Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Handbell Festival DAY 3

Two days down and two to go. The morning wake-up routine did not go as smoothly today. I guess the up-early/up-late schedule is beginning to wear on us. Oh, well. I managed to hit the shower by 4:05 AM; Katherine the Great was in and out by 5:00 AM; King Richard, on the other hand, slept in too long. He wasn’t ready to go until almost 6:00 AM. Of course, in his defense, he did perform some troubleshooting on my digital camera so I could get some festival photos today. Thank you very much, honey.

7:00 AM. Breakfast was a bit calmer than yesterday, although the line was a longer wait for us due to our late start. On the plus side: Starbucks had no line, so tea acquisition was effortless. Additional coffee stations were also added near the cafeteria door, much to the joy of the caffeine crowd. Hurrah! Of course, the “no food or drink outside the cafeteria” policy was still in place, barring travel coffee; hence, the reason for Starbucks. Menu this morning: eggs, sausage, French toast (which I declined), fruit, cottage cheese, and muffins (I selected the corn variety).

8:00 AM. The morning mini-concert was exclusively Christmas music, some of which I had heard before. A quartet from the Merrimack Valley Ringers of Connecticut performed the "Hallelujah Chorus" by Handel. They were pretty good but not as impressive as the Back Bay Ringers ensemble from yesterday. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable thirty minutes.

8:45 AM. Another massed rehearsal. Unfortunately, half of Shoreline Ringers had class conflicts with this time slot, making the choir look rather thin on the ringing floor. Once again, Mr. Mathis was fascinating to observe, although I did see a touch of the “curtness” that was assigned to him by a few ringers on Thursday. A lone ringer of the almost 600 who were at the rehearsal was brave enough to ask for a measure reference, which he abruptly declined to give. Apparently, he does demand attention at all times. What can I say? He is a director. In his defense, his primary task at this conference is polishing a piece of music that these choirs have been practicing (or should have been practicing) for almost eight months. He is very much the performance director, not necessarily the rehearsal director. One additional note, Miss Ringer had a wonderful time covering her bells and those of her book partner who was at class. It was a good thing she took that Intermediate Weaving class yesterday!

10:00 AM. Katherine the Great attended a class on “musicality.” I walked to the building with her, intending to study in the lounge. Nope, not permitted. A handbell class was using the space. Instead, I walked back to the Ryan Center, serving as an escort for an older ringer with a bad knee. I have discovered that many of the musicians attending this conference are older, making the extensive walking between classroom buildings, the ringing arena, the dorms, and the dining hall somewhat problematic. Some ringers from New Hampshire even shared with me that they missed a class because their knees refused to make it up the hill by one of the instructional buildings. Not good. Perhaps future conferences should be held in a more compact location, if possible.

I managed to squeeze in some shopping at this point in the day: a polo shirt for Katherine the Great, handbell cookie cutters for me, and a handbell stamp for letterboxing (the handbell Christmas ornament that I had my eye on was sold out). Having met my daughter’s director in the vendor area, I discussed some possible music selections for a beginning bell choir with her as well. All in all, a very productive hour.

Another activity that I fit into this time period: fulfilling my daughter’s request to acquire a “Fun With Boomwackers” class on Sunday morning. No such luck. All the class cards were gone. A more experienced ringer acquaintance from our former church suggested attending the class without a card. “Everyone is doing it,” she stated. As tempting as that philosophy might be at this point, I recommended the following to Miss Ringer:

Option 1: Ask the instructor for permission to attend.
Option 2: Arrive for class & inquire if space is available for ringers.

Neat occurrence during this hour: I saw a deer running around the eastern lawn of the athletic center. He was apparently a bit lost and disoriented, but not frightened. He eventually disappeared into the woods. I just love those periodic reminders that God provides here in New England that His creation is alive and active, despite our 21st century efforts at urbanization and development.

11:15 AM. Bronze rehearsal with Michael Helman. Nothing remarkable here. The songs are coming along nicely, especially “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson. Mr. Helman is much more mild-mannered that Mr. Mathis, much less intense. Curiously, my daughter prefers the latter. Why is that? I certainly hope it isn’t because I am that intense. Yikes! My task during the hour: work on this blog entry.

12:30 PM. Lunch! I gave in to my craving for fried food today, eating both onion rings and potato chips with my healthy tabouleh chicken wrap. I didn’t even bother with a salad or dessert. I grabbed another tea at Starbucks and left to shop for music. Fifty dollars later, I possessed Christmas selections for a beginning handbell choir should our church decide to move in that direction between July and December. Miss Ringer even found a great piece to use with kids: “The Little Boy and His Lunch” by Tammy Waldrop.

3:00 PM. Another mini-concert. This one had some fun pieces, and the projects that were completed by the Advanced Ringing Track class attendees. With only two or three hours of rehearsal time, these ringers played some Level 5-6 compositions/arrangements. For non-handbell types, imagine some of the most difficult music available; then imagine that music played on handbells. I think the instructor was conducting some kind of learning curve experiment with the advanced ringers as guinea pigs. If so, the results were impressive. Overall, another enjoyable thirty minutes.

4:15 PM. Yet another massed rehearsal. I sat this one out, having discovered a set of tables and chairs in the East Concourse of the Ryan Center. Hurrah! Finally, some productive study time. I continued to work on lecture notes for American Government.

5:30 PM. Dinner. Thankfully, the festival organizers granted “head of the line” privileges to the Bronze choirs owing to the fact that they had another rehearsal at 7:00 PM. Menu: lasagna, broccoli, brownies (both fudge and blonde varieties), salad bar and tea. My daughter and I sat by ourselves in order to discuss a handbell composition that she plans to work on in the near future.

7:00 PM. Bronze rehearsal (fifteen minutes earlier than originally scheduled). I do believe that Katherine the Great is going to have a very personal understanding of the term “intensive rehearsal” by the time this conference is over. This was her second bronze-level practice of the day. Counting the sessions from yesterday, I think she is at four overall. She admitted to me at lunch that her biceps were a little sore this morning, as well as her legs (either from all that standing and weaving, or from all the walking on campus). In the dinner queue, she confessed that her shoulders were beginning to ache a bit too. An ice pack or two when we get home might be a wise strategy.

9:00 PM. Home again, home again, jiggety, jig, jig!

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