From: Nikki At College Ring-In, I had fun, met new people, and learned new things that are already helping me in my various handbell adventures. One of our pieces was called “Dodge Your Debts.” Sondra Tucker arranged it for us to accompany a silent film. So far, this is probably the most difficult piece I have ever played. I don’t know what level it would be, but I had a lot more trouble than I did with the level 4 piece we did. It was mostly in cut time, and the half note was at 144. We had a lot of quarter and eighth notes at that tempo, so it was extremely fast. It also had changes in tempo and time signature, and a lot of syncopation. All this to say, it was a very difficult piece to play on handbells. Several parts were doubled, including mine. For that piece, we had the option to do sound effects instead of ringing, as long as our part was covered. I seriously thought about doing that, but instead I chose to hang in there. I couldn’t play most of it at all and I was pretty much useless for the first two days, but I studied it during breaks and after rehearsals, and I could finally play it by the last day. I never did it perfectly, but I made it through the piece without getting horribly lost and confused. The concert happened to be the best I had ever played it, which was extremely satisfying after I had been so frustrated with it. I’m so glad that I stuck with it, and I think I learned something important from this experience about never giving up. I learned some new techniques, and new ways of thinking of techniques I already knew. I learned about petite damping to add clarity to quick repeated chime notes, and new ways of thinking about marts and singing bells (I even learned how to do singing bells with the high treble bells, and one time I managed to pull it off with a D7). I also feel like I gained a lot of experience (and, along with that, a little more confidence). I have only been ringing for a little over two years, and only in churches. I had never performed music at that kind of advanced level, and I had never done a full concert. As I’m continuing to grow and learn, I am very glad to have this experience with advanced music like that. I am also a solo ringer, and I am currently starting to plan for my first solo concert, so it was really helpful to have the experience of going through a full concert with handbells. Now I have a better idea of what that is like, and I feel a little more prepared to face whatever lies ahead of me in the future. Of course, it was also fun to meet new people, go out for dinner with everyone, and play games and laugh and have fun. What I learned has already made a difference since I’ve been home. My very first attempt at solo ringing on chimes occurred within a few days, and that went surprisingly well. The transition from bells to chimes was even easier because of what I learned at College Ring-In. For example, I had a repeated note, and I couldn’t really tell one from the next (it was just fast enough to sound blurred together). But since I had just learned about petite damping, I knew to do that to add clarity, and that worked really well.