Hamilton Grove News
Hamilton Grove's Resident Handbell Choir
The title of Hand Bell Choir in describing Hamilton Grove's resident bell choir is a bit of a misnomer. It's really a Bell Plate Choir, which over the years has caused some curiosity as to what the residents would be playing. Some have asked if the residents would arrive at the concert playing on different sized dinner plates with sticks of some sort for instance. The only difference between the Bell Plate and the Hand Bell is that one is flat and the other is the more traditional bell shape. Either way, the residents at Hamilton Grove have been playing up a storm for the past six years.
The choir began because Activity staff members inadvertently discovered a box of bell plates in storage. One of the Activity Department members is an avid bell player and thought this could be a fun, meaningful activity for the residents. Three challenges presented themselves at the very first practice- Only one member of the choir could read music, one member of the choir was blind and what was the choir practice going towards. The first two challenges were met with a bit of creativity and teamwork between the choir director and the resident that could read music. While the director was pointing and cueing residents to play their bells at the appropriate spot in the music, the member that could read music was following along playing her bell at the appropriate time and tapping the resident next to her so she could play her bell at the right time all without being able to see. That left just one more unknown of what the choir was practicing for.
A unique opportunity presented itself the Christmas of 2011 in an invitation to visit another healthcare facility in the same town and perform for their residents. So the bell choir packed up and headed into town to play what has become a traditional twice a year engagement in the summer and at Christmas time every year since. The choir has also performed at the New Carlisle Town Library for several of their holiday open houses as well as performances for the residents at Hamilton Grove as standalone concerts and as a part of the worship services held there. The resident choir has also taken part in a one-day handbell choir workshop, playing in conjunction with three other handbell choirs.
The choir can be found practicing just about every Tuesday morning in the chapel. The members come from both the Assisted Living and Healthcare residences. Their dedication and desire to play can be heard in the music that they make. The best compliment the choir has enjoyed is when a resident at one of the performance decided to sing along. At first, the choir members thought it was disruptive, but at the suggestion that perhaps their music had stirred something for this resident, they've begun to look at that differently. Many residents have been involved in the choir since its inception six years ago, and it is the hope that future residents will continue to find enjoyment and meaning by playing the bells.