Imagine a piano played by ten different people where each person play two keys. Replace the piano keys in your mind with a set of tuned bells and you've got yourself a handbell choir. Here are 7 fascinating facts about this little known instrument.
1. Handbell ringing started in England in the late 1690s.
The first bells had only approximate tuning and leather handles. (Modern bells have plastic.)
2. Ringers wear gloves because their hand oils will tarnish the bell.
3. The metal alloy the bells are made of seems sturdy but will pit easily from salvia.
(So your choir director will murder you if you chew gum anywhere near those bells!)
4. Most ringers play one bell in each hand, but there are some very talented solo ringers who manage multiple bells per hand.
5. Most people think handbells originated in Switzerland because P. T. Barnum had a "Swiss" bell choir as part of his circus.
6. Across the pond, handbell choirs are referred to as "handbell teams".
7. Two companies Malmark and Schulmerich make all the handbells in the US.
And they have a HUGE rivalry so their bells aren't compatible with each other.
Many local churches and private schools have handbell choirs, it is a spectacular instrument worth seeing a performance of. Here's Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" for your listening enjoyment.