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The bells of Elk Run Assisted Living are ringing. Several residents have created an ensemble to learn the art of handbell playing. Practicing for only three weeks, the group performed its first …
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The bells of Elk Run Assisted Living are ringing.
Several residents have created an ensemble to learn the art of handbell playing. Practicing for only three weeks, the group performed its first mini-concert last week, playing “Happy Birthday” during lunch to celebrate residents with March birthdays.
The group is looking for a song to learn to welcome new residents to the facility, and it hopes to have a lengthier concert soon.
Activities Director Sarah Bogdan is the handbell ensemble director, pointing to the bell that needs to be played. She found a set of simple bells for interested residents to try, noting that ringing bells was a good activity for older adults, especially while residents have not had many visitors during the pandemic.
She explained that although the ensemble members admit they’re not good singers, they have musical backgrounds, so ringing the bells came naturally. In addition to being fun and musical, bell ringing helps with hand-eye coordination and memory, so the activity is a win-win for the residents.
Bettie Lynn Walden jumped at the chance to play in the ensemble, which doesn’t have a name yet. Walden also plays piano, and she thought ringing bells would be fun.
“I love music,” she said. “It’s so much a part of me.”
She hopes the ensemble will get so good that it can get real brass bells, and she’s looking forward to learning Christmas music.
Like Walden, Sylvia Sholes has a musical background, and Steve Kurland really enjoys classic rock music, especially The Doors.
Chuck Wickland was listening to a practice session one day, and he was roped into joining the group, while Ferne Firth said she has known professional bell ringers, so it seemed natural to try her hand at it. George Faust is also a loyal member.
Bogdan said the beginner’s set of handbells was a perfect way to gauge residents’ interest in the activity, and from the looks of it, bell ringing has been a hit.
“It’s bringing a lot of joy,” Bogdan said. “This works well for us.”
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