By Myself” is a song. I thought you might enjoy this rendition by 17 year old pianist Emily Bear combining Rachmaninoff with the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brVZBnIuXTY.
See you in October.