bell choirs

Monday 1 December 2008

I’m really not a fan of bell choirs.  I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’ve just never found them or the music they provide very appealing.  I can stand them alright, I suppose, and when they work with a vocal choir and other instruments, they’re not really so bad, but they just aren’t for me.  However, as I listened to another performance by a bell choir this weekend (I don’t seek them out — they just happen), I actually was edified by their music, but not by the music itself but instead by the way in which they demonstrated the importance of working together.

So while I have witness on one occasion a song played by one person with a multitude of bells (and I must say, it was a sight to see), the standard setup is for each person to play between 2 and 4 bells on the right beats, together with a good number of others creating a tune as if one were playing the piano.  In the best of situations this can be totally spot on, but in the worst of cases it can end in a train wreck if one person plays on the wrong beat and things spiral from there.

In a bell choir, everyone’s actions affect the outcome of the whole piece.  In a band or choir, things can usually sound pretty good even if one person messes up or sings out of key, but in a bell choir, everything is magnified, and it’s pretty easy to recognize flubs.  As a member, you must let go of control of the outcome and allow others to do their part while you do yours and hope that it all turns out alright.

Such is life, too — we’re all connected in an interdependent web where my actions can ultimately affect a multitude of others around the world.  It can be as blatant as a few people’s greed and impatience (both the individuals and the store that took no precautions) that can cause the death of an innocent employee, or as seemingly disconnected as the choices one makes about buying or not buying items that provide a living wage for the worker, soon forcing them out of their job.

Sure, it’s easy to forget about the others we relate to, whether physically or abstractly, but if we forget about these connections, we’re eventually bound to hurt those we’re connected to.  As we approach the end of another year, let us think about the ways we’re all in this together and how we might need to change our actions and our lives out of honor and respect for the others living in this world with us.