I’ve been a member of my church’s handbell choir for over 22 years. Accomplished in piano and organ, I confess I had never picked up a handbell when one of my colleagues persuaded me to join the newly formed Chancel Chimers at First Presbyterian. My assigned bells were two below the all important Middle C, or, in handbell terms, A4 and G4, their corresponding sharps and flats.
Practicing once a week for decades, I have grown to love ringing. It is certainly more fun that it was initially when there was pressure to be competent. In a previous post, Play UP! I advocate for advancing your skill level by playing with the best.
It is a team effort. If you don’t hold up your end or lose your place in the music, the entire piece can fall apart. I continue to play the same bells and they are now mere extensions of my arms. I “know’ them, their tones and clapper proclivities. My eyes immediately seek them on a page of music. Simply put, my bells and I are comfortable and happy with each other and we would like to stay together.
Envision the angst when our new choir director advised us that we would be switching bells in the months to come. Truly – you cannot imagine the worry and fret – and I’m not just referring to myself. It is a very reasonable and strategic request on the part of our director. The more places we can play, the less pressure it is to find substitutes, and the more versatile and accomplished your handbell choir.
A truly great handbell ringer can play at any position. I am not a truly great handbell ringer. I cannot ring treble handbells, play two bells in one hand, or decipher the high notes on printed music. As you may understand, the pressure to be competent and to perform well has returned. Comfort is turning into chaos. I’ll need extra practice, patience and plenty of prayer to peale!
While this is not a life and death change in routine, it made me think about our workplaces. Across the business spectrum employees are now required to do more with less, take on more and varied duties, assume roles not undertaken before, AND to do it all with high quality and care. The ability to fill many roles in an organization is essential and makes you more valued. It is great insurance during organizational downsizing and restructure.
If you are called and dedicated to your work (or handbell ringing), you will step up to the challenges and become more proficient, flexible and critical to your organization’s growth and success. If not, it’s more about YOU – which is certainly a choice. We just need to be clear here.
So, taking my own advice, I need to BELLY UP to another set of handbells. AUUUGGH! It is EXCRUCIATING to think of leaving my beloved A4 and G4. Most marriages don’t last as long. It is so effortlessly, how can we divorce? A choir member pointed out that this will be an excellent exercise in warding off Alzheimer’s. It feels as if it has already set in.
Can this old dog be taught new tricks? You’d better bet. My credibility as an HR professional and my value to the Chancel Chimers depends upon it. Open hands and a willing heart can (hopefully) compensate for the comforts of ding-a-ling routine.
~ From the desk of Becky Morlok ~
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